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timent seems like such vapid sentimentality.
. . . But here we are at the Lothrops'. What
a throng of carriages ! "

There was also a throng of young girls in
the drawing-rooms as Agnes and Meta entered
them. Miss Juliet Lothrop had a flushed,
nervous look. Agnes pitied her more than
ever, as she watched her shaking hands with
guest after guest, and endeavoring to achieve
a proper ideal of "■ small talk." The pain of
the struggle made the result seem more
meagre.

Meta was very popular. Without making
II



1 62 A HOPELESS CASE.

the least effort, she seemed to attract her own
sex beyond the power of most women. Agnes
stood beside her and listened to the conver-
sation. Now and then she joined in it She
observed, presently, that Meta was talking
with a young girl whose rosy cheeks and
brilliant black eyes suited the merry crispness
of her conversation. Agnes felt won toward
the girl immediately ; her manners contrasted
with those of nearly everybody about her as a
brisk spring wind with a dead summer fog.
Presently she said something to Meta in a
low voice, and soon afterward Meta turned
and presented her to Agnes as Miss Bigsbee.

The name gave Agnes a sort of shock ; it
appeared to sit ungracefully on its prepossess-
ing bearer. " I am delighted to meet you,
Miss Wolverton," said Miss Bigsbee, with a
sweet, dimpled smile. " I saw you last night
at Mrs. Huntingdon's. What a pretty ball,
was n't it .? "

"Very," said Agnes. '' It was my first.**



A HOPELESS CASE. 1 63

"Yes. But you had had your social chris-
tening, the day before, had you not ? I mean
at your reception. I heard what a success
that was. Everybody seemed to enjoy it so
much."

"Were you not there.?" asked Agnes, in-
nocently.

" No," said Miss Bigsbee. "I have not the
pleasure of knowing Mrs. Leroy. She has not
been entertaining for several years, I believe.
I see that they are going in to lunch. Shall
we go in together.?"

Agnes moved toward the dining-room with
her new friend. They sat together for a con-
siderable period, after this, partaking of some
refreshment which was supplied to them by ob-
sequious attendants from a table that groaned
with costly edibles. Miss Bigsbee was a light
and extremely desultory talker, but Agnes
found her breezy gayety a pleasant diversion.
As far as they went, her good spirits appeared
spontaneous and real ; that alone was a potent



164 A HOPELESS CASE.

recommendation, where the atmosphere hung
so heavily charged with insincerity.

"This promises to be an unusually lively
winter," at length said Miss Bigsbee, bending
over an ice, which she ate with a fork. " I
suppose, of course, that you will join the new
dancing-class which Miss Brown is getting up.
You have heard of it ? "

" No," said Agnes, smiling to herself as
Miss Brown's name was mentioned. . . . "Since
I do not dance, I have probably been excluded
from the list of members."

" Oh, I think not," said Miss Bigsbee. " You
will certainly be asked. Indeed, I heard that
your name was on the list. It is to be some-
thing especially nice and exclusive, I am told.
Each member has the privilege of sending in
eight names."

"And have you decided on your fortunate
eight "i " inquired Agnes.

Miss Bigsbee lifted her shoulders, with a sad
little smile. " I have not been made a mem-



A HOPELESS CASE. 1 65

ber," she said. " I am not a great favorite
with Miss Brown, I fear."

" Neither am I," said Agnes, dryly.

" No } But her mother and Mrs. Leroy are
quite intimate," replied Miss Bigsbee. " Oh,
I am sure that you are to be made a member."

" Are you perfectly sure .^ " asked Agnes.
As she now looked at Miss Bigsbee, a sudden
idea crossed her mind.

"Yes," was the response, "there is no doubt
of it — no doubt at all."

Agnes deliberated for an instant. " In that
case," she said, " I shall be very glad to offer
you an invitation. Will you accept it ? "

" Thanks, you are very good," said Miss
Bigsbee, with the brightest smile she had yet
shown. "Yes, I shall be charmed."

