gone to have a chat with the stable-boys."
" Humph ! " and Allen, with a facial contortion
evincing much inward irritation, drops his eyeglasses
off his nose. Luckily they are attached to a slender
silk cord and do not come to grief. " Do you know
the more I see of the English aristocracy the more in-
explicably inconsistent, the more extraordinarily self-
contradicting do they appear to me to be. We Ameri-
cans are blamed and abused for our * universal equality
notions ' as you call them and are twitted with call-
ing our servants ' help,' and with being on equal terms
with them. You do this "
" I'm sure I never said anything of the sort."
" I mean you collectively. I say you do this with
one breath, and with the other you go to your stables
and have a familiar chat with your grooms and stable-
boys, and see no harm in it. Stay I make no point
of its being intrinsically wrong. It's harm depends on
the sort of people these grooms and stable-boys are.
They may or may not be advantageous companions
for young gentlemen. The chances are they are not.
It is not because they are grooms or stable-boys, but
because especially in England association with such
people, as you commonly find them, is not likely to im-
prove a youth's mind. Otherwise, there can be no
actual harm. But it is not that I am thinking about.
It is the glaring inconsistency of the thing on the part
of people who despise us for not having our servants
say ' sir ' and ' ma'am ' to us every two minutes, and
who at the same time associate with their own servants
on a far more familiar footing than we do with our
' help.' All I can say is, if you do these things you
have the right neither to criticise us, nor to exclude
from your intimate acquaintance anybody on the mere
ground of class."
Allen stops and rearranges his eyeglasses to look
" Why do you wear those things ? " she asks.
Allen is rather put out by her seeming indifference
to his remarks :
" Why does a miller wear a white hat ? "
" Then you wear them to keep your eyes warm ?
What an extraordinary reason ? "
" Oh, you always turn everything I say into ridi-
The entrance of the butler and a couple of footmen
with their luncheon puts a stop to further conversa-
tion save of the most conventional character be-
THE Bouveries arrived before afternoon tea in a
formidable family party of five father, mother, two
daughters, and, much to Lady Oaktorrington's surprise
and ill-concealed vexation Jack.
Lord Oaktorrington still remains in town. He is
detained by important political events, he writes to his
wife by the evening's post. An important division on
the Ground-Game Bill is expected to-night, he goes on to
say, and Salisbury has made it a personal favor, my re-
maining. I have an especial reason for wishing to please
him, as you know he has eight livings in his gift, and one
must think of Bertie. Besides, should the Government be
defeated, her Majesty will send for Salisbury at once,
and /:e has hinted his intention to offer me a seat in the
Cabinet as Lord Privy Seal, or the Lord- Lieutenancy of
Ireland, whichever I like. I expect to get home to-mor-
row, but in any event I shall not be kept much longer, as
Parliament must be up in a day or two, now"
11 1 don't believe a word of it," is Lady Oaktorring-
ton's comment, as she throws her husband's letter down
on the table. " It is only another excuse."
As a matter of fact, Lady Oaktorrington is wrong.
Though the marquis has cried wolf so often without
just cause that when at last he means it his cry is dis-
credited, this time (with one exception) his statement
is quite true. The single exception is, however, but a
mistake, and a minor one to him. The measure under
discussion in the House of Lords is the Local Govern-
ment for Scotland Bill, the Ground-Game Bill having
been passed three years before ! It is really all one to
Lord Oaktorrington. To him it doesn't matter in the
least what the measure is, so long as he knows which
way he is to vote. As for the marchioness, her knowl-
edge of politics and political history dates but from her
enrollment as a Primrose League dame by the Hert-
ford Habitation a year ago, and consists chiefly of a
hazy, indistinct, but nevertheless bitter hatred of
Gladstone, and of Mr. Joseph Chamberlain the accred-
ited leader of the Radical party.
She takes up the marquis's letter once more, and
reads it through again.
" No. Just as I thought. Not a word about Har-
borough. The man I wanted hasn't come, and the
man I didn't want has. I can't understand it." She
is in a complaining humor, with no one to complain to.
It is dull work growling to herself, and she misses her
husband, who is her usual safety-valve in that regard.
