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THE SNOB 

THE STORY OF A MARRIAGE 


BY 

HELEN R. MARTIN 

Author of “Barnabetta” (Mrs. Fiske’s Erstwhile Susan), “Tillie, 
The Mennonite Maid,” ‘‘The Church on the Avenue,” 
and other stories. 



NEW YORK 

DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY 
1924 





COPYRIGHT, 1924, 

By DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY, Inc. 


PRINTED IN THE U. S. A. 



VAIL-BALLOU PRESS, INC. 

BINGHAMTON AND NEW YORK 


JAN 15'24 

©CH7GG766 , 






“Maidens! Why should you worry in choosing whom you 
should marry? 

Choose whom you may, you will find you have got somebody 
else.” 

John Hay. Pike County Ballads. Distiches. 


\ 


CONTENTS 


PART I 

PAGE 

As Observed by Herrick Appleton ....... 3 


PART II 


From Nancy’s Point of View . 


199 




PART I 


AS OBSERVED BY HERRICK APPLETON 



THE SNOB 


PART I 

AS OBSERVED BY HERRICK APPLETON 
CHAPTER I 

I T appeared that I was the only member of the Fac¬ 
ulty who had so much as a subconscious doubt as 
to the entire genuineness of the remarkable man at 
the head of the English department, Eugene Curry, 
Ph.D. and my isolation in the matter inclined me to ques¬ 
tion my own doubts ; for even though people in general may 
rarely be intelligently observant of others, deliberate in* 
sincerity, as distinguished from the self-deception to 
which all humanity is prone, is apt to charge the atmos¬ 
phere and be readily and quite universally sensed; and 
as most of our Faculty and students admired, esteemed 
and entirely believed in our brilliant and gifted young 
teacher and lecturer and accepted him unquestioningly 
at his own obvious estimate of himself, as a spiritually- 
minded, Emersonian, Marcus-Aurelian type of man, I 
felt that my own lurking uncertainty must be due to 
some apparent indigestion, either physical or mental. 

It is true that in common with the rest of our scholas¬ 
tic family I did from the first feel Curry’s charm and for 
a few weeks did find him intellectually and spiritually 
stimulating; was thrilled with the impression that in him 
I recognized a kindred soul; especially in some of his 
public pronouncements: 


3 


4 


THE SNOB 


“Whoever from the depths of his being offers us a 
truth, even though he be a heathen or a so-called crim¬ 
inal or outlaw, is inspired of God.” 

“The world-old words, Right and Wrong, are be¬ 
coming quaint, antiquated. We are beginning to see 
God in every manifestation of life—in the face of the 
savage or sinner as in that of the saint; in night as well 
as day; in darkness as in light.” 

But although I felt that my own ideas of life were more 
sympathetic with his than with those of our other 
teachers, he soon ceased to hold me so infatuated as he 
did them; for my insatiable curiosity about human beings 
made me sometimes see things I would have been happier 
not to see; illusions are so often more comfortable and 
soothing than the raw truth. 

For some time I fought off the faintly disturbing feel¬ 
ings about the man which obtruded themselves upon my 
unwilling fancy; feelings which, in view of the apparently 
fine quality of his mind and spirit, seemed simply nasty 
on my part. 

To most people his strikingly distinguished appearance 
—his compact, graceful slimness, his fine features, the 
earnestness and almost sweetness of his countenance, 
which was, nevertheless, strong and intelligent, his old- 
world air and tone of fastidiousness, his manners so ir¬ 
reproachable as to seem (to me) a bit studied, not quite 
spontaneous—all tended to confirm his assumption of a 
high plane of thought and life. 

But when I had heard him speak in public a few times 
—before the Leitersville Chamber of Commerce, the Ro¬ 
tary Club, the Woman’s Civic Club—the gliding smooth¬ 
ness of his tone, gliding on and on, so smoothly, gravely, 
sweetly, with never a ripple over an obstructing pebble in 
his undeniably noble, thoughtful and often beautiful ut- 


THE SNOB 


5 


terances, I would find my nerves yearning for a touch of 
roughness, of Carlylian ruggedness, even of uncouthness, 
to give reality to this perhaps over-fineness. 

That he thought he meant all the lovely things he told 
his enthralled hearers, I did not at first question. But 
wasn’t he perhaps a bit self-deceived when he so serenely 
affirmed certain axiomatic moralizings as though he had 
forged out these stem truths by living them? 

“The only absolute and final authority for you is your 
own soul, your own inner life. Trust it to the uttermost. 
Nothing else is for you trustworthy. Nothing else is 
really your own.” “Dogmas and creeds imposed from 
without, from the dead and putrid past, are conspirators 
against the integrity and authority of your soul,” he 
would assert and I could not help wondering whether, in 
any real test of these great principles, he would stand 
fast against the pressure of society, of institutions, of 
prejudices, of the sanctities of the past. Was he really 
heroic?—of the class of Socrates, Savonarola, Luther, 
Gandhi ? 

Well, I would have plenty of opportunity to find out; 
for I was here in the Leitersville Academy, an expensive 
and so-called “exclusive” preparatory boarding school 
for boys, as teacher of history, not because pedagogy 
was my profession, but because I wished to acquire first¬ 
hand knowledge of the reasons for the now-recognized 
failure of education in America; for the universal un¬ 
consciousness of the naive discrepancy existing between 
our professed national ideals and our actual conduct and 
institutions; which education should correct, but which 
our American education seemed to foster. 

One reason for this failure of education seemed to be 
that thinking men were being driven out from schools 
and colleges in this new era of suppression of ideas which 


6 


THE SNOB 


the Great War had brought in; this era in which legisla¬ 
tures quaintly passed laws against the teaching of au¬ 
thentic science! 

That I was here to test for myself in my teaching of 
history the extent of this new suppression in education 
was of course unknown to the trustees who had elected 
me, or to the Head Master, Dr. Lyman, who had recom¬ 
mended me to the favorable consideration of the Board. 
And as I was in the enviable financial position of not need¬ 
ing to care when I was “fired,” I could luxuriate in a bold¬ 
ness and freedom which could not be enjoyed by profes¬ 
sional teachers with families to support. 

Of course this quest of mine added much to my inevi¬ 
table interest in a man of such charm and personal distinc¬ 
tion as Eugene Curry, whose philosophy of life seemed 
to be so sympathetic with my own. 

The people of Leitersville, especially the women, spoke 
often of “his beautiful countenance”; they said, “It seems 
when he stands before an audience, as though he had a 
halo round his face!” 

He had a way, when he was speaking in public, of 
marking his periods by a slowly expanding beneficent 
smile like a benediction. The women fell for it; raved 
about “that lovely smile!” But I soon found that it was 
not so popular with men; and our Academy boys didn’t 
care for it. 

For myself I grew to wince as it came due; to drop my 
eyes as it began to expand; for the shadow which it cast 
upon my heart was of something not quite wholesome. 

Many months of the term had passed before this subtle 
skepticism of mine found anything definite to go on; 
definite, that is, to me; but quite too indefinite and elusive 
to bear repeating to any other member of the Faculty 
without incriminating myself as a suspicious mischief- 


THE SNOB 


7 


maker. And this thing that I found, though apparently 
trivial, unimportant, was the very thing above all others 
which Curry, I sensed, would hate to have doubted; 
the last thing any one else in Leitersville society or at the 
Academy would have dreamed of questioning, for it really 
seemed to be his most conspicuous and outstanding 
quality, his greatest charm, the thing which made women 
“crazy about him,” which over-awed the rest of the 
Faculty (with two exceptions) and which made the ado¬ 
lescent boys of the school copy his manner and dress. 
It was his good breeding which I found myself doubting; 
his assumption of being exceptionally well-born; of being 
(to use an almost obsolete word) an aristocrat. 

As our Leitersville Academy Faculty were, with two 
exceptions, quite obviously from a plain, respectable 
middle class, they were perhaps the more easily beguiled 
into accepting, without any uncertainty, Curry’s deli¬ 
cately indicated confidence that he belonged to a superior 
social order; and they seemed to fall in with his own evi¬ 
dent esteem for this circumstance as people are apt to 
value the unfamiliar and unattainable. It was this 
slightly evident self-consciousness as to his own “class,” 
his air of gently condescending, of being deliberately 
democratic and gracious; of being so broad-minded 
as to be able to ignore the natural class-barriers—that 
first made me doubt his breeding. 

Also, from the fact that he undoubtedly valued and 
fostered his social success with Leitersville’s exclusive 
fashionable set, I could not escape the conclusion that 
his previous social experiences must have been very 
limited; for Leitersville was a Pennsylvania manufactur¬ 
ing city of thirty thousand inhabitants, whose “best fam¬ 
ilies” were a new-rich commercial group of a rather 
strident tone; pretentious in proportion to their spiritual 


8 


THE SNOB 


sterility. That Curry should be (as I saw he was) 
pleased by their patronage, be secretly a bit proud of the 
fact that he and I, and of course the Head Master, were 
the only members of the Faculty ever invited to the 
Leiters’, the Renzheimers’, the Bombergers’, seemed to me 
not only unsophisticated, but quite out of character with 
his professions, his lofty ideals, as expressed in his popular 
lectures on such themes as, “The Divinity of Man,” “The 
God-Like in Man’s Spirit.” To be sure, he did not 
openly flaunt his satisfaction in his social popularity; on 
the contrary he treated it with what seemed to me a sus¬ 
piciously elaborate nonchalance. 

That the boys, especially the older ones, loved Curry’s 
classes and idealized him, that he governed them without 
other force than that of his attractive personality, went 
far towards disarming me of my faint suspicion of his 
genuineness. 

And yet to my uncomfortably critical mind it seemed 
an indication of a spiritual vulgarity that his favorites 
(he decidedly had his favorites and even more decidedly 
his antipathies) should invariably be boys of some social 
prestige, no matter how stupid or unattractive they might 
happen to be. A snob is always a toady at heart and 
whatever else a gentleman may be, he certainly cannot be 
a toady. 

Since I did share the popular opinion that there unques¬ 
tionably was a fine side to Curry, whatever other side there 
might be, I found myself sympathetically fascinated by 
the evident struggle his idealism had constantly to wage 
against his strong temperamental inclination towards 
every attractive girl or woman who made advances to him 
—and they were many. I knew he did not have an easy 
time resisting them—if indeed he did resist all of them! 
I was sure that for his own security Curry would better 


THE SNOB 


9 


marry soon, pedagogy being a profession, like the minis¬ 
try, in which you could not with safety go philandering 
about. 

He was being rather markedly attentive, this term, to 
Miss Dorothy Renzheimer, a granddaughter of old Jacob 
Leiter who was the great man of Leitersville; Dorothy 
was therefore heiress to millions and admittedly the 
leader of her “set”; a buxom, bouncing, rather coarsely 
alluring debutante. It was difficult to imagine what this 
girl and Dr. Curry—as far apart as the poles in every 
characteristic—could possibly do with each other; she 
so undisguisedly given over to the more material appetites 
and pleasures of life and he so finely cultured, so devoutly 
earnest. Impossible as mates, it seemed to me. And yet 
I had often noted that far from being repelled by her 
rather boisterous manner, vacant mind, vulgar tastes, 
everything that he was not, he appeared to be a bit set 
up by her acceptance of him, a mere school teacher, 
into the inner shrine of Leitersville’s social life. Evi¬ 
dently it counted much with him that she was the grand¬ 
daughter of the President of the Board of Trustees of the 
Leitersville Academy. Jacob Letter’s millions had not 
only created and endowed the Academy, but the city of 
Leitersville itself had grown out of and was sustained 
by the extensive industries controlled by this powerful 
old financier and politician. 

It was the imperviousness of Bradley, the teacher of 
science, to any impression from Curry’s oratorical elo¬ 
quence or from his presumably aristocratic breeding and 
fastidiousness that made me recognize in this shy, awk¬ 
ward, almost uncouth teacher, that very aristocracy of 
the spirit (whatever might be his birth) which for no 
quite sufficient reason I doubted in Curry; for which 
sheer contrariness on my part, so diametrically opposite 


10 


THE SNOB 


to the apparent facts and to the opinion of every one else 
who knew these two men, I would certainly have been con¬ 
sidered, if I had disclosed my vague feelings, unreasonable 
and eccentric. 

Bradley was a fellow whom the casual observer would 
never have noticed except perhaps to have smiled at his 
gawkiness, or at his confusion in the presence of girls. 
He was so careless of his appearance as to be an em¬ 
barrassment to the school. His shoes were never polished, 
his hands were always stained with chemicals, his trousers 
needing pressing and his hair a clipping. 

Every spare moment of his day was spent in his lab¬ 
oratory. He seemed always to be in a brown study; so 
engrossed as to be usually almost unconscious of his sur¬ 
roundings. 

But while the boys joked about his absent-mindedness, 
his shyness, awkwardness and untidiness, they did not, 
for some reason, play tricks on him as upon some others 
of the Faculty. It may have been the popularity of his 
classes, his ability as a scholar and teacher, his simple 
sincerity and freedom from all “side,” that won for him, 
in spite of his serious shortcomings, the respect of the 
majority of the students. 

Curry, however, from the first, had never concealed 
his shrinking from Bradley’s personal carelessness; 
his rather contemptuous impatience at the young scien¬ 
tist’s lack of social ease; his distaste for what he once 
definitely named to me “Bradley’s commonness.” This 
somewhat snobbish attitude had unfortunately been imi¬ 
tated by a few of Curry’s abject adorers among both 
teachers and students; so that if Bradley had not re¬ 
mained amusingly unconscious of their scorn, he might 
have been made uncomfortable by it. 

“That’s the trouble about a job in a boarding school 


THE SNOB 


11 


—you can’t escape all sorts of vulgar contacts!” Curry 
one evening quite let himself go in his irritation at a 
“contact” he had just had with Bradley in my room, 
in which the scientist had remained seemingly unaware 
of the English professor’s dignified aloofness. Bradley 
had just left my room for a minute to fetch from his own 
chamber across the hall a scientific manuscript of his 
which he was anxious to read to me and which I was 
equally anxious to hear. “If he’s coming back,” Curry 
added, “I shan’t stop, though I wanted to speak with 
you about an important matter—a strictly personal mat¬ 
ter— How do you stand that vulgar fellow?” 

“Quite as easily as I stand some of the rest of our 
learned Faculty!” 

“Well, they are, of course, a plain, simple group; but 
not one is so impossibly raw and crude as that fellow!” 

Curry’s voice was always soft and low, almost hushed, 
never varying from its gliding smoothness, whether in a 
public lecture or in the most intimate conversation. 
Whatever his emotions, whether highly elated or deeply 
angry, his voice was never raised or uneven. 

“I think,” he continued, “it’s rather an imposition on 
the rest of us, having a fellow like Bradley among us. 
Dr. Lyman ought really to consider a little at least the 
breeding of the teachers he engages in a school like this 
—for the sake of the boys as well as for the feelings of 
the Faculty!” 

“Bradley isn’t ill-bred.” I had never particularly 
thought about it and was surprised at my sudden instinc¬ 
tive realization that he absolutely was not. 

Curry smiled. “You love to be quixotic, don’t you? 
I find that rooming on the same corridor with all sorts 
and classes, subjected to close association with them, 
willy, nilly, gets on my nerves a bit.” 


12 


THE SNOB 


“So I observe.” 

“Well, Appleton, however democratic my theories— 
and intellectually I’m as democratic as you are—” 

“Why the hell shouldn’t you be?” 

“One’s instincts don’t always keep pace with one’s 
theories. I, for instance, have never been able to over¬ 
come my deeply ingrained and I must admit unreasonable 
inhibition” (he smiled at himself) “as to the Philadel¬ 
phians living north of Market street. Isn’t it silly?” 
he laughed at himself with what I suspected was a smug 
satisfaction in his “inhibition.” 

“Damned silly!” I agreed, removing my pipe from 
my lips to speak very distinctly; for it was only a few 
days ago that I had heard him say in a lecture at the 
Woman’s Club, “To give the hand of fellowship to the 
poor and lowly and refuse to bend the knee to insolent 
autocracy, this is the test of a man’s spiritual integrity.” 

“You must have a few such inhibitions yourself, Ap¬ 
pleton; you lack either the candor to admit them or the 
discernment to recognize them.” 

“I have the discernment to recognize what you fail 
to-—that Bradley is not only not ill-bred, but that he 
is—” 

The return of Bradley, coming in so eagerly with 
his manuscript that he forgot to knock, interrupted 
me. 

I knew that such a breach as entering another man’s 
room without knocking was in Curry’s eyes a matter 
of great importance, while Bradley, seeing life’s values 
in another proportion, was apt to exclude from his at¬ 
tention everything except what to him were absolute es¬ 
sentials. That was how I explained his breaches of 
good manners and I surmised that neither precept nor 


THE SNOB 


13 


example, during his boyhood, could have changed this 
fundamental characteristic. 

“Good-night, Appleton,” said Curry, moving towards 
the door, ignoring Bradley’s presence as he usually did. 
“I did want to talk to you just now—rather important 
personal matter—but—may I come in to-night after I 
get back from the dance?” 

My feet came down with a bump from the chair upon 
which they were propped. “The dance? Miss Dorothy 
Benzheimer’s ?” 

“Yes. Are you coming?” 

“Forgot all about it! Will you make up some good 
excuse for me?” 

That a mere Academy teacher should forget and treat 
so casually an invitation to the Renzheimers’, so rarely 
extended to one of our impecunious staff, seemed almost 
to hurt Curry. 

“If you’re not going, surely a mere verbal excuse 
through me—aren’t you going to write or telephone?” 

“Of course I’ll write, but meantime if you will fix it 
up for me—” 

Bradley standing by with his manuscript looked bored 
but patient, as who should say, “Why all this chatter 
about dances and excuses and such futilities when I’ve 
got here something really important?” 

“What excuse do you want me to make?” Curry per¬ 
sisted. 

“Oh, any old thing that occurs to you.” 

“But what really is your excuse? Why aren’t you 
coming?” 

“Bradley’s going to expound to me some investigations 
he’s making which I’m more interested in than in the 
dance.” 


14 


THE SNOB 


“Shall I tell Miss Dorothy that?” 

“If you like.” 

“If I did I fancy you’d not get another invitation to 
the Renzheimers’ very soon again!” 

“Dear me, man, you don’t think I’d count that a loss, 
do you?” 

“Very well, then, I’ll give her your message,” said 
Curry, opening the door, “but then don’t blame me 
if—” 

Bradley who had been examining his manuscript, here 
raised his hand to stop Curry without lifting his eyes 
from the paper in his hand. “Make an excuse for me 
too if an excuse is so necessary. Er—thank you,” he 
added perfunctorily as an after-thought, as a small boy 
might speak when prompted to mind his manners. 

“What do you mean?” asked Curry coldly. “I don’t 
understand.” 

“It doesn’t matter, never mind,” returned Bradley 
absently, coming to sit near me with his paper, evi¬ 
dently on edge to be rid of Curry and begin his ex¬ 
position. 

