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Uian Dell



THE CONCENTRATIONS OF BEE





The Works of

Lilian Bell

rr

Abroad with the Jimmies $1.50
At Home with thejar dines 1.50
T7i<? Concentrations of Bee 1.50
Hope Lori ng 1.50

Carolina Lee 1.50

y/z^ Interference of Patricia 1 .50




c. /MC.E: s- COMPANY

New England Building
Bos ton ) Mass.







CONCENTRATIONS





Frontispiece by cAT. *Button

BOSTON

L.C. PAGES COMPANY

1909




Copyright,
BY L. C. PAGE & COMPANY
(INCORPORATED)

Entered at Stationers Hall, London



All rights reserved



First Impression, October, 1909



Eltctrtlyped and Printed by
THE COLONIAL PRESS
C. H. Simttids (5r- Ct., Boston, U. S. A .



TO

fcleine

WHO IS MORE BELOVED BY HER FRIENDS THAN SHE

CAN BE MADE TO BELIEVE, AND TO WHOM THIS

LITTLE VOLUME IS DEDICATED BECAUSE

I LOVE THE FRAGRANCE OE HER

UNSELFISH DAILY LIFE





(HI)? (Eflttrcntratfottfi of

SCENE. Bohemia with occasional excursions into

High Life
TIME. The present

fforaona in thr Unrtk

BEATRICE LATHROP, a young widow

FAITH JARDINE, her sister, who tells of the
" Concentrations of Bee " and other things

AUBREY JARDINE, Faith s husband, an "Angel"
in her estimation, also a playwright

MR. JIMMIE, a broker of good heart, with much
money but not much manners. Faith s firm ally

MRS. JIMMIE, another "Angel"

LAFLIN VAN TASSEL, a young millionaire archi
tect "handsome as Apollo" a pleasing com
bination

BOB MYGATT, a graceless scamp " with Irish blue
eyes." He is also a writer of comic operas

EDWARD MUNSON, Bob s cousin, an artist
ELEANOR MUNSON, his wife, a portrait painter

AVA CORLISS, "a nice girl" with a mission, en
gaged to Bob

"OUR DEAR LYDDY," a rich old maid, Bee s
sister-in-law, and also engaged to Bob

AMY LEVERING, another "nice girl" with a
different mission

LAURA CLYDE, another girl, not so " nice "
HOPE LORING, a heroine
" DUSTY " MILLER, a West Point cadet
And several other characters of less import
ance, mostly Bohemians





Preface

To those gentle critics and versatile friends
who persist in rinding prototypes in real life
for my characters in fiction, I am compelled to
issue a statement of facts.

In spite of complimentary inquiries as to
who furnished me with the originals of each
of my dear Jimmies, I must say with Mrs.
Gummidge : " I don t believe there is no sich
a person." If I did, how I would cultivate
them both !

In like manner, although I possess a sister,
she is not the Bee of this story, nor, alas, is
there any James or Lyddy or Bob Mygatt or
Laflin Van Tassel, or in fact anybody !

Nothing in this story is real tears choke
me as I say it ! except possibly the automo
bile!



vii



Contents



:HAPTKR PACK

I. THE PROBLEM OF LIVING i

II. IN WHICH BEE TAKES A HAND . 19

III. FROM A SISTER S POINT OF VIEW . 39

IV. BEE AND HER CELLARETTE . . 52
V. OUR FIRST STUDIO DINNER . . 68

VI. WHAT HAPPENED AT SHERRY S . 79

VII. BOB S ENGAGEMENT .... 96

VIII. NAPOLEONIC STRATEGY . . . 113

IX. DEVELOPMENTS 138

X. BEE S VERSION OF THE VENGEANCE

OF THE EIGHTH . . . . 152
XI. THE WIDOW ASSISTS . . . .163
XII. THE MARRIAGE OF PEARL MAR
GUERITE 196

XIII. IN SEARCH OF A HUSBAND . . 207

XIV. IN WHICH BOB MAKES A PROPOSAL

OF MARRIAGE . . . .222
XV. IN WHICH BOB BEGINS His CAREER

OF MARRYING .... 230

XVI. DR. BRAGG PLAYS His PART . . 240
XVII. IN WHICH BEE APPLIES A COUNTER

IRRITANT 264



x Contents

CHAPTER PAGE

XVIII. ELEANOR S RECEPTION AND WHAT

CAME OF IT 276

XIX. IN WHICH BEE SURMOUNTS ANOTHER

OBSTACLE 282

XX. PLANS 296

XXI. LYDDY S FIRST AND BOB S SECOND

WEDDING . . . . 306

XXII. Two WIDOWS AND THEIR WORK . 311



The Concentrations of Bee

CHAPTER I

THE PROBLEM OF LIVING

"TF our Bee," said Jimmie to me one day
when we were travelling from Vienna

Jl to Buda-Pesth, " ever concentrates on a
thing, that thing is a goner. If she ever con
centrates on a woman, that woman is a goner.
And if she ever concentrates her peculiar men
tal energies on a man " Jimmie flung up
his hands " God help him ! "