She has no confidences with her daughters, and her
sons, with the exception of Freddy, are too unsympa-
thetic to listen to her five minutes without yawning in
her face. In her extremity she turns for comfort to
Lady Henry Tollemache. They are all in the draw-
ing-room at five o'clock tea that is to say, tea is over,
and everybody is sitting about the room talking in
couples. Lady Bouverie, a tall, thin, vinegar-faced
woman, whose distinguishing characteristics are huffi-
ness (called sensitiveness by herself) and family pride,
is conversing in whispers with Lady Mary, on what
subject it is difficult to conceive, for they have not one
thought in common. However, as their lips move oc-
casionally, it is presumable they are saying " something
or other about something." Lord Bouverie is talking
to Allen, Lord Beyndour to Emily Bouverie, and Lady
Edith to Jack, while Augusta Bouverie sits alone and
" I don't know what you'd think of it," Lady Oak-
torrington begins, as soon as she sees everybody set-
tled, and makes sure there are no listeners, "but to me
it is a most unheard-of thing."
" What is, dear Lady Oaktorrington ? " asks Lady
Henry, all ears in a moment, thinking she is on the
threshold of some startling scandal. " Pray tell me.
It shall go no further, I assure you."
"Why, having a man come uninvited to your
"Who has done that?" Lady Henry asks, looking
round questioningly at the male guests, so as to shape
her answer accordingly. " The American gentleman ? "
" Oh, dear, no ! "
" It's rather like them, you know. They do that
sort of thing among themselves, don't you know, and
think they can introduce their customs among us. I
was told a curious thing about a Yankee the other day,
by-the-bye, which is rather Apropos. You know the
Delancey Veres, of course. Well, Lady Charles and
her maid were coming home from Cannes, and were
crossing from Boulogne to Folkestone. On board, as
usual, were a lot of Americans. One of them, a lady,
noticed Lady Charles was looking rather ill, don't you
know, and, seeing her sitting on deck, where she went
for the air, supposed she had no cabin. So she went
up to Lady Charles, introduced herself as Mrs. Gen-
eral, or Judge, John T. Spaulding, of New York, or
Cincinnati, I forget which, and insisted upon Lady
Charles going down to her cabin, where she and her
husband, a fearful snob, had a couple of bottles of iced
champagne, and made her drink some. Poor Lady
Charles was all alone, don't you know, except her
maid, and was afraid to refuse for fear of a scene,
these people were so pressing. Indeed, they wouldn't
take any refusal, and the general, or judge, actually
came up and assisted Lady Charles down the compan-
ionway with his arm round her waist. Just fancy ! "
" How dreadful ! Why didn't she send for the cap-
tain ? "
" Poor thing, I expect she never thought of that,
she was so bewildered. She goes about very little,
don't you know, and it was her first journey abroad."
" What a mistake traveling alone like that ! It
shows how dangerous it is."
" It does indeed. But that is not the worst part of
" I suppose the champagne was drugged, and they
robbed her," suggests Lady Oaktorrington.
" Oh, not quite so bad as that," smiles Lady Henry.
" They kept with her all the way to Charing Cross,
forcing themselves into the same compartment in the
train, and were actually almost carrying her off in the
cab with them to the Langham Hotel, when luckily
her footman appeared and rescued her. She says they
never rested till she gave them her name and address
she was shrewd enough to give them false ones and
gave her a pressing invitation to visit them in New
York or Chicago I wish I could remember which it
was as if she would ever go to the States, and actual-
ly invited her maid, too ! "
" How disgraceful ! "
" Lady Charles tells me poor Oilman acted so well
about it. She never answered or took any notice of
" How clever of her ! "
" Yes, wasn't it ? And such a sell for them, not
finding out who Lady Charles was. I dare say they've
been passing their time trying to find the " Duchess of
Yorkshire " at " 45 Regent Square (that's the name
and address she gave them there's no such title, as
you know, and no such square, ha, ha !), and will go
back to America and say all sorts of uncivil things of
the English nobility in consequence. But you haven't
told me who came without being asked. It can't be
Lord Bouverie ? "
The marchioness shakes her head.
" Oh, no, of course not. Then it must be Jack
Bouverie. Don't you think I ought to have been a
man and gone to the bar ? You don't mean to say
Jack did such a thing as that ? Shan't I give him a
jolly good rowing."
" I certainly beg you won't. I've told you in con-
" Oh, yes, of course ; I forgot. Poor Jack," Lady
Henry says to herself, " I wonder why you weren't
asked ? Ah, yes, of course," and she shuts her left eye
slowly after regarding Allen for a second or two.