But my own curiosity was roused. “Were you in¬ 
vited to the dance to-night?” I asked, and Curry in¬ 
voluntarily laughed; for the idea of Bradley at a dance 
was ludicrous; not so ludicrous to Curry, however, as 
the idea of the almost inaccessible Renzheimers having 
departed so far from their custom of ignoring most of 
the Academy Faculty, socially, as to have invited a man 
like Bradley to one of their exclusive dances, pass¬ 
ing over the other perfectly presentable men of the 
school. 

“I think I was,” replied Bradley. “I suppose it 
was the dance you are speaking of. Are you ready, 
Appleton?” 


THE SNOB 


15 


“It must have been some other dance,” Curry smiled. 

“I think the name was Renz-something,” said Bradley. 
“What difference does it make?” he asked in a tone of 
strained patience. “Shall we begin, Appleton?” 

“What makes you imagine you have been invited to 
the home of people whose name you’re not even sure of? 
—whom you don’t know and who don’t know you?” 
Curry, amused, inquired. 

“‘Imagine?’ Did I just imagine it?” said Bradley 
vaguely, thrusting his hands into his trousers pockets, 
then into his coat pockets, and finally producing from 
his vest a soiled, crumpled note. “Yes,” he added, open¬ 
ing it and glancing at the signature, “it’s signed 
‘Dorothy Renzheimer.’ So then,” he nodded con¬ 
clusively to Curry, “you can explain to her that I don’t 
go to dances. Now then?” he appealed to me, tossing 
the note to the floor, though the waste basket was at 
his feet. 

Curry’s expression was a mixture of incredulity and 
uncertainty. If such as Bradley could regard so indif¬ 
ferently what he prized, it naturally seemed to cheapen 
his own standard of values. It had been hard enough 
for him, I had often observed, to temper his own interest 
in Leitersville society to my lack of enthusiasm over it, 
but when a man like Bradley— 

“I’m afraid,” he spoke coolly to Bradley, “you’ll have 
to ask some one else to carry your message for you. 
When a lady like Miss Renzheimer compliments you,” he 
gravely admonished the scientist, “by inviting you to her 
home, can’t you manage to answer her courteously?” 

It was not that he was concerned about Bradley’s 
lack of courtesy; it was his puzzled confusion over that 
invitation on the floor and an evident desire to drive 
home to Bradley a fact of which he seemed so serenely 


16 


THE SNOB 


unaware—namely, that he had been highly favored by 
and should be humbly grateful for that contemptuously 
treated invitation. 

“ ‘A lady?’” repeated Bradley surprisingly. “Is she?” 
he said doubtfully. “I gathered from her notes that 
she wasn’t.” 

Curry and I both laughed, but for quite different 
reasons. 

“You ‘gathered’ that Miss Renzheimer wasn’t a lady?” 
Curry inquired in a grave, gentle tone that was the acme 
of derision. “You? But that’s delicious!” 

Apparently he had actually caught Bradley’s wander¬ 
ing attention. “Now I suppose,” answered the young 
man in a troubled tone, “that for that very reason I 
ought not to have neglected answering her notes! I 
hope I haven’t hurt her feelings! I had no intention, of 
course, of slighting her. Can’t you soothe her, Curry, 
by explaining to her that it’s just my damned careless¬ 
ness about such things?” 

“Soothe Miss Renzheimer’s feelings because you have 
slighted her?” asked Curry with raised eyebrows. “You 
suppose you could slight Miss Renzheimer?” 

“She may be sensitive and interpret my mere careless¬ 
ness as a personal slight, if she’s not a lady—” 

“Excuse me,” interrupted Curry, “but I’m afraid, Mr. 
Bradley, you’re not qualified to judge whether Miss 
Renzheimer, or any one else, is a lady!” 

“Well,” Bradley serenely assented, “my experiences 
have been rather one-sided.” 

“Evidently!” 

“They’ve not included what are called social climb¬ 
ers.” 

“Naturally!” smiled Curry—while I wondered whether 
Bradley were actually giving him a thrust or merely re- 


THE SNOB 


rr 


ferring to the parvenu Renzheimers; also, whether Brad¬ 
ley were as unconscious of being snubbed by Curry as he 
appeared to be. 

“Yes, naturally,” Bradley nodded, “so it’s difficult 
for me to understand the point of view of social climbers. 
I suppose it’s only those inside the social precinct who 
know how little it’s worth the struggle of the climbers to 
attain! Eh, Appleton?” 

“I didn’t suppose you ever gave a thought to such 
trivial questions, Bradley,” I said. 

“I don’t except when it’s thrust upon me—” 

“What,” asked Curry, still amused, “makes you 
fancy, Mr. Bradley, that you know anything about the 
psychology of ‘those inside the social precinct’?” 

“Well, you see, Curry, I was a Bishop’s valet for a 
while and learned a bit about the psychology of the 
privileged classes. If you will be so kind as to make 
this Miss Renz-something understand it’s not snobbish¬ 
ness that keeps me from her parties—” 

“Explain to Miss Renzheimer that a Bishop’s valet 
is not a snob? Oh, come, come, Bradley!” 

“They usually are, aren’t they? Or aren’t you 
familiar enough with the ways of valets to know? ‘It 
takes an aristocrat to be truly democratic.’ One of 
your own epigrams, by the way, Curry, in your lecture 
on Thackeray.” 

“But my good fellow, don’t you know who Miss Renz¬ 
heimer is ?—that she is Mr. Jacob Leiter’s grand¬ 
daughter !” 

“Is it as bad as that? Poor girl, that is something to 
have to live down! What a vulgar old rascal he is, 
isn’t he?” 

“Isn’t it rather bad taste, don’t you think, using 
epithets like that in speaking of the President of the 


18 


THE SNOB 


Board of Trustees of this school where you are em¬ 
ployed?” 

“Good taste and old Jake Leiter won’t mix, Curry. 
Impossible.” 

“Shouldn’t one have the decency to speak respectfully 
of one’s employer?” 

“To respect old Jake would be indecent in the extreme, 
as well as highly idiotic. Now, if you don’t mind, 
Curry,” Bradley added plaintively, “Appleton and I 
would like to get to work.” 

“If I may ask, Mr. Bradley, how did Miss Renzheimer 
happen to invite you to her home anyway?” 

“But isn’t that just what we’ve been discussing?— 
that she’s a social climber,” said Bradley, looking vague 
and absent-minded. “That is why, I’m afraid, she’ll 
have to have her feelings soothed. But don’t bother 
about it if you’re disinclined. If she gets no message 
from me maybe she will let me alone!” 

He resolutely turned his back upon Curry and spread 
out his manuscript on the table in front of us, while 
Curry, darting a look at me that expressed his despair 
of denting a pachydermatous so tough, turned away and 
left us. 


CHAPTER II 


W HEN Curry, upon his return from the dance 
after midnight, came upon me sitting up in 
bed reading and smoking, he found me not 
only willing but eager, in spite of the late hour, to talk 
to him. 

“Well?” I enquired at once as he sat down on the 
foot of my bed, “who did the Renzheimers tell you 
Bradley is?” 

“Why do you assume that I asked them?” 

“Of course you asked them! Well?” 

“If you are so interested, why didn’t you ask him your¬ 
self who he is?” 

“He’d be so bored talking about himself when there 
are such exciting things to discuss as electrons and 
Helium Atoms; or a short cut around the Basic Acetate 
Separation; or the production of oxalic acid from saw¬ 
dust !” 

“Look here, Appleton, have you known all along 
about Bradley? I remember your saying this evening 
you didn’t consider him ill-bred—” 

“I don’t have to know who a man is to feel what he 
is.” 

“Aren’t the two things—who and what—rather in¬ 
separable?” 

“Not in your sense. You called me quixotic for in¬ 
sisting he was not ill-bred.” 

“He must have been a terribly neglected child!” mused 
Curry. “How, with such an environment as he must 
always have had, he could have escaped learning at least 

how to enter a drawing-room—” 

19 


20 


THE SNOB 


“He was always too busy absorbing all that’s known 
of science to bother assimilating drawing-rooms. Who 
is he?” 

“His father is an eminent Bishop and his mother one 
of the richest women of the country. He’s putting in 
a year of teaching before going to a German University 
to continue his scientific studies indefinitely.” The ex¬ 
pression of Curry’s face was a study in mingled chagrin, 
perplexity, embarrassment, which I found diverting. 
“Why has he concealed from us who he is?” he continued 
in a tone of bewilderment. 

“But he hasn’t—any more than you and I have con¬ 
cealed who we are,” I said, and noted with surprise the 
uncomfortable, almost confused, color that mounted to 
his face. 

“B#t to let himself be slighted and ridiculed by half 
the Faculty and even some of the boys,” protested Curry, 
“when a word from him might have—” 

“Will the fact of the eminent Bishop and the rich 
mother make him any less ridiculous in the eyes of the 
Faculty or the boys?” 

“You know it will.” 

“With those who have the souls of lackeys, perhaps,” 
I admitted. 

“Do you really claim,” said Curry a shade sullenly, 
“that your regard for a man could be quite unaffected 
by the fact that he was the son of a Bishop rather than 
his valet?” 

“In so far as I have the soul of a lackey I shall not 
remain unaffected. Bradley’s bad manners never hid 
from me that he was not ill-bred.” 

Curry looked discouraged. “I admit your intuition 
was truer than mine.” 

“I had no intuition whatever that his father was a 


THE SNOB 


21 


Bishop. What makes you think that a Bishop is so 
much of a muchness? I think they’re rather ridiculous 
myselh—Bishops. Maybe Bradley’s ashamed of it.” 

“Ashamed?” 

“Of his father’s obsolete and parasitical calling and 
his mother’s vulgar millions!” 

“Theoretically, perhaps. They’re assets all the same, 
which even so unworldly a fellow as he must value a 
bit.” 

“One doesn’t value what one has always had—only 
what one has painfully acquired.” 

Although Curry slightly winced at this, he took from . 
his vest pocket the tiny note book and pencil which he 
invariably carried with him, even to a dance, and as he 
scribbled, I knew I would one day hear that remark of 
mine reproduced from a public platform, dressed up 
rhetorically to sound clever and plausible. I had heard 
so many of my innocent and thoughtless remarks thus 
reproduced that my conversational style, in Curry’s 
presence, was in danger of becoming self-consciously 
epigrammatic and superior. 

“People who make a fuss about blood and family 
usually have nothing else to go on.—Take it down—it’s 
yours,” I added generously. 

“Are you quite serious,” he asked when he had re¬ 
placed his note book, “In crediting our eccentric friend 
with being ashamed of his wealth and station?” 

“He’s ‘our eccentric friend’ now, is he? No longer 
‘a vulgar contact’ or ‘that fellow’ or ‘impossibly crude’?” 

“If he were as poor as he appears to be he’d be a 
Socialist,” affirmed Curry confidently, though he had the 
grace to color at my chaff. “And I’ll be bound he isn’t, 
is he?” 

“This very evening I heard him admiringly quote 


22 


THE SNOB 


Ruskin:—‘Luxury at present can only be enjoyed by 
the ignorant. The crudest man living could not sit 
at his feast unless he sat blindfold.’ ” 

Out came the note book. “Repeat that,” he said and 
I obliged him. 

“Does Miss Dorothy Renzheimer offer any explana¬ 
tion of her futile bombardment of Bradley with invita¬ 
tions?” I asked when the note book had again been put 
away. 

“She met him once at Haverford where he and her 
brother were classmates. He seems to have forgotten 
it.” 

“What was that important personal matter you wanted 
to discuss with me?” I reminded him. 

“I want to put a poser to you—a moral problem. If 
a man becomes engaged to a girl and then finds after a 
time that though she still adores and trusts him, idealizes 
him, he doesn’t love her enough, has made a mistake, is 
he a brute to hurt her by breaking it off?” 

“Of course. But perhaps not quite so brutal as he’d 
be if he married her.” 

“That’s the way it seems to me.” ^ 

His fine sensitive face had gone a bit white, but there 
was a subtly evasive look in his eyes that made me un¬ 
comfortable. 

“What would you do, Appleton, in such a case? 
Would you be perfectly frank with the girl, or try to 
make it easier for her by subterfuge? Or suppose you 
still cared for her enough to make hurting her intoler¬ 
able to you?” 

“The wrong began, of course, when you became en¬ 
gaged before you knew what you wanted.” 

“I?” 

“Isn’t it your own case?” 


THE SNOB 23 

“I’m of course speaking to you confidentially, 
Appleton.” 

“Naturally.” 

“At the time I became engaged I couldn’t have been 
more sure.” 

“What has changed you?” 

“For one thing I’ve come to realize how entirely out 
of my class the girl is.” 

“You didn’t realize that from the beginning?” 

“N—no. I was infatuated. Am yet, when I’m with 
her.” 

“I’m afraid I can’t help you, old man. I don’t know 
anything about a mere physical infatuation without 
spiritual charm too—” 

“But she has spiritual charm!” 

“Dorothy Renzheimer has spiritual charm!” 

“Heavens, I’m not talking of her! Didn’t I tell you 
the girl is entirely out of my class? You’d hardly ex¬ 
pect me to be such a conceited ass as to say a thing 
like that about Dorothy!” 

I stared at him in astonishment. In my heart I was 
shocked to learn that during all this time while he had 
been notoriously attentive to Miss Renzheimer, he had 
been engaged to another girl. 

“I didn’t know you meant your social class,” I said. 
“I thought you were referring to Miss Renzheimer’s 
obvious difference from you intellectually, spiritually, 
every way. Is the other girl so very much worse?” 

“Worse than Dorothy? Why, Appleton, Dorothy is 
a traveled, experienced society girl, and you know it!” 

“How, with your ideals, you can find that bouncing 
buxom girl companionable!” 

“But I am convinced that deep down she is genuinely 
fine and spiritual!” 


24 


THE SNOB 


“And your other girl is even more crude?” 

“I would not call either of them crude—” 

“Dorothy is.” 

“Aren’t you a bit old-fashioned? Dorothy is only 
very modern. Nancy’s a quaint little country girl; a 
sweet, innocent, unsophisticated child!” 

“Sounds good to me! Is she quite unpresentable?” 

“Not in the sense of being vulgar. In her unworld¬ 
liness, perhaps,” he said doubtfully. “No,” he changed 
his mind, “not unpresentable. But she would never cut 
a figure in society. She’s demure, retiring—” 

“I believe you’re in love with her!” 

“She is lovely and appealing! But she’s a shrinking, 
shy, scared child; a little country school teacher; alone 
in the world and knowing nothing of life. I’m afraid it 
will go hard with her,” he said, looking rather wretched, 
“if L—” 

I thought (while he hesitated,) that “Nancy” must be 
quite unusually attractive if, with no other asset than 
her personal charm, she had lured a man with Curry’s 
kind of ambition, to become actually engaged to her. 

“Have you only yourself to blame for the entangle¬ 
ment?” I asked. “I’ve seen of course how irresistible 
you are to the sex; how relentlessly they pursue you.” 

He shook his head. “Nancy’s not that sort. No, I 
pursued her—quite assiduously! But you see it was two 
years ago that I became engaged to her and in that 
time I’ve outgrown her.” 

“You can’t help her to your level? I remember ask¬ 
ing you once how on earth you managed to talk down to 
Dorothy Renzheimer’s level and you said you didn’t, you 
lifted her to yours.” 

“I’m ambitious, Appleton; I can’t hamper my career 
by an unsuitable marriage. Would youV 9 


THE SNOB 


25 


“I’m not the sort to fall in love with a girl that would 
be an ‘unsuitable’ mate for me. Two years ago you 
didn’t think this girl unsuitable.” 

“One’s standards constantly change, don’t you think, 
either for better or worse?” 

“But your present standard admits Dorothy Renz- 
heimer to intimacy!” 

“Exactly. A woman of the world. You see,” he said 
solemnly, “I’ve a work to do in the world. I must let 
nothing interfere with that.” 

“I don’t get you. Your destined career seems to be 
the lecture platform, through which you will disseminate 
your high ideals. Now I’d think your having a wife 
like Dorothy Renzheimer would make the preaching of 
such ideals as yours absurd.” 

“Did I say anything about marrying Dorothy Renz¬ 
heimer?” 

“Am I wrong, Curry, in thinking that it’s the decoy 
of Dorothy’s social power that makes you think you’ve 
outgrown Nancy?” 

“Leaving Dorothy out of the question altogether, I 
shouldn’t think of marrying Nancy now. I tell you she’s 
quite out of my class.” 

“Rot! Damn your ‘class’!” I laughed impatiently. 
“It seems to me that Dorothy Renzheimer would be a far 
worse mesalliance for you than the country girl.” 

He darted a glance of suspicion at me that rather 
mystified me. 

“Even her wealth,” I continued, “would be an embar¬ 
rassment to you, you whom I’ve heard beautifully pro¬ 
nounce, ‘To find gold one must delve far below the sun¬ 
light; riches grow in hell!’ Also, ‘The real treasures 
that a man leaves at his death are not those he has ac¬ 
quired for himself, but those he has laid up in the hearts 


26 


THE SNOB 


of others.’ ” I laughed involuntarily, irreverently. 
“Really, Curry, you know it would be rather raw, going 
about talking like that with a millionaire wife of the 
Renzheimer type!” 

“I was not guilty of making her millions. Surely, 
love can rise above wealth as well as above poverty. The 
material side need not enter in at all.” 

I wondered in my heart whether if the wealth could 
suddenly be transferred to Nancy’s side and the poverty 
to Dorothy’s, he would not flop with it. 

“Even my people,” he added, “are beginning to protest 
against my engagement.” 

“Your only criticism of Nancy seems to be that she 
wouldn’t cut a dashing figure in society. You surely 
know that the figure Dorothy Renzheimer cuts would be 
found a bit too dashing by some sorts of society?” 

Again, at this remark, a swift, almost startled glance 
from his keen but usually veiled eyes was darted at me. 
Inasmuch as he seemed to regard a marriage with old 
Jacob Leiter’s granddaughter as a dazzling pinnacle, 
worthy of his own “station” and of the ambitions he 
talked of, my slighting estimate of her apparently 
puzzled him. For some reason he always deferred to my 
opinion on social matters, though I was scarcely more 
interested in the nice discriminations he liked to draw 
than Bradley would have been. 

In the sympathy I felt for the unknown Nancy, I 
followed up the advantage I seemed just now to have. 
“Even if you, too, have a Bishop, or something equally 
good in the way of an ancestor, up your sleeve, Curry, 
it’s not worth the wounding of that little girl, is it?” 

“Were you ever in love, Appleton?” 

“I had the habit—but I broke myself of it; because 
I want my liberty. Every pleasant vice I have would 


THE SNOB 


27 


be incompatible with married life. My smoking in bed, 
for instance—I might die for a woman, but I couldn’t 
give up smoking in bed for her. And I don’t want to 
be enslaved to an establishment that has to be kept up. 
I would like the experience of being a father—but every 
alluring woman I’ve ever known (except one) has seemed 
to be so impossible as a companion and mat&—” 

“‘Except one?’ Well, how about that exception?” 

“I’ve lost her—look here! I find myself stirred by the 
picture of that little teacher in the country. Curry, do 
you never value people for their essential quality apart 
from their superficial assets? Do you never mean the 
fine things you say in your exquisite lectures?—such as, 
‘Our social order plots and intrigues against the spiritual 
health and integrity of every one of us.’ You did say 
that once, you know, in your lecture on Society and the 
Soul. I suspect, Curry, you’re not really religious at 
all! You’ve only a literary appreciation of the poetry 
of religion! You’re only a fake liberal—like Woodrow 
Wilson.” 

