DreamingsMaria Angelina wassupposed to beeavesdropping, but she wasnot eavesdropping upon hersister Lucia and Paolo Tostiwhom she had beenassigned to chaperon byreading a book to herself inthe adjoining room—no, theywere safely busy with pianoand violin, and she washeartily bored with listeningto their inanities designed tocover up their shy embraces.Voices from anotherdirection had pricked her toalertness. Therefore MariaAngelina had steathily puther book down and creptover to peek into the corner
room of the PalazzoSantonini, a dim andbeautiful old library withfaded furnishings whosewest arch of doorway lookedinto the pretentiousreception room where thefiancés were amusingthemselves with their musicand their whisperings. Itwas quite advanced, thisallowing them to be so muchalone, but that was becausethe Contessa Santonini wasan American and, moreover,the wedding was not far off.One can be a little moreindulgent once thesettlements are signed.So only Maria Angelina andher book had been stationedin the adjoining room for
propriety. Desiring anotherbook, she had gone to theshelves and as she camethrough the north door, thatwas already ajar, she hadcaught the conversation thatnow held held her intent."Three of them!" Papasvoice uttered explosively,and Maria knew that Papawas speaking of his threedaughters, Lucia, Juliettaand Maria Angelina—and sheknew, too, that Papa hadjust come from the lastinterview with the Tostislawyers.The Tostis had been stiff intheir demands and Papa hadbeen more complaisant thanhe should have been.
Altogether that marriagewas costing him dear.He must have been figuringtheir newly straitenedfinances with Mamma for apencil went clattering to thefloor."And something especial,"he proclaimed bitterly, "willstill have to be done for ourJulietta!"At that our littleeavesdropper could afford tosmile, a faint little smile ofshy pride tainted only with agreat measure of self-reliance.Nothing especial would haveto be done for MariaAngelina! A decent dowry, ofcourse, as befitting adaughter of her fathers
house, but she would needno more than that, for Mariawas eighteen, as white as alily and as slender as anaspen, with big, dark eyeslike strange pools of night inher slightly oval, childsface.Whereas poor Julietta on theother hand ! "Madre Dio!"said Papa indignantly. "Forwhat did we name herJulietta? And born inVerona! A pretty sentimentindeed. But it was of noinspiration to her—none!"Mamma did not laughalthough Papas suddenchuckle after his explosionwas one of his mostirresistible.
"But if Fate went by names,"he continued, "then wouldMaria Angelina be for the lifeof religion." And hechuckled again.Still Mamma refused tolaugh. Her pencildid some more scratching."Its a pity," murmuredPapa, "that you did notembrace the faith, mydear, for then we mightarrange this matter. Theyused to manage these thingsin the old days.""Send Julietta into aconvent?" cried Mamma in ascandalized voice ofsudden energy.Maria could not see it butshe knew that the Countshrugged.
"She appears built to coifSaint Catherine," hemurmured."Julietta is a dear girl," saidthe Contessa in a warmvoice."Yes, but only when oneknows her trueexcellencies.""She will do very well—if wecan just provide her withenough dowry.""Enough dowry?—Yes, thatis just the problem! It willtake all that is left for thetwo of them to push Juliettainto some husbands arms!"When the Count wasannoyed he dealt directlywith facts—a proceeding hepreferred to avoid at othermoments.
Behind her curtains Mariadrew a troubled breath. She,too, felt the familysresponsibility for Julietta—dear Julietta, with herdumpy figure and ugly face.Julietta was nineteen,played only the lyre -- andnow that Lucia wasbetrothed it should Juliettasturn.If only it could be knownthat Julietta had a pretty doton the back of her heftyshoulders. Alas, only herhusband would know of thattreasure, and without asufficient dowry -- ?Maria stood motionlessbehind the curtains, herwinged imagination
rushing to meet Juliettasfuture, fronting theindifference, the neglect, theridicule before whichJuliettas sensitive, shamedspirit would suffer andbleed. She could see hernow, partnerless at balls,lugged heavily about to teasand dinners, shrinkingeagerly and hopelessly backinto the refuge of thepaternal home. . . . YetJulietta had once whisperedto her that she wanted todie if she could never marry,if she could never have anarmful of bambinos!Maria Angelinas youngheart contracted with sharpanxiety. Things were in abad way with her family
indeed. There had alwaysbeen difficulties, for Papawas extravagant and eversince brother Franciscohad been in the army, he,too, had his debts, butMamma had alwaysmanaged so wonderfully!But the war had made thingsvery difficult, and now peacehad made them moredifficult still. There had beenone awful time when it hadlooked as if the carriagesand horses would have to goand they would be reducedto sharing a barouche withsome one else in secret,proud distress—like theManzios and the Benedettoswho took their airingsalternately, each with a
different crested door uponthe identical vehicle—butMamma had overcomethat crisis and the social riteof the daily drive upon thePincian had been sacredlypreserved. But apparentlythese settlements were toomuch, even for Mamma.Then her name upon hermothers lips brought theeavesdropper to asudden, heart-stoppingmoment of swift attention.It appeared that theContessa had a plan.Maria Angelina could go tovisit Mammas cousins inAmerica. They were rich—that is understood ofAmericans; even Mammahad once been rich when
she was a girl, Maria dimlyremembered having heard—and her cousins would giveMaria a chance to meetpeople. . . . Men did not askfor dower settlements inAmerica. They could pleasethemselves and marry apretty, penniless face. . . .Besides, what was saved onMarias dowry would plumpout Juliettas.Thunderstruck, the Countobjected. “But NO! Maria ismy favorite Bambina! Letssend Julietta to America, notMaria," he protested, butswallowed that foolishnessat Mammas calm response,"To what good?"What good would it do,indeed? It would never do to
risk the cost of a trip toAmerica upon Julietta. Whyhad she stuck with learningto play the lyre? If onlyJulietta had learned to playthe piano.Sulkily Papa argued that thecost in any case wasprohibitive. But Mamma hadthe figures to prove himwrong, as always. "If weinvest only a little bit ourbeautiful Maria will soonhave a husband, But Icannot do this, I will losethe child? Will I not belosing her?"After a long, stricken pauseand a sniffle she added morecheerfully:"But it will be for her owngood."
"You would have her tomarry an American? You arenot satisfied, then, withItalians?" said Papaplayfully leaning over toruffle Mammas soft, lighthair and at his movementMaria Angelina fled swiftlyfrom those curtains back toher post, and sat very still, abook in front of her, a hazeswimming between it andher startled eyes.America. . . . A husband. . . .Travel. . . . Adventure. Theunknown . . It waswonderful. It wasunbelievable. . . . It was alsolikely to be quite desperate.It was, in fact, a hazard ofthe sharpest chance. She did
not know the ways overthere! That knowledgebrought a chill of gravityinto the hot currents of herfluttering heart— a chill thatwas the cold breath of aterrific responsibility. Shefelt herself to be the solehope, the sole resource ofher family. She was the dieon which their throw offortune was to be cast.Dropping her book she sliddown from her chair andcrossed to a long mirror inan old carved frame where adove was struggling in afalcons talons while Cupidsdrew vain bows, and in thedimmed glass stared in abewildered, passionatesearching.
Her image was still sochildish, so slight looking.She was white—that was thecreamy skin from Mamma—and now she wondered if itwere truly a charm.Certainly Lucia preferred herown olive tints.And her eyes were so bigand dark, like caverns in herface, and her lips were merescarlet threads. The beautiesshe had seen were Warmcolored, high-bosomed, full-lipped.Her distrust extended evento her coronet of blackbraids.Her uncertain youth had novision of the purity and prideof that braid-bound head, ofthe brilliance of the dark
eyes against the satin skin,of the troubling glamour ofthe red little mouth. In theclear definition of thedelicate features, the arch ofthe high eyebrows, thesweep of the shadowylashes, her childish hope hadnever dreamed of more thanmere prettiness and nowshe was torturinglyquestioning even that."Practicing your smiles, mydear?" said a voice from thethreshold, Lucias voice withthe mockery of thesuccessful, and MariaAngelina turned from herdim glass with a flame ofscarlet across her pallor,and joined, with an angryheart, in the laugh which her
sister and young Tosti hadraised against her. But MariaAngelina had a tongue."But yes,” she exclaimed.“For the better fish are yetleft uncaught in the sea." Aflash of her eyes explodedtoward the young man, andPaolo, all ardor as he wasfor Lucias olive and rose,shot a glance of tickledhumor at Marias saucyimpudence. He promisedhimself some merry passeswith this little sister-in-law.Lucia understood thosequick glances and resentedthem."Wait your turn, little one,"she scoffed. "You will beofficially in pinafores until
our poor Julietta is wed,"and she laughed, unkindly.There were times, Maria feltfuriously, when she hatedLucia.Her championing heartresolved that Julietta shouldnot be left unwed anddefenseless to that mockery.Julietta should have herchance at life!Not a word of the great planwas breathed officially tothe girl, although themothers expectancy formail revealed that a letterhad already been sent, untilthat expectancy wasrewarded by a letter withthe American postmark.Then the drama of revelationwas exquisitely enacted.
It appeared that the Blairsof New York, Mammas dearcousins, were insistent thatone of Mammas daughtersshould know Mammascountry and Mammasrelatives. Mamma said thatit seemed that they had adaughter about MariaAngelinas age so MariaAngelina had been selectedfor the visit. The girls wouldhave a delightful timetogether. . . . Maria wouldboard the Maria Luisa ship inJune.Vaguely Maria Angelinarecalled the Blairs as shehad seen them somesix years ago in Rome—akindly Cousin Jim who hadgiven her sweets and
laughed bewilderingly at herand a Cousin Jane withbeautiful blonde hair andcool white gowns.Their daughter, Ruth, hadnot been with them, soMaria had no acquaintanceat all with her, but only therecollection of occasionalpostcards to keep the namein memory.She remembered once thatthere had been talk of thisCousin Ruths coming toschool for a winter in Romeand that Mamma hadbestirred herself to discoverthe correct schools, butnothing had ever come ofit because the war hadintervened with all thosehorrid submarines.
