A Hole in Haute Society 2

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AUGUST 2, 1908
avenues with the pretty daughter afterward. The sharpest picket
ever mounted is open to a surprise, and this one was captured
in spite of almost audible demure and repeated apologies. No
laggard school-boy ever resisted duty with more determined
obstinacy! But when 1 o'clock came on the appointed day I
was nearing Du Pont circle; feeling as "put upon" as a man
always does, when his will has been, or is, or is about to be,
- crossed.
I began by losing the address, and arrived shamefully
late at the right number. It was third course by the luncheon,
and I only preceded the game by half a minute; my late
coming seeming to embarrass my hosts unduly, although
my place had apparently been removed. So I hastened to
make myself as charming as possible to the family, and a
little patronizing to a German baron who had the seat of honor.
With the ladies there seemed a growing lack of ease, and
the chat rippled haltingly; their constraint reacting to my
advantage in imperturbability and address. Even to my
clumsy man's instinct there seemed a hitch.
After an interesting talk with the son of the house,
- a promising young scientist, - I took my leave, - the loss of
my drive being sufficiently explained in my own mind,
by the unforeseen presence of the baron.
As I passed the drawing-room door, madam,
with a light hand on my sleeve, detained me, saying,
"Cousin Blank, did you receive my note?"
"Note?" I repeated, "No, madam, when did you send it?"
"This morning early."
"Ah, - my loss, - this must be good-by, I fear,
- charming luncheon,"
I murmured, intent on backing myself into the open air once more.
Then a strange thing happened behind that closed portal
and had I possessed ears to match those eyes for which the immortal
Weller longed, I should have heard, - "Thank heaven! it was lost!
Blessings on the wretch of a black porter who lost it! I am saved!"
Tableau. Time, 4 o'clock: One bachelor entering his mother's
parlor in innocence.
The Mother: "Welcome, - agreeable time?"
Bachelor: "Oh quite, - but you know I am sensitive
to atmospheres and felt a sort of constraint over the family."
The Mother: "That was your imagination, - as
older people told me as a child when I was particularly
happy or sad over anything! But here is a note for you,
- it was just brought in, but evidently sent early this morning."
Bachelor - Taking it and reading aloud in a leisurely manner: -
Dear Cousin: My daughter is so indisposed that we are obliged
to deny ourselves the very great pleasure of your company at
luncheon, and the drive following. It is a matter of deep regret
to us, as my husband and son are obliged to be out of town,
and I can offer you no attractions. Another time, may we be
more fortunate! Till then, yours in most cousinly estate.
It was as still as Eden for a minute; and then such a shout
of derisive laughter as touched the ceiling! The mother was
silently indignant.
The sister, intellectually interested, - exclaimed,
"She outdoes Becky!"
But the bachelor had found a hole in society and sat absorbed,
- looking into it. Tracing unconsciously on the back of the note
just read, a pair of scales ladened with the baron, on one side,
as a counter poise to himself, in the ascending balance;
while the dainty jeweled fingers of madam - "Our Cousin"
- held firmly the beam!