Though he looked flattered at the comparison, he 
answered me gravely; “I think I’m deeply religious, 
Appleton. The sum and substance of my creed is that 
at the heart of the universe is Love. It seems to me 
that one who believes first, last and forever in Love has 
laid hold on absolute religion; has encompassed all 
faith!” 

“It isn’t enough to believe intellectually; you’ve got to 
live your belief.” 

“Of course. Daily to grow richer in love—love of 
life, of beauty, of harmony, of flowers, of children, of 
our fellow-men.” 

“You don’t love those of >our fellow-men whom you 
consider ‘vulgar’!” 


28 


THE SNOB 


“Do you?” 

“Better than I love those who are insincere. And it 
depends, doesn’t it, on whether the vulgarity is inherent 
and of the spirit or only external. I’ve no doubt Jesus’ 
carpenter-like table manners would have hindered your 
accepting His Gospel! You do give people the impres¬ 
sion that you’re deeply religious, Curry, but I’m damned 
if I ever knew a religious nature to value, as you seem 
to, petty, accidental social discrepancies!” 

“Is it necessarily irreligious to detest vulgarity? 
I should say, on the contrary, that it is essentially 
religious.” 

“One can be vulgar about vulgarity.” 

His hand went for his note book, but he thought better 
of it and desisted. 

“You love to deal in paradoxes, don’t you?” he said, 
coloring in some embarrassment. 

“A Negro, you know, has a sense of social values of 
which a Lincoln is terribly devoid.” 

I saw that he longed to take that down, but it was 
too absurdly against himself for even his deficient sense 
of humor. 

“I suspect, Curry, that it is you who are unworthy of 
that dear little innocent who idealizes you and takes you 
at your own high face value! Fll marry her! Do you 
think she’ll let me smoke in bed? How you can hesitate 
a moment between those two girls—” 

“The question is how can I honorably extricate my¬ 
self from poor little Nancy?” he said irritably. 

“‘Honorably’? Can’t be done. And much as I’d like 
to take her off your hands, she’s probably too much in 
love with you to be taken.” 

“But seriously,” he urged gravely, “what would you 
do under the circumstances?” 


THE SNOB 


29 


“To be frank, it’s an unimaginable situation for me. 
I could never have gotten into such a mess. I’m sorry 
to be so useless to you in your plight.” 

That night the haunting picture in my brain of the 
unfortunate girl, Nancy, kept me long awake. I had 
witnessed many instances of the fervent and ideal love 
that Curry’s winning personality was capable of arous¬ 
ing in women. He had said of Nancy that she adored, 
trusted and idealized him and I found myself regretting 
keenly the doom hanging over the unsuspicious country 
maiden; unsuspicious of the fact that the god of ivory 
and gold whom she worshiped and to whom she was 
betrothed, had feet of clay and could, for very sordid 
reasons, be unfaithful and cruel. I rather believed, from 
what he had said, that she really appealed to the finer 
side of him as Dorothy Renzheimer could not do and 
that it was his ambition alone and not his heart that 
would lead him to cast her off. 

“But whether he jilts her, or whether he decides to 
sacrifice his worldly aspirations to his sense of right and 
marry her, in either case he’s bound to hurt her terribly! 
If he marries her he’ll hurt her through his own ever¬ 
lasting regrets over his frustrated ambitions!” 

Fortunately girls in these days had many resources 
and were no longer forced to mere idle brooding over 
wrongs they could not remedy. 

“No wonder women used to be hysterical, unreason¬ 
able, morbid, underhanded, enigmatical! The wonder is 
that the self-repression imposed upon them didn’t long 
ago drive the whole sex stark mad! Perhaps it has!” 


CHAPTER III 


I WOKE next morning with an amused anticipation, 
of the carefully modulated change I would certainly 
see in Curry’s attitude to Bradley. But that 
delectable sight was destined to be postponed for a time. 
Just as I was about to leave my room for breakfast, 
Curry, carrying a satchel, overcoat and hat, came hurry¬ 
ing in to speak to me, and I was startled by the white, 
shocked face he presented to me. But although he had 
evidently had a startling blow of some sort, he was self- 
controlled; his tones were more hushed and smooth than 
ever; his face a mask of gravely earnest thoughtfulness. 
And yet I found myself feeling surprised at seeing any¬ 
thing so genuine in those subtle eyes as the look of dis¬ 
tress and alarm I saw there now. 

“What has happened?” I quickly asked. 

“I’ve had a special delivery letter—I’m off at once— 
will you explain to Dr. Lyman? I’ll be back as soon as 
it’s over—it’s Nancy—an attack of grip turned into 
double pneumonia and she-—she wants me—she wants to 
be married to me before she—if I can get there in time 
—it is the doctor that writes—she is very low he says— 
I hope I can get the eight o’clock express-—” 

I hastily pron^sed to take care of his classes and other 
affairs in his absence and he was off before I had quite 
grasped the significance of his news. 

I had time to think it over at breakfast. A death¬ 
bed marriage. Was Providence going to be so kind to 
that poor girl as to take her hence and spare her the 
sword thrust with which her lover had been about to 
wound her? Death was not usually so mercifully timed! 

30 


THE SNOB 


31 


It would be much more like the ways of God with man if 
she recovered to find herself the wife of a man who didn’t 
want her; who resented her as a burden imposed upon 
him by a tragic trick of fate. 

I looked daily for a letter from Curry announcing the 
death of Nancy and his impending return. But a week 
passed by during which neither I nor any one else at 
the Academy received any word. 

I found myself, in every free moment of the day and 
night, thinking about him and wondering how things were 
going with him; whether the death-bed marriage had 
taken place; whether the girl had already died and Curry 
were staying on for the funeral; or whether he had found 
her chances of recovery too good to risk a marriage and 
whether, in that case, he would deal her that wound 
which would probably make her wish she had died. 

On the other hand, I conceived it possible that Nancy, 
like other girls and woijien whom I had seen ready to 
sell their souls for this man of great personal charm, 
was only a bit more clever than her finance and was 
taking this means of binding him fast at the very moment 
she apprehended he was going to abandon her. 

But much more than his external history, Curry’s 
psychology at this time gave me food for speculation. 
What would be his reaction in the actual presence of 
his dying bride, the girl who, trusting and adoring him, 
he had meant to hurt cruelly? Or, what would be his 
feeling and his attitude towards a living wife who, he 
felt, was hampering that precious “career” of his which he 
seemed to consider so important to the world? 

Perhaps I should never learn the answers to these in¬ 
teresting speculations; perhaps the strange mix-up in 
which he was involved would prevent his ever returning 
to us. 


32 THESNOB 

I did not have his address; nor did Dr. Lyman, as I 
learned by inquiry. 

My first news of him I received from Miss Dorothy 
Renzheimer who, one afternoon about two weeks after 
Curry had gone away, picked me up in her car when she 
met me walking on what was known in Leitersville as 
“The Avenue.” 

She was a plump, rosy, rather coarse-featured girl, 
somewhat flashily dressed in that extreme of the fashion 
always adopted by women to whom style is the most 
important matter of thought and study in their lives. 
While her rather loud tone and manner could not fail 
to be a bit trying to any one of taste, she was not with¬ 
out considerable personal magnetism. It was not at all 
clear to me, however, how, to a man of Curry’s sensitive¬ 
ness, this mere physical attraction could outweigh her 
utter lack of fineness. 

As I listened to her slangy talk interspersed with 
Leitersville Pennsylvania German provincialisms, I re¬ 
called Curry’s shrinking from what he had called 
Bradley’s “commonness.” 

“You'll leave me talk about Eugene Curry all I want, 
won’t you, and not tell me to dry up and give you a rest, 
like all my friends and relations do whenever I mention 
his name?” she gayly demanded as we swept down The 
Avenue towards the suburban boulevard. As there was 
a chauffeur at the wheel she was able to bestow such 
concentrated attention upon me that I instinctively put 
up barriers against giving Curry away in any least de¬ 
gree, in case I did happen to possess any knowledge of 
him that he might not wish transferred to Miss Renz¬ 
heimer. 

“It’s lucky I met you just now,” Miss Renzheimer 
>, continued, not waiting for the permission she had re- 


% 


THE SNOB 


33 


quested of me, “for I was going to call you up and 
leave you know that Eugene’s coming back Sunday.” 

“Where has he been and why?” I asked. “Do you 
know ?” 

“Don’t you know? Why, I thought you and he were 
so thick that he told you most everything. He’s been 
called home by illness in his family. His mother, I think. 
But I’m not quite sure. He’s been so funny in his letters 
—awfully upset! Said he’s been up nights and awfully 
worried and couldn’t half write— But of course he’ll tell 
both you and I all about it when he gets back. Gee, 
I’ve missed him! I’ll tell the world! But don’t mis¬ 
understand me, Mr. Appleton. I’m not so nutty about 
him and ak-shally tragic, the way half the girls and 
women of this town are! It seems they’ve got to only 
hear one of his lectures—him looking like an Early 
Apostle!—to fairly go dippy about him! You’ve seen 
it, haven’t you?” 

“I have.” 

She suddenly began to giggle. “If you’d see the crop 
of letters he gets from girls and even married women 
after every one of his lectures!” 

“Does he show them to you?” 

“Sometimes. And sometimes the girls themselves show 
me what they’ve written to him! Why some of the girls 
are just sick over him!;—can’t sleep or eat or read a 
magazine or play golf or tennis. Even lose interest in 
their clothes. Can’t even knit!” she squealed. “Just 
sit ’round moping. Losing flesh over it. Getting hag¬ 
gard ! Isn’t it the limit ?” 

“It is.” 

“Well, I really do believe, Mr. Appleton, the reason 
Eugene fell for me , out of all the bunch that were throw¬ 
ing themselves at him, or just dying to leave him use 


34 


THE SNOB 


them for a foot-mat, was because I didn’t pester the life 
out of him with notes and home-made fudge and 
crocheted slippers and hollow-eyed looks! He saw 
from the first that I could take inturst in other things 
—in my fancy work and sports and movies and dances. 
I do leave him be sometimes! It just isn’t in me to get 
so gone on a man that I’d forget everything else—though 
our folks and all my girl friends and even the fellows do 
say I can’t talk two minutes without hauling in Eugene 
Curry! To be sure, he’s the most perfect gentleman I 
ever met, and I guess that’s what got me—his refine¬ 
ment, you know, and his elegant manners. Isn’t he an 
aristocrat to his finger tips, Mr. Appleton? Gee!” 

“His gentility,” I admitted, “could go no higher with¬ 
out tottering.” 

“You said it!” she laughed, “And intellec-shal! What 
Eugene Curry don’t know isn’t worth knowing, I’ll say! 
I’m sure I don’t know what he finds in me. He isn’t the 
sort, you know, to rush a girl because she’s well off; he’s 
too speart-shal and all that ever to think of the practical 
and material side. You wouldn’t think he’d take to a 
dumb thing like me, now, would you?—as awfully well 
educated as he is. I know I ought to take up reading— 
but, you see, I guess I overdid reading when I was along 
about sixteen and you know how it is when you overdo 
a thing, you get sick of it and lose your taste for it. 
And I guess I did used to read too much and that’s 
what’s wrong with me now —I don’t care so much for 
reading as I ought to. Why, I guess I’ve read as many 
as five of Gene Stratton Porter’s books and six of 
Harold Bell Wright’s and three of Robert Chambers and 
then the women’s magazines—and you know when you 
once overdo a thing that way you’re apt to drop it and 
never want to take it up again. But I know I really 


THE SNOB 


35 


ought to read an improving book some times—only I’m 
so fond of needle work—embroidery and knitting—that 
when I do have a half hour to sit down I’m more apt to 
pick up my fancy work than a book. Or I’d sooner sit 
and play penuchle in the evenings if I’m home.” 

“But do you know,” I comforted her, “I really think 
Dr. Curry himself would prefer penuchle to Harold 
Bell Wright or Gene Stratton-Porter or the women’s 
magazines.” 

“Do you? Oh!” she suddenly smiled, “I see what you 
mean. You think those authors aren’t deep enough for 
Eugene. Well,” she added on a note of defiance, “it 
isn’t as if Eugene hadn’t had his choice of high-brow 
girls if he liked that kind! Why, I heard Josephine 
Stauffer say (when Mary Lehman said she’d not like to 
trust herself alone in the dark with a man with such a 
mouth as Dr. Curry’s) Josephine said (and she’s a 
Wellesley graduate, mind you) she said, ‘Oh, if you think 
he’s not to be trusted alone in the dark. I’ll certainly con¬ 
trive to have the lights go out next time he calls on me.' 
So, you see, I guess he fell for me because I left him do 
the courting.” 

“Courting?” 

“Sure! Don’t give us away though! We’re not an¬ 
nouncing anything just yet. Eugene says not to till he’s 
made good. Got a bigger job, you understand, more up 
to my level. Not that I mind his being only an Academy 
teacher—though before I met him, if anybody’d said 
Academy teacher to me, I’d have hooted at the i- dea! 
Oh, excuse me, Mr. Appleton! What will you think of 
me—” 

“Don’t mind me. You are engaged to Curry then— 
if I may ask?” 

“Oh, but I promised him not to tell yet. He’s got his 


36 


THE SNOB 


pride, you see, and doesn’t want our engagement to get 
out until he’s landed something. Which of course he 
will. I know he’ll be president of a university some time 
—or even more’n that. Look at Wilson 1” 

“Yes, look at him!” 

“Well, I guess! And I don’t see why Eugene shouldn’t 
go just as high. Don’t you love the name Eugene? I 
think it’s swell! I don’t care so much for Curry, though 
it’s anyhow better than Renzheimer! Maybe I didn’t 
have a jolt when I found the girls at Stanford Hall (the 
boarding school I went to on the Hudson) laughing at 
my name, when here in Leitersville—well, you know what 
our name is here! But outside Leitersville—well, I 
pretty near have to apologize for it! Say, I’m afraid 
Eugene won’t like it that I’ve left it get out—our en¬ 
gagement. He’s awfully funny about it! You won’t 
leave on, will you, Mr. Appleton, that I told you?” 

“He will probably tell me himself,” I said uneasily, 
“when he gets back.” 

“I don’t know—he’s so afraid the Leitersville Gazette 
will get hold of it and publish it with big headlines, the 
way they print everything about our bunch and 
especially about our family.” 

I wondered whether his fear had been that the Leiters¬ 
ville Gazette announcement might come under Nancy’s 
eyes. 

“He says,” continued Dorothy, “he thinks Granddad 
would be so opposed to such an unambitious marriage 
for me that he’d have him fired out of the Academy! 
He’s sure he’ll land a better position soon. Maybe get to 
be headmaster of a big school. But, Mr. Appleton,” 
she added confidentially, “do you know I really think our 
engagement’s the only thing that’ll save him from getting 
fired, for Granddad’s getting awfully sore at some things 


THE SNOB 


37 


Eugene says in his lectures about what-you-call-’em— 
‘vested interests ’—you know. Granddad says Dr. Curry 
was hitting a di -rect blow at him when he said in a 
speech at the Rotary Club luncheon last month, ‘Do not 
dare to offer charity to those to whom you refuse justice.’ 
And then something about you can’t expect ‘the seeds of 
injustice and greed’ to blossom forth into ‘the fruits of 
charity and philanthropy.’ Granddad was furious. 
He’s been repeating those things till I know ’em by heart 
and so does every one in the family! I told Eugene and 
he was worried. He said he’d be more careful.” 

“It’s cheering to hear that Curry has outraged some 
one—universal popularity, you know, being rather a 
suspicious sign of mediocrity.” 

“Then leave me be mediocre! What’s the good of 
being smart if it gets you disliked?” asked Miss Renz- 
heimer reasonably. 

“You’d rather be President than be right, wouldn’t 
you ?” 

“I'll tell the world I would!” 

“But do you think Dr. Curry would?” 

“Well, of course I know he’s awfully speart-shal and 
all that, but he does have some common sense, I hope!” 

“I’m sure he has plenty of that—what you call com¬ 
mon sense.” 

“What I call common sense! And what do you call 
it, pray?” 

“An over-estimated virtue, my dear, which usually 
means, ‘Keep a safe middle course. Never rise to danger¬ 
ous heights.’ ” 

“Well, I hope Eugene never will rise to such a height 
that he can’t see what’s to his own advantage! Do you 
know,” she went on with naive candor, “I can’t see why 
a man like Granddad gets so scared of men like you and 


38 


THE SNOB 


Eugene; why he thinks you could hurt him any, when 
he could buy you out sixty times over!” 

“The reason the rich are so scared of any interference 
with the social order is that many of them know that 
they’re incapable of earning a living by working—by 
genuine service to society.” 

“But Granddad works harder than any man I know. 
He’s earned all he’s got.” 

“No, my child, he hasn’t. He has gotten it through 
speculation, not through service. As society is con¬ 
stituted great fortunes are not made through service.” 

“Oh, well,” she dismissed this as too deep water for 
her, “the point is Eugene’s too proud to marry such a rich 
man’s heiress till he’s got something to show. But pride 
or no pride, he’ll have to consent to our announcing our 
engagement right away if he don’t want Granddad to 
smash him!” 

“Would your engagement stop Granddad’s smashing 
him? Won’t he, as Dr. Curry fears, oppose the en¬ 
gagement?” 

“But I don’t have to listen to Granddad. He don’t 
support me. Mj own parents won’t oppose it when they 
know my heart’s set on it.” 

“You’re not afraid your grandfather will disinherit 
you if your marriage doesn’t please him?” 

“He’ll probably bluster round and threaten to. But 
once Eugene’s in the family, I’m sure Granddad will ad¬ 
vance him all he can. Granddad’s awfully ambitious for 
the family. And Eugene’s ambitious too, so I don’t see 
why they can’t hit it off. Granddad will tell him, of 
course, that he’s got to stop saying those things he gets 
off about ‘Capital’ and ‘special privileges’ and such 
things, and I’m sure he’ll find Eugene reasonable, don’t 
you think so?” 


THE SNOB 


39 


“Eminently reasonable, I fancy!” 

“So do I; so just as soon as he gets back,” she said 
as she let me out at the Academy gates, “I’ll tell him I 
am going to announce our engagement.” 

The situation struck me as possessing lively pos¬ 
sibilities. 


r. 


CHAPTER IV 


I T was evident to me from the very hour of Curry’s 
return that he regretted, as much as I wondered at, 
his injudiciousness in having taken me into his con¬ 
fidence. He so patently avoided me that I knew he 
shrank from the explanations he must necessarily con¬ 
sider due me after having told me so much. I wondered 
whether Dorothy Renzheimer had told him of her having 
let out to me their engagement. I felt so embarrassed 
for him at that possibility that I kept out of his way as 
much as he slunk out of mine. To be sure, we met con¬ 
stantly in the presence of others; at Faculty meetings, 
at chapel, in the dining-room, or in the teacher’s “den.” 
I saw what others also noticed, that he was pale and 
distraught; that he had certainly been through some 
harrowing experience during his absence. 