And now she was to visitthem, in America. . . ."You are going to Americajust as I went to Italy atyour age," cried Mamma."And—who knows?—you too,may meet the love of yourlife on this trip!"If Mamma continued this bitof cute duplicity she wouldoverdo it, thought MariaAngelina nervously, her eyesdowncast for fear hermother would read theirdiscomfort and see herknowledge of the pitifulduplicity, and her cheeksflamed to a quick shamedscarlet."She will have to—to repayus the expense," flashedLucia with a shrill laugh.
"Spending so much on avacation for Maria, when youhave just been preachingeconomy on my trousseau!""One must economize on thetrousseau when thebridegroom has costus the big fortune," Mariaheard her wicked littletongue say and she was notrepentant when Lucia turnedsallow beneath her olivehue.Briskly Mamma intervened."No more words, my littleones. There is too much tobe done."There was indeed, with thistrip to be arranged forbefore the onrush of Luciaspreparation! Oncecommitted to the great
adventure it quickly took onthe outer aspects of reality.There were clothes to bemade and clothes to bebought, there werediscussions, decisions,debates and conjectures andconsultations. A thousandpreparations to be pushed inhaste, and at once the bigbedroom of Mammablossomed with delicatefabrics, with bright ribbonsand frilly laces, and amid theblossoming, the whir of themachine and the feet andhands of the two-lire-a-dayseamstress went like madclockwork, while, in and out,Mammas friends camehurrying, at the rumor, to
hint of congratulation orsuggest a style, an advice.The contagion of excitementseized everyone, so thatsoon even Lucia wasinspired to lend her cleverfingers from her ownpreparations forSeptember."But your itinerary is toolong, not to be back by then!Not here for my wedding?—that would be too odd!" shecomplained with thepersistent ill-will she hadshown the expedition.Shrewd enough to divine itspurpose and practicalenough to perceive thenecessity for it, the older girlcherished her instinctiveobjection to any pleasure
that did not include her in itsscope or that threatened toovercast her own festivities."That will depend," returnedMamma sedately, "upon thecircumstance. Our cousinsmay not easily find asuitable chaperon foryour sisters return. Andthey may have plans for herentertainment.We must leave that tothem."A little panic-stricken, MariaAngelina perceived that shewas being left to herAmerican cousins—until shecould be otherwise disposedof! So fast had preparationswhirled them on, thatparting was upon the girlbefore she divined the
coming pain of it. Then inthe last hours her heart waswrung.She stared at the dearfamiliar rooms, the streetsand the houses with a lookof one already lost to herworld, and her eyes clung tothe figures of her family as ifto relinquish the sight ofthem would dissolve themfrom existence.They were tragic, thosefollowing, imploring eyes,but they were not wet. Mariaunderstood it was too late toweep. It was necessary togo.The magnitude of the sumsalready invested in her affairstaggered her. They were somany pledges, those sums!
But America was sodesolately far.She could not sleep, thatlast night. She lay in the bigfour-poster where onceheavy draperies had shut inthe slumbers of dead andgone Contessas, and shewatched the square ofmoonlight travel over thepainted cherubs on theceiling. There was always alump in her throat to beswallowed, and often thetears soaked into the bigfeather pillows, but therewere no sobs to rouse thehousehold.Julietta, beside her, sleptvery comfortably.But the most terriblemoment of all was that last
look of Mamma and that lastclasp of her hands upon thedeck of the steamer."You must tell meeverything, little one," theContessa Santonini keptsaying hurriedly. She wasconstrained and repetitiousin the grip of her emotion,as they stood together, justout of earshot of the Italianconsuls wife who waschaperoning the young girlupon her voyage."Write me all about thepeople you meet and whatthey say to you, and whatyou do. Remember that I amstill Mamma if I am acrossthe ocean and I shall bewaiting to hear. . . . Andremember that but few
of your ideas of Americamay be true. Americans arenot all the types you haveread of or the tourists youhave met. You must expect agreat difference. . . . Ishould feel strange, myself,now in America."Marias quick sensitivenessdivined a note of secretyearning."Yes, Mamma," she saidobediently, tightening herclasp upon her mothershands."You must be on guardagainst mistakes, MariaAngelina," said the otherinsistently—as if she had notsaid that a dozen timesbefore!
"Because American girlsmay do things it will not bewise for you to do. You willbe of interest to many menbecause you are different.Be very careful, my littleone.""Yes, Mamma," said the girlagain."As to your money—youunderstand you have all thatwe can give you; it mustlast. There should be only afew things to pay for whenyou are a guest. But send toPapa and me your accountsas I have told you.""Yes, Mamma.""You will not let theAmerican freedom turn yourhead. You will be wise—Oh,I trust you, Maria Angelina,
know that, but rememberthat you are to be verywise!"How little wisdom MariaAngelina thought herself topossess! It was all she coulddo to lift a face to hermother that shone withconfidenceand understanding, and forall her quivering lips she stillsmiled."Oh, My Baby!" said themother suddenly in Englishand took thatface between her hands andkissed it. "You will becareful," shebegan again abruptly, andthen stopped.
Too late for more cautions.But she seemed to realize itwas such alittle figure that stood there,such young eyes that smiledsoconfidently into hers. . . .And America was a long,long way off.The bugles were blowing forvisitors to be away. Therewas time forjust one more hurried kissand hasty clasp.An overwhelming frightseized upon the girl as themother went downthe ships ladder into thesmall boat that put out soquickly for the
shore. Suppose she shouldfail them! After all she wasnot so wise—and not so very prettyeither. And she had noexperience—none!The sun, dancing on thebright waves, hurt MariaAngelinas eyes. Shehad to shut them, theywatered so foolishly. Andsomething in heryoung breast wanted to cryafter that boat, "Take meback—take meback to my home," butsomething else in herforbade and would havedied of shame before ituttered such weakness.
For poor Julietta, for dearanxious Mamma, she knewherself the onlyhope. So steadily she wavedher handkerchief long aftershe had lostthe responding flutter fromthe boat.She was not crying now. Shefelt exalted. She pressedcloser to therail and stared out verysolemnly over the blue andgold bay tobeautiful Naples. . . .Suddenly her heartquickened. Vesuvius wasmoving. The far-off shoresof Italy were slipping by.Above her the
black smoke that had beencoming faster and fasterfrom the greatfunnels streamed backwardlike long banners.Maria Angelina was on herway to America,for better or for worse.Reduce Your Pile Of Debt BeYour Own Banker * Moderneconomicterms * Bargains for BuddingMillionaires *You Can Be APower BoatCaptain * 5 Reasons to CheckYour Own Credit Report *Bargains inauto insurance * MoneySecrets * Learn How ToWrite professionally
* Hundreds of free booksthat you can download. BuildYour Own WebSite and Make Money FromIt * Aerobics * Birds *Beaches * DeepWater * Shortcuts for Travel* Get the Jump on Warts *EssaysAbout War * allergies *World Travel * Diabetes *Fishing * family *Health Builders * The X-Files* The Gardening Angel *Working FromHome * Painting Your Home* Humor Is Funny Medicine *Inspirational Essays *Landscaping * Putting theSkinny on Pain *
State and National Parks *Vacations in Jamaica * NFLFootball *Preparing For The WorstPuts a Lid on it * PresidentialQuotes andMORE! * Sunglasses Lasses *Free Software * NativeAmerican Art *Train Your Cat * World ofWriters *AMERICA, ANUNDISCOVERED COUNTRYWith whatever emotion JaneBlair had received thestartling demandupon her hospitality sherallied nobly to the familycall. She left herdaughter in the Adirondackswhere they were summeringand
descended upon herhusband in his New Yorkoffice to rout him out tojoin her to meet the girl ather side."An infernal shame—thatswhat I call it!" Jim Blairgrumbled, facingthe steaming heat of theunholy customs shed. "Itsan outrage—animposition——""Oh, not all that, Jim! Lucy—thats the mother—and Iused to visit likethis when we were girls. Itwas done then," his wifereplied with an airof equable amusement. Sheadded, "I rather think I didmost of the
visiting. I was awfly fond ofLucy.""Thats different. Now youllhave a total stranger onyour hands. . . .Are you even sure shespeaks English?""Oh, dear yes, she speaksEnglish—dont youremember her in Rome?She was the littlest one. Allthe children speak English,Lucy wrote,except Francisco who isvery Italian, which meanshe is a fascinatingspendthrift like the father, Isuppose. . . . I imagine,"said Mrs. Blair,"that Lucy has not found lifein a palace all a bed of roses,after all."
"I remember the palace, andthe warming pans!" said Mr.Blair grimly.His ill-humor lasted until thefirst glimpse of MariaAngelinas slenderfigure, and the first glanceof Maria Angelinas trustfullyappealingeyes. "Welcome toAmerica," he exclaimed veryheartily, both hishands closing over the smallfingers. "Welcome—you areverywelcome, my dear."And though Maria Angelinanever knew it and CousinJane Blair nevertold, that outburst ofwelcome was MariaAngelinas first American
triumph.Some nine hours afterwardsa stoutish gentleman in grayand athinnish lady in beige and afragile looking girl in whitewound theirway from the outer to theinner circle of tables nextthe dancing floorof the Vandevoort.The room was crowded withmen in light serge andwomen in gaysummer frocks; bright lightswere shining under pinkshades andsprays of pink flowers onevery table were breathing afaint perfume
into an air alreadyimpregnated with womensscents and heavy withodors of rich food. Now andthen a saltish breeze stolethrough thedraped windows on thesound but was instantlyscattered by the vigorof the hidden, whirling fans.Behind palms an orchestraclashed out the latest Bluesand in thecleared space couples werespeeding up and down to thesyncopations, while betweentables agile waitersbalanced overloadedtrays or whisked silvercovers off scarlet lobsters orlit mysterious
little lights below tinybubbling caldrons.Maria Angelinas soft lipswere parted with excitementand her darkeyes gazed around her withwondering awe. This,indeed, was a brandnew world. . . . It was gay—gayer than the HotelExcelsior at Rome!It was a carnival of a dinner!Ever since morning, whenthe cordiality of the new-found cousins haddissipated the first forlornhomesickness of arrival, shehad beenlooking on at scenes thatwere like a film, ceaselesslyunrolling.