" One eye is enough to see that. Of course, this Amer-
ican gentleman I forget his name ah, yes, Allen. I
suppose, of course, he's awfully rich. They all are,
don't you know in England."
Lady Oaktorrington doesn't quite catch the last
two words, but there is something in Lady Henry's
face which makes her heart drop down bump ! into
the soles of her shoes.
" Why, what do you mean ? "
" Oh, nothing. He's very rich, isn't he ? Oh, yes,
I remember, you told me he was to-day."
" Yes, he is," Lady Oaktorrington answers, buoying
up her drooping spirits, and fortifying her doubting
heart (as one often does) by the self-deceiving assump-
tion of firmness.
" Oh, you know, of course." There is ever so
slight an emphasis on " know," and the marchioness
is now enough on the alert to detect it. Her heart can
not drop any further, but she gets a choke in her voice
as she answers :
" Y yes we know."
She thinks of Freddy's telegram in her pocket, and
wishes she might have another look at it to make as-
surance doubly sure. She has not had time to read it
once all the afternoon, since she got it, and then she
only glanced hurriedly over it.
" Because," Lady Henry goes on, " one hears such
odd things, sometimes, of the way they impose upon us
in England by their pretended wealth. Now, only
the other day But it can not interest you or be
a propos of your friend, so I "
" Oh, do tell me, I beg of you, dear Lady Henry,"
Lady Oaktorrington says, with anxious eyes. " I should
so like to hear."
Lady Henry smiles cruelly behind her handker-
chief, and reels off as she spins :
" It's not very much. Only this : Sir Charles Heath-
cote, who has lately been over to the States, fell in with
an American on board the steamer coming home. A
1 10 ARISTOCRACY.
most agreeable, pleasant, well-mannered fellow he was,
Sir Charles says. They occupied the same stateroom,
and became very great friends. I forget the name of
the young man, but at all events he seemed to have
plenty of money to chuck about, and was a great favor-
ite with every one on board. They traveled up to-
gether from Liverpool to London, and had a compart-
ment together It was at night, and Sir Charles fell
asleep, and didn't wake up till they got to St. Pancras.
Sir Charles there bid his new friend good-by, the young
man saying he was going to stay at the Grand Hotel.
Well, to make a long story short, next morning Sir
Charles found his pocket-book was missing, with a
couple of hundred pounds in it in circular notes. Poor
chap, even then his suspicions weren't aroused, and he
posted off to the Grand Hotel to tell his American
friend his loss, and, would you believe it "
" The young man wasn't there, had never gone
there," the marchioness suggests between quick gasps.
" Half right and half wrong. He had been there,
but had left by the early morning Tidal for Paris. He
left a note for Sir Charles, to say he had been tele-
graphed for by his brother, but would return in a few
days. And fancy, Sir Charles swallowed the thread-
bare excuse, and is anxiously awaiting his return ! /
should have communicated with the Paris police with-
out a moment's delay, shouldn't you ?"
" Y yes, dear, I should," the marchioness answers,
absently, staring straight before her.
" So one can't be too careful, don't you know, can
one ? "
" N no, dear, I suppose not," and Lady Oaktor-
rington's eyes rest thankfully on Jack. " How glad I
ARISTOCRACY. ! r i
am no2u that he is here," she thinks. " How silly I
was to speak of it.
" I can't get over Jack's behavior," Lady Henry
says, after a short pause. " I think I really must give
him a good rowing," and she rises from her seat.
" Not for worlds, dear. I beg of you not," the
marchioness implores. " Do, pray, sit down again. I
want your help about something. I'm in a tangle about
how I'm to send them all in to dinner. You see, I of
course must take Lord Bouverie, and Beyndour Lady
Emily, and that will leave only Jack Bouverie or or
this American gentleman for you, dear Lady Henry.
I'm so very sorry."
" Oh, I don't mind in the least," Lady Henry says,
airily. " Pray don't trouble about me."
" We expected that Lord Alfred Pictou and Montie
Vereker, whom we've asked to stay, would be here
to-day ; and the Duke of Harborough actually wrote
and proposed himself for yesterday, and he "
" Harborough coming here ? " and Lady Henry's
voice shows much agitation. " You you never told
me," and she gives a mental stamp with her foot.