Just then Meta joined Agnes. "You de-
serted me," said Meta. " I have been looking
everywhere to find you."

" Miss Bigsbee and I have been having a
chat together," said Agnes.



1 66 A HOPELESS CASE.

Meta slightly turned ; Miss Brown was at
her elbow. " Here she is," said Meta, signifi-
cantly.

Miss Brown approached Agnes. She wore
a conventionally pleasant smile ; she had on a
tiny black-lace bonnet that was dotted over
with buttercups, and a costume that was a
model of Parisian elegance.

" I have been looking for you," Miss Brown
said to Agnes, in her prim, calm way. She
then lowered her voice so that Miss Bigsbee,
who was standing quite near, could not possi-
bly have overheard what she was saying.

" You are on the list for the new dancing-
class," she began. " Mrs. Leroy knows all
about it ; I suppose she has told you."

Agnes nodded. She felt an immense secret
amusement. She saw perfectly that Miss
Brown had struggled with a severe antipathy,
but that certain considerations had induced
her to make the present overture.

" I have heard that each young lady has the



A HOPELESS CASE. 1 6/

privilege of sending in eight names," said
Agnes, very amiably. ''You are extremely
kind to ask me, Miss Brown."

" Oh, it is not kind," murmured Miss Brown.
" It is a matter of course."

Agnes felt more amused than ever, but she
was careful to conceal the least sign of it in
her face.

*' I know so few people," she said. " You
will no doubt understand why."

'* Certainly," said Miss Brown. " I suppose
Mrs. Leroy will arrange it for you."

" Yes," returned Agnes. Then she paused
for a moment, and looked toward Miss Bigs-
bee, who was talking in a very intimate man-
ner with Meta. " Except in one instance."
Agnes now purposely loudened her voice. " I
want to propose Miss Bigsbee's name. Do
you know Miss Bigsbee } "

" Oh, yes," said Miss Brown. Her thin,
prudish face had flushed a little. She turned
toward Miss Bigsbee, who had heard Agnes's



1 68 A HOPELESS CASE.

last words because of their intentional clear-
ness.

"Miss Wolverton is so very kind," said Miss
Bigsbee, with effusive courtesy.

" You have no other names to propose ? "
asked Miss Brown, looking at Agnes.

Agnes felt there was a polite hate in the
look.

" No," she said ; " I suppose my cousin will
send in the others."

Miss Brown gave a slight bow and moved
away. Miss Bigsbee burst into a rather self-
conscious laugh. "■ I don't think Miss Brown
Avas quite pleased," she said, appealing to
Agnes. " Do you } "

Agnes shrugged her shoulders. " I did not
observe, really," she replied, with delicious
hypocrisy. " Miss Brown seems to be full of
whims. If she makes me a member of her
new organization, I don't see why she should
not empower me with a member's rights."

Agnes glanced at Meta as she finished



A HOPELESS CASE. 169

speaking. The latter was watching her attent-
ively ; there was a twinkle in Meta's brown,
indifferent eyes. Not long afterward she and
Agnes left together, reentering the coiip^.
When its door was closed, and they had be-
gun their homeward journey, Meta turned to-
ward her companion.

"You have been doing a fine piece of
mischief ! " she exclaimed, with a burst of
laughter.

**Have I.?" said Agnes, demurely.

" Of course — and you know it, too. You
have agonized poor Olivia Brown. She de-
tests Miss Bigsbee,"

" I have not discovered that Miss Bigsbee
is at all detestable," said Agnes. " I think
she is a much nicer girl than Miss Brown.
What is the objection to her.?"

Meta leaned back in the carriage, shaken
with mirth. She suddenly seized Agnes's
hand in her own. " I am glad not to have
you for an enemy," she broke forth. "You



I/O A HOPELESS CASE.

make a much better friend. Oh, don't at-
tempt to disguise matters with me — it is
too absurd ! You tried to torment Olivia
Brown ; I saw it perfectly."