It became clear to me within a week after his return 
that I was not the only person he was avoiding. He was 
dodging Dorothy Renzheimer. Almost daily I answered 
a voice on the telephone which I recognized to be hers, 
asking for Dr. Curry; and almost invariably the pupil I 
dispatched to summon him brought back the answer 
that Dr. Curry regretted he was too busy to respond. 
Towards the end of the week Miss Renzheimer’s voice on 
the telephone had become not only insistent but shrill. 

Every day when I sorted and distributed the Academy 
mail, I would find a note addressed to Curry in her hand¬ 
writing (with which I was familiar from the numerous 
invitations I had had from her). But in the outgoing 
mail which I also had to inspect, I never once saw any 



THE SNOB 


41 


letter addressed to her. In fact Curry did not appear 
to be writing letters to any one since his return. 

There were occasional letters in the incoming mail 
addressed to him, in rather a literary hand, postmarked 
“Virginsville.” I wondered whether they were from 
Nancy; whether she had fooled him by getting well after 
he had obligingly married her. Or was he perhaps wait¬ 
ing hourly to hear of her death to relieve an agonizing 
situation? Or was the girl breaking her heart with sus¬ 
pense as Dorothy was damaging hers with pique and 
rage? I noticed that every time I handed him a Virgins- 
ville letter bearing the literary handwriting, his face be¬ 
came cold and set; almost, I thought, resentful. 

One afternoon as I was strolling about the Academy 
grounds (it was the middle of a mild March) smoking 
my pipe, I had an encounter with Miss Renzheimer as 
she came hurrying up the asphalt walk, leaving her car, 
I observed, outside the Academy gates. 

I noticed at once as she drew near that she, like Curry, 
was looking white and worried. But at sight of me her 
face lit up with relief. 

“Oh! I am glad to see you! Can you talk with me 
for a few minutes before I see Eugene?” 

“Certainly. Shall we go to the house or walk about 
here?” 

“Wherever we’re least likely to be interrupted.” 

“We’re safe here, I think. Have you an appointment 
with Curry?” 

“Have I an appointment with him!” she repeated re¬ 
sentfully, her florid face becoming a deeper red. “No, I 
have not! I’m here to-day to take him unawares! It’s 
the only way I can take him, for he refuses to see me!” 
she exclaimed hysterically. “Can you beat it? Only 
once since he came back over a week ago, have we met 


42 


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and then only accidentally for ten minutes! He won’t 
talk to me on the phone, he won’t answer my letters, he 
won’t come to see me! And before I leave this Academy 
to-day, Mr. Appleton, I’m going to know the reason 
why! See?” she demanded, striking her hands together 
for emphasis. 

“I see.” 

As during the next half hour we slowly strolled up 
and down the long asphalt walk in front of the building, 
I wondered whether Curry, from his bed-room window 
which overlooked the walk, was watching us. 

“He looked so wild that day I did see him!” she said 
breathlessly. “It must be something awful that’s mak¬ 
ing him act like this!” 

“How did he account for himself when he met you?” 

“He said he’d had some trouble at home, but he 
wouldn’t say what it was; he only begged me to trust him. 
And he flatly refused to have our engagement announced. 
Seemed ak-shally terrified at the idea! Now, Mr. Ap¬ 
pleton, there’s sure something fishy about all this and 
I’m here this afternoon to find out what it is!” 

“It’s certainly your right to know.” 

“Yes, and I’m not going to fool ’round waiting any 
longer! Have you any idea what’s up?” ' 

“I’ve not seen Curry alone since he came back.” 

“Oh, he avoids you too, does he?” 

“He does.” 

“What do you suspect?” she demanded. 

“I don’t suspect my friends,” I parried. 

“Oh, don’t you indeed! How nice and moral of you! 
Do you mean to tell me you don’t know a single thing 
that could account for this change in Eugene?” 

“If you don’t know, how should I?” 

“You’re evading me!” 


THE SNOB 


43 


“My word of honor, Miss Renzheimer, that I know 
not why Dr. Curry is avoiding us both. I’m as curious 
as you are.” 

“Curious ! When my heart’s breaking!” 

“Oh, no, it isn’t, my dear girl. It’s much too stout, 
not to say tough. You’re not suffering a tenth of what 
poor Curry is evidently enduring! His worst enemy 
could pity him!” 

“But why can’t he tell us? Why don’t you ask him?” 

“Have you asked him?” 

“Have I asked him! Have I kept the Academy wires 
hot the past ten days? Have I bombarded him with 
notes? Have I threatened to break our engagement? 
What I want to know is what’s come over Eugene? Has 
he gone and committed something—a crime maybe?” 

“Probably.” 

“Oh, do be serious, please, Mr. Appleton! When you 
see how I’m suffering!” 

“When I see how mad you are! My dear child, I re¬ 
peat, you’re not half so pathetic as he is. Take comfort 
from that.” 

“Cold comfort! I don’t want him to suffer! Look 
here, Mr. Appleton, do you think there’s another girl in 
this?” she suddenly demanded violently. 

“Do you?” I asked to gain time. 

“Doesn’t it look awfully like it?” 

“Not necessarily.” 

“You know perfectly well that if it were anything 
else under heaven he could tell us what it was.” 

“Oh, I’m not so sure of that.” 

“Yes, you are!” she affirmed dogmatically. “But if he 
knew what’s hanging over him! Granddad’s telling the 
trustees they’re not to reelect him for next year! On 
account of his lectures. Now if we were married I know 


44 


THE SNOB 


Granddad would take that back. Another thing— 
promise not to tell!” 

I nodded. 

“Dr. Lyman is going away in the fall to be Dean 
of an Indiana college and there’d be Eugene’s chance to 
get the Head Mastership here. In case he was my hus¬ 
band. Not otherwise.” 

I knew, even better than she did, how such a turn of 
affairs would more than fulfill Curry’s present ambitions 
and I hoped, for Nancy’s sake more than for his, that 
she was not the impediment to their realization. 

“I think you are counting too much on your grand¬ 
father’s forebearance towards even a grandson-in-law 
whom he considered dangerous to his interests,” I sug¬ 
gested. 

“But you see when Eugene is in the family Grand¬ 
dad’s interests will be so much Eugene’s interests too 
that I am sure he won’t want to be dangerous to them.” 

“Your deduction is only too sound, I’m afraid!” 

“Here he comes!” she suddenly exclaimed, and I 
looked up to see our subtle friend hurrying towards us, 
his face pale to the lips. 

As he lifted his hat upon reaching us, he did not stop 
in his quick walk, but slipping his hand under Dorothy’s 
arm in passing, with an air of proprietorship, he pro¬ 
pelled her out towards her car. 

So he had apparently recognized at last the necessity 
of coming to an understanding with her. 

If the result should be his expulsion from the Academy, 
just at the very moment when he might have become its 
Head Master, I could not help thinking that Nancy, if 
she were indeed alive and the cause of his disaster, would 
probably pay a heavy price. 

That evening after dinner when the Faculty was 


THE SNOB 


45 


gathered in the library for coffee, I tried to read in his 
face some signs of his having eased his troubled mind by 
his talk with Dorothy. But I could detect no change 
from the pale, sick, anxious aspect he had worn ever 
since his return. Evidently their meeting had not been 
for him a reassuring experience. 

During all this week I had observed that his distress 
had not so greatly absorbed him as to hinder his adopt- 
ing guardedly, very slowly and deliberately, a new at¬ 
titude towards Bradley, the Bishop’s son; never snubbing 
him now, as he had been wont to do; contriving, whenever 
the teachers met, to sit near him, to pay him unobtrusive 
attentions such as rising to close a window when Bradley 
turned up his coat collar against a slight draught; offer¬ 
ing him a pencil when he was vainly fumbling through his 
pockets for his own; passing him his own cup of coffee and 
himself waiting to be served later; coming to his defense 
unobtrusively in an argument among a few of the teachers 
about the teaching of science versus William Jennings 
Bryan. He did it all with so much -finesse that it was 
not, I am sure, noticed immediately by any one but my¬ 
self. Certainly not by Bradley, whose serene un¬ 
consciousness of Curry’s changed tactics amused me not 
a little. 

Just now, as I stood chatting with Mrs. Lyman, the 
Head Master’s wife, directly behind the sofa where 
Curry sat beside Bradley, I overheard the former sug¬ 
gest to the young scientist that he give him an hour that 
evening for an exposition of his hobby, the elements in 
the structure of matter. Bradley eagerly agreed, put¬ 
ting aside his untouched cup of coffee at once and invit¬ 
ing Curry to come immediately to his room. Curry 
gently and gravely reminded him that they could not be 
quite so unceremonious as that. 


46 


THE SNOB 


“Just as soon as possible, however, we’ll say good-night 
to Mrs. Lyman—” 

Now did Curry really care a damn about the structure 
of matter, I wondered, or was he only using it as a sure 
road to a friendship with Bradley, the Bishop’s son? 

I wondered whether Bradley, like other people, would 
succumb to Curry’s charm and become one of his satel¬ 
lites. Or would he prove too intelligent to be taken in 
by mere phrases which if actually lived up to would 
surely bring a man to the glory of Calvary—or of 
Leavenworth Prison! I found it interesting to look on 
at this little drama. 

“What is it now?” Mrs. Lyman suddenly recalled my 
wandering attention to herself. “You know you always 
seem to be looking on at us all as though we were char¬ 
acters in a play! I believe that’s the way you actually 
do see us! What are you seeing through those opera 
glass eyes of yours just now?” 

“I’m seeing Dr. Curry struggling mightily, amidst the 
mad disorder of Bradley’s room, to follow the intricacies 
of an exposition of the ‘structure of matter in which all 
the elements are supposed to be built up of electrons’— 
the while his very soul is shuddering at his environment!” 

“Do you know the maids simply refuse to try to do 
anything with Mr. Bradley’s room? His mother wants 
him to have a valet, but he refuses and of course it 
wouldn’t do here.” 

I recalled that I had heard Curry say some weeks ago 
that no gentleman could live in “such a pig-sty” as Brad¬ 
ley’s bed-chamber looked. I could in fancy hear how 
gravely he would now rebuke any one he heard making 
a remark like that of the Bishop’s son. 

That night I could not sleep for the fantastic picture 
that danced in my brain. I saw Curry’s disconcerted 


THE SNOB 


47 


face when I would suddenly inform him that he had mis¬ 
understood about Bradley—his father not being a 
Bishop at all, but a Butcher— 

“The words being so much alike, you know, Curry, 
though one mightn’t think they would be—both begin¬ 
ning with a B and having the sound of sh in the middle — 1 
Bish, Butch—see? Awkward, isn’t it, now that you and 
he have become so friendly; of course he hasn’t changed 
any, being just the same raw, crude fellow he always 
was.” 

Then when Curry had tactfully withdrawn his friend¬ 
liness to the butcher’s son and had reestablished his 
first chill relation with him, I would break it to him that 
what Bradley was, for a fact, was an English nobleman. 
I could so clearly see Curry advancing, retreating, ad¬ 
vancing again; see-sawing in dizzy bewilderment from 
high to low to high once more, that finally in sheer weari¬ 
ness of the silly spectacle, I fell asleep. 

As this is not the story of my own life, but that of 
Curry’s marriage, I shall not digress to record here 
any of my own experiences at the Leitersville Academy 
except such as bear upon Curry’s career; among which 
I must include the result of my putting to the test the 
question as to whether such a thing existed as academic 
freedom of speech. 

I had been aware for some time before the storm broke 
over my head, of rumblings and flashes of lightning. I 
had even received a warning letter from old Jacob Leiter; 
and Dr. Lyman had very gravely expressed his dislike 
of some of the “unsettling ideas” which I was giving the 
boys in my history classes* 

I had not answered Jacob Leiter’s letter, which I con¬ 
sidered ignorant, impertinent meddling with my business 
of which he knew absolutely nothing; nor had I promised 


48 


THE SNOB 


the Head Master that I “wouldn’t do it any more.” 
Neither had I argued with him in favor of a teacher’s 
freedom as over against a text-book automaton. I sim¬ 
ply heard him in silence and continued to teach what I 
was presumably paid to teach—the truth of history, 
instead of a veiled and distorted version to camouflage 
modern diplomacy. 

Even when Dr. Lyman refused my request that he 
order, for students’ use in my classes, H. G. Wells’ Out - 
lines of History , reproving me for wanting to put into 
the hands of boys such “radical propaganda,” I held my 
peace. 

The climax approached when I was reported to have 
told my classes that in the place of weak nations sub¬ 
mitting to strong ones through fear; in place of pride and 
selfishness flaunted through force of arms; of a relentless 
Imperialism that seeks only its own security at the expense 
of mercy and justice (explaining here that I referred 
not only to German and British Imperialism, but our 
own Imperialism in Haiti, Mexico and the Philippines) — 
in place of this cut-throat, criminal relation among 
nations, I hoped the new generation, of which the boys of 
the Leitersville Academy were a part, would have another 
ideal—an ideal of nations helping and serving each other; 
of universal freedom; of the death of all coercion, ag¬ 
gression and revenge; of an Empire founded on Love and 
Service instead of Might. 

I succeeded in firing the enthusiasm of those among the 
boys whom Dr. Lyman considered “hot headed,” “er¬ 
ratic,” “unreliable,” “unbalanced.” The “solid” boys 
remained either unaffected or inimical to my suggestions. 

The enthusiasm of the “unstable” boys mounted so 
high as to reach the ears not only of Dr. Lyman, but of 
their parents, of Jacob Leiter, of other trustees. Small 


THE SNOB 


49 


quarter would I have received had I not been, for reasons 
quite irrelevant to education, an asset to the school. But 
even the prestige of my father’s name was not sufficient 
to protect me from the tide of protest which set in on 
the day when I was reported to have trught innocent, un¬ 
protected Youth that the time would surely come when 
public opinion would repudiate war just as it had re¬ 
pudiated dueling; when the soldier, like the duelist, would 
be regarded as a law-breaker, the nations which declared 
war as criminals against humanity. 

I was given twenty-four hours to pack my trunk and 
get out—“for the best good of the school.” 

Of the sixteen boys who bolted and left at the same 
time, as a protest in favor of free speech, ten were forced 
or persuaded by their parents (I learned later) to 
return. 

Of the Faculty, Bradley and Carpenter, the teacher 
of French and of German, were the only ones who sup¬ 
ported, to the extent of resigning at once, the principle 
for which I stood. 

Now Curry had constantly, during my months of as¬ 
sociation with him, expressed himself as being entirely 
in accord with my “liberal” ideas, though he had been 
wont to warn me now and then that he thought I was 
becoming a bit “injudicious.” 

“You deliberately invite disaster!” he would complain. 

That was precisely what I was doing, but the disaster 
I was inviting was for an academic system that would 
suppress truth and defeat the very ends of education. 
For myself personally the loss of my position would be 
no disaster, since of course I knew my position in the 
Academy to be untenable and did not wish to retain it 
one hour after my freedom was curtailed. 

Through all the high excitement of that sensational day 


50 


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on which I was notified to pack and leave, I looked hourly 
for some word or sign from Curry. Surely he would come 
and reaffirm to me his sympathy with my convictions 
which he had so often expressed. Now that I was, as 
he thought, “down on my luck,” being martyred for those 
convictions, I felt it was surely due to the friendship he 
had always openly professed for me, due to his own self- 
respect, that he should at least come and speak to me, 
if nothing more; if only to save his face. Of course 
if he would live up to his own fine phrases he would do 
much more; do as Bradley and Carpenter had done within 
an hour of my sentence—refuse to teach in a school where 
subservience to special interests, bigotry, intolerance, 
made genuine education impossible; a school which rather 
undisguisedly checked any least tendency of a boy to 
think for himself, and eliminated every influence which 
might stimulate him so to do. No teacher worthy of his 
high calling would consent to work under such conditions. 
The men who did submit ceased to be teachers and be¬ 
came puppets obeying the pull of a string; which directed 
them not to walk, but creep. 

It was hard for me to believe that Curry would stand 
aloof from me in this hour which he must consider my 
Calvary. 

But long before the day was over, I recognized from 
his almost frightened avoidance of me that he believed 
a sympathetic attitude towards me at this time would 
bring him into disfavor with the trustees; that he con¬ 
sidered my proximity as dangerous as smallpox; and I 
realized fully that, for him, loyalty not only to friend¬ 
ship, but to love and to ideals, was secondary to loyalty 
to his own ambitions. 

Yet how well I remember the earnest, illumined counte¬ 
nance with which he had proclaimed one evening, in a 


THE SNOB 


51 


lecture before the Civic Club, “Though we know that 
Liberty is the mother of all progress, yet we seem afraid 
to trust her! In our age, as in every age, there are 
martyrs for Liberty. Will men never learn to trust 
her?” 

Knowing the ways of Jacob Leiter, the autocrat of 
Leitersville, I had taken the precaution long ago, in 
anticipation of my expulsion from the Academy, to buy 
a house centrally located, which I could use in case the 
only good hotel in the town, owned by the Leiter Com¬ 
pany, found a pretext for refusing to take me in and 
every public hall for lectures were denied me. 

I at once summoned from New York by telegram my 
Chinese houseman and opened up my furnished house; 
and to Jacob Leiter’s chagrin, I turned the parlor into 
a lecture and open forum hall and advertised by cir¬ 
culars (the two newspapers controlled by Leiter refusing 
advertising space) a course of lectures on historical 
themes, free to the public; working my sensational expul¬ 
sion from the Academy for all there was in it for pub¬ 
licity purposes, to draw a crowd whom I hoped to en¬ 
lighten a bit as to the czarism that was creeping upon 
American life, education, politics, labor. 

This course of lectures proved to be a big success with 
the proletariat and the wage-earners of the town, includ¬ 
ing clerks and school teachers, but it did not attract the 
leisure classes as Curry’s lectures did. I did not become 
the fashion. 

Curry did not come to call on me in my new home. 

But Miss Dorothy Renzheimer did. One May morn¬ 
ing, about three weeks after I had left the Academy, 
when I was in my front garden planting flowers, Miss 
Renzheimer, seeing me in passing, turned her car at the 
corner and came to my gate. 


52 


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“May I come in and talk to you?” she asked, and as 
we walked together up the flagstone path to the front 
porch, I observed that the harassed, haggard countenance 
she had worn every time I had seen her during the past 
weeks was relieved this morning by a bright, eager hope¬ 
fulness. Her words fairly leapt over each other in im¬ 
parting to me her good news. 

“I’ve got you to thank for doing Eugene a good turn!” 
she exclaimed happily as we sat on the porch sipping 
the hot coffee which my Chinaman brought to us; for I 
had been so interested in my planting that I had for¬ 
gotten to eat any breakfast. “You sure have brought 
luck to he and I!” she cried, the slight affectation of 
elegance in her accent making her grotesque English all 
the more fantastic. 

“Some mistake,” I disclaimed responsibility for their 
“luck.” “I’ve done nothing. Haven’t seen Curry in 
three weeks.” 

“Oh, I know you didn’t do it on purpose, but it’s your 
doing all the same that everything’s sure going to come 
all right now for Eugene and I.” 