" I didn't think of it. Why, my dear, you don't
mind meeting him, do you ? I thought, of all people "
" Oh, it's not that. But never mind. Which, then,
am I to have, Jack or the Yankee ? "
" Whichever you like."
" Oh, give me the Yankee, by all means."
Lady Henry watches the marchioness's face nar-
rowly as she says this, and sees, by the look of relief
which comes into it, that both her stories have taken
" Thanks so much, dear," Lady Oaktorrington an-
swers. "That will leave Jack for Mary, and the
Bouverie girls will have to go in by themselves with
Edith. It's all settled so nicely, although I wish I had
some other men."
The words are hardly out of her moufh when the
door is thrown open, and the butler announces
" The Duke of Harborough ! "
As the name lings out through the room Lady Oak-
torrington, every thought of her now unsettled plan
merged in but one of supreme satisfaction, and beam-
ing with smiles, rises quickly and goes to meet his
Grace ; Lord Bouverie stops in the middle of a long
dissertation on the Queen's regulations for the army
in his day, with which he has been regaling Allen, and
toddles forward with a fawning grin ; Lady Bouverie
gives a slight start, but instantly lapses back in bolt-
upright placidity ; Emily Bouverie screws up her mouth
and winks at Lord Beyndour, who takes not the faint-
est notice ; the other three girls sit demurely oblivious
as all properly brought up young ladies should under
all circumstances ; Lady Henry turns as red as she can
under her powder, and looks a curious mixture of an-
noyance and pleasure ; and Allen, with a face of utter
and silent amazement, glances quickly ever at Lady
LADY OAKTORRINGTON'S plan of sending in her
guests to dinner receives a further disruption by the
arrival, just before the dressing-gong goes, of the
Honorable Montague Vereker. Montie Vereker, by
ARISTOCRACY. l j
which name he is best known, is a younger son of Vis-
count Hampstead. He is a " young man about town,"
as the phrase goes, who, on an allowance of four hun-
dred a year from his father, manages to live well, dress
well, have chambers in Bennet Street, St. James, to
belong to three or four swell West End clubs, and to do
the London season every summer, and a round of coun-
try-house visits every winter. Besides amusing him-
self he does nothing. It is not that he has not brains
enough and natural ability enough with which, if set
going in the right direction and through the proper
channels, he might accomplish by work something to
do him credit and honor ; but simply that his educa-
tion and bringing up have fitted him for nothing but
aristocratic (though economical) idleness. He goes to
two or three balls a night from May to August, seldom
misses Epsom, Ascot, or Goodwood the Derby and
Cup days never and is generally to be found at San-
down and Newmarket. He is a swimmer '' in the
swim " if any man is, and is, in short, a fashionable
idler. He is young about six and twenty and
though, except on account of his rank, not considered
an " eligible," and then only by the title-seeking par-
ents of some trade-made heiress ; he is one of a large
army of useful and ornamental, though comparatively
impecunious, young gentlemen in aristocratic London
society, who can dance, flirt, talk fluently the gossip
and small talk of the hour, and who make the "men"
at every entertainment during the season, from state
balls at Buckingham Palace to "small and early"
dances in Belgravia and Mayfair. He is eminently
safe on the marriage question. He was never known
to commit so vulgar, ill-bred, and altogether unaristo-
cratic an error as to fall in love ; and such a thing as
entertaining a serious idea of any of the dozens of girls
with whom he dances, flirts, and gossips from one year's
end to the other, has never entered his head. He
knows better. It is his utter neutrality which obtains
and retains for him the entree to the best houses, and
gives him unlimited and free access to the society of
young girls, who from other men of less circumspect
habits and equally light purses, are guarded by lynx-
eyed papas and mammas as from the approach of raven-
ing wolves. He is an authority on everything fashion-
able, from the last figure introduced in the cotillion to
the latest cut of trousers or style of shirt-collar ; and
has at his fingers' ends all the scandal and tittle-tattle
of the hour, from the whispered name of the co-
respondent in the next divorce case before Sir James
Hannen or Sir Charles Butt, to all the minor legacies
in the will of every rich maiden aunt or bachelor uncle
in the kingdom. He is a fund of information on every-
thing considered useful in society but nowhere else.