After luncheon, Cousin Jimwith impulsive hospitalityhad carried heroff to see the Big Town—anexpedition from which hiswife relievedlywithdrew—and he hadwhirled Maria Angelinaabout in motor cars,plunged her into roaringsubways, whisked her updizzying elevatorsand brought her out uponunbelievable heights, all thetimeexpounding and explainingwith that passionate,possessive pride ofthe New Yorker by adoption,which left his young guestwith the
impression that he owned atleast half the city and waspersonallyresponsible for the otherhalf.It had been very wonderfulbut Maria had expected NewYork to bewonderful. And she was notinterested, savesuperficially, in cities.Life was the stuff herdreams were made on, andher life wasunfolding vividly to hereager eyes at this gaydinner, promising herenchanted senses theincredible richness andexcitement for whichshe had come.
And though she sat up verysedately, like a well-behaved child in themidst of blazing carnival,her glowing face, herbreathless lips andwide, shining eyes revealedher innocent ardors andyoungexpectancies.She was very proud ofherself, in the midst of allthe prideful splendor,proud of her new, absurdlybig white hat, of her new,absurdly smallwhite shoes, and of her new,white mull frock, soft andclinging andexquisite with the patientembroidery of theneedlewoman. Its low
cut neck left her throat bareand about her throat hungthe string ofwhite coral that her fatherhad given her in parting—white coral, witha pale, pale pink suffusing it."Like a young girls dreams,"Santonini had said. "Snowywhite—witha blush stealing over them."That was so like dear Papa!What dreams did he thinkhis daughterwas to have in this NewWorld upon her goldenquest? And yet,though Maria Angelinasmocking little wit derided,her young heart
believed somehow in theunion of all theimpossibilities. Dreams andblushes . . . and goodfortune. . . .Strange food was set beforeher; delicious jellied coldsoups, andscarlet lobsters with giantclaws; and Maria Angelinadiscovered thatall that excitement had notdulled her appetite in theleast.The music sounded againand Cousin Jim asked her todance. Shylyshe protested that she didnot know the Americandances, and then,
to her astonishment, heturned to his wife, and thetwo hurried outupon the floor, leaving heralone and unattended atthat conspicuoustable.This was American freedomwith a vengeance! Maria satdemurely,not daring to raise herlashes before the scrutinyshe felt must bebeating upon her from allfour sides, until her cousinsreturned,warm-faced and breathless."Youll learn all this as soonas you get to the Lodge,"Cousin Jimprophesied, in consolation.
Maria Angelina smiledabsently, her bigeyes brilliant. Unconsciouslyshe waswondering what dancingcould mean tothese elders of hers. . . .Dancing was thestir of youth . . . the carnivalof theblood . . . the beat ofexpectancy andexcitement. . . ."Why, theres Barry Elder!"Cousin Janegave a quick cry of pleasure."Barry Elder?" Cousin Jimturned to look,and Maria Angelina lookedtoo, and saw ayoung man making his wayto their table.
He was a tall, thin, brownyoung manwith close-cropped curlybrown hair, andvery bright, deep-set eyes.He wasdressed immaculately inwhite with a gaytie of lavender and lace."Barry? Are you in town?"Cousin Jane greeted himwith anexaggerated astonishmentas he shook her hand.Maria Angelina noted that hedid not kiss it. She had readthat thiswas not done openly inAmerica but was a mark ofespecialtenderness.
"Why not?" he retortedpromptly. "You seem toforget, dear lady, thatI am again a wor-rking man,without whom the WorldsGreatest Dailywould lose half itscirculation. Of course Imhere.""I thought you might betaking a vacation—in YorkHarbor," she said,laughing."Oh, cat!" he derided. "Kitty,kitty, kitty.""Well, since you are here,"went on Cousin Jane, "youcan meet mylittle cousin from Italy,which is the reason why wehappen to here.
Her boat came in thismorning and she has neverbeen away fromhome before. Mr. Elder, theSignorina Santonini.""Welcome to the city,Signoreina," said the youngman, with a quick,bright smile, stooping togaze under Marias huge,white hat. He hadodd eyes, not large, butvivid hazel, with yellowlights in them. "Howdo you like New York? Whatdo you think of America sofar? What isyour opinion of ourprohibition and theuniformity of divorce laws?Have you ever written verslibre? Are——"
"Barry, stop bombarding thechild!" exclaimed Mrs. Blair."You are thefirst young man she has metin America. Stop making herfear thewhole race of you.""Take him away and dancewith him, Jane," said Mr.Blair. He turnedto Maria and added: "Thiswas probably prearranged,you know."If he believed that, helooked very tranquil, thestartled MariaAngelina thought, surprisedinto an upward glance. Thetwo men weresmiling very frankly at eachother. Mrs. Blair did notprotest but rose,
remarking, "Come, Barry,since we are discovered.""Ill have your little Cousinafterwards," said BarryElder. "I want to bethe first young man shedances in America with.""You wont be the last," Mr.Blair told him with atwinkling glance atMaria Angelinas lovely littleface."One of Janes youngsters,"he added, explanatorily toher when thedancers moved away. "Shealways has a lot around—shesays theyare the companions her sonwould have had if shed hadone."
Then, before MariaAngelinas polite butbewildered attention, hesaidmore comprehensibly,"Youll find Jane a lotyounger than Ruth . . .Barrys a clever chap—special work on one of thepapers. Was in theaviation. Did a play thatfluked last year. Too muchHarvard in it, Iexpect. But a clever chap,very clever. I Like him," headded.Maria Angelina had heard ofHarvard. Her mothers fatherhad been aHarvard man. But Maria didnot understand just why toomuch
Harvard would make a playfluke nor what a play didwhen it fluked,for that matter -- but sheasked no questions and satvery still,pretending to look out at thedancing couples.She saw her Cousin Janewhirling past. She tried toimagine what herfather would do if hermother was dancing withyoung men at theHotel Excelsior -- and shecould not bring a picture upof thathappening. Already shewondered if she had betterleave out som ofthe things happening aroundher.
Then the dancing pair cameback to them and the youngman satdown at their table andtalked a little bit to hercousins. But just assoon as the music started upagain he turned directly toher."Signorina, will you do methis honor?"He had a merry way withhim as if he were laughingever so little ather, and Maria Angelinasheart which had beenbeating quite fastbefore began to skip dizzily.She thanked Heaven that itwas a waltz for, while thenew steps were
unknown, Maria knew thatshe could waltz—that was agift from Papa."With pleasure, Signor," shemurmured, rising."But you must take off yourhat, dear" Mrs. Blair toldher."My hat? Take off?""That brim is too wide, mydear. You couldnt dance.""But that would mean that Iwent bareheaded—like apeasant!" MariaAngelina faltered in mid-stride and they laughed ather discomfiture."Its much better than tryingto dance with the brim ofyour hide
making you stumble," Mrs.Blair pronounced -- andobediently Mariassmall hands rose and withonly a slight tremble sheremoved theovershadowing whiteness soeveryone could see thecoronet of heavydark braids piled up on herhead.She did not raise her eyes,and therefore did not seeBarry Elderssudden flash ofastonishment. Shyly sheslipped within his clasp andlet him swing her out intothe circle of dancers.Maria Angelina could waltz,indeed. She was fairy-footed, in fact and
for some moments BarryElder was so astonished thathe was contentto dance without speaking;then he bent his head closerto those darkbraids as if to catch thesmell of them.Maria jerked away from him,but his strong arms draggedher backand he grinned. "So I am thefirst handsome young manyou havemet in America?"Maria Angelina looked upthrough her lashes. "It isonly my first day,Signor!""Your first American—Ah,but on the boat! There musthave been
young men on that boat,handsome American youngmen?""On that boat? Signor!"Maria Angelina laughedmischievously. "Onereads of such in novels—yes? But as to that boat, itwas a floatingnunnery.""Oh, come now," heprotested amusedly, "theremust have been somemen!""Some men, yes—a shipsofficer, some married ones,a grandfatheror two—but nothing youngand very definitely, nothingAmerican."
"It must have been a greatdisappointment," said Barryas if he wereenjoying himself."It would not have matteredif there had been athousand. TheSignora Mariotti would haveseen to it that I met no one.She was avery good chaperon,Signor!""I thank her. She haspreserved the dew on therose, for me, the flushon the dawn—the wax forthe record and the—er—niche for thestatue. I never had mystatue done," said Barrygayly, "but if you
would care for it, in terracotta, rather small and neat——"Confusedly Maria Angelinalaughed."And this is your maidenvoyage of discovery!" Hewas looking downat her as he swept her abouta corner. "Rash youngperson! Dont youknow what happened toyour kinsman, Our FirstDiscoverer?""Columbus? No, but what?""He was loaded withfetters," Barry solemnly toldher."Fetters? But what fetterscould I fear?"
"Have you never heard," hedemanded of her upraisedeyes, "of thefetters of matrimony?""Oh, Signor!" Actually thecolor swept into her cheeksand her eyesfled from his, though shelaughed lightly. "That is agolden fetter.""Sometimes," he said, dryly,"it is only gilded."But Maria Angelina missedthe beat of his jest. "It wasnot untilColumbus returned to hisEurope that he was fettered.It was notfrom the—the natives thathe had such ill-treatment tofear."
"Now, do you think the—thenatives"—gayly Barrymimicked herquaint inflection—"will letyou get away with that? . . .You have agreat many discoveriesbefore you, SignorinaSantonini!"Deftly he circled, smilingdown into her upturnedface.Maria Angelinas cheeksflushed from merely poppypink to poppyrose. She was dancing as ifin a dream. She waswaltzing in aconfusion of young delightand a peculiar dread of hiswords, the light
mockery of his glances. Andthen suddenly the dancewas over, andhe was returning her to hercousins. And he was sayinggood-by."I have a table yonder—although I appear to haveforsaken it," hewas explaining. "Dontforget your first American,Signorina—Imsorry you are going to-morrow, but perhaps I shallbe seeing you inthe Adirondacks before verylong." He gave MariaAngelina a directlysmiling glance whoseboldness made her shiver inshock and step
back a full pace before shedropped into her chair.Then he turned to Mrs. Blair."You know my uncle has alittle shackbuilt on Old Chief Mountain—not so far from you atWilderness. Ialways like to run up there——""Oh, no, you wont, Barry,"said Mrs. Blair, laughing athisexplanation. "Youll berunning where the breakingwaves dash high,on a stern and rock-boundcoast."He met the sally with ananswering bubble oflaughter, a trifle forced.