Now as the kernel of interest for me in this affair was 
neither Curry nor Dorothy, but the unknown Nancy 
whom my hectic fancy had been quite unwarrantably 
idealizing, I barely restrained myself at this instant from 
exclaiming, “Then is Nancy dead at last?” Fortunately 
I choked off the question in time, wondering, as I waited 
for Miss Renzheimer to explain herself, whether, in case 
Nancy had not mercifully died, Dorothy’s triumph meant 
the tragic undoing of the little village teacher. 

“What’s up?” I inquired. “And what have I to do 
with it? Have you come to an understanding with 
Curry at last?” 

“No,” she shook her head, her look of anxious care re- 


THE SNOB 


53 


turning for a moment, “but I’m bound to, now, right 
away. That is, if it’s only his pride and poverty that’s 
been holding him off. You know he’s the very soul of 
honor!—and of course if he thinks it’s not hon’rable to 
marry me when he can’t support me the way I’m ac¬ 
customed to, why, then, to be sure, as soon as he is well- 
fixed enough, we can get married right away!” 

“Has he come into a fortune?—and where on earth do 
I come in?” 

“Listen and leave me tell you! You see, Granddad was 
awfully taken back and upset the way the boys raised 
a hullabaloo when you were fired out of the Academy; he 
never dreamed that so many of the boys and even some of 
the teachers would go and get balky on him and take 
your part! And he hates like anything the lectures you 
give here in your house.” She suddenly leaned towards 
me and spoke in a whisper. “I’ll tell you something if 
you won’t give me away—he’s going to have your house 
watched the nights you lecture, and discharge every work¬ 
man that attends ’em!” 

“Thanks for the tip. They shall come masked. Go 
on with your story, please.” 

“Well, you know Granddad thinks Eugene’s another 
one just like you—full of ideas that are upsetting to the 
laboring people. But Granddad’s learned a lesson—he’s 
not going to make a second mistake, he says, and throw 
out a man as popular as Eugene is. He says he’s go¬ 
ing to take another tack with Eugene. He says if he’d 
known what he knows now, he’d have taken this other tack 
with you , and then he’d have you! He’s going to (mind 
you, without my asking him to—he don’t know a thing 
about Eugene and me)—he’s going to make the trustees 
elect Eugene Head Master!” 

“Buy him off?” 


54 


THE SNOB 


“Well, to be sure, if he’s Head Master, he won’t want 
to damage the school the way you tried to, Mr. Apple- 
ton ! Not that I give a darn for your damaging it—don’t 
misunderstand me about that. I’m not interested in the 
old school except as it matters to Eugene and I. I’m 
just on my way now to the Academy to prepare Eugene 
for what’s coming to him!” she said, her face radiant. 
“Isn’t it spiffy! I want to be the first to tell him! Head 
Master of the Academy yet! And him barely thirty 
years old! Isn’t it fine and dandy?” 

“It will ruin him!” 

“Why?” she demanded, aghast. 

“On second thoughts, no. It won’t.” I did not add, 
“Because you can’t ‘ruin’ an egg that’s already rotten!” 

“And your grandfather thinks, does he, that I, too, 
could have been bought off?” 

“Well, to be sure, he knows you don’t need the salary 
or the honor like Eugene does. Still, he says, he could 
have found some kind of a bait to get you.” 

“None so alluring, I think, as a man’s intellectual and 
spiritual freedom. ‘He that loseth his life shall find 
it.’ ” 

Dorothy shook her head. “I don’t get you. Too 
high-brow. I’m awful dumb! You’ve got to talk plain 
and simple to little Dotty, Mr. Appleton! Well,” she 
concluded, “you know, now, why it’s you we’ve got to 
thank for our luck!” 

A touch of pity stirred me as I considered her bright 
young hopefulness that was possibly destined, within the 
next hour, to be laid in the dust. 

“My dear girl, don’t be too confident! Doesn’t it 
seem rather obvious that it has been something else than 
the money question which has been making Curry act so 
strangely ?” 


THE SNOB 


55 


She turned white. “You know what it is?” she asked 
piteously. “Tell me! Oh, do tell me, Mr. Appleton!” 

“I don’t know. And if I did, don’t you see, my dear, 
that it is not for me, but for him to tell you?” 

“I believe you know something!” she said miserably. 

“I’m as puzzled as you are. I’ve not once spoken to 
him alone since he came back over a month ago. But,” 
I said indignantly, “it’s intolerable that he should keep 
you in misery like this! He must explain himself and at 
once! You must make him!” 

“But I can’t! I’ve pumped him and I’ve bawled and 
I’ve cussed t—and all I get is, ‘Have patience, darling, and 
everything will come all right.’ ” 

“Well, whether his new prospects will bring him to 
terms with you or not, it certainly ought to force an 
explanation from him.” 

She rose with an air of resolution. “I’m going up 
there to that Academy this minute and make him cough 
up whatever’s on his chest if I’ve got to threaten him that 
I’ll go straight to Granddad with my tale of woe if he 
don’t!” 

“Stop in on your way back and tell me how you make 
out, if you feel like it, “I crassly suggested as I helped 
her into her car. 

“Sure I will! You’re just wonderf’ly sympathetic!” 
she said gratefully, a bit of huskiness in her voice that 
made me, pacifist though I was, feel like cowhiding that 
sleek Curry for making two young girls suffer so much 
on account of his damnable charm. 


CHAPTER V 


S HE did not stop on her way back. An hour later, 
while I was working at my writing table which I 
had fitted up on my porch, I saw her car dash by 
at an unlawful speed. Whether this indicated good or 
ill for her, I could not decide. 

During all the following week I did not see her again. 
One evening the Gazette announced in large type 
that Curry had been elected by the Board of Trustees 
of the Leitersville Academy to be its new Head Master. 
Space was given in the newspaper to testimonials from 
various women’s clubs and from the student body as to 
the new Master’s popularity in the town as well as in 
the school. 

I watched thereafter in the streets for a glimpse of 
Dorothy Renzheimer, knowing that one look into her be¬ 
traying face would enlighten me as to whether or not 
she had at last learned her fate at the hands of her 
recalcitrant lover. 

But my first sight of her was during a dramatic, if 
awkward, meeting between her and Curry at my own 
gate. I had been reading on my porch in the cool of an 
early May evening, when a car stopping at my house made 
me look up—to see Miss Renzheimer spring from her car 
and start to walk across the sidewalk to my gate—and it 
was at that moment that Curry, coming down the street, 
suddenly and quite unexpectedly came face to face with 
her, unescapably, on my pavement. Ignoring him, she 
started to open the gate, but he quickly put out his hand 
to check her. She drew away aggressively, almost spite- 


T H E S N 0 B 57 

fully, and glared at him furiously, while he, looking 
agonized, pleaded with her. 

I did not hear what they said; their voices were pitched 
low; but I caught the fact that their tones were tense. 

I rose and went slowly down the walk to invite them in. 

Curry looked painfully embarrassed as I held out my 
hand—as indeed I felt he had cause to do on more than 
one count! 

“Sorry I haven’t time—thank you,” he declined my in¬ 
vitation. “Won’t you—think better of it, Dorothy?” he 
falteringly, though with an assumption of grave earnest¬ 
ness, asked the girl. 

For answer, she flounced through the gate which I held 
open and stood defiantly at my side—at which Curry hast¬ 
ily lifted his hat, turned away and went quickly down 
the street. 

“Dirty dog!” cried the girl vindictively, as I led her 
back to the porch. “Trying to coax me not to come in 
here and tell you! No wonder he’s ashamed to have you 
know!” 

Somehow, with my mental picture of the misery in 
Curry’s fine, sensitive face, as I had just now seen it, I 
could not sympathize quite so much with this buxom, 
angry girl as I found myself pitying him. Whatever his 
fault, and because of it of course, his suffering must be 
so much keener and subtler than hers could possibly be! 

And yet, in my heart I knew that it was for himself, 
and not for the pain he inflicted on others, that he 
suffered. 

“Ashamed to have me know what?” I asked. 

“That he’s married. married for six weeks!” 

“My dear girl!” I exclaimed in quick compassion, 
even while my stronger feeling went forth instinctively 
to the girl that was Curry’s wife. For certainly her 


58 


THE SNOB 


plight must be the more tragic. “He has a—a living 
wife?” I stammered. 

“Living!” she repeated. “So, then, you did know 
all along! And you swore you didn’t!” 

“I knew so little! He told me he was going to the bed¬ 
side of a dying girl to whom he had been engaged—with 
whom he had meant to break his engagement—who now 
wanted him to marry her on her death-bed. Whether or 
not he did marry her—whether she recovered or died—I 
had not been told.” 

“You might have told me what you did know!” 

“I had no right to tell you what was told me in con¬ 
fidence. And there was nothing definite to tell.” 

“Well, she didn't die!" cried Dorothy vindictively. 
“After he went and married her, she got well !—when he 
never would have married her, she’s so beneath him, if 
he hadn’t had the doctor’s word for it that she couldn’t 
live! Now what do you think of that?” 

“That she’s damned unlucky!” 

“Her unlucky! Hasn’t she got»what she wanted?” 

“I’m inclined to think she has not. And neither, as 
you know, has Curry, since he wanted to marry you. He 
is as much a victim as you are. It’s unjust to call him 
‘a dirty dog’ since his only mistake was his compassion 
for a dying girl who loved him.” 

“Who tricked him into marrying her because she knew 
she’d never get him any other way!” 

“Does he say that?” 

“No, but I say it! She bribed that doctor all right!” 

“A poor school teacher? She couldn’t afford to, Miss 
Dorothy.” 

“Well, if she didn’t bribe him, she fooled him! I’ll 
bet you she knew well enough she wasn’t dying!” 


T H E S N 0 B 59 

“The more probable theory is that love and happiness 
made her get well.” 

“A lot of love and happiness she’ll have, married to 
a man that doesn’t want her!” 

“Exactly. Don’t you see how much worse her plight 
is than yours?” 

“Well, I’ll do my darn best to make it more worse! A 
pleasant time she’ll have in this town— not! None of 
my friends will notice a girl that had to rope in a man by 
a death-bed fake!” 

“But he was engaged to her, you know.” 

“She must have smelled a rat that he was getting tired 
of her!—and so she got up this dirty, rotten plot to nail 
him! Gee, I’ll make her sorry for it!” 

I leaned back in my wicker chair, folded my arms 
and looked out morosely over the darkening lawn. I 
wished the wench would take herself off and not waste 
my time. Her vulgar spite killed all my interest in her 
trouble. 

Coarse-grained as she was, she nevertheless felt at once 
my cold withdrawal, but it only goaded her to an uglier 
resentment. 

“ I’m not the sort to turn the other cheek to any one 
that does me dirt! Well, I guess not! I’ve got some 
spunk!” 

I made no comment. 

“I’ll do all I can to make it hot for her here!” 

This, also, failed to elicit a reply from me. 

“She’ll certainly get a freeze-out in this town! There 
won’t be any of my acquaintances that won’t have heard 
of that fake death-bed before the bride arrives next fall! 
—and won’t they give her the ha-ha!” 

I remained silent. 


60 


THE SNOB 


“And under her very eyes I’ll vamp Eugene Curry till 
I’ve got her that crazy-jealous that—” 

“Don’t be so damned common!” I checked her tirade 
in a bored tone. 

“Well! I like that!” 

“Why do you try to make me think you are a girl from 
whom Curry has made a happy escape? Because you’re 
not, you know. You’re far, far above such ill-bred spite! 

“Oh, no, I’m not! Don’t you fool yourself!” 

“I don’t fool myself.. Why, no common factory girl 
that hasn’t had your chance to learn something, would 
stoop to the mean acts you’re threatening!—acts which 
would harm you so much more than they could possibly 
harm your victim!” 

I was, of course, pleading for Nancy under the guise 
of being interested in the 'morale of Miss Renzheimer. 

“Victim! It’s me’s the victim, I should think! And 
hnean acts’ ! How about her mean act in fooling my 
fiance under false pretenses—” 

“Come, come,” I scoffed, “what makes you think she 
knew any more of your existence than you knew of hers? 
I imagine, from what Curry told me, that the girl had no 
idea he had stopped caring for her; no least suspicion 
that he was planning to break with her. If that is true, 
can't you see how much worse off she is than you are? 
Would you change places with her?” 

“Yes, I would! She has Eugene, hasn’t she? And 
what have I got?” 

“Would you want him as she has him?” 

“I’d sooner have him that way than not at all!” she 
sullenly answered. “What have I got?” she repeated. 

“Your freedom and honor and self-respect—unless 
you sacrifice them to this disgusting spite towards a 


THE SNOB 


61 


young thing much more to be pitied than you are. The 
loss of Eugene Curry isn’t irremediable!” 

“Yes, it is! I never saw any one like him! Every 
one thinks he’s perfectly fascinating!” 

“What did he mean by telling you to have patience 
and everything would come right?” I asked. “Is he 
thinking of divorcing his wife?” 

“She had double pneumonia and even yet they think 
if she’s not careful she might have a relapse.” 

“So he bids you hope for the best with patience? And 
yet you would add to the bitterness that that poor young 
wife of his, whom he wishes dead, will come to feel!” 

She began to look less vindictive. “If you’re sure she 
didn’t suspect about me—” 

“I’m sure she didn’t,” I said with a confidence I didn’t 
feel. “But any way, Curry was engaged to her first. 
Has your grandfather been told of the new Head Mas¬ 
ter’s matrimonial vagaries?” 

“You bet I told him!—though it’s awful hard to intrust 
Granddad in anything that don’t bear directly on 
business. 

“And how did he take it?” 

“How’d he take it?” she indignantly exclaimed. “Said 
he was only too glad Eugene was already married, because 
he wouldn’t for anything have a relation for Head Mas¬ 
ter, for a relation could take advantage and get out of 
hand, while a man with no claim on him would have to 
toe the mark. See?” 

“I do.” 

“So he’s going to have the Head Master’s house on 
the campus re-papered and painted, this summer vaca¬ 
tion, for the new mistress that will be brought here next 
September,” she added bitterly. 


62 


THE SNOB 


“Poor little country girl, how will she fill the bill?” 
I said seeing in fancy Curry’s sensitive suffering at her 
social “unfitness”; for the position of Head Master’s 
wife really called for some sophistication. 

“Yes, I guess she’s a hayseed all right from what Eu¬ 
gene says! I told Granddad she’d disgrace the school! 
But he said, ‘Trust Curry to keep her in the background 
if she’s as green as all that!’ He offered to send me to 
Paris to get over it, but I told him Paris Nothing! I’ll 
stay right here and pay out that— Oh, well!”—she 
thought better of it and her tone changed from angry 
resentment to a dull stullenness. “Maybe that poor fish 
has got the worst of it, as you say.” 

“Be assured of that!” 

“And anyway,” she added listlessly, “sometimes I think 
nothing in the world matters enough to make a fuss about 
it!” 

“Sometimes I think so too, Miss Dorothy.” 

“You and I are awf’ly congenial together, aren’t we?” 
she suddenly remarked on a note of pleased surprise. 

I took the alarm. “But I’m naturally brutal and 
quarrelsome and selfish, sorry to say,” I admitted. 

She regarded me doubtfully; “Now you wouldn’t like 
any one else to give you such a character—you know 
you wouldn’t. Eugene never said you were like that!” 

“People are apt, you know, to turn only their best side 
to Eugene, so noble and pure-hearted as he is!” 

“I half believe you’re kidding!” 

“I didn’t know you had a suspicious nature.” 

“Anyway,” she said, looking me over appraisingly, 
“your wife won’t have to worry about other women run¬ 
ning after you.” 

Far from meaning this as a disparagement of my per¬ 
sonal charm, I saw that she considered it a valuable mat- 


THESNOB 63 

rimonial asset and that I would have to put out all mj 
defenses. 

“I, too, value peace of mind,” I said, “and shall marry 
a woman so unalluring that I shan’t ever have to keep 
an eye on her.” 

“I didn’t mean,” said the simple maiden apologetically, 
“that you aren’t attractive! Quite the contrary, Mr. 
Appleton,” she graciously reassured me, “as. I’ve heard 
more’n one girl say and lots of married women too. But 
your wife could sure trust you. Other women would 
know there was no use trying to vamp you, once you were 
married. Not that I mean you’re a cold-blooded fish! 
Not by any means! But somehow any one would know 
that you just couldn’t be tricky!” 

“And you feel that Eugene could be—tricky?” I asked, 
interested. 

“He hasn’t got your kind of a jaw! Not that he’d 
want to go wrong any more than you would, but—” 

Here at last she pricked my egotism. “Don’t at¬ 
tribute to me, please, the vulgar moral inhibitions of a 
Sunday School Superintendent! ‘Wouldn’t want to go 
wrong!’ You sound like a Salvation Army street talker!” 

“Well, would you want to go wrong?” she callously 
repeated. 

“I don’t know anything about right and wrong—I only 
know that I hate ugliness of every brand, whether physical 
or what you call ‘moral.’ ” 

“Well, then,” she persisted, “your wife could depend 
on your hating ‘mor’l ugliness’—such as falling for every 
pretty girl that cast a Come-Hither eye at you! 1 
wouldn’t ask more! And, you know, there’s something 
sort of severe and forbidding about you—women don’t 
try to flirt with you—a person sort of stands in awe of 
you—” 


64* 


THE SNOB 


“Not too much in awe to dissect me to my face and 
probe into all the secret places of my soul! Don’t probe 
too deep, Miss Dorothy, or you might find something 
you’d call ugly!” 

“One job your wife will have on her hands!” she nodded 
astutely. “To brake you of your ‘ugly’ habit of looking 
and talking all the time as if you were making fun of a 
person!” 

She rose to go. “So, then,” she said as we started 
down the walk to the gate, “you think it won’t hurt my 
dignity any if I drop my schemes for paying back that 
girl for what she’s done to me?” 

“I think you can richly afford to be generous to her 
who has so much the worst of it.” 

“You do have queer ideas about things! I’d have 
thought I’d be lowering myself not to try to give her 
as good as she sent!—that it would be beneath my dig¬ 
nity not to spurn her after what she did!” 

“And I call that a very queer idea indeed!” I smiled. 

“I see now, a little, what the Academy boys mean when 
they say you gave them ‘new standards.’ Well, I don’t 
like ugly things either, and I suppose paying people back 
isn’t exactly—well, pretty.” 

“No, it isn’t ‘pretty,’ ” I agreed as I helped her into 
her car and closed the door. 

“But,” she concluded, her face flushing and the fire of 
revenge again lighting her eyes for an instant, “if she 
turns out to be pretty and attractive, then good-by to 
your high marl standards, Mr. Appleton! That’s some¬ 
thing I couldn’t stand!” 

She touched the accelerator and her car flew down the 
road. 


CHAPTER VI 


T HAT strange coincidences do happen sometimes 
outside of moving pictures, I offer the following 
as evidence. 