So long as he cultivates the qualities which at present
distinguish him, and observes a strict adherence to the
rules and regulations which they entail, so long will
he never want a dinner to eat or a bed to lie upon
from the fathers and mothers of girls needing partners
at balls, and a helping hand generally to make not only
their coming out a success, but their going through a
second season a possibility. He has assisted a dozen
or more girls to good marriages, and one of these days,
when he finds his social power and prestige on the
wane, and his grip upon society loosening, he will think
of marriage himself, and will select the heiress of some
title-hunting city magnate of obscure origin but pletho-
ARISTOCRACY. H 5
ric bank account, or retired millionaire brewer who
began life on sixpence ; and in the dowry he gets with
his wife will find ample amends for red hair, freckles,
vulgarity, and ^-dropping.
The proper adjustment of the niceties of the scale
of precedence which controls the British aristocracy
as by a rod of iron, and which is never more strictly
observed than in the sending of guests in to dinner, is
a science in itself ; and if a thorough knowledge of all
the intricacies and ramifications of rank can entitle her
to the honor, Lady Oaktorrington may justly be called
a scientist. But she has nothing on the present occa-
sion to test her skill in this respect. The rank of each
guest is too clearly defined to admit of any question.
There are no conflicts arising out of similar titles, no
claims of superiority that can not be seen at a glance
without consulting the peerage for creation dates. She
herself will, of course, go in last with the Duke of
Harborough, Lord Beyndour will take in Lady Bou-
verie first, then Lord Bouverie will follow with Lady
Henry Tollemache, and after them will come Montie
Vereker and Lady Mary. Up to this point it is all
plain sailing with her. After this her troubles begin.
And her troubles consist of but one difficulty, and that
lies in the answer to the question of not where, but
with whom she shall send in Allen. As an American
gentleman he is legitimately and logically the peer of
any man. If the status of a man in his own country
be the criterion, no one should outrank an American
in any other. Unfortunately, this is not admitted in
England (at all events among the aristocracy), where
all Americans must take rank with English " misters "
who have no title, if indeed Americans are allowed to
have any rank at all. But it is not Allen's rank or
right of position which troubles Lady Oaktorrington's
rnind. Where he ought to be placed never enters her
head. If that were all she would soon come to a de-
cision. As a matter of fact she believes (in common
with her class) that as an American, and because he is
an American, he should yield precedence to every
Englishman present, and be content to be sent in the
last of her guests. To do this she would not hesitate
if it becomes necessary upon her settling the real diffi-
culty in her mind with whom she shall send him. The
duke's coming has dislodged Lord Bouverie from his
place of honor with her, and makes it imperative, much
to that lady's disgust, that he should be allotted to
Lady Henry Tollemache, the next lady in order of
rank. That leaves Allen free, and who his partner
shall be partakes very much of the character of a
dilemma. In fact, two dilemmas stare the marchioness
in the face. She doesn't want Lady Edith to have
him, and she does. The new doubts which Lady
Henry's tales have raised in her mind support the
negative of the proposition, while Freddy's telegram
takes the affirmative side In the one case she should
shield her daughter from his attentions ; in the other,
she should not throw any obstacle in his way. If he
doesn't take in Lady Edith he must Emily Bouverie,
and Emily Bouverie is about the last girl on earth in
whose way she would throw any young man on whom
she had an eye for either of her daughters. This is
dilemma No. i. Then, if she doesn't let Allen take
in Lady Edith, there is but one man left for her to go
with, and that is Jack, and Jack is almost, if not quite
(in her mind), as bad as Allen may be. There is
the difference of the present and the future between
" I can't send Jack in with his sister," she reflects.
" That would be simply outrageously bad form. And
yet I must if I don't let him go with Edith. What
shall I do ? " This is dilemma No. 2.
She is still in doubt when she goes up to dress for
dinner. While her maid is dressing her hair, she gets
her first fair chance to read Freddy's telegram again.
It reassures her immediately, and she decides at once
in Allen's favor on all points. She reads the telegram
once more :
" Treat him civilly. He is all right, of course"
This is all it says.
She reads it again, and the warm sense of security
and satisfaction about her heart quickly falls in tem-
perature. As no doubt most of us have experienced,
the more she studies and reads and thinks, the more
uncertain does she feel. By the time she has read and
weighed the words half a dozen times they bear a
totally different construction from that which she put
upon them at first. Freddy has seen no one, it is evi-
dent, and has really found out nothing, and his tele-