"Im flattered you think meso constant! But youunderestimate thecharms of novelty. . . . If Ishould meet, say, a petitebrunette, doneup in cotton wool and dewywith innocence——""Youre incorrigible," vowedthe lady with a grin. "I haveno faith inyou at all!""You dont even have faithin my incorrigibility?""Ill believe it when I seeyou again. . . . Give my loveto Leila."He made a mocking grimaceat her. “To whom? Leila? Oh,I haveforgotten her.”
Then he stooped to claspMaria Angelinas hand. "Arivederci,Signorina," he insisted."Dont you believe a thingyour cousin tellsyou about me. . . . Im apoor, misunderstood youngman in a worldof merciless women. Addios,Signorina—a riverderci."And then he was gone,bouncing on the balls of hisfeet, so gay andbrown and smiling. Suddenanguish swept down uponMariaAngelina, like the coldmistral upon the southlands.He had pressed
her hands . . . ever so lightlybut without mistake. And hiseyes, thatshining brightness of hiseyes."Why did you rub it in aboutYork Harbor?" Cousin Jimwas speakingand Maria Angelina came outof her dream with sudden,painfulintensity. While her youngface held fast to theschooled, unstirreddetachment of the jeunefille, her senses werestraining nervously forany flicker of enlightenment."Why not rub it in?"countered Cousin Janebriskly. "Hell go there
before long, and he might aswell know that he isntthrowing anysand in our eyes. . . . Thissulking here in town issimply to punishLeila.""Sulking? Perhaps he isntsulking. Perhaps he doesntcare to runafter her any more. He maynot be as keen about LeilaGrey as youwomen seem to think."Maria Angelinas involuntaryglance at Mrs. Blair caughtthe superiorassurance of her smile."My dear Jim! He was simplymad about her. That lastleave, before
he went to France, he onlywent places so he couldmeet her.""Well, he may have gottenover it. Men do," arguedCousin Jimstubbornly.Cousin Jane laughed. "Mendont get over Leila Grey,Jim—not if LeilaGrey wants to keep them.""If she wanted so darn muchto keep him why didnt shetake himthen?""I didnt say she wanted tokeep him." Mrs. Blairs tonesweremysteriously, ironicallysignificant. "Leila wasntthrowing herself away
on any young officer—withnothing but his insuranceand the shirt onhis back. It was youngBobby Martin that she wasafter——""Gad! Was she?" Cousin Jimwas patently struck by this."Why,Bobbys just a kid and she——""Theres only two yearsdifference between them—inyears. But Leilacame out very young—andshes the most thoroughlycalculating——""Oh, come now, Jane—justbecause thegirl didnt succumb to theimpecunious
Barry and did like Bobbyspectoralendowments——! She mayreally haveliked him, you know.""Oh, come now, yourself,Jim," retortedhis wife good-humoredly."Just becauseshe has blue eyes! No, ifLeila really likedanybody I always had thenotion it wasBarry—but she wantedBobby."For a long moment CousinJim was silent.He seemed to be turning thething overwith his cigar. MariaAngelina sat still as a
mouse, fearful to breathelest all thesebewildering revelationsshould cease. Cousin Jane,over her secondcup of coffee, had the air ofa humorous and superiororacle.Then Mr. Blair said slowly,"And Bobby couldnt seeher?"He had an air of asking ifBobby were indeed ofadamant rejectionand Mrs. Blair hesitatedimperceptibly over thesweeping negative.Equally slowly, "Oh, Bobbyliked her, of course—shemay have turned
his head her way," shethrew out, "but I dontbelieve he ever lost itfor a moment. And after hemet Ruth that summer atPlattsburg——"The implication floatedthere, tenuous, iridescent.Even to MariaAngelinas eyes it was anarch of promise.She surmised that Ruth wastheir daughter, the Americancousin ofher own age. And theunknown Bobby was someone who liked Ruth?And he was some one whomthis Leila Grey had tried toensnare—
although all the time Mrs.Blair suspected her of likingmore theSignor Barry Elder. Thenwhy was she pretending tobe after Bobby?Maria Angelinas precipitousintuitions endorsed thatsupposition. Ofcourse this Leila liked thatBarry Elder. Of course. . . .But she had nottaken him. He was anofficer, then—withoutfortune. Maria Angelinawas familiar enough withthat kind of story. But shehad supposedthat here, in America, wheredowries were not exigentand the young
people were free to marrywhom they pleased. Theremust be moreto consider than romance.And now it was not evenLeilas parentswho had interfered,apparently, but Leila herself.What was it Mrs. Blair hadsaid? Thoroughlycalculating. . . .Thoroughly calculating—andblue eyes. Yes, those blueeyes must bewhat could turn a manshead. If it should be blueeyes thatAmericans—that is, to saynow, that Barry Elder—preferred——!
And then she wonderedwhy, if this Leila with theblue eyes had nottaken Barry Elder before,Cousin Jane now regarded itas a foregoneconclusion between them?Was it because that Leilacould not get thatSignor Bobby Martin? Or wasBarry Elder simply provingto be moresuccessful now that he hadleft the army?She puzzled away at it, likea very still little cat at anindestructiblemouse, but dared say not aword. And while she worriedaway her
surface attention wascaught by the glance ofcandid humorexchanged between Mr.Blair and his wife."Ah, Jane, Jane," he wassaying, in mock deprecation,"So, this iswhy we are spending thesummer at Wilderness, nottwo miles fromthe Martin place——?"Mrs. Blair was smiling, buther eyes were serious. "Ipreferred that tohaving Ruth going off to ahouse party at the Martins,"she said.At that Maria Angelina shookher head and ceased toattend. She
would know soon enoughabout her Cousin Ruth andBobby Martin.But as for Barry Elder andLeila Grey——! Had hecared? Had she? . . .Unconsciously her youngheart repudiated Janesreading of the affair.As if Barry Elder would beunsuccessful with anywoman that hewanted! That wasunbelievable. No, the truthmust have been that hesimply had not wanted her—enough.Surely he could not wantLeila now or he would nothave spoken so
impetuously of coming tothe mountains to see her—his direct glancehad been a promise, hisgaze a prophecy.Dared she believe him?Dared she trust? But he wasno deceiver, noflirt, like the lady-killers whoused to come to the Palazzoto bow overLucias hand and eye eachother with that half hostile,half knowingswagger. She had watchedthem. . . . But this wasAmerica.And Barry Elder? Surely, hetoo was—different.She was lost to the worldabout her now. Its color andmotion and hot
counterfeit of life beatinsensibly upon her; she wasaware of it onlyas an imposition, a denial tothat something within herwhich wantedto relax into quiet anddreaming, that wanted tolive over and overagain the intoxicatingexcitement, the looks, thewords. . . .She was grateful whenCousin Jane declared adesire for an earlyreturn. Maria could hardlywait to be alone."What did I tell you?" JaneBlair stopped suddenly intheir progress to
the door and turned to herhusband in low-tonedtriumph. "Shes withhim. Leilas with him.""Huh?" said Cousin Jimunexcitedly."Shes pretended someerrand in town—shes comein to get hold ofhim again, right now" wenton Cousin Jane hurriedly, asone who tellsthe story of the act to theunobservant. "Shes afraidto leave himalone. . . . And he nevermentioned her. I wonder——"Maria Angelinas eyes hadfollowed theirs. She saw agroup about a
table, she saw Barry Elderswhite-clad shoulders andcurly brownhead. She saw,unregardfully, a man andwoman with him, but all hereagerness, all her strainingvision was on the young girlwith him—agirl so blonde, so beautifulthat a pang went to MariaAngelinas heart.She learned pain in a singlethrob.She heard Cousin Jimquoting oddly in undertone,"And Beauty drewhim, by a single hair," andthe words entered herconsciousnesshauntingly.
If Leila Grey looked like that—why then—— why then hadBarry saidthat he would come to seeher!Maria Angelinas first nightin America, like that lastnight in Italy, wasof sleepless watchingthrough the dark. But nowthere were no childstears at leaving home. Therewas no anxious planning forpoorJulietta. Already Julietta andLucia and the Palazzo, evenPapa anddear, dear Mamma,appeared strangely unreal—like a vanished spell—
and only this night was realand this strange expectantstir in her.And then she fell asleep anddreamed that Barry Elderwas advancingto her across the longdrawing-room of the PalazzoSantonini and asshe turned to receive himLucia stepped between,saying, "He is forme, instead of Paolo Tosti,"and behold! Lucias eyeswere as blue asthe sea and Lucias hair wasas golden as amber and herface was theface of the girl in therestaurant.LUNCHEON AT THE LODGE
Wilderness Lodge, CousinJane had said, was a simplelittle place inthe mountains, not a hotelbut rather a restrictedaccess club housewhere only certain peoplecould go, and Maria Angelinahad pictured awhite stucco pension-hotelset against somebackground like thebare, bright hills of Italy.Instead, she found a greensmother of forest, an oceanof greennesswith emerald crests risinghigher and higher like giantwaves, and atthe end of the long motortrip the Lodge at lastdisclosed itself as a
low, dark, rambling building,set in a clearing behind ablue bend ofsudden river.And built of logs! Did peopleof position live yet in logs inAmerica?demanded the girls secretastonishment as the motorwhirled acrossthe rustic bridge andstopped before the widesteps of a veranda fullof people.Springing down the steps,two at a time, came a tall,short-skirted girlin white."Dad—you came, too!" shecried. "Oh, thats bully. Youmust enter the
tournament—Mother, didyou remember about the cupand the—youknow? What we talked of forthe booby?"She had a loud, gay voicelike a boys and as Mariawas drawn intothe commotion of greetings,she opened wide, half-intimidated eyesat the bigness andbrownness of this CousinRuth.She had expected Heavenknows what of incrediblecharm in the girlwho had detached theSignor Bobby Martin fromthe siren Leila. Her
instant wonder wassucceeded by a sensation ofgay relief. After all,these things went by chanceand favor. . . . And if BobbyMartin couldprefer this brown young girlto that vision at therestaurant why then—then perhaps there wasalso a chance for—what wasit the youngSignor Elder had called her?A petite brunette wrapped incotton wool.These thoughts flashedthrough her as one thoughtas she followedher three cousins across thewide verandas, full ofinterested eyes,
into the Lodge and up thestairs to their rooms, whereRuth directedthe men in placing the bigtrunk and the bags andhospitablyexplained the geography ofthe suite."My rooms on that side andDads and Mothers is justacross—andwe all have to use this onebath—stupid, isnt it, butDad is hardlyever here and theresrunning water in the rooms.Youll survive,wont you?"Hastily Maria Angelinaassured her that she would.