An afternoon of the ensuing August found me the vic¬ 
tim of an automobile accident, laid up with a sprained 
knee in the home of a young New Mennonite farmer who, 
with the aid of his husky wife, had carried me from the 
roadside into his house close by. The doctor whom the 
farmer had summoned from the near-by village of Vir- 
ginsville had, after treating my bruises and binding up 
my ankle, pronounced me unqualified to move for a week 
and had left me comfortably settled in a downstairs room 
of the farm house; “the spare room,” the farmer’s girlish 
wife called it; a typical Pennsylvania German bed-cham¬ 
ber; dustless, spotless cleanliness, a rag carpet, a high 
feather-bed (which the doctor had mercifully ordered to 
be placed under instead of over the mattress) furniture 
painted a sticky gray and nauseatingly decorated with 
brown flowers and incredibly bright green leaves, against 
a background of red and yellow wall-paper—a fearful 
riot of gruesome colors; weird family photographs framed 
and hung at regular intervals about the walls. 

It was while I lay on my back, weak, but quite at ease, 
wondering what would be the dire effect upon my char¬ 
acter of contemplating for a whole week such a combina¬ 
tion of lurid red, green, yellow, brown, gray; realizing 
that the photographs would be an added anguisb—that 
my eye was caught by something which seemed rather 
exotic and incongruous in this setting—a framed Prince- 

65 



66 


THE SNOB 


ton College diploma just beside my bed. The name en¬ 
graved upon it was Elypholate Curry; the date just five 
years ago. 

And then suddenly I saw, fastened just below the 
diploma, the photograph of a young man in college cap 
and gown, presumably the “Elypholate Curry” of the 
diploma—whom, with a sharp shock, I recognized as the 
Head Master-elect of the Leitersville Academy—Eugene 
Curry ! As handsome as a young god! 

But how about that fantastic name “Elypholate” ? 
Well, of course any one afflicted with the name “Elypho¬ 
late” would change it. But why had he allowed it 
to go on his diploma? 

The members of this household whom I had already met, 
the young farmer wearing the grotesque garb of his reli¬ 
gious sect, his stout wife who adhered to “worldly” dress, 
and his plump little Mennonite mother who looked like a 
fat partridge, were all crude, kindly Pennsylvania Ger¬ 
mans of the peasant type, and it seemed bizarre to me 
that Eugene Curry, cultured, polished, fastidious and 
pretentious, could have come from a home like this. The 
only manifestation I had ever observed in him of a humble 
origin had been his snobbishness, a form of vulgarity 
which had not suggested a background of such rural sim¬ 
plicity as that of a Mennonite farmer’s family. 

All at once I recalled the frequent letters Curry had 
received last spring bearing the post-mark “Virgins- 
ville,” addressed in a literary handwriting which I had 
guessed to be “Nancy’s” and which had always brought 
to his face a look of cold resentment. “Virginsville” was 
the name of the village just two miles distant from this 
farm house. 

Would I possibly encounter Eugene Curry and his bride 
here during my enforced stay in this house? I rather 


THE SNOB 


67 


shrank from witnessing the humiliation which such a meet¬ 
ing would certainly cause a man of Curry’s caliber— 
though if he could only know how little I was affected by 
worldly rather than human values, he might really be 
glad to see me. 

My suspense, during the next hour, as to whether or 
not he and his wife were spending the summer vacation 
in this neighborhood, or perhaps under this very roof 
where I so unexpectedly found myself, stimulated my al¬ 
ready shocked nerves rather unwholesomely. 

A supper of “ponhaus” (scrapple) “smear case” 
(cream cheese) “spread” (apple butter) fried ham and 
coffee was brought to me at five o’clock by the young 
farmer’s stout little mother and I was glad she remained 
to wait on me and chat with me while I ate. 

Although she was a bland, placid, phlegmatic woman 
of sixty, I now saw that her resemblance to Eugene was 
unmistakable; so much so that I had an amused sense of 
looking at his face framed in that white Mennonite cap. 
I could not doubt that she was his mother. There was 
only one important difference between her countenance 
and his—her face was as open as a child’s. 

As she gently rocked in the big gray-brown-green chair 
at the bedside (which matched the sticky-looking bed, bu¬ 
reau and washstand) she discussed exhaustively every 
phase of my accident; talking in a steady monotonous 
stream, with scarcely a pause, repeating every word of 
the long argument she had had with Weesy, her daugh¬ 
ter-in-law, as to which of them had heard the crash first; 
reveling in a minute description of my bloody, smashed 
aspect when found in the road; telling just how Weesy 
thought it had happened; how she differed with Weesy’s 
theory; what “Yi” thought more likely— 

“ 4 Yi’P” I repeated questioningly. 


68 


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“Uriah’s his name,” she explained. “My younger son; 
the one that helped his wife, Weesy, to fetch you in here. 
Yes, a many ugly accidents happens with them onman- 
nerly ottomobiles! Why, here last summer a boy fifteen 
years old was kilt at that wery spot out there where you 
was hurt! Yes, mind if he wasn’t! Without a minute’s 
warnin’ ushered into Eternity! It was awful sa-ad! I 
say still to Weesy, ‘Ain’t it sa-ad, Weesy, about that there 
poor young boy?’ To be ushered into Eternity unpur- 
pared! Och, but it is, now, awful sa-ad! Yes, the ac¬ 
cident itself would be bad enough without goin’ before 
your Maker unpurpared; ain’t? Yes, me, I often say to 
Weesy, I say, ‘It’s awful sa-ad about that young boy 
dyin’ unpurpared. This here ought to be a lesson to the 
young,’ I still say to Weesy, ‘to get purpared and not 
follow so much after pleasure-seekin’ and frivol’ty.’ Fur 
what’s Time towards Eternity? Ain’t?” 

“What indeed?” I acquiesced. 

“What’s your first name?” she suddenly inquired to 
my surprise. I told her and she explained, “Us Men- 
nonites we darsent use Mr. or Mrs. or titles or pay no 
sich compliments, but our speech must be plain and true. 
So you must excuse me if I call you —what is it now? 
Herrick,” she repeated after me. “That name ain’t 
familiar with me. It’s a funny name; ain’t? Do you 
mind if I call you Herrick then?—or are you proud and 
must be called Mister?” 

I assured her of my abject lack of pride. 

“Is that another son of yours?” I indicated the 
photograph hanging under the Princeton diploma. 

She nodded, sending an awed, almost timid glance to¬ 
wards the picture. “Yes, that there’s our Elypholate.” 
(She pronounced the word ‘our’ “ah-ver.”) “And there’s 
his diar-plomy,” crooking her thumb backwards at the 


THE SNOB 


69 


framed document. “Lypholate’s awful high-educated,” 
she shook her head disparagingly. “Full much so! I 
never favored him taking so much schoolage. I sayed to 
him when he wanted to go to college, ‘No, Lypholate, you 
kin read plenty good enough a’ready without goin’ to 
college yet.’ But he wouldn’t listen on me. To college 
he must go. And Lottie, my eldest dotter, she upheld to 
it too, fur Lottie’s good educated herself and she sayed 
she knowed the walue of schoolage. A Millersville Nor¬ 
mal grad-yate, ah-ver Lottie is, and awful high-minded 
that way and appreciates herself wonderful! But I 
sayed to her, ‘Yes, but, Lottie,’ I sayed, ‘it was different, 
too, again, when your Pop was alive to pay fur you at 
Millersville Normal, but me I’d have to mortgage the 
farm to send Lypholate; and college costs even more ex¬ 
pensive yet than Millersville Normal,’ 1 says. And Lot¬ 
tie she sayed if I’d mortgage the farm and send Lypholate 
to college, she’d school teach and help pay off the mort¬ 
gage. So I give in. And after all, Lottie she couldn’t 
help any, fur she up and got married. Yi he farms the 
place since my man died fur me, and Yi he sayed if I’d 
now deed it over to him, he’d pay off the mortgage. So, 
then, seein’ I could never pay it off myself, I deeded it 
over to Yi. And now,” she mourned, “I don’t have 
nothin’ no more and am dependent on my children. 
But,” she added wistfully, “I put my trust in Gawd. I 
guess He’ll take care of me and not leave me come to 
want in my old age.” 

“Of course He won’t,” I said reassuringly, “not with 
two grown sons and a daughter to take care of you.” 

“I don’t know,” she returned doubtfully. “You see, 
Lypholate’s so high up in the world and college has got 
him so genteel that he has to live awful grand—and that 
costs so expensive that he ain’t never been able to pay me 


70 


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back any fur his grand education that I gave him. And 
you see my children’s all married now and got their own 
expenses. Now that Lypholate’s married too, I guess 
he’ll never be able to pay me back,” she ended hopelessly. 

I wondered whether his indebtedness to his mother had 
had anything to do with “Elypholate’s” desire to marry 
Dorothy Renzheimer’s great fortune. 

“But,” I suggested, “you must be proud of your son’s 
success.” 

“But me I’m a New Mennonite and pride ain’t fur us. 
And Lypholate’s so genteel, I guess I seem wery common 
to him, and he has ashamed a little of me and Yi and 
Weesy. But of Lottie not. Lottie’s awful high-toned, 
like ah-ver Lypholate. Her man he’s a musicianer; he 
teaches music to the public schools at Columby. Yes, 
that high up ah-ver Lottie married yet! She has ashamed 
a little, too, I guess fur her Mennonite Mom. But och, 
how she has proud fur her brother Lypholate! Yes, 
anyhow! That’s why it got her so mad that Nancy 
Sherwin ketched him—Lottie she didn’t think Nancy was 
near good enough fur ah-ver Lypholate. To be sure, 
Lypholate could o’ did a lot better. And seeing how 
much his education cost yet, he had ought to have did 
better too. And he was always so high-minded that 
way, after he’d been to college a’ready, and never would 
make hisself common with the folks ’round here, so much 
he respected hisself; and so we all conceited he’d look 
wery high fur a wife, and when he got runnin’ with a 
country teacher, us we didn’t think he meant it fur really. 
And I don’t think he did neither. He just got took in. 
You see, Nancy she persuaded Lypholate to marry her on 
her death-bed and then didn’t she disappoint him by get- 
tin’ well on him! To be sure, that’d get any man a little 
sore, knowin’ he could o’ did so much better’n her!” 


THE SNOB 71 

“Why did she want to do it—to get married when she 
thought she was dying ?” 

“Well, sometimes I think Nancy she just hated the idea 
of havin’ Miss on her tombstone.” 

I thoughtfully contemplated this, to me, quite novel 
reason for matrimony. “But did she know that Elypho- 
late would not have married her if he’d supposed she’d 
get well?” 

“That I couldn’t answer fur the reason that I don’t 
know.” 

She picked up a pitcher of water to refill my glass. 
“Do you feel fur a drink?” 

“Thank you. Is Nancy any more satisfied with her 
marriage than Elypholate is?” 

“Well, I guess she kin well be!—seein’ how high above 
her Lypholate is! Her a poor girl earnin’ her own livin’ 
with no home and no folks! She done grand and she 
knows it. Yes, she thinks very high of Lypholate. 
Oncet I tole her, when she was sayin’ how grand she thinks 
Lypholate is, ‘But when all’s said, Nancy, he’s only a 
man then,’ I says. And she sayed, ‘I think he’s a gawd!’ 
Yes, mind you if she didn’t say that! ‘I think he’s a 
gawd,’ she sayed. And I says, ‘Och, Nancy, Lypholate 
ain’t near like Gawd, he’s only my son, when all’s said, and 
it’s only his grand education that’s got him lookin’ so 
genteel. If it wasn’t fur his schoolage, he wouldn’t be 
no different from ah-ver Yi,’ I says. Yi he never hank¬ 
ered after an education like both my dotter Lottie and 
both my son Lypholate did. Yi he purferred to stay 
ignorant. He takes after me. I never missed it any, not 
havin’ schoolage. I’m more contented so. Fur all my 
childern, when they got so book-learnt, fell away from 
the New Mennonite faith, but Yi not.” 

“Nancy isn’t, of course, a Mennonite?” 


72 


THE SNOB 


“Och, no, she belongs to the world’s people. There 
Lypholate would have drawed the line, at marryin’ a 
Mennonite!—death-bed or no death-bed! He’s too high- 
minded.” 

“But she’s a Pennsylvania Dutch girl of this neighbor¬ 
hood; isn’t she?” 

“No, she comes from else. She’s a foreigner—from 
Phil-delphy or wherever—I don’t rightly know what 
place. She don’t even speak her words like us. She 
speaks her words like you do. Awful funny it sounds, 
the way yous foreigners talk! The way yous say buttah 
fur butter-r. Why,” she asked, puzzled, “don’t yous talk 
right?” 

“But what can you expect, Mrs. Curry, of poor for¬ 
eigners? Do you like Nancy?” 

“Whether I like her? Well, it makes nothing if I like 
her or if I don’t; it’s whether Lypholate likes her—ain’t? 
Och, she’s all right, I guess. Yes, she’s a wery nice lady. 
Lottie she’s awful agin her though! Lottie she can’t 
bear to think what Lypholate missed. She says he could 
o’ did so much fur her and her man if he’d married that 
there girl he could o’ got over at Leitersville. Then he 
could o’ got Lottie’s man a good job.” 

I wondered how I should break it to her that I knew 
her son. 

“Is Elypholate stopping here this summer with his 
wife?—or near here?” 

“Yes, they’re stoppin’ here at the farm with us. 
They’re off to-day in ah-ver Ford. They went to 
Columby over. That’s where Lottie lives. Nancy she 
didn’t want to go with. Because she says ah-ver Lottie 
don’t like her. But Lypholate he wanted her along. 
He’s awful funny about her. Fur all he’s so mad he 
married her, yet he wants her round him all the time. 


THE SNOB 


78 


Seems he can’t stop lookin’ at her and can’t keep his 
hands off her, and yet she don’t near suit him, fur he’s 
all the time pickin’ at her and findin’ fault with her.” 

“What about?” 

“Well, I don’t always rightly understand, but mostly, 
I guess, it’s because she ain’t stylish enough to suit him. 
I guess mebby that’s why he wanted her to go along to 
Lottie’s, so’s she could copy Lottie and know how she must 
act when she gets to Leitersville; fur ah-ver Lottie’s aw¬ 
ful tony, that way. And Lottie’s to live at Leitersville 
too, fur Lypholate’s given’ her man Elmer, a teachin’ job 
in the Macademy where Lypholate’s the boss now; a bet¬ 
ter job than what Elmer’s got a’ready. Tha’s .why Ly- 
pholate went to see ’em to-day—to talk about the new j ob 
Elmer’s to have at the Macademy, soon’s the summer wa- 
cation’s over oncet.” 

I thought of that poor Nancy living in Leitersville 
surrounded by enemies—her sister-in-law, Dorothy Renz- 
heimer, and all the other disappointed women who had 
romantically adored “Elypholate!” I realized also that 
Lottie must indeed be educated far above her family if 
her brother was willing to have her at Leitersville. 

“Mebby you seen in the noospaper what a grand job 
ah-ver Lypholate’s got, heh?” Mrs. Curry asked me. 
“It reads in the noospaper all about it. And ah-ver 
Lypholate’s pitcher was in the paper yet I” she exclaimed, 
manifesting, for the first time, a shade of maternal pride. 
“His name and his pitcher printed out in the noospaper!: 
Yes, anyhow if it wasn’t! I says to Weesy when I seen 
it, ‘Och, Weesy,’ I says, ‘if only Lypholate’s Pop had of 
lived to see it! His own son’s pitcher in the noospaper 
and Pop him so common yet!’ Yes, Pop he never con¬ 
ceited sich a thing could happen to one of his sons—get- 
tin’ his pitcher in the noospaper! Lypholate bought his- 


74 


THE SNOB 


self a new overcoat with fur at, to wear fur the pitcher, 
and he wore a cane on him. Did you see that there 
pitcher?” 

“Yes, I saw it; but the name was not Elypholate, it 
was Eugene,” I said inquiringly. 

“Och, well, you see, till Lypholate had went to college 
a year a’ready, he changed his name. The name Lypho¬ 
late wasn’t tony enough to suit him. He sayed the boys 
at college poked fun at his name and called him Elephant 
and Elizabeth and Elisha and it give him sich a shamed 
face fur his name!” 

“But why, then, isn’t the name Eugene on the diploma?” 

“Well, you see, he had give his right name when he 
first went to college, so the boss, or whoever, wouldn’t 
change it on the diar-plomy.” 

She rose to take away my tray. “I got to go now 
and spritz.” 

“‘Spritz’! What’s that?” 

“Spritz my flowers.” 

She saw that I looked unenlightened. “With such a 
hose,” she explained. “It didn’t give no rain here all 
week and my flowers will die on me if I don’t spritz ’em.” 

“I’m glad my window overlooks your gay flower gar¬ 
den, Mrs. Curry.” 

“Yes, well, but you must excuse the way my flower 
garden looks. It’s all over grasses. I got so much 
housework, I can’t get at and weed my garden oncet. I 
says to Weesy, I says, ‘Ah-ver flower garden will soon 
look so weedy and overgrowned, Weesy,’ I says, ‘like 
Diffenderfer’s, that their landlord he got so disgusted he 
shifted ’em!” 

Here again I looked blank. “Made them move out?” 
I feebly suggested. 

“Yes, mind if he didn’t!” 


THE SNOB 


75 


“Well, that can’t happen to you, since you own your 
place and don’t rent it from a landlord.” 

“But it’s Yi owns it now; not me no more,” she said 
sadly, “fur all Pop he inherited it to me when he died. 
Och, well!” 

She drew a long, deep breath, as she turned from my 
bedside, that made me feel very sorry for the helpless old 
creature. Evidently she did not have much faith in the 
filial affection and duty of her three children. 

As I lay alone in the gathering twilight, I had plenty of 
food for thought. 

It occurred to me to be thankful that I had settled in 
advance, before Eugene’s return, the financial business 
of my stay here, as that transaction would have proved, 
no doubt, an added humiliation to him. 

“If he could only realize,” I thought, “that the only 
humiliating thing there could possibly be in this whole 
situation would lie in his way of taking it!” 


CHAPTER VII 


U RIAH and his wife, Weesy, before they went to 
bed at the early hour of eight, came into my 
room to see whether I needed anything. 

In the monotony of their lives, my unlooked-for pres¬ 
ence here was evidently enormously interesting. Their 
wide-eyed curiosity over me, their reveling in the recount¬ 
ing of every minute detail of my accident and the dis¬ 
covery of it by Weesy (who denied her mother-in-law’s 
claim to having heard the crash first) were a com¬ 
mentary upon the spiritual poverty of their lives. 

Though Uriah bore a fraternal likeness to Eugene, he 
was a lumpish, loutish young man with none of his 
brother’s fineness of feature; his face, like his mother’s, 
expressed a childlike openness, without a hint of that 
subtlety and even guile that lurked in Eugene’s veiled 
eyes. 

Weesy was a rosy-cheeked, cow-eyed, heavily-built 
young matron with a touch of sulkiness in her voice and 
about her red lips that was oddly and rather absurdly 
attractive. 

I tried to steer the conversation away from the quite 
exhausted theme of my accident, around to themselves. 

“How is it,” I asked Mrs. Yi, “that you are not a Men- 
nonite like your husband?” 

This question precipitated upon me a long account of 
how Uriah had got round the New Mennonite law that 
forbade marriage outside the faith, by holding off from 
“giving himself up” (that is, joining the New Mennonites) 
until after his marriage. 