"As far as I can make out," said Agnes,
with great sobriety, " Olivia Browm tried to
torment Miss Bigsbee."

''True enough," said Meta. "She is op-
posed to her on aristocratic principles. Miss
Bigsbee is deficient in the requisite ante-
cedents. She is a clever girl, who has a
fashionable craze and nothing special to sup-
port it. She has made certain friends at
school ; she has played her cards adroitly,
and as a result she is seen almost every-
where. But Miss Brown disapproves of her,
and has publicly given out that she is not
to be admitted into the dancing-class."

" Miss Brown has been checkmated," said
Agnes, with a sly smile. " Miss Bigsbee
has been much cleverer than she."

" How } In making use of you "i "



A HOPELESS CASE. 1 71

" Certainly. She saw her opportunity and
stole a march upon her foe. You must ad-
mit that it was a skillful move."

Meta burst into another laugh. 'M admit
that you are magnificent!" she cried. "I
only wish we had one or two more of your
sort to wake us up ! . . . But wait till you
tell Mrs. Leroy what you have done. She
will never forgive you ! "

"That will be terrible," said Agnes. "But
I shall insist on Miss Bigsbee's membership,
all the same. I would n't disappoint her for
the world."

Meta left Agnes at her cousin's door.
" Well, my dear, was the lunch a suc-
cess .? " asked Mrs. Leroy, meeting Agnes
as she entered the hall.

They went into one of the side-rooms to-
gether. " Upon my word,' said Agnes, sink-
ing rather wearily into an arm-chair, " I don't
think I have learned yet to tell a success
when I see one. There were no gentlemen
there."



1/2 A HOPELESS CASE.

"No, certainly not — at a girls' luncheon."

"There were innumerable girls," continued
Agnes. "Among others. Miss Bigsbee. You
don't know her, I believe ; she said that you
did not."

Mrs. Leroy's lip curled. " She is quite
right. And I have no intention of making
her acquaintance, either. She has pushed
herself almost everywhere, but she shall not
thrust her name upon my list. Everybody
is laughing at her tremendous efforts. I
hope you will not be civil to her, Agnes.
She is a very objectionable young person.'*

" Your warning comes too late," said Ag-
nes. "I have been very civil to her." And
then she told Mrs. Leroy just how civil she
had been.

Mrs. Leroy tossed her head a little, and
squared her shoulders, when Agnes had
ended. She had been watching her cousin's
face most intently. Agnes expected a lady-
like explosion ; but none came.



A HOPELESS CASE. 1 73

"Of course," said Mrs. Leroy, instead, "I
shall be obliged to know Miss Bigsbee now.
But it is certainly aggravating."

" Miss Brown will find it so," said Agnes,
''and I confess that I am malicious enough
to feel glad that she will. I have n't much
mercy for Miss Brown, and I have a good
deal for Miss Bigsbee. I am quite willing
to have given the latter a helping hand, as it
were. She has more brains than most of
the girls with whom she wishes to associ-
ate ; she must be a valuable addition at their
assemblages. If she wants to elbow her way
among them, it can't be called a very digni-
fied desire ; but neither is it dignified for
Miss Brown to battle so stoutly against her
entrance."

" You abominate Miss Brown," said Mrs.
Leroy, looking fixedly at Agnes ; " don't
you .? "

" Oh, no," laughed Agnes, " though there
are things about her that jusf miss being
abominable, I should say."



174 A HOPELESS CASE.

A smile was trembling on Mrs. Leroy's lips.
Miss Brown was no favorite of hers, and there
was something about Agnes's tranquil recital
of how she had taken justice into her own
hands and pitted herself against this cold-
blooded snob that struck the lady as rather
delightful.

" Well," Mrs. Leroy now said, with a shrug
of the shoulders, "you have forced me upon
your side, Agnes, at any rate. I suspect you
calculated that I \vould be obliged to support
you."