I have never mentioned these remarks be
fore, although they come back to me, under
the present conditions, with the conviction that
Jimmie is not nearly the fool I sometimes
think him, and also because I was not then
ready to devote myself to a description of
Bee s deadly work, but now I am. For an
other thing, Jimmie said this just after Bee s
flirtations with the Austrian officers for mis
sionary purposes and to spread the gospel of
the American woman among the heathen of



2 The Concentrations of Bee

^ ^ . ^ ^- ^^ ^

foreign lands, so I simply thought he was re
ferring to Bee s admirable target practice in
bringing down her victim without half trying.
Yet I remember even then wishing vaguely
that Bee would concentrate on her husband,
our beloved James, who, to speak moderately,
was the most exquisitely disagreeable person
any of us had ever met, and whose chief de
light was to see those around him made
wretched by some word or deed of his own
coining. Also, while she was about it, I
thought it would do no harm for her to con
centrate on Lyddy Lathrop, her sister-in-law,
our beloved James s acidulous sister. But I
said nothing at the time for the reason that
we strove to bear our burdens in a silence,
which if not dignified, was at least stoical.
Also for the reason that the public always be
trays a maudlin sympathy with anyone whom
we, of the Happy Family take the trouble to
dislike, because we are so unnaturally fierce in
our fluent denunciations of our victims, yet
never bother much to explain what they have
done to incur our royal displeasure.

However, things have changed. Family
matters have developed and become so public
that everybody knows why we ignored the
Lathrops all we could and people now begin to
see a reason.



The Problem of Living 3

In the first place James has had the good
taste to die the only considerate thing I
ever remember his doing, and knowing how
much pleasure this one act would confer on
all his relatives, he deferred it as long as pos
sible. However he did die after all, but we
never dreamed how mean he was going to be
about it until after his will was read. Then,
nobody ever said to any of us again, " My
dear, how can you say such things? " because
they were occupied in saying things about him
just as bad, or worse.

There s a good deal in having public sym
pathy with you, even if it is unintelligent. It
saves many tiresome explanations.

James died just a few weeks after the Angel
and I went abroad, so I had not seen my sister
since her liberation, nor did we obtain any
clear idea of how the property was left until
we came home, for Bee likes to have her sur
prises complete and dramatic.

In one way or another the Jimmies had also
been prevented from seeing her, so that we
were all on the qui vive, which, knowing Bee,
must have suited her exactly.

I knew that by the fact that she allowed her
self to be called out of town the day before we
landed, leaving only a letter to greet our re
turn.



4 The Concentrations of Bee

As for us we had just come home from a
year in Europe, where the Angel had been
seeking local colour for a new play. We
didn t really go because we wanted local col
our. We went because Peach Orchard bored
the life out of us after the new wore off.
Country life is really more to be admired than
enjoyed, especially by such as the Angel and
I, who are unhappy unless we can see the lights
of Broadway by going on the roof.

We were, of course, stony broke. I hate
people who come home from Europe with
money. It shows that they don t know how
to enjoy themselves.

But being impecunious did not worry us at
first. We knew that all we had to do was to
show the new play to any one of the eager
managers, who ought to have been at the pier
to meet us and so secure a first chance at the
" masterpiece."

So we went to an hotel where we had suf
ficient credit not to be invited to pay a month s
rent in advance and the Angel jauntily sub
mitted his play to the manager who had made
a neat little fortune out of our first play and
who almost lost the shoes off his feet on the
second. He returned it after some delay in
dicating the changes to be made. Indignantly



The Problem of Living 5

the Angel took it to a second manager and
then to a third.

Finally in the fourth week of our credit at
the hotel, the Angel decided to make the
changes insisted upon by our first manager.
But alas this would take at least a month ! In
the meantime where was the money to live on,
coming from?

We decided that we must go to housekeep
ing. The tenants of Peach Orchard were hard
up and paid their rent whenever they could.
We tried them, but it was like tapping a vac
uum. We couldn t turn them out because they
owed us too much money. Besides we didn t
want to stay in the country in the winter any
way.