76 


THE SNOB 


77 


“And now,” pouted Weesy, “he’s all the time worryin’ 
that he’s afraid Gawd seen into it how he done it a-pur- 
pose—put off bein’ born again and joinin’ meetin’ till 
after he had me a’ready—seein’ he darsent of married 
me at all if he’d turned plain first.” 

“Yes,” said Uriah hopelessly, “I didn’t blind Gawd 
none by marryin’ first and givin’ myself up afterwards— 
just so’s I could have the girl I wanted even if she was 
an cmbeliever! I tried,” he accused himself bitterly, 
“to come it over Gawd! That there was no game to 
come on Gawd, I see it now!” 

“He’s all the time plaguin’ me to give myself up too, 
so’s he won’t be onekally yoked together with an on- 
believer.” 

“And why don’t you?” I asked. 

“Me! Turn plain! And not pomp my hair no more! 
And wear one of them black hoods yet, ’stead of a hat! 
No-p!” she shook her head. “The New Mennonites is 
too stric’. I couldn’t hold out in sich a stric’ life. I’d 
give way. If I ever do get religion (and I hope it won’t 
be soon) I’d sooner join on to the Methodises. They 
don’t bother you any if you follow the world a little.” 

“Methodises!” exclaimed Uriah darkly. “Methodises 
uphold to Sunday schools; and it ain’t nothin’ in the 
Scriptures about Sunday schools, Weesy.” 

“Och, well, but,” retorted Weesy fretfully* “/ can’t 
take intrust in sich deep subjicks! Lee’ me be!” 

“You’d ought to care enough fur your husband to 
try to see the light. It’s only us New Mennonites that’s 
got the One True Way.” 

“Yes, well, but if Christ died just fur New Men¬ 
nonites, that would be funny too again!” 

“If you won’t give yourself up, Weesy, I’ll be lost!” 
said Uriah miserably. 


78 


THE SNOB 


“Well, then, what fur did you marry me if you knowed 
you’d go to hell fur it? Land’s sakes!” 

“It was your photy-grap done it! I could of kep’ 
away from you if your photy-grap that you gimme 
hadn’t of kep’ me in mind of you! When I was strug¬ 
glin’ with the Enemy,” he explained to me, “and tryin’ 
awful hard to give Weesy up, the Enemy’d temp’ me and 
say, ‘You’ve kep’ away from her now fur a month 
a’ready, but you kin anyhow look at her pretty face on 
her photy-grap oncet!’ And that greedy I was iur a 
sight of her (ain’t it funny how it gets you?) that I’d 
git out of bed in the night and make my lamp lit and look 
at her photy-grap. And she looked so pretty on her 
photy-grap that at last I sayed to the Enemy, ‘The 
game’s yourn. You won out! I choose everlastin’ de¬ 
struction sooner’n not have Weesy this side of Jordon!’ 
So I married her quick!” 

Weesy, I observed, did not seem disturbed at being 
regarded as a wile of Satan to lure her lover to “ever¬ 
lasting destruction.” 

“Yi had it made out to fool me as well as Gawd,” she 
pouted, “fur to be sure, if I had of knew he would turn 
plain after we was married together, I wouldn’t have 
married him! I’m too much fur pleasure-seekin’ to join 
on to the New Mennonites. I like to be jolly a little!” 

“There ain’t nothin’ jolly in Eternity, Weesy!” Uriah 
warned her with sepulchral solemnity. 

“Och, don’t make me so creep, Yi!” 

“If it makes you so creep just to think about Eter¬ 
nity!” said Uriah somberly. 

“But yous Mennonites yous look too comic in your 
plain clo’es!” objected Weesy. “Look how yous comb 
yet, yous Mennonites, with your hairs so cut acrost!” she 


THESNOB 79 

exclaimed, with an injured glance at her husband’s 
bizarre hair and beard. “It’s too comic!” 

I could see that Weesy’s oddly attractive pouting 
sullenness was not only a natural characteristic, but 
that it had an aggravating cause in Uriah’s evidently 
fanatical determination to make her save his soul by 
joining his faith. I thought I foresaw tragedy here, in 
the man’s brooding, superstitious fears. 

It was Weesy who tried to change the subject. “Mom 
has so ashamed to have you see her flower garden look 
so through-other! Mom she’d sooner tend her flowers 
than eat! Ain’t she would, Yi? But me, I ain’t like 
that. I have so fond fur eatin’ I’d anytime purfur a 
sandwich to a flower.” 

“Yes, well, if I was hungry I’d purfur a sandwich 
too,” Uriah conceded. 

“Och, but me, even if I was dead,” exclaimed Weesy 
facetiously, “I don’t want the folks to fetch flowers, 
but sandwiches!” 

Uriah’s abrupt shout of laughter at this pleasantry 
fairly startled me. 

“Fetch sandwiches instead of flowers when you’re dead 
a’ready!” he gasped hysterically—and Weesy joined him 
in boisterous and prolonged laughter over her joke. 

He sobered up as abruptly as he had relaxed and 
looked more fanatically gloomy than before. 

“You expect your brother Elypholate and his wife 
home to-night, don’t you?” I inquired. 

“Yes, they’ll be cornin’ along most any time now,” 
answered Uriah. “If you’re asleep when they come, 
mebby they’ll git you waked up,” he added solicitously. 
“That there Ford of ourn she makes so loud, still, when 
she comes.” 


80 


THE SNOB 


“And Nancy and Lypholate sleeps in the room next 
this’n,” said Weesy apprehensively, “and mebby them 
not knowin’ you’re here, they’ll talk and keep you 
awake.” 

“You better stick a note in their room, then, Weesy,” 
advised Yi, “tellin’ ’em about the accident and that 
they’re to keep quiet.” 

“Och, me I write sich bum penmanship, Lypholate 
would laugh at it. And I don’t know how to spell ac¬ 
cident.” 

“Och, well, then,” Uriah yielded the point. 

“I bet you,” said Weesy, nodding grimly, “Nancy 
didn’t have no jolly day to-day wisitin’ Lottie!—as spite¬ 
ful as what Lottie feels towards her fur ketchin’ 
Lypholate!” 

“Yes,” agreed Uriah, “and ah-ver Lottie she can be 
awful ugly when she puts her mind on it!” 

“Can’t she then!” Weesy heartily endorsed this 
brotherly statement. 

“Perhaps your brother and his wife won’t like your 
having taken me in,” I suggested. “It may inconvenience 
them.” 

“Lypholate won’t like it,” Weesy frankly assented. 
“Nancy she ain’t got no right to say nothin’. It ain’t 
her affairs!” 

“Neither is it Lypholate’s, fur that matter,” retorted 
Uriah. “J own this here place now and he owes Mom 
money!” 

“And neither of ’em helps much with the work,” Weesy 
eomplainingly expanded the theme to me with her peasant 
unreserve as to family matters. “Nancy wasn’t raised 
to housework and she gives out awful quick. She ain’t 
the help to me she’d ought to be.” 

“Yes, ah-ver Lypholate didn’t do just so well when 


THE SNOB 


81 


he got her,” said Yi. “She’s a poor thing any way you 
look at it. She didn’t bring him nothin’, not even good, 
husky strength fur to housekeep fur him. He’ll even 
mebby have to liar fur her yet!” 

I was aware of the fact that in the mind of a Penn¬ 
sylvania German farmer, to be obliged to “hire house¬ 
work” was about the worst grievance a husband could 
have against his legal “helpmate.” 

“The washin’ anyhow he’ll have to har,” nodded 
Weesy. “Why, when Lypholate to? her that she’d 
ought to do his and her washin’ anyhow this summer 
whiles they’re here in the country where no one would 
see her doin’ it, she ak-shally cried! Then she tol’ him 
she’d pay fur hirin’ it done, with the money she’d saved 
from teachin’. But he tol’ her what she saved ought to 
go towards a heap of other things—the swell clo’es she’ll 
need in Leitersville and the doctor’s bill fur her long 
sickness. And she sayed she’d sooner do without swell 
clo’es than ‘drudge at the wash-tub’ and her doctor’s 
bill was paid. Lypholate was surprised she’d got her 
doctor’s bill paid and awful relieved! You could tell it 
on him, how relieved he was, ain’t, Yi? He conceited 
he’d have to pay it, seein’ she was his wife whiles she was 
sick.” 

Had Eugene, I wondered, never outgrown the notorious 
frugality of the native Pennsylvania German? A wife 
“from else,” a “foreigner from Philadelphia,” would 
certainly find that penuriousness very hampering. 

“Ah-ver Lypholate ought to put his foot down,” pro¬ 
nounced Yi, “agin her hirin’ her washin’!” 

“Yes, well, it was Nancy put her foot down fur oncet 
and tol’ him she wouldn’t do the washin’! And I took 
notice that Lypholate don’t ac’ quite so high-minded to 
her since! I guess it ain’t good, neither, to be too wifely! 


82 


THE SNOB 


It gits a man spoilt a little. Nancy she’s most always 
too meek to Lypholate.” 

“Elypholate’s wife,” I remarked, “doesn’t seem to have 
made a hit with any of you.” 

“Och, she’s wery nice, so far forth as that goes,” said 
Weesy, “even if she is a dopple about the house.” 

“What on earth is a ‘dopple’ ?” I asked. 

“Now think of that! Not knowin’ what a dopple is! 
Why, a dopple is a doppling person; onhandy at the 
work. Why, here last Sundays Nancy she tried to make 
sich chocolate creams; she took and put most everything 
together, but it never give no chocolate creams!” 

“And look how it wastes to spoil all that there sugar 
and chocolate! Tchk! Tchk!” said Uriah. 

“I took and made icing fur my cake with it,” Weesy 
consoled him. “But in some things Nancy’s smart, too, 
and can give me good adwices. I went by her adwices 
how to trim around my Sunday hat and how to fix ovei' 
my old Sunday frock. She ain’t no dopple with the 
needle, fur all she’s a wery plain dresser herself. She 
won’t doll up fancy like us country girls. She don’t 
even pomp her hair.” 

“Lottie says she’s too plain a person fur ah-ver Lypho¬ 
late,” added Uriah, “him that could have married most 
anybody. But I say that there’s the only good thing 
about her—that she ain’t no fancy dresser.” 

“Still, I like her fur a sister-in-law better’n I like your 
sister Lottie,” said Weesy, “fur even if Nancy and me 
ain’t awful congenial together, she’s anyhow nice disposi- 
tioned that way, and she don’t look down on me like 
Lottie does. Fur a person that kin read so good and 
even school-teach yet, Nancy does make herself nice 
and common; that you got to give her, Yi.” 

Yi signified his lack of interest in this turn of the dis- 


THE SNOB 


83 


cussion by rising abruptly. “Come on, Weesy, along 
to bed. Did you mind to alarm the clock? If the rat¬ 
tler don’t go off,” he explained to me, “I oversleep my 
breakfast still.” 

I gathered that “still” meant occasionally. 

It was odd, I reflected after they had gone, that in 
spite of all I had been hearing these many weeks about 
“Nancy,” I had been unable to form any mental picture 
of her. I knew that my instinctive sympathy for her 
might well be misplaced. She seemed to stand to these 
people for nothing but a negation; she was plain, meek, 
submissive, inefficient, and she thought Elypholate “a 
god!” 

“Like all the silly girls of Leitersville!” I concluded. 


CHAPTER VIII 


I DON’T know how long I had been asleep when I 
was awakened by the sound of a monologue in the 
next room—the tone, though remonstrating, re¬ 
proving, yet smooth, gliding, saccharine. 

It was, I soon recognized, the unusual, unmistakable 
voice of Eugene Curry. 

I was thankful that I was spared the awkwardness of 
hearing what he was saying in his unconsciousness of my 
presence. 

But after a time, as he continued, I found that that 
steady, even, unvarying stream, falling upon the night’s 
deep silence, was beginning to penetrate—and an oc¬ 
casional phrase did come to me very distinctly, as the 
speaker, evidently moving about the room while he un¬ 
dressed, drew near, now and then, to the door beside 
which stood my bed. 

“Lottie’s sisterly ambitions for me”—“Stop com¬ 
plaining!”—“family’s sacrifices”—“naturally disap¬ 
pointed”—“can’t blame”-— 

I heard no feminine voice in response, the monologue 
continuing so steadily as to give the person addressed 
no chance to reply. 

“Brilliant marriage”—-“opportunities”—“Got to give 
Lottie time”— 

Probably the bed in the next room was close to the 
wall where my own bed stood, for when at last the voice 
ceased, I heard almost at my ear, long-drawn, despairing 
sobs; pitiful, tearing sobs that expressed a depth of 
hopeless woe for which no man, it seemed to mt, could 
endure being responsible. 


84 


THE SNOB 


85 


Evidently he, too, found her grief unbearable, for now 
he spoke again, his voice near the wall—he was probably 
in bed, now, at her side; “Tired to death!—have peace 
—might be glad*—” 

The sobs ceased abruptly as though smothered in the 
pillow. For a space there was silence. Then presently, 
“Nancy dear!—Pet!” 

After that the stillness remained unbroken. 

But I could not get to sleep again for the questions 
that crowded upon my mind. Was Curry in the habit 
of bullying his wife? Well, a woman so poor-spirited as 
to tolerate bullying needed no pity; she probably loved 
it. Surely the best of men were tempted to bully 
creatures of no spirit. And few men would have the 
temerity to try it on a plucky woman. 

I smiled in the darkness as I thought of Curry’s repu¬ 
tation among Leitersville ladies for his exquisite courtesy 
and chivalry. I recalled the feeling I had always had 
that his elegance of manner was a bit overstressed, not 
quite spontaneous. As he had been born and reared a 
Pennsylvania German, among whom the idea of using, 
rather than protecting and shielding, women prevailed, 
I could imagine how his first realization of the ways of 
the world towards “ladies” must have impressed him as 
strange and almost mysterious. Woman’s functions, un¬ 
der Providence, according to the Pennsylvania “Dutch” 
code, was to bear children and serve men. For that and 
that alone created He them. This was fundamental. 
To see men, then, making way for women, working for 
them, indulging and spoiling them, the women queening 
it over the men—how revolutionary it must have seemed 
to all Curry’s preconceived ideas of the relation of the 
sexes! A born Pennsylvania German, I felt sure, could 
never be chivalrous at heart, whatever concessions he 


86 


THE SNOB 


might make to a worldly custom (in which he did not 
really believe) by taking on a veneer of gallantry. 

Suppose Curry had married a woman whom he con¬ 
sidered above him—like Dorothy Renzheimer? Would 
even that have kept him from feeling that as his wife she 
was his inferior? 

Why had I gathered the impression that Nancy was 
much less “common” than Dorothy Renzheimer? “She 
may be just a scheming, ignorant, vulgar girl and Curry 
may be justified in resenting her having trapped him.” 

I fell to wondering how he would take it when, next 
morning, he would learn of my presence here. But I 
found myself quite at a loss. I could not imagine. And 
in my effort to picture it, sleep at last overtook me; the 
dreamless sleep of complete exhaustion. 


CHAPTER IX 


W HEN I awoke next morning the room was so 
flooded with sunshine that I did not need to 
look at my watch to know that this hard¬ 
working household must long have been astir. No sound 
came from the next room and the almost spectral silence 
of the country was unbroken by any signs of life in the 
house, for this room of mine was far from the kitchen 
where I knew the women of the Pennsylvania Dutch 
farmer’s family stayed all day long, while the men worked 
in the fields. 

At half past eight old Mrs. Curry brought me water 
for washing and a half hour later my breakfast. 

“I hope your son Elypholate doesn’t too seriously 
object to your having taken in a temporary boarder?” 
I said inquiringly, as she poured me a cup of coffee. 

“He couldn't say much when Yi tol’ him what you paid 
all, fur Lypholate he never pays nothing fur his own 
board when he stops here in the summers. To be sure 
he gives Weesy a little before he goes off to school-teach 
agin. But to Yi and me nothing. I sayed to Weesy, 
‘When Lypholate fetches his wife here, Weesy, then to be 
sure he’ll pay you and Yi board money—a little any¬ 
how.’ But Lypholate he sayed he’d pay fur hisself by 
helpin’ Yi out with his chores every day and Nancy she 
could earn her keep by helpin’ Weesy with her work. 
But Nancy’s sich a poor soul! Till she’s stood at the 
ironing a couple hours, then right away she gives out 
a’ready. She’s the poorliest person to stand work I ever 
seen yet!” 


87 


88 


THE SNOB 


The old woman bent towards me and whispered, “Don’t 
leave on, but Nancy slips Weesy money every week fur 
her board—money she saved up from her school-teachin’ 
wages. She don’t want I^pholate to know, because he 
wouldn’t like it that she pays it to Weesy. He’d want 
fur her to save it back. He don’t even know she’s got 
it!” 

Was Nancy a coward and a sneak, I wondered? 

“That school salary of Nancy’s must have been munif¬ 
icent,” I remarked, remembering all she was supposed 
to be doing with her mere savings after she had stopped 
teaching—pay her doctor, buy the outfit with which to 
impress Leitersville, employ a laundress, and now this 
weekly board to her sister-in-law. 

“Magnificent?” repeated Mrs. Curry. “Yes, well, 
forty dollars a month it was.” 

“More elastic than magnificent then! Did you—did 
you tell Elypholate my name?” I asked in some em¬ 
barrassment. 

“No. He didn’t ask what it was and I didn’t get 
’round to tell him.” 

“Is he—coming in to see me?” 

“No, he sayed he’d take hisself off and keep out the 
way. He’s went fishing. You see us we to? him you was 
sich a rich educated person, that way, and Lypholate 
he’s a little funny—he has ashamed a little fur educated 
folks to see him livin’ so common. So he’ll keep out the 
way,” she nodded, “till you’ve went a’ready.” 

“But why, then, does he live here if he feels like that?” 
I wondered. 

“It’s cheap fur him.” 

“Rather!” I smiled. “It couldn’t well be cheaper, 
could it?” 

“Well, no, that it couldn’t. Anywheres else that he 


T H E S N O B 89 

stayed he’d have to pay somepin anyhow. But ah-ver 
Lypholate he always was a little near that way.” 

If his own Pennsylvania Dutch mother called him 
“near”! 

“Well,” she concluded, “I can’t set here conwersin’, I 
have my yeast sat; and I darsent let my cookin’ no 
longer.” 

I wondered, when she had left me, whether Elypholate 
would succeed in eluding me during the entire week of 
my stay. My mind dwelt upon the weird possibility of 
our meeting next winter in Leitersville without his hav¬ 
ing ever discovered that it was I who had been for a 
whole week the star boarder in the “spare room” of his 
brother’s home! 

The doctor’s visit and some of Elypholate’s books and 
periodicals which Mrs. Curry brought me at the sug¬ 
gestion, she explained, of Nancy, made the morning go 
fast enough; and at noon my dinner was carried in 
neither by Weesy nor old Mrs. Curry—but by one the 
sight of whom gave me the greatest shock of amazement 
I had ever experienced in my life. 


CHAPTER X 


W ITH her eyes fastened upon the tray which 
she carried, as though by her fixed gaze to 
steady it, and keep things from slopping over, 
she walked very slowly into my room, so that while she 
did not look at me until she reached my bedside, I had 
her in full view during all her slow progress across my 
chamber—my heart almost ceasing to beat, my eyes 
utterly incredulous of what they seemed to see— 

If she should chance to look up at me before she put 
down that tray, the shock would make her drop it! I 
snatched up the newspaper that lay on the bed and held 
it before my face until she had safely placed her burden 
on the table. 