Agnes raised her brows somewhat archly.
" Yes," she admitted, with perfect gravity, " I
did count upon your support, cousin Augusta.'*
Then a peculiar smile stole to her mouth and
stayed there for a few seconds. " But in be-
lieving you would stand by me at this im-
portant period, I hope that I have not under-
estimated the required sacrifice."

Mrs. Leroy burst out laughing. " For
Heaven's sake," she cried, " leave poor Olivia



A HOPELESS CASE. 175

Brown alone after this. She is no match for
you, Agnes ; you know it perfectly well."

At the same moment an involuntary belief
seized Mrs. Leroy that under most ordinary
circumstances Agnes's match would be rather
difficult to discover.






VIII.

HE evening of this same day Agnes
and her cousin passed at home. Liv-
ingston Maxwell came to pay them a
visit, and in the course of the conversation he
asked Agnes to drive with him on the follow-
ing afternoon.

'' Thanks," said Agnes, " but I shall be en-
gaged. I am going to a wedding in Brooklyn.'*

'' Shall you make the journey quite alone } "
asked Maxwell, interestedly.

" Oh, yes."

" I wish that I had been invited. I should
like very much to accompany you."

" You can do so if you wish," replied Agnes.
" It will give you a new experience. It is to
be held in an obscure little church, and it is to
be altogether an obscure little affair."



A HOPELESS CASE. lyj

Maxwell's eyes sparkled. " If you will let
me go with you," he said, " I should like it
above all things."

So the matter was settled. He and Agnes
went to Brooklyn on the following day. After
leaving the ferry-boat they took an intermina-
ble jinghng journey in the cars. They alighted
to find themselves in a very pretty locality.
The houses were chiefly low, skirting a broad
avenue, full of trees that must have bean capa-
ble of a most agreeable summer shade. Some
of the residences were wooden, contrasting
quaintly with the stone buildings that adjoined
them. Not a few had tracts of garden-land
about their doorways, and occasionally some
palatial structure rose from the midst of an
ample lawn.

"This is my first trip to Brooklyn," said
Maxwell, gayly, as they walked along. " I am
very pleasantly impressed, I assure you. I
suppose it is a remote portion of the city,
judging from the long ride we took."



1/8 A HOPELESS CASE.

" Yes, it is decidedly remote," said Agnes.
" It is almost suburban."

*' How quiet everything seems," Maxwell
commented. " But it looks like a rather pros-
perous quarter."

" There is a great deal of genteel poverty
here," said Agnes.

'' Poverty .? "

'' Well, something very near it," was the an-
swer. " See what an unpretentious plainness
many of the houses have. People live prettily,
here, on incomes that would only give them
one or two narrow rooms in a New York
boarding-house. The young girl whose wed-
ding we have come to witness, and who was a
friend of my cousin, Marianna Cliff e, belongs
to a family whose yearly means of subsistence
would not keep many of your grand friends in
pin-money. I remember when the wedding
was first discussed. They cannot afford a re-
ception at home ; they are so poor that they
must watch how ever}^ dime goes. The mother



A HOPELESS CASE. IJ()

and three daughters can just manage to make
a creditable appearance in church ; but you
shall see what a creditable appearance they
will make. They are lovable, refined women ;
matters will be conducted with the utmost
modesty ; they will avoid the least false dis-
play, knowing that in their case it would be
empty vanity, if not vulgarity as well. . . .
Here we are, at the church. Is it not a cosy
little structure } "

" It looks like a country church," said Max-
well. "It is charmingly picturesque. Those
two big willows at the entrance must be beau-
tiful in the summer time."

There were only three or four carriages
waiting before the spireless Gothic chapel.
Its interior was wrought with tasteful sim-
plicity ; a sweet, dim light filled it, as Maxwell
and Agnes passed inside, among the quiet,
assembled throng.

"What a contrast to the last wedding at
which I assisted," Maxwell whispered. *' That



l80 A HOPELESS CASE.

was held at a fashionable church on Fifth
Avenue. There were three ministers ; the
bride had eight bridesmaids, and I don't know
how many ushers. She was only eighteen,
and she married an old widower, past fifty,
with an immense fortune. I suppose the
groom of to-day is a young man."