We looked everywhere for an apartment
but the Subway had raised rents appallingly.
It was now the twenty-ninth day of our credit.
I suggested borrowing money. The Angel
shook his head.

" If we borrow of our personal friends, we
should lose them. You can t stay friendly
with people you have borrowed money from."

" It would be a nice comfortable way to end
certain friendships," I observed thoughtfully.
" Now there s Elkinson. Borrow a hundred
of him and then we won t have to know him."



6 The Concentrations of Bee

" But I thought you liked his wife," ob
jected the Angel.

" That s so, I do. Men who are good for
nothing but to borrow money from, always
have wives too nice to be sacrificed."

We ran over a list of our friends, and put
prices on our estimate of them, but finally gave
up the idea. There was always the fear that
they might refuse and then we should hate
them so we d have to give them up anyway.

" I heard to-day that there was a new artist
studio building just finished that Munson and
Fanshaw and McElroy and several others had
clubbed together and built. Suppose you go
and see what s to do," said the Angel.

Now Munson and his wife, both artists,
were jewels in our crown. They were almost
as useful to us for literary purposes as the
Jimmies, so I rushed around to this building
and found it to be the most blissful spot I had
ever seen. The top studio was Munson s.
Half of his furniture had been moved in and
was piled hither and yon with no care for the
fine pieces and looking even more topsy-turvy
than necessary.

But alas for the Jardines, there was nothing
to sublet. It had been a good year for artists
and they were all disgustingly paid up, conse
quently haughty.



The Problem of Living 7

As I came down in the elevator, there stood
Munson waiting to go up.

He was very tall and thin and wore a frock
coat and silk hat that ended somewhere among
the rafters.

" Do I smell of mothballs ? " he said with
out preface. We had not met for over a year.

I sniffed delicately.

" No more than most of us do at this sea
son," I said, breaking it to him as gently as I
could.

" I hope it isn t very bad " he began anx
iously.

" Well, in the open air "

" That s just it ! It will be in a close room.
We are going to lunch at the Waldorf with
Frau Polisky of the Grand Opera. In her
private suite. My wife is going to paint her.
It s a fortunate thing that one of us can make
money."

"What s the matter?"

" My pictures were skied, and the mural
paintings I did for McGinnis library are all
done, but he went to Egypt for the winter
before they were completed and won t pay for
them until he has seen them. Result we are
broke, stony broke and shall be for three
months."

" Munson," I observed feelingly. " There



8 The Concentrations of Bee

are but three square meals between us and the
poorhouse."

" Is that so ! " exclaimed Munson with in
terest. " Let s go up to the studio and organ
ize ourselves into a Ways and Means Com
mittee."

" Now," he said, politely standing until I
had seated myself upon a cracker box. " How
is it with you? "

When I had told him, Munson smoked
thoughtfully for a moment. Then he said:

" I see no way out of it but for you to sub
let this apartment."

" It would be beautiful," I said, " but what
would you do? And what are you going to
do with all this furniture?"

" Our plans are all made. We shall stay
where we are and only come to town to paint.
Eleanor has the studio next this. As for the
furniture, can t you use some of it ? I thought
you sold your kitchen utensils and everything
that was not worth storing?"

" We did."

" Well, use ours. It will save our having
to store them or move them to the country
where we don t need them."

" But " I said.

He waved me to silence.



The Problem of Living 9

" Now, as I said, Eleanor has this next
studio "

" But you can t both use that," I inter
rupted.

" Wait. You and Aubrey take this apart
ment. I have held it at three thousand dollars.
I ll let you have it for twenty-four hundred.
Two hundred a month, payable in hundred
dollar instalments on the first and fifteenth of
every month."

" Nice and easy," I said. " We ll take it."

" Good. Now then, as you are out every
morning anyway, I ll sub-sublet this studio
room from you until two o clock every day,
for fifty dollars a month. That will let me
work all I need to and will give you a drawing
room every afternoon and evening and all day
Sundays."

I began to laugh.

" Let s pay each other in advance," I said
gurgling. " I ll send you a cheque to-night."

" And I you," he answered. A pause.
Then he said :

" Excuse me for asking, but will your
cheque be good ? "

" Certainly not," I replied with spirit.
"Will yours?"

" Alas, I am afraid not."



IO The Concentrations of Bee

" But it will be a nice way to exchange au
tographs," I said. " Girls generally want Au
brey to add a sentiment when they ask for his.
Shall he add a sentiment to your cheque?"

" It would do no harm ! "

" Then we can paste these cheques on our
mirrors until they are negotiable. The mere
possession of them will increase our assets."

" You are a business woman," observed
Munson w r ith admiration.