Glimpsing the white-tiledsplendors of this bath shewondered howRuth would survive the tintub, set absurdly in a redplush room of thePalazzo. . . ."Now you know your wayabout," the American girlrattled on, hertone negligent, her eyescolored with a little warmerinterest as herglance swept her foreignlittle cousin. "Frightfully hot,wasnt it? Illclear out so you can pop intothe tub. Youll just have timebeforeluncheon," she assured herand was off.
The next instant, fromclosed doors beyond, hervoice rose inunguarded exclamation."Oh, you baby doll! Mother,did you ever——"The voices sank fromhearing and Maria Angelinawas left with thefeeling that a baby doll wasnot a desirable being inAmerica. ThisCousin Ruth intimidated herand her breezy indifferenceand lack ofaffectionate interest shotthe visitor with the troubledsuspicion thather own presence wasentirely superfluous to hercousins scheme of
things. She felt more athome with the elders.Uncertainly she crossed toher big trunk and stoodlooking down onthe bold labels. How longsince she and Mamma hadpacked it, withdear Julietta smoothing thefolds in place! And how faraway they allwere. . . . It was not the oldPalazzo now that was unreal—it was thisnew, bright world and all thestrange faces. The chintz-decked roomwith its view of alienmountains seemed suddenlyremote and lonely.
Her hands shook a little asshe unpacked a tray ofpretty dresses andlaid them carefully acrossthe bed. . . . For someunconscious reasonshe had anticipated awarmer welcome from thisyoung cousin. . . .She winked away the tearsthat threatened to stain thebrightribbons, and stole into thesplendor of the whitebathroom, marvelingat its luxurious contrast tothe logs without.The water refreshed her.She felt more cheerful, andwhen she came
to a choice of frocks,decidedly a new current ofinterest was stealingthrough life again.First impressions were soterribly important! Shewanted to do honorto the Blairs—to justify thehopes of Mamma. This wasnot enough ofan occasion for the whitemull. The silks look hot andcitified.Hesitantly she selected theapricot organdie with adeeper-shadedsash; it was simple for all itsglowing color, though theshort frilledsleeves struck her asperhaps too chic. It hadbeen a copy of one of
Lucias frocks, that onebought to such advantage ofMadameRevenant. With it went agolden-strawed hat—butMaria Angelina wasuncertain about the hat. Didyou wear one at a hotel—when you livedat a hotel? Mammasadmonitions had notcovered that. She put thehat on; she took the hat off.She rather liked it on—butshe dropped iton the bed at Ruths suddenknock and felt a sense ofescape for Ruthwas hatless.And Ruth also still wore thesame short white skirt andwhite blouse,
open at the throat, in whichshe had greeted them. . . .Was theapricot too much then of atoilette? Ruths eyes werefrankly on it; herexpression was odd.But Maria knew that Mrs.Blair had changed for sheappeared now inthe doorway, dressed in bluelinen, very smart and verytrim.Worriedly Maria Angelinasdark eyes went from one tothe other."Is this—is this what Ishould wear?" she askedtimidly. "Am I not—asyou wish?"It would have taken a hardheart to wish her otherwise.
"Its very pretty," saidCousin Jane in quickreassurance."Too pretty, sall," saidCousin Ruth. "But it wont bewasted. . . .Bobby Martin is staying toluncheon," she flungcasually at herparents. "He has a guestwith him. You rememberJohnny Byrd."American freedom, indeed!thought Maria Angelinafollowing down theslippery stairs into the widehall below where, in aboulder fireplacethat was surmounted by astags head, a small blazewas flickering
despite the warmth of theday.Wasteful, thought MariaAngelina reprovingly. Onecould see that theAmericans had neversuffered for fuel as theItalians had.Upon a huge, black fur rugbefore the fire two youngmen werewaiting. Demurely Mariathought of the letter shewould write homethat night—one young manthe first evening in NewYork, two youngmen the first luncheon atthe Lodge. Decidedly,America brimmedwith eligible young men!
Meanwhile, Ruth waspresenting them to her. Thebig dark youth,heavy and lazy moving, wasthe Signor Bob Martin.The other, Johnny Byrd, wasshorter and broad ofshoulder; he hadreddish blonde hair slightlyparted and brushed straightback; he hada short nose with frecklesand blue eyes with lightlashes. When helaughed—and he seemedalways laughing—he showedsplendid teeth.Both young men staredfrankly at her—but staringwas a mans
prerogative in Italy andMaria Angelina wasunperturbed by theiractions. At table she satserenely, her dark lashesshading the oval ofher cheeks, while the youngmens eyes—and one pair ofthem,especially—took in the black,braid-bound head and thesmall,Madonna-like face, faintlyflushed by sun and wind,above the goldenglow of the sheer frock.Then Johnny Byrd leanedacross the table towardsher."I say, Signorina," he beganabruptly, "whats the Italianfor peach?"
and as Maria Angelinalooked up and started veryinnocently toexplain, he leaned back andburst into a shout ofamusement in whichthe others more moderatelyjoined."Dont let him get to you,"was Ruths unintelligibleadvice, and BobbyMartin turned to his friend toadmonish mockingly, "Now,Johnny,dont start anything. . . .Johnnys such a good littlestarter!""And a poor finisher," addedRuth smartly and bothyoung menlaughed again as if at a verygood joke.
"A starter—but not abeginner, eh?" chuckledCousin Jim, and Mrs.Blair smiled at both youngmen even as she protested,"This is thenoisiest table in the room!"Yes, it was a noisy table.Maria Angelina wasastounded at the hilarityof that meal. Already sheagain began censoring thedepth of herreport to Mamma. CertainlyMamma would neverunderstand Ruthselbows on the table, hershouts of laughter—or thepellets of breadshe flipped at the twoeligible young men.
And the words they used!Maria could only feel thatthe language ofMamma must be singularlyantiquated. There was somuch of theconversation that she didnot understand . . . so manywords that shehad never heard. What,indeed, was a simp, a boob,a nut? What awas the meaning of “a poorfish?”Maria held her peace, andlistened, confused by theastoundingvocabulary and the evenmore astounding intimacy.What things theysaid to each other in jest!
And anything that MariaAngelina said all three ofthem acted as ifthey took it in jest. Sheevoked an appreciative pealwhen sheventured that the Lodgemust be very old becauseshe had read thatthe first settlers made theirhomes of logs."Ill take you up and showyou our ancestral hut,"declared BobMartin. "Where Granddadused to stretch the RedSkins to dry by theback door—before tanningem for raincoats.""Really?" said MariaAngelina ingenuously, thenat sight of his
expression, "But how shall Iknow what you tell me istrue or not?"she appealed. "It all soundsso strange to me—the truthas well.""You look at me," saidJohnny Byrd leaningforward. "When I shut thiseye, this way, so, you shakeyour head at them. When Inod my chindown, like this — then youcan believe what they aresaying.""But, but you will not alwaysbe there when they aretalking,” Mariacomplained with a puzzledstare at him.
"Oh,” Johnny grinned andnodded his chin vigorouslyup and down.“Ill be there, right besideyou, like the weather. Didntyou say youwanted me to stay a month,Bob?"An explosion of laughtershook the room. A deepblush leaped acrossMarias cheeks even whileshe laughed with them. Shewas consciousof a faint and confused half-distress beneath hermountingconfidence. They were sovery jocular. . . .Of course this was but chaff,she understood, and shebegan to
wonder if that other, thatyoung Signor Elder, hadbeen but jokingwith her, having fun withher in the American way. . . .And yet thiswas all flattering chaff andso perhaps she could trustthe flattery ofher secret hope. Surely,surely, she would see himagain.Meanwhile she shook heryoung braids at JohnnyByrd. "But you areso sudden! I think he is aflirter, yes?" she said gaylyto Mr. Blair whosmiled back appreciativelyand a trifle protectively ofher.
But Bobby Martin drawled,"Oh, no, hes not. Hes toocareful," andthere was another explosionof laughter that rocked theroom.After luncheon they wentback into the hall where thethree mensneaked out into a side roomwhere cigars and tailoredcigaretteswere sold, and began fillingtheir silver cases. Mrs. Blairstepped outon the verandas and joined agroup there. Ruth remainedby thefireplace, and MariaAngelina waited by her,uncertain where she was
to go. "Your friends are verynice," she began with acertaindiffidence, as her cousinseemed to have nothing tosay. "That JohnnyByrd—he is very funny——""Oh, Johnnys funny?" Ruthasked in an odd voice. Sheadded, “No,hes a regular spoiled baby—hes had everything his way.Only an oldguardian to boss him.""You mean he is anorphan?""Completely."Maria Angelina did notsmile. "But that is very sad,"she said soberly."No life at home——"
"Dont get it into your headthat Johnny Byrd wants anyhome life,"said her cousin dryly, andwith a hard hint of warningin her negligentvoice. "Hes been dodginghome life ever since he worelongtrousers.""He must then," MariaAngelina deduced, verysimply, "be rich.""Rich?” Ruth turned herhead to one side as if shehad neverassociated that word withJohnny. “Well, he is one ofthe Long IslandByrds, you know."