" About twenty-three," said Agnes. " He
has a small clerkship somewhere in Brooklyn.
It is a desperate love-match on both sides ; he
has been saving up with all his best energy
for three years. I am sure they are to-day
one of the happiest young couples in Chris-
tendom."

"I envy them," said Maxwell, boyishly,
« don't you .? "

" How some of your friends would laugh if
they heard you say that ! "

" Pshaw, let them laugh. I know a few that
might be glad to change places with your
friend and her lover."

*'I am afraid you are mistaken," said Agnes



A HOPELESS CASE. l8l

" They don't believe in love-matches over
there."

Maxwell looked steadily at Agnes for a mo-
ment. Just then the mellow notes of the
hidden organ began to sound a tender wed-
ding-march. "/ believe in them," said Max-
well ; "don't you .? "

Agnes's face grew very grave. " I think
that anything else is simply horrible," she
said. ..." But here is the bride. We were
just in time."

The small arched doors at the end of the
central aisle were thrown wide open ; the organ
loudened its rhythmic tones ; a slim, youthful
man, looking demoralized, as bridegrooms usu-
ally look, appeared with a gray-haired lady
on his arm, clad in dark silk. Behind them
came the bride, leaning on her father's arm.
She was extremely pretty ; her cheeks burned
rosily, and her eyes were downcast. Her dress
was of some pale, silver-gray fabric, and she
wore a bonnet of the same tint, with one or



1 82 A HOPELESS CASE.

two gauzy pink roses relieving it. Behind her
bonnet you saw a knot of golden hair that had
broken into little rebellious curls along her
white, bended neck. Then followed her two
sisters, both younger than herself. They wore
the plainest walking-costumes ; one, a mere
girl, had even sunnier hair than the bride's,
that fell in tw^o long, childish braids down her
back.

The minister, an elderly man, with a meek,
genial face, came down from above the altar
to meet the wedding party, clothed in his
white episcopal surplice. The bride and the
groom took their places before him ; the par-
ents and the two sisters grouped themselves
on either side.

"Does n't she look lovely.'*" whispered Ag-
nes to Maxwell, as the ceremony began. " She
made every stitch of that dress herself."

"You don't mean it!" murmured her com-
panion, as though he had heard some wondrous
revelation.



A HOPELESS CASE. 1 83

After the marria2:e-service was ended, all
the guests left their seats and went forward to
congratulate the bride. Agnes could not fail
to observe how many pairs of eyes were
fixed upon her companion as they pressed
their way up the crowded aisle. Maxwell's
beauty was of that rare, striking order which
set him apart from his kind ; Agnes felt proud
of having him near her, not because he was
the admired favorite of that other world from
which she had brought him, but because his
cordial, courteous, sympathetic look made the
high-bred ease of his manner place its pos-
sessor in singular harmony with all sur-
rounders.

Agnes at length shook hands with the bride
and her new husband ; she greeted each mem-
ber of the family, too, taking care, of course, to
present Maxwell in turn to all the bridal party.
They were very glad to see her, and evidently
looked upon her coming as a valuable mark of
attention. But Agnes soon found that they



V



1 84 A HOPELESS CASE.

were greatly impressed, also, by the coming of
Maxwell. He had not spoken five words to
the bride before her face lighted anew ; he
leaned over and w^hispered something in the
ear of the groom which caused a hearty out-
burst of laughter from its recipient ; he held
the hand of the bride's mother in his own for
a moment, and won the gentle lady's heart, as
Agnes plainly saw, before the first amiable
sentence had left her lips.

" Oh, what a splendid young gentleman he
is ! " murmured the young girl with the gold-
en braids enthusiastically to Agnes. ** Do tell
me. Miss Agnes," she went on, "is he very
devoted to you } "

Agnes looked wonderingly at the child for
an instant. Then she burst out laughing, but
not the least gleam of heightened color touched
her cheeks. "Yes, Carrie," she said; "he is a
great deal more devoted than I deserve ; but
not in the \N2iy yo7c mean."