" Now, there is but one thing more to do,"
he said, presently when we had both ruminated
upon this pleasant solution of our difficulties,
" and that is for one of us to borrow some
money."

" It will have to be you, then," I said rue
fully. " We have no securities that are not
already punched full of pinholes."

" I have never borrowed any money on my
stock in this building," observed Munson
thoughtfully.

" Then do it this minute," I cried raptu
rously.

The only trouble is," he paused to roll a
fresh cigarette, " that I have lost the certifi
cate."

" Won t they give you another ? "

" Yes, but it will take time and then it would
have to be marked duplicate and the bank



The Problem of Living 1 1

might hesitate to accept it. And all that would
cause delay, whereas our necessities are im
mediate."

"Then find the first one! That s the an
swer to that!"

" I have looked everywhere. I think I shall
consult a clairvoyant."

I shrieked with laughter.

" They do help one to find things," he said
solemnly.

Then seeing that I continued to rock and
roar he said reproachfully:

" If she helps me to find it and I should lend
you enough money to make your cheque good,
would you stop laughing? "

My teeth came together with a snap which
nearly made me owe the dentist also.

" What would you do for ten thousand
dollars ? I d hate to tell you, " I quoted
gravely.

As the clairvoyant lived near, I promised
to wait and while Munson was gone I wan
dered over the apartment and placed the furni
ture in my mind s eye.

He soon came back with a grin on his face.

" She told me everything described me
and Eleanor and said we were artists, that I
had lost a valuable paper that I wanted to
borrow money on, described my desk at home



12 The Concentrations of Bee

where I thought I had put it, the disorder of
it, and said the thing was not lost. She told
me where to look for it, but, she said, your
fellow artists will be much annoyed if you hy
pothecate your stock. Don t do it. You can
get the money in another way. There is a
friend of yours, a slim, boyish looking man
who knows you own this stock, who will lend
you money on your own note.

" That describes Aubrey ! " I cried in hor
ror.

" Who will lend me money on my note? "
cried Munson.

" That s so. I forgot that part of the de
scription," I said. " Well, who can it be? "

" Oh, I know who it is. He has offered to
buy my stock."

Then go to him this minute ! " I cried.

" It s too late to-day. I ll go the first thing
in the morning. Now I must go and get some
thing to eat. I haven t had any lunch."

" It s three o clock," I said. " I thought
you were to lunch at the Waldorf with your
wife and Frau Pol i sky."

" I forgot all about it," he said simply.
" Well, Eleanor won t be surprised. When we
are at work Eleanor and I often go without
lunches altogether because it s too much
trouble to go out."



The Problem of Living 13

Now, I not being a genius, was shocked, my
housewifely instinct being aroused.

" You might take your lunches with me," I
suggested. " Then you would get them regu
larly."

" You are awfully kind, but when Eleanor
has a sitter, or I have a model, we couldn t
spare the time to go."

" Then I ll send them in on trays and you
can nibble as you work. Just salads and fruit
and milk."

"The very, very thing!" cried Munson,
with the first and only enthusiasm I had ever
seen in him. " That is the only thing neces
sary to complete my happiness."

" And," I continued, beaming, " when you
want to stay in town for the night, I ll lend
you those two big couches of mine that you
can roll into Eleanor s studio."

Munson rose.

" It was Fate that sent you here to-day,"
he said, " and that made me forget to lunch
at the Waldorf. I came down frightfully dis
couraged this morning thinking that I d be
compelled to rent this apartment to a stranger,
and it was like the thought of parting with
a friend. Now, I have all the use of it I
need and all the comforts of a home thrown
in."



14 The Concentrations of Bee

" I must go home and tell Aubrey to make
out your cheque," I said.

He shook hands with me and rubbed his
silk hat with his sleeve, thereby making it
worse.

" If I get that money, tell the old man I ll
lend him five hundred," said Munson.

We parted, mutually pleased with each
other.

When I told Aubrey, he expanded in a
silent grin.

" There were once two impecunious fami
lies," he observed, " who sought to support
themselves by taking in each other s washing."

" That is a vulgar translation of an idyl in
high finance," I said. " I feel as if I had sim
ply solved the problem of living."

But I propose and Bee disposes.

In all this I had carelessly omitted to take
into consideration the fact that my sister s
year of widowhood was over and that she
would soon be at liberty to take the helm of
our ship of state, so to speak.

Jimmie was the first to mention it. When
we went, fairly bubbling, to tell them the news,
he frowned a little because we had not come
to him first, but when he saw our faces begin
to go red, he changed his tactics to a more
efficacious protest.