It sounded to Maria like aflock of ducks, but sheperceived that it wasgiven for affirmation thatJohnny was rich. Shefollowed Ruths glanceto where the backs of theyoung mens heads werevisible, bendingover some coins they wereapparently matching. . . .Johnny Byrdshead was flaming in thesunshine. . . ."Johnnys a tough old birdfrom a hard-boiled egg,"Ruth said with asmile of inner amusement.But whatever cryptic signalshe flashed slipped unseenfrom Maria
Angelinas vision. JohnnyByrd was nice, but it was agay, cheery,everyday sort of niceness,she thought, with none ofthe quicksilvercharm of the young man atthe dinner dance. . . . Andshe wasunimpressed by Johnnysmoney; She took it forgranted that themillionaires in America wereas common as schools offish in the sea.Maria merely felt cheerfullythat Fate was gallopingalong hermothers expected course.Subconsciously, perhaps,she recorded a
possible second string to herbow. With tact, she thought,she turnedthe talk to Ruths youngman."And the Signor Bob Martin—I suppose he, too, is amillionaire," shesmiled, and was astonishedat Ruths derisive laugh."Not unless he murders hisfather," said that barbaricyoung woman.“Murders his father?”Ruth was relenting towardsher cousins ignorance, "Oh,Bob hasntanything of his own, youknow. . . . But his fatherstaking him intobusiness this fall."
Maria Angelina wasbewildered. Distinctly shehad understood, fromthe Leila Grey conversation,that Bobby Martin was avery eligibleyoung man and yet here washer cousin flouting anyfinancialcongratulation. Hesitantlyshe asked, "Is his father—ina goodbusiness?" she offered, andwon from Ruth moremerriment asinexplicable as her speech."Hes in Steel," shemurmured, which was noenlightenment to Maria.She ventured to morefamiliar ground. "He seemsto be very
handsome."To her astonishment Ruthsnorted. . . . But then Luciaalways bridledconsciously when onepraised how handsomePaolo Tosti looked."Dont let him hear you sayso," Ruth scoffed. "Hes toofat. He needsa lot more tennis."And then to Marias horrorshe raised her voice andconfided thisconviction to theapproaching young men."Youre getting fat, Bob. Ijust got your profile—andyou need a lot of tennis forthat tummy!"
And young Martin laughed—the indolent, submissivelaughter withwhich he appeared to acceptall things at the hands ofthis audacious,brown-cheeked, gray-eyedyoung girl.She must be very sure ofhim, thought the littleItalian sagely. Then,not so sagely, she wonderedif Ruth was exhibiting herpower to warnoff all newcomers. . . . Wasthat why she refused toadmit his wealthor his good looks—shewanted to invite nocompetition?
Maria Angelina believed shesaw the light. She wouldreassure Ruth,she thought eagerly. Shewas a young person ofhonor. Never wouldshe attempt to divert aglance from her cousinsadmirer.Meanwhile a debate wascarried on between golf andtennis, and wascarried in favor of golf byCousin Jim. There wasunintelligible talk ofhazards and bunkers andhandicaps for thetournament, of recordsand of bogey, and then asJohnny turned to her with acasual, "Like
the game?" a shadow ofmisgiving crept into herconfidence.She knew she could not playgolf. Nor could she playtennis. Nor couldshe follow the golfers—asJohnny Byrd suggested—forCousin Janedeclared her frock andslippers too delicate. Shedecided that shemust get into somethingmore appropriate. And inMaria Angelina theworried suspicion woke thatshe had nothing moreappropriate.A few minutes later CousinJane confirmed thatsuspicion as she
paused by the trunk theyoung girl was hastilyunpacking."Ill send to town for someplain little things for you toplay in," shesaid cheerfully. "You musthave some low-heeled whiteshoes andshort white skirts and abatting hat. They wontcome to much," sheadded as if carelessly, goingdown to her bridge game onthe veranda.But Maria Angelinas smallhands clenched tightly ather sides in apanic out of all proportion tothe idea. More expenses?she was in
shock, thinking quiveringly.More investment!She dropped beside hertrunk of pretty things in apassion offrightened tears.But the night swung herback to triumph again.For although she could notgolf, and her hands couldnot wield atennis racket, MariaAngelina could play thepiano and she could singlike the angels she had beennamed for. And the youngpeople at theLodge had a way ofgathering in the dark uponthe wide steps and
strumming chords on abattered guitar and warblingstrange strainsabout intimate emotions.And as Maria Angelinasvoice rose to blendin with the other youngpeople her gift wasdiscovered."Gosh, the little Wops aGalli-Curci," was John Byrdsaside to Bob.So presently with JohnnyByrds guitar in her handsMaria Angelinawas singing the songs ofItaly, sometimes in English,when she knewthe words, that all mightjoin in the choruses, butmore often in theirown Italian.
A crescent moon edged overthe shadowy dark of themountainsbefore her . . . the samemoon whose silver thread oflight slippeddown those far Apenninehills of home and touchedthe dome of oldSaint Peters. She felt faraway from home and lonely .. . anddeliciously sad and subtlyexpectant. . . ."O Sole mio——"As she sang, with her eyeson the far hills, her earscaught the whir ofwheels on the road below,and all her nerves tightenedlike wires and
she hummed with thecharged currents.Out of the dark she conjureda tall young figureadvancing . . . afigure topped by short-cutcurly brown hair . . . a figurewith eyes ofincredible brightness. . . .If he would only come nowand find her like this,singing. . . .It was so exquisite a hopethat her heart pleaded for it.But the wheels spun on pastthem."O Sole mio——"And it was only Johnny Byrd,staring steadily through thedusk, whodiscerned that there weresilver tears in her dark eyes.
She told herself that shewas foolish to hope for Barryto arrive sosoon. Of course he could notfollow her at once. He couldnot leaveNew York. He had work tobe done. She must not beginto hope untiltomorrow, at least.But though she talked toherself so wisely, she hopedwith everybreath she drew that hewould show up. She wasaccustomed toItalian precipitancy—andnothing in Barry Eldersuggested delay. If hecame, he would come whilehis memory of her wasfresh.
It would be either here orYork Harbor. Either herselfor that girl withthe blue eyes. If he reallywanted to see Maria at all, ifhe had anymemory of their dance, anyinterest in the novelty ofher, then hewould come soon. And so itwas that Maria Angelinasdays ranthrough a fever of anxiousexpectancy.At first it ran high. The honkof a car horn, thereverberation ofwheels upon the bridge, theslam of a door and the flurryof steps inthe hall set up that instant,tumultuous commotion.
At any moment, she felt,Barry Elder might arrive.Every morning herpulse confessed that hemight come that day; everynight her courageinsisted that the nextmorning would bring him.And as the days passed intoweeks her expectancyincreased. It grewacute. It grew painful. Thefeeling, as each day arrived,that he mightbe there gave her a tightpinch of suspense, ahammering racket ofpulse-beats—succeeded byan empty, sickening, sliding-down-tonothingnesssensation when she realizedthat he was not there, when
her despair proclaimed thathe would never be there—and then,stoutly, she told herself thatYES, he would come the nexttime.They were days of dreamsfor her—dreams and blushesas shedanced through therestaurant, of color, lightand music, and dreamedof that tall, slim figure . . .dreams of the dance, of thegay, halfteasingvoice, the bright eyes, thedirect smile. . . . Every wordhehad uttered becameprecious, infinitelysignificant.
"A rivederci, Signorina. . . .Dont forget me."She had not forgotten him.Like the wax on the recordthat he hadnamed she had guarded hisimage. Through all theswiftly developingexperiences of those strangedays she retained that firstimpression ofhim in her heart.She would think that shesaw him in every group. Sheblushed as shepictured him in everyexcursion. Above JohnnyByrds light, straighthair she saw Barrys close-cropped brown curls. . . .She held long
conversations with him inher imagination. In him sheconfided herimpressions. She read himItalian love poems anddelighted in heranticipations of the silvertinkles of his laughter.But still, he did not come.And sharply her heartwobbled from hope todespair. In sharpbitterness she told herselfthat he would never come.She did not believe herself.Beneath a set little pretenseofindifference she listenedintently for the sound of newarrivals; herheart turned over at a everyapproaching car.
But she did not admit it evento herself any longer. Shescolded herheart and said that she wasthrough with hope. She saidthat she didnot care whether Barrycame or not. She said shedid not even wanthim to come after all thistime, for he must be withthat goldenblonde, Leila Grey, ofcourse.Well all right then, she waswith Johnny Byrd and shereally did enjoyhis presence. She was withhim every day, for with thatamazing
American freedom, BobbyMartin came down to seeRuth every dayand the four young peoplewere always involved insome game withother couples from theLodge, hurrying off on somedrive, someexpedition.But it was not accident nor alazy concurrence withpropinquity thatkept Johnny Byrd at MariaAngelinas side.Openly he announcedhimself as tied hand andfoot in love with her.He admitted to one and allthat his admiration for herwas as vivid as
his red roadster. It was asunabashed and clamant ashis motor horn.His eyes rolled upward toheaven as he reveled in herresponses. Hemonopolized her. In his ownwords, “He lapped her up.”With amazing simplicityMaria Angelina accepted thismiracle. It wasonly a second-rate miracleto her, for it was not thedesire of herheart, and she was uneasyabout it. She did not want tobe involvedwith Johnny Byrd if BarryElder should arrive. . . . Ofcourse, if she
had never met BarryElder. . . . then Johnny Byrdwas a very nice,merry boy. And he was rich .. . independent. . . . If onehas nevertasted Asti Spumante, thenone can easily be pleasedwith Chianti.Thus her secret dream wasthe young girls protectionagainst overeagernessand her blushes were likeprizes in some exotic game.To her young hostess thisindifference came as anenormous relief."Shes all right," Ruthreported to her mother,upon an afternoon that
Maria Angelina had takenherself downstairs to thepiano and to aprospective call from JohnnyByrd while Ruth herself, inriding togs,awaited Bob Martin and hishorses. "She isnt jumpingdown Johnnysthroat at all," the girl wenton."I was afraid, you know,that first day, when sheasked such nuttyquestions about him. . . . Butshe seems to take it all forgranted now.That ought to hold Johnnyfor a while—long enough sohe wont get
tired and throw her down forsomebody else before heleaves.""You think, then, there isnta chance of——?"Mrs. Blair left the hypothesisin midair, convicted of beingan ancientmatchmaker in sentiment bythe frank amusement of heryoungdaughters look."No, my dear, there isnt achance of," Ruth socompetently informedher that Mrs. Blair, in revolt,was moved to murmur,"After all, Ruth,people do fall in love and getmarried in this world."