" Oh, I am sorry for that ! " said Carrie,



A HOPELESS CASE. 1 85

Stealing a shy look at Maxwell. " I 've taken
a great fancy to him."

" So have I," said Agnes, merrily, and with-
out a tinge of embarrassment.

After a few earnest questions had been
asked and answered concerning the absent
Cliffe family, Agnes and Maxwell drew aside,
and the bridal party left the church. The
guests soon followed ; just as Agnes neared
the door she perceived Mr. Speed stationed in
the outer vestibule.

He presently joined her. "This is unex-
pected enough," he said, shaking hands ; " I
did not suppose you would be here."

" Why not "> " said Agnes.

" Oh, I thought your New York engage-
ments would not give you time." In Mr.
Speed's intonation there was a latent trace of
bitterness.

" I have made time," replied Agnes. She
turned and introduced Maxwell to Mr. Speed.
The latter looked surprised for a moment, and



1 86 A HOPELESS CASE.

a shade of annoyance also crossed his face ;
he had seen Agnes at such a distance away
that Maxwell's companionship had escaped his
notice.

He onty said a few more words to Agnes ;
these were inaudible to Maxwell, who pres-
ently heard her respond, however, " To-mor-
row evening ? Very well ; I shall be happy to
go with you." . . . Then Mr. Speed bowed to
Maxwell, shook hands with Agnes, and turned
away.

"That man looks as if he took everything
in tremendous earnest," said Maxwell.

** He does. I don't think he ever has a light
moment. He has always had to struggle hard
for a living. He worked his own way through
college, graduating very high there. Now he
writes for a newspaper, and teaches pupils be-
sides. I sometimes believe that the world will
hear of him one day ; he is at work now upon
a very deep book, — a philosophic book. But
if he never succeeds it will be because "...



A HOPELESS CASE. 18/

" Well ? " said Maxwell, as Agnes hesitated ;
" because ? " . . .

'' His own heavy seriousness will crush him.
There is no cheerful leaven in his nature.
He could not take a mental holiday if he tried.
He reminds me of a plant that creeps away
from the sun of its own accord. Perhaps he
will find a hand to draw him gently back again
into its light, however. That may come ; I
hope so."

" You mean a woman's hand } " said Max-
well.

''Yes."

" Are you and he very good friends } "

"Very," said Agnes. She turned suddenly,
and looked at Maxwell. *'But nothing more,"
she added, almost sharply. " Oh, dear, no ! "

" He is not the favored one, then } "

Agnes shook her head. *' There is no fa-
vored one with me," she answered.

Maxwell laughed as they walked along ; it
was a short, odd laugh, not given in his accus-



1 88 A HOPELESS CASE.

tomed way. "Are you still asleep," he said,
" like the princess in the old fairy tale ? Are
you waiting for your prince to come ? "

Agnes echoed the laugh, only with more
coldness. "I never think of him," she said.
"Besides, I would as lief that he should re-
main away ; perhaps I would a little rather."

Maxwell let his eyes again sweep her face ;
his own had saddened unusually. " That is a
strange confession," he said ; " I hope you do
not mean it."

"Yes," replied Agnes, with a quaint earnest-
ness, "indeed I do mean it!" Some caprice
made her suddenly change the subject. " Tell
me," she said, with an abrupt softness, " do
you think that Miss Meta Schuyler has any
reason for her languid way of looking at life "i
Do you think she has ever had any great dis-
appointment } "

Maxwell did not answer for several seconds.
" I think that she is very much in love with
Oscar Schuyler," he said.



A HOPELESS CASE. 189

"And Oscar Schuyler?" asked Agnes.
" Would you say that he returned the feel-
ing?"

Maxwell shook his head. " I don't know,"
he answered. " I used to believe so. Schuy-
ler is a curious fellow. He delights in con-
cealments ; he loves to mask his best traits ;


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