The Problem of Living 15

" When is Bee coming back ? " he asked.

Unsuspiciously I answered.

" In about a week ! "

" Does she know what you have planned ? "

" No, but " I began blithely.

Then I remembered Bee s executive ability
and my face fell. Whereat Jimmie grinned
prodigiously, and felt that he was avenged
because we didn t go to him when we needed
money.

But our view of Bee deserves an explana
tion. Most persons consider my sister Bee a
very exclusive and haughty individual simply
because she has some respect for her own per
sonality. She does not claim to come under
the head of the genus hoi-polloi. She does
not go through life clapping her men friends
on the back and kissing her women friends
simply to show a degree of familiarity which
she does not feel nor aspire to. Bee is digni
fied, cool, firm, diplomatic and ambitious. She
is also worldly and philosophical.

On the other hand she is tender hearted to
her own, with a supreme capacity for love;
loyal unto death, as grateful for kindness as
an Indian and equally as just in returning it.
Her generosity is tempered by a nice study of
her own resources. Consequently she never
has to lie awake nights vainly lamenting rash



1 6 The Concentrations of Bee

gifts of money poignantly needed for daily
bread like some people I could mention.

But of all her characteristics, two stand out
with salient distinctness. One, her diplomatic
domination of home, family, friends, acquaint
ances and circumstances. The other her iron,
unswerving, relentless, soundless determina
tion to do to quote Jimmie as she jolly
well pleases. Only he does not say " jolly
well."

Again to qualify. By that I do not mean
that she defies public opinion by impulsive or
unconventional acts. Far from it. Bee would
suffer boredom until she ached before she
would yawn frankly in a dull man s face. She
is conventionality itself to all outward appear
ances. Perfectly circumspect, perfectly turned
out, perfectly correct in manner, dress and
conversation is our Bee. But if she should be
invited to spend a month in a friend s house,
and the wall paper in her friend s private bou
doir did not please Bee s fastidious taste, she
would so manipulate her friend s mental per
spective that the wall paper would come under
derision. Then it would be decided to change
it and Bee would be employed to drive down
and help her friend select a different sort.
But, such is Bee s genius, to the day of her
victim s death, she would never suspect that



The Problem of Living 17

she had been the subject of mental sugges
tion.

What do you call that?

I call it a genius for administration. Bee
never offends nor affronts the most sensitive
vanity. Never wounds the most quivering
Ego. Things simply go Bee s way. That s
all.

And because Bee refuses to be drawn into
the maelstrom of another s life and declines
to be a straw on another s whirlpool, undis-
criminating persons call her cold and selfish.
Bee s selfishness is simply selfpreservation.
She protects her own individuality. She de
clines to suffer the vicarious wear and tear of
those who precipitate themselves into the lives
of others.

Yet she is capable of single, distinguished
acts of goodness of following out occasional
human clews in a manner highly to her credit.
Indeed Bee is a woman of remarkable charac
ter and in spite of all the fun we make of her,
we never do things without her advice that
we are not sorry for it, so that after all, it
really is more comfortable to let her run
things. We have all the fun we want in regis
tering kicks against her authority and then
meekly yielding to her administration.

Aubrey, however, being an in-law, some-



1 8 The Concentrations of Bee

times resents my habit of yielding to her judg
ment and therefore, to my intense surprise,
for on Jimmie s hint I was perfectly willing
to wait and consult, he went the next day and
signed the lease with Munson.

When he told me I gasped.

" Where did you get the money, dear? " I
cried.

" I always have money," said Aubrey,
loftily displaying a large roll of bills. I have
always suspected that he got them all in ones
just to impress me.

I smiled at his reply. Then I found out that
he had got it by mortgaging his peace of mind
for a year and agreeing to change his play to
suit a manager, fat of purse but lean of mind.

Thus did the Angel purchase liberty of one
sort by the sale of freedom of another.



CHAPTER II

IN WHICH BEE TAKES A HAND

I REPEAT I had not seen my sister since
her husband died until she met us in New
York.

Now, as I have said, one of Bee s salient
characteristics is that she is always perfectly
garbed for the time and place, so that the
moment I looked at her clothes, I realized
that a year had passed since she went into
black.

When you come to think of it, mourning
clothes are supremely vulgar. They are a
mental speedometer. By them you can gauge
the flight of time and the pace of your grief.

The first few months your deep bands of
crape say : " I am feeling very miserable in
deed. My grief is poignant. I suffer."

Then as your note paper gives you more
room to write, it seems to say : " I am feeling
better. I do not grieve as much. I am begin
ning to forget."

Then you leave off crape and appear only in


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