"Oh, yes?" Patiently Ruthgave this thought herconsideration and infair-mindedness turned herscrutiny upon past days toevoke somesign that should contradicther own conclusions. “Nah."Oh, Marias got something—and its something differentfrom the restof us—but it would takemore than that to doanything for JohnnyByrd.""You dont suppose shesbeginning to think——?"hazarded Mrs. Blair.Better than her daughter,she envisaged thecircumstances which
might have led, in herCousin Lucys mind, to thisyoung girls visit.Lucy, herself, had beentaken abroad in those earlydays by acompetent aunt. Now Lucy,in the turn of the tide, wassending herdaughter to America.Jane Blair would have lovedto play fairy godmothermatchmaker, justto make a benevolentgesture, of course, and toscatter largess. . . .But she was not going tohave it said that she was afortune hunter.She was not going to alarmJohnny Byrd and implicateBob Martin and
disturb the delicate balancebetween him and Ruth.Lucys daughtermust take her chances. Afterall, this wasnt Europe."Well, Ive said enough toher," Ruth stated briskly, inanswer to hermothers supposition. "Idont know how much shebelieves. . . . Youknow Ri-Ri is seething withOld World sentiment and shemay be sucha little nut as to think—butshe doesnt act as if shereally cared aboutJohnny at all. It isnt just apose either. . . . Do youimagine," said
Ruth, suddenly lapsing intoa little Old World sentimentherself, "thatshes gone on someone inItaly and they sent her overhere to forgethim? That might account——""Lucys letter didnt soundlike it. She was veryemphatic about MariaAngelinas knowing nothingof the world or young men.“I rather gathered," Mrs.Blair made out, "that thefamily had a plaindaughter to marry off andwanted to lay the pretty oneout in ambushfor a while—they take careof those things, you know."
"And I suppose if shecopped a millionaire in thislittle ambush theywouldnt howl bloodymurder," said the girl, withadmirable intuition."Oh, well——" She yawnedand looked out of thewindow. "Shesprobably having the time ofher life. . . . Im grateful sheturned outto be such a little peach. . . .When she goes back andmarries somefat spaghetti it will give hersomething to moon about torememberhow she and Johnny Byrdused to sit out and strumguitars to the
stars—— Oh. There he isnow.""Bob?" said Mrs. Blairabsently, her mind occupiedby her youngdaughters largesophistication."No, Johnny," said Ruth.She leaned half out thewindow as the red roadstershot thunderouslyacross the rustic bridge andbrought up sharply on thedrivewaybelow. With a shoutedgreeting she brought thedrivers red-blondehead to attention."Hullo—wheres the Bob?"Johnny grinned. "Trying toride one horse and leadanother. Sweet
mount hes bringing you,Ruth. Didnt like the way Ipassed him. Betyou he throws you.""Bet you he doesnt.""You lose. . . . Wheres thelittle Wop?""Do you mean LaMariaAngelina aLa Santonini?""Oh yes. Gosh yes. Would,you scoot across to her roomand tellLaMaria Angelina aLaSantonini that she has aperfectly good datewith me?""She powdered her nose andwent down stairs an hourago," Ruthsang down, just as a smallfigure emerged from themusic room upon
the veranda and approachedthe rail."The little Wop is here,Signor," Maria Angelina saidlightly as shetrooped down the woodenstairs.Completely unabashedJohnny Byrd beamed at her.It was a perfectlygood sensation, each time,to see her. One grew tosuspect, betweentimes, that anything soenchanting didnt reallyexist—and then,suddenly, there she was,like a conjurers trick, everylovely youngline of her.
Johnny knew girls. He knewthem, he would haveinformed you,backwards and forwards.And he liked girls—devilishcunning games,with the same old trumps uptheir sleeves—when theywore em—butthis girl was just puzzlinglydifferent enough to evoke acuriouslyhaunting wonder.Was it the difference inenvironment? Or in herself?He couldnt quitemake Maria out. He wasgroping for some clew, somefamiliar signthat would resolve all theunfamiliarities to oldacquaintance.
Meanwhile he continued tosmile cheerily at the youngperson he hadso rudely designated as alittle Wop and gestured tothe seat besidehim. “Come on. Lets go. Hopin," he admonished. "Let usbe offbefore that horse comes andsteps on me."But Maria Angelina shookher dark head. "I have toldyou, no, Signor,I could not go. In mycountry one does not ride offalone with youngmen.""But you are in my countrynow. And in my country onejolly well
does ride off alone withyoung men.""In your country—I am here,but yet just for a time, yes."MariaAngelina stood by her rail,like the boy upon theburning deck."But your aunt—cousin, Imean—would let you," heargued. "Ill shoutup now and see——"Unrelentingly, "It is not mycousin that would object,Signor, but mymother," she informed him."Holy Saint Cecilia! Shes nothere. She cant see you. Shedoesntknow what you are doing.Oh, youre worse thanboarding school.
Come on, Maria Angelina—Ill promise not to kiss you."Johnny thought that wasone of his best lines. Italways had a greatdeal of effect on her — oneway or another. The thoughtstartledMaria Angelina so much thatshe blushed. Her eyesopened wide as ifhe had set off a rocket in herface—and something verybright andlight, like the impishreflections of that rocket,danced for a momentin her look."I will write that promise tomy mother and see if itpersuades her,"she informed him cooly.
"Oh, all right, all right."With the sigh of thedefeated Johnny Byrdswitched off the gas andclimbed out of his car as itburped and died."Just for that, the promise isoff," he announced. "Do youthink yourmother would mind lettingyou sit in the same roomwith me andteach me that song youpromised?""She would mind very muchin Italy." Over her shoulderMaria cast alaughing look at him as shestepped back into the musicroom."There, I would never bealone like this."
Incredulously Johnny staredpast her into the musicroom. Throughthe windows upon the otherside came the voices ofbridge playersupon the veranda without.Through those samewindows were visiblethe bridge players heads.Other windows opened uponthe veranda inthe front of the Lodge fromwhich they had just come.An arch ofdoorway gave upon the widehall where a guest wasshuffling themail. "Alone!" Johnny asked,his chin dropping.
"When my sister Lucia andher fiancé, Paolo Tosti, aretogether, it isonly because "I am in thenext room with a book. Andthat is onlybecause my Mamma she isan American.""You mean—you mean yoursister and that—that toastedone shesengaged to have neverreally seen each other——?""Oh, they have seen eachother with their ——" Johnnycollapsedheavily in deep thought."The poor fish."But Johnny glanced withincreasing curiosity at theyoung girl by his
side. . . . After all, this jeunefille thing might be true. . . ."Well, Imglad your mother wasAmerican," he declared,beginning to strumupon the piano and invitingher to a seat beside him.But Maria Angelina remainedfar away on the bench,looking throughher music."Then I am only half aWop?" she asked. “And, shatis this thing then—a Wop?"Johnny Byrd, strikingrandom chords, looked up ather."What is it?" he repeated."Ill say that depends. . . .Sometimes its
dark and greasy and throwsbombs. . . . Sometimes itsbad and gladand sings Carmen. . . . Andsometimes its—its——"Deliberately he stared at thesmall braid-bound head, theshadowydark of the eyes, the scarletcurve of the small mouth."Sometimesits just the prettiest,youngest——""I am not so young," MariaAngelina indignantlydeclared."Lordy, youre just a babe inarms.""I am not." Her defiancewas furious. It had a twingeof terror—terror
lest they treat hereverlastingly as child. "I ameighteen. I am onlyone year and three monthsyounger than Ruth.""Shes a kid too," Johnnygrinned."The Signor Bob Martin doesnot think so!""The Signor Bob Martin isnuts on that particular kid.And hes just ayoung kid himself.""And do you think that youare——?""Sure. Were all kidstogether. Why not? I like it,"declared youngJohny Byrd.But Maria Angelina was notappeased. She had halfglimpsed that
indefinite irresponsibility ofthese strangers whichtreated youth as atoy, an experiment. . . ."And is the Signorina LeilaGrey," said she suddenly, "isshe, also, a,a, uh kid?"Roundly Johnny opened hiseyes. His face presented acuriousstolidity of look, as if aprotection against someunforeseen attack. Atthe same time it wasstreaked with humor."Now where," said he, "didyou get that silly idea?""Is it silly that she is also akid?"
"The Signorina Leila Grey?No," conceded Johnny, "theSignorina LeilaGrey was born with herwisdom teeth already cut. . .. And, at thatshe hasnt found so much tochew on," he murmuredcheerily.The girls eyes were brightwith divinations. "You meanthat she didnot—did not find your friendBob something to chewupon?"Johnnys laugh was aguffaw. It rang startlingly inthat quiet room."Youre there, Ri-Ri—absolutely there," he vowed."But where are you
exactly, I wonder——" Hebroke off. His look held bothsurmise and ashrewd suspicion."She is very beautiful.""Shes a wonder," headmitted heartily. "Yes—andIll say Bob nearlyfell for her. Its a wonder thashe could not gather him in.He justdodged in the nick of time—and now hes busyforgetting that he everknew her.""Perhaps," slowly puzzledout Maria Angelina,"perhaps the reasonwas because her attentionwas just a little—wandering."
Johnny yawned. "That oftenhappens to her." He struck afew chords."Wheres that little song ofyours—the one you weregoing to teachme? I could do somethingwith that at the next showat the club.""If you will just move overand let me sit down, Signor——""Move over? Im notcrabbing the bench.""But I wish the place in thecenter.""What are you fraid of, Ri-Ri?" Obligingly Johnnymoved over. "Why,you have me tied hand andfoot. Im afraid to move amuscle for fear
youll tell me it isnt done—inItaly."But Ri-Ri gave this parryonly an absent smile. "InNew York," she toldhim, "that Leila Grey was atthe restaurant with a youngman—withthe Signor Barry Elder.""Huh? Youve met BarryElder?""Are you,"—she was proudof the splendid indifferenceof her voice,—"are you a friend of his?"Uninterestedly, "Oh, I knowBarry, all right" Johnny toldher. "Thats abright boy—Barry. Awfulhigh-brow, though. Wrote aplay or
something. Not a bed scenein it. Oh, well," said Johnnyhastily, with aglance at the girls youngface, "I say, how does thisgo? Ta tump titum ti tump tump—what dothose words of yoursmean?""Perhaps this Barry Elder,"said Ri-Ri with averted eyes,her handsfluttering the pages,"perhaps he is the one thatLeila Greys attentionwas upon. Did you not hearthat?""Who? Barry?""Has he not," said the girldesperately, "becomerecently more
desirable to her—more rich,perhaps——""That play didnt make himanything, thats for sure,"the young manmeditated. "But seems tome I did hear—somethingabout an uncleshuffling off and leaving hima few thous. . . . Maybe heleft enoughfor Barry to buy Leila asupper.""Here are the Englishwords." Maria Angelinaspread the music openbefore them. "Mrs. Blair wasjoking with him," shereverted, "becausehe was not going to thatYork Harbor this summerwhere this Leila
Grey was. But perhaps hehas gone, after all?""Search me," said Johnnynegligently. "Im not mybrothers keeper.""But yes, you would know ifhe is coming with her to thedance at theMartins—that dance nextweek——?""What? Oh no. He isntcoming to the house party,hes not invited.He and Bob arent anythingchummy at all. Barry trainsin an oldercrowd. . . . Seems to me,"said Johnny, turning to lookat her out ofbright blue eyes, "Ill say,arent youre awflyinterested in this Barry
Elder thing. Didnt you sayyou met him in New York?""I met him—yes," said MariaAngelina, in a steady littlevoice,beginning suddenly to play."And I thought it was soromantic—abouthim and this Leila Grey. Shewas so beautiful and he hadbeen sobrave in the war. And so Iwondered——""Well, dont you wonderabout whos coming to thatdance. Thatdance is mine," said Johnnydefinitely. "I want you tolook yourdarndest—put it all overthose other flappers. Showthem your knees,
you know, all that you got,"Johnny suggested with thesimpledirectness in such vogue."And now come on, Ri-Ri—lets get into this together.I cannot now forget youAnd you think not of me!Come on, Maria Angelina!"And Maria Angelina, her facelifted, her eyes strangelybright, sang,while Johnny Byrd staredfixedly down at her, angrily,defiantly, sangto that unseen young man—back in the shadows——"I cannot now forget youAnd you think not of me!"And then she told herselfthat she would forget Barryvery easily and
well indeed.BETWEEN DANCESThere had been distinctproprietorship in Johnnysreference to thedance, a hint of possessiveadmonition, a shade ofanxiety to whichMaria Angelina was notinsensitive.He wanted her to “showoff.” His pride was calling,unconsciously,upon her, to justify hischoice of partner. He wantedher to be anexhibition . . . competition.It was the open market . . .appraisal. . . .No matter how charming shemight be in the motor rideswith the
four, how pretty and piquantin the afternoon at thepiano, howmelodious in the eveningsupon the steps, the fullmeasure of hisadmiration was not excitedin the least.Sagely she surmised this.Anxiously she awaited theevent.It was her first real dance. Itwas her first truly Americanaffair.Casually, in the evenings atthe Lodge, they had dancedto thephonograph and she hadbeen initiated into new stepsand shocked at
the intimate familiarity inthem. When Johnny did theCamel, Mariahad hurried away and didnot return for an hour. Eventhen, she washesitant and wary.The Martins wereentertaining over the week-end, and giving a danceto which the neighborhood—meaning the neighborhoodof the Martinsacquaintance—wasassembling. Again MariaAngelina felt the inrushof fear, the overwhelmingtimidity of inexperience heldat bay by pridealone . . . again she knewthe tormenting questionwhich she had
confronted in that dim oldglass at the PalazzoSantonini on the daywhen she had heard of theadventure before her.She asked it that night of adifferent glass, the big,built-in mirror ofthe dressing-room at theMartins given over to theladies—a mirrorthat was a dissolvingkaleidoscope of color andmotion, of bright silks,bare shoulders and whitearms, of red blushingcheeks, red lips and awreath of dark, shining hair.Advancing shyly among theyoung girls, filled withdivided wonder at
their total, self-possessionand their extremedécolletage, Ri-Ri gazedat the glass timidly,determinedly, fatefully, asone approaches anoracle, and out from theglittering surface was flungback to her aradiant image ofreassurance—a vision of aslim figure in filmiestwhite, slender arms andshoulders bare, dark hairnot braided now,but piled high upon her head—a revelation of a nape ofneck as youngand kissable as a babys andyet an addition ofbewildering years toher immaturity.
To-night she was glad of herradiantly white skin, thatwas a gift fromMamma. The white coralstring, against the satinsoftness of herthroat, revealed itsopalescent blush. She wasimmaculate, exquisite,like some figurine of fancy—an image of youth as sweetandinnocently troubling as aMay night."Youre a love," said Ruthheartily, appearing at herside, verystunning herself in jadegreen, with her smooth haira miracle of
shining perfection. "Andyoure—different," addedRuth in a slightlypuzzled voice, looking hersmall cousin over with thethoroughness ofan inventory."It must be the hair, Ri-Ri. . . . Youve lost that littleSaint Susy air.""But there is no Saint Susy,"Ri-Ri interposed gaily,lightly fingeringthe dark curves of her hair.Truly—for Johnny—she haddone her darndest! Surely hewould bepleased."If youd only let me cut thatlower—youre simplyswaddled in tulle——"
Startled, Maria glanceddown at the hollows of heryoung bosom, atthe scantiness of her bodicesuspended only by bands ofsheerestgauze. She wondered whatMamma would say, if shecould see herso, without that drape ofnet. . . ."You have the duckiestshoulder blades," said Ruth."Oh what? Do they show?"cried Maria Angelina indismay. Shetwisted for a view and themovement drew Ruthsglance along herlithe figure.
"We ought to have cut twoinches more off," shedeclared, and nowRi-Ris glance fled down tothe satin slippers with theircrossedribbons, to the narrow,silken ankles, to the slenderlegs above theankles. It seemed to her anutterly limitless exhibition.And Ruth wasproposing to raise the hemtwo more inches?Apprehensively sheglanced about to make surethat no scissors were inprospect."But youll do," Ruthpronounced at last, and inrelief Maria Angelina
relinquished the center ofthe mirror, and slipped outinto the gallerythat ran around three sidesof the house.It was built like a chalet, butMaria Angelina had seen nosuch chaletas this in her childishsummers in Switzerland.Over the edge of therail she gazed into the hugehall, cleared now fordancing. Thefurniture had been pushedback beneath the gallerywhere it wasarranged in intimate littlegroups for future tête-à-têtes, except a few
lounging chairs left on theblack bear-skins by thechimney-piece. Inone corner a screen of pineboughs and daisies shut offthe musiciansfrom the streets, and in theopposite corner an Englishman-servantwas presiding over a hugesilver punch bowl.To Maria Angelina,accustomed to Italianinteriors, the note wasbuoyantly informal. And theluxury of service in thisinformality was apiquant contrast. . . . No oneseemed to care whatanything cost. . . .
They gave dances in a logchalet and sent to New Yorkfor the favorsand to California for thefruit. . . . Into the hugepunch-bowl theypoured wine of a value nowincredible, since the supplycould neverbe replenished because ofthis strange thing called“Prohibition.”How very different would beLucias wedding party in thePalazzoSantonini, on that marvelousold service that Pietropolished but threetimes a year, with everymorsel of refreshmentarranged andcalculated beforehand.
What miracles of economywould be performed in thatstone-flaggedkitchen, many of them byMammas own hands!Suddenly MariaAngelina found a moment towonder afresh at thatmother . . . andwith a new vision. . . . ForMamma had sprang fromthis profusion."They have a regular placeat Newport." Ruth wasconcluding someunheard speech behind her."But they like thisbetter. . . . This is thelife," and with a just faintlydiscernible note ofproprietorship in her airshe was off down the stairs.
"Didnt they find Newportrather chilly?" murmuredthe girl to whomshe had been talking."Wasnt Mrs. M. a Smith or aBrown-Jones orsomething——?""It was something inbutterine," said anotherguest negligently andswore, softly and intensely,at a shoulder strap. "Oh,damn thething! . . . Well—flop if youwant to. Ive got no boops tohide.""You know why girls hidetheir ears, dont you?" saidthe other voice,and the second girl flungwearily back, "Oh, so theycan have
something new to showtheir husbands—I heard thatin my cradle!""It is rather old," its sponsoracknowledged wittily, andthe pair wentclattering on.Had America, Maria Angelinawondered, been like this inher mothersyouth? Was it from suchspeeches that her motherhad turned, inhelplessness or distaste, tothe delicate implications, thefinishedinnuendo of the Italianworld? Or had timeschanged? Were thesegirls truly different fromtheir mothers? Was it a newsociety?
That was it, she concluded,and she, in her old-worldseclusion, wasfrom a totally different erafrom these assured ones. . . .Again, for amoment the doubt of hercapacity to cope with thesetimes assailedher, but only for a moment,for next instant she caughtJohnny Byrdsupturned glance from thefloor below and in its flashof admiration, asunstinted as a sun bath, herconfidence drewreanimation.Later, she found that samewarmth leaping at her inother mens eyes
and in the eagerness withwhich they kept cutting in.That act of cutting inbewildered her. It filled herwith a terrifyingperspective of what wouldhappen if she were not cutin upon 253a