Then, slowly, fearfully, I lowered it. 

As our eyes met, she gasped, clutching at her breast, 
every drop of color leaving her face. Her eyes became 
suddenly glazed as though she were losing consciousness 
—but I caught her wrists. 

“Nancy! My God! Don’t be frightened!” I tried 
to speak reassuringly before the wild terror in her eyes, 
though I was scarcely less shaken than she was. 

“I’ll close the door,” her lips, stiff* and colorless, 
formed the words. 

She moved across the room, clinging weakly to bed, 
chairs and wall. In its utter unexpectedness, the shock 
of our meeting was agitating enough, in all conscience, 
to me; so what it must be to her=— 

Closing and locking the door noiselessly, she came 
back to the bedside. 


90 


THESNOB 91 

“You couldn’t stand it to have the window closed too?” 
she whispered. 

“It’s so high above the ground—and we’ll be careful 
—no, don’t close it. Come here!” 

She was trembling all over with fright. I drew her 
down upon the side of my bed and kept her hands in mine 
to give her whatever comfort and courage that friendly 
contact might yield—realizing how lovely she had grown 
in the three years since I had last seen her, a girl of 
seventeen. More interesting and distinguished looking 
than she was beautiful, was my swift impression, though 
I felt, rather than saw, that her coloring and her features 
were still delicately exquisite and her feminine charm 
obvious enough. 

“Nancy, my dear, my dear! To discover you like 
this!” 

“Oh, Herrick! You’ll—you’ll not tell them who 
I am?” she implored me piteously. “I’ve con¬ 
cealed myself so completely for three years from 
every one who ever knew me that I’d almost forgot¬ 
ten myself who I am! And now,” she said des¬ 
pairingly, “here you’ve turned up! To bring it all 
back!” 

“To help and protect you!” I soothed her, pressing 
the soft hands I held. 

“To betray me, I’m afraid!—just when I was begin¬ 
ning to feel safe!” 

“You’re going to be a lot safer with me here to stand 
between you and some things!” I exclaimed. “You need 
a friend and protector badly enough, God knows, you 
poor, poor little wanderer! My god, I’m glad I dis¬ 
covered you!” 

“But—but I have a friend and protector, Herrick 
dear—I’m—married !” 


92 


THE SNOB 


“To a man from whom you must conceal the truth 
about yourself, Nancy?” 

“Herrick! If you should betray to my husband who 
I am! It would ruin his career—and crush the life out 
of me a second time!—just when I was beginning to live 
again!” 

“But, my dear, of course I’ll not betray you.” 

“Of course you wouldn’t intentionally, I know—but 
you can so easily let it out accidentally! Oh, Herrick, 
please, please leave here just as soon as you are able!— 
and you will be awfully on your guard, while you are 
here, won’t you?” she plead with me passionately, “not 
to let it out that we know each other? Promise! 
Promise not to let my husband find out!” 

“Of course I won’t let him find out. But I think 
you’re making a big mistake, Nancy.” 

“No, no, you don’t know my husband, Herrick!—he 
could not live under such disgrace! Do you suppose I 
would have married him or any man if I had not felt safe 
from discovery? You surely realize that it would ruin a 
man’s future to have it known he had married Nancy— 
Claxton!”^—She pronounced her notorious surname in a 
shuddering whisper that revealed to me how that black 
experience of deepest disgrace and anguish which had 
broken upon her life at its most sensitive period, just at 
the awakening of her womanhood, had scorched and 
branded her soul. “That is the very first time, Herrick, 
in three years that I have spoken that name! I hardly 
realize any longer that it ever was mine! That’s why I 
didn’t hesitate to marry—I seemed to have escaped that 
other identity—this life I’ve been living has been so 
wholly different—” 

“I should say so!” 

“And now your coming seems to drag me back! To 


THESNOB 93 

wipe out these three years that I’ve been living in peace 
among strangers!” 

“My coming need not change anything except to give 
you comfort and help, Nancy dear! I insist that you 
need me. For old times’ sake—for your dear mother’s 
sake?—you must let me befriend you.” 

The fear began to fade a little from her eyes, her face 
softened. “You dear!” she said gratefully. “You 
always were like a big brother to me! But—but just 
because I’m so awfully fond of you, Herrick, don’t you 
see it’s dangerous for you to be near me? I’m so apt to 
betray myself!” 

“Probably you don’t yourself realize, Nancy, how 
much you need a friend—” 

“What do you mean, Herrick? You know nothing of 
my present life.” 

“You were so young and inexperienced to fare forth 
and wrestle with life!—and now this marriage of yours! 
So utterly beneath you—” 

“Oh, but you don’t know my husband! He isn’t like 
the rest of the family here!” 

“If he only were!” I exclaimed—but at the mingled 
indignation and amazement in her soft, troubled eyes, I 
stopped. “I do know him,” I added quietly. “I live 
in Leitersville. I would have met you next winter in 
any case. Hasn’t Eugene (or Elypholate, do you call 
him?) ever spoken of me to you?” 

“You know him!” she breathed bewildered. 

“I taught for six months at the Leitersville Academy, 
until they threw me out!” 

“Oh! But I never dreamed that it was you, when 
Eugene told me of an Academy teacher named Appleton! 
Why, you’re not a school teacher, Herrick!” 

“Not now. I had to give it up. Because there’s no 


94 THESNOB 

place in schools and colleges to-day for truth-tellers, 
you know.” 

“I know.” 

“Oh, you do, do you?” I asked, diverted momentarily 
from her more personal concerns to this matter of her 
opinions. She had always been a precociously thought¬ 
ful child, with a tendency, as she matured, to a rather 
impracticable idealism. I could understand so well her 
having “fallen for” Eugene; how his apparent spirit¬ 
uality, in contrast with the dark, sordid history she was 
hiding, had lured her. 

“You were such a promising young person, Nancy— 
most interestingly inclined to think for yourself instead 
of the way you were told to think. Do you remember 
how I used to probe you to get at your young ideas about 
things? I often found them illuminating, child though 
you were, and I eight years older than you! My dear, I 
hope your awful experiences haven’t squashed that in¬ 
dependent thinking of yours!” 

“ ‘I am the sworn poet of every dauntless rebel, the 
world over’!” she quoted. “You see,” she eagerly added, 
the tragic sadness of her face lifting a bit, “that was the 
bond at first between Eugene and me—my sympathy with 
his fearless, thoughtful way of looking at life. You and 
he ought to be very congenial, Herrick!” she went on, 
warming almost to enthusiasm. “He’s not hide-bound— 
he’s one of the rebels like you—one of the ‘elect,’ I’m sure 
you think, don’t you?” 

That was what I had thought in the first few weeks of 
my acquaintance with him. That he was “one of the 
elect” was what most people, especially most women, did 
think of him, though they might not mean what I meant 
by “the elect.” 


THE SNOB 


95 


As I hesitated to reply, she added wistfully, “I had 
been so lonely in my own way of thinking of things, that 
meeting and knowing Eugene was a wonderful experience 
to me!” 

“I can well understand that, Nancy.” 

“Herrick,” she asked anxiously, “shall you and I have 
to meet constantly next winter? Do you have to live in 
Leitersville ?” 

“No—but I’m going to. To see after you!” 

“I shall never know an hour of peace!” 

I considered her uncertainly, wondering whether I 
should tell her what I really thought about her situa¬ 
tion and her husband’s probable attitude towards the 
truth if he knew— 

But I decided that my present business was to reas¬ 
sure her, not to further alarm her by even the barest 
suggestion that Eugene be told the truth. 

“Listen, Nancy—it’s not I, but you, that’s in danger 
of betraying your secret. Get rid of your fear of me, 
or you’ll give yourself away. You’ve no cause to fear 
any disaster through me. Your happiness is too dear 
to me! I only wish you were a little glad to see your 
old friend! As glad as I am to see you!” 

“Oh, I would be, Herrick, if it were not for my awful 
dread! You see, Eugene married me under peculiar cir¬ 
cumstances and—well, I can’t go into it—but to have 
him discover that he had married a—Claxton!” 

“When he thinks he married only a poor little village 
school teacher! Oh, Nancy, don’t you—” 

“How did you know?” she broke in, startled. “Did 
Eugene talk to you about me?” 

“Weesy and Yi and your mother-in-law have all told 
me their family history from the fall of man up to date!” 


96 


THE SNOB 


“Oh, of course they did!” she smiled wanly. “And of 
course they lamented to you that Eugene had not ‘done 
just so well,’ didn’t they?” 

“They did. Look here! Why were you teaching 
school? You’ve surely not lost your money?” 

“No. But I had to do something with my time, 
stranded as I was. And I thought teaching a village 
school would surely cover my identity.” 

“Then Eugene doesn’t know,” I marveled, “that he 
has married a very rich wife!” 

“No,” she answered, her troubled, sweet face betray¬ 
ing a new anxiety. “Don’t you see, Herrick, I’d have to 
account for my money—and I couldn’t do that without 
betraying who I am. So I use very little of it. Any 
way,” she added, her eyes falling, the dark lashes mak¬ 
ing her white face paler, “there’s another reason why I 
don’t want him to know—yet—that I have any money. 
I did mean to tell him just as soon as I safely could; as 
soon as I could decide on some plausible explanation of 
it. But during these weeks at this farm house I’ve been 
seeing how much the Pennsylvania Dutch think of money 
and^—and I’m afraid Eugene thinks a little too umch of 
it for his good. So I’m determined, Herrick, that our 
marriage shall not mean money to my husband, but love 
and only that. I’ll give him myself—but if I gave him 
money too, I’m afraid he’d think more of that—I sound 
disloyal, I suppose, but I am afraid he’d think more of 
that than of the gift of myself! Oh, I know this sounds 
as if I had not meant what I said about his having won 
me with his high ideals of life and his sympathy with my 
own feelings about things—but, Herrick, you and I who 
have always had money can’t value it as those do who 
have had to struggle bitterly all their lives—as Eugene 


THE SNOB 97 

has had to do,” she apologized for her mate. “His 
poverty has always been such a humiliation to him!” 

“He’s not poor now, however. The salary of the 
Head Master at the Academy must seem, by his stand¬ 
ards, a very good living indeed. Doesn’t it?” 

She hesitated, looking embarrassed, and I saw how she 
hated to admit what was instantly obvious to me, that 
her husband had not told her what his salary was to be 
—a fact so all-important to him!—which certainly con¬ 
cerned her, his life’s partner, as much as it did him. 

To relieve her confusion, I quickly continued, without 
waiting for her to reply, “On eight thousand dollars a 
year, with house, coal, automobile and a chauffeur 
thrown in, you can live in an inexpensive town like 
Leitersville very comfortably, can’t you?” 

“Quite,” she nodded, failing in her obvious effort to 
hide her astonishment at the size of the salary. I 
wondered whether Eugene had deliberately deceived her 
about it, for she looked not only astonished but hurt. 
“Eugene need not worry about expenses at all,” she 
added with a forced lightness. “I wonder why he does. 
Now, old Herrick!” she suddenly reproached me with the 
affectionate playfulness of years ago—assumed, I saw, to 
cover her feelings, for assuredly she did not feel play¬ 
ful, “I see you’re the same sarcastic old curmudgeon you 
used to be! I can read in your face just what you’re 
thinking—you think Eugene is just a little inconsistent!” 

“ C A little’?” I grinned. “In one of his Leitersville 
lectures, Nancy, he eloquently reproached ‘the modern 
world,’ for holding gold to be of greater worth than a 
human being. ‘A witless, soulless millionaire,’ he de¬ 
clared, ‘may receive the homage of society, may hold in 
subjection thousands of men of brains and heart. But 


98 


THE SNOB 


let him lose his wealth and he ceases to be worthy of con¬ 
sideration and himself falls into subjection. Any sin 
may be forgiven to wealth—dullness, dishonesty, greed, 
lust, cruelty, injustice. The one unforgivable crime is 
poverty. We can’t forgive that even in our near rel¬ 
atives’— that’s the way Eugene talked about wealth ! 
Old Leiter was going to throw him out of the Academy 
for saying that! But he decided he could shut him up 
more effectually by making him Head Master.” 

“If old Leiter,” she said indignantly (and her flashing 
eyes included me in her indignation) “thinks he can bribe 
Eugene to forswear his deepest convictions, then old 
Leiter doesn’t know Eugene!” 

(“Better than you know him!” I thought, but did not 
say.) 

“Don’t you see, Herrick,” she pleaded for her husband, 
“that it is those fine and thoughtful things that Eugene 
says which express his real self, and that the other things 
in him—lower things—are only on the surface and that 
he will slough them off in time?” 

(“How about the things a man says as over against 
the things he does?” I wanted to ask—but I refrained.) 

“I remember his once saying in a lecture,” she eagerly 
went on, “that it isn’t ‘the man who has learned to make 
big and easy money, but he who has found and mastered 
congenial work, that is blessed among men.’ I’m sure, 
Herrick, that’s Eugene’s real feeling.” 

“And yet you instinctively know, my dear,” I retorted 
rather impatiently, “that to protect your married love, 
you must conceal from him that you are rich!” 

“I’ll admit,” she conceded, her eyes downcast, her 
voice unsteady, “that he hasn’t yet found, altogether, his 
best self. And I’m very sure that riches wouldn’t speed 
up that quest!” 


THE SNOB 


99 


I had been taking in, while she sat before me on the 
side of my bed, the ravages which tragedy had wrought 
upon her young face, but which, later, a growing sense 
of security—and love—had greatly overlaid with a soft 
radiance. She had always been sweet-tempered, but 
without the weakness of character that so often goes with 
that virtue. Crushing circumstances had temporarily 
submerged her real personality which, as I well knew, was 
anything but weak; had made her submissive, timid, 
almost humble. But she came .from a forceful race and 
I felt sure that in the end her blood would tell. Eugene 
Curry would better mind his steps! Here were old- 
fashioned innocence, simplicity, integrity, with, I was 
sure, a very modern intelligence, yoked in marriage to— 
what? Well, although I tried to do full justice to 
Curry’s finer side, my sense of something in him that was, 
at the core, unwholesome, untrustworthy, grew ever 
stronger, more definite. Would Nancy’s clear eyes ever 
penetrate to that sick center of her husband’s soul? It 
was evident that she still continued, after several months 
of marriage, to idealize him; that she was, as yet, only 
feeling her way to really knowing him. But in that 
moment before she had recognized me to-day, while she 
was crossing the room with my tray, I had noted in her 
delicate face a troubled wistfulness, a look of uncertainty. 
Eugene whom she had known only at his charming and 
marvelous best as a suitor and lover; known him 
through his chaste and polished conversational style, his 
fine manner, his (no doubt) highly literary letters, she 
was now seeing in his own home, in the most intimate 
personal relation, unmasked. And she had not known, 
did not yet know, that he had been masked. He scarcely 
knew it himself. He had made the mistake of giving 
her an idea of himself that few men, and certainly not 


100 


THE SNOB 


he, could live up to. No wonder she was looking un¬ 
certain, rather bewildered! 

She seemed to me very girlish and appealing as she 
sat here before me, her hands clasped in mine. I thought 
of her distinguished father, known on two continents as 
a diplomat and a scholar; of how he had idolized his only 
child; of her beautiful, stately mother, “a lady of the 
old school”; of the home of her girlhood, an extensive 
old estate on the Hudson, the rendez-vous of artists and 
literary men of note who were wont to gather about her 
great father; of the atmosphere of culture, of social 
prestige, which she had breathed from babyhood; of the 
protected, cherished life she had led in this ideal, though 
perhaps over-luxurious, over-privileged environment— 
until that awful night of crime, exposure, hideous dis¬ 
grace, w T orld-wide publicity— 

It was a wonder the girl had kept her reason, let alone 
her maidenly sweetness! 

I noted that her life as a village teacher for three 
years and as a member of this household had not robbed 
her of that unique distinction in appearance, in bearing, 
in dress, that had seemed to set the race of Claxtons 
apart, in a vulgar age, almost as a survival. 

And Eugene Curry (I recalled with wonder) had 
hesitatingly conceded to me that he “wouldn’t call Nancy 
crude!” “A quaint little country girl,” he had patroniz¬ 
ingly pronounced her; “a sweet, innocent, unsophis¬ 
ticated child.” When I had asked, “Is she quite unpre¬ 
sentable?” he had answered, “Not in the sense of being 
vulgar—no, she’s not really unpresentable. But she’d 
never cut a figure in society. She’s demure, retiring—” 

And Dorothy Renzheimer, in his opinion, did cut an 
admirable figure in society—gay, dashing, exuberant. 


THE SNOB 


101 


It seemed incredible that a man of Curry’s apparent 
fastidiousness could be so insensitive to personal quality. 
In fact he certainly was not so insensitive; no doubt it 
was just that unusual fineness in Nancy which had, in the 
first place, attracted him. 

His response, however, to the coarse glamour of wealth, 
splendor, social power, had been the stronger. I could 
not doubt that he would have preferred, for purely 
worldly reasons, to have married Dorothy Renzheimer! 
Whether in the depths of his heart he felt more allied to 
Dorothy, I could not surmise. 

Of course now that I knew his people, it was more 
understandable that he should actually think Dorothy a 
fine lady. But that he should feel a shade doubtful 
about Nancy because she was not vivid and striking, did 
seem to me strangely obtuse, and quite out of character 
for one who seemed capable of high thinking and delicate 
feeling. 

When I thought of his expecting Nancy Claxton to 
do the family washing, I almost found it funny. I was 
relieved that her determination to hide her identity did 
not go to the length of living up to this expectation of his. 

“Dear me, we’re forgetting all about your dinner and 
it’s stone cold!” she suddenly said remorsefully. “You 
can’t eat it.” 

“No, just let me have a glass of milk, please, my dear 
—thank you.” 

“Weesy will think you didn’t like her cooking,” she 
said apprehensively, as she surveyed the boiled beef, 
potatoes, and cabbage piled on the tray. 

“Tell her I have a headache. Nancy, you must not 
forget to call me Mr. Appleton before the family and 
I’ll of course call you Mrs. Curry. I suppose you will 


102 


THE SNOB 


have to tell Eugene that Appleton, late of the Leiters- 
ville Academy, is here. How’s he 'going to take that, 
Nancy?” 

“Hard! He will hate it! He has spoken of you so 
admiringly! He told me that you and a chemist named 
Bradley were the ‘only gentlemen’ on the Faculty.” 

I bit my lip to hide the grin that threatened at hear¬ 
ing this. 

“I think it’s rather a wonder, Nancy, that you didn’t 
suspect who I was when Eugene talked of me.” 

“How could I ever have imagined your taking to school 
teaching? Why on earth did you?” 

“An experiment. I’ll tell you about it some time.” 

“During all these three years, Herrick, I’ve been fol¬ 
lowing your rising career as a journalist and magazine 
writer and of course your steady advancement in that 
line was another thing that kept me from identifying you 
with the Leitersville teacher that Eugene kept talking 
about—though he actually did say once that Appleton of 
the history department ought to have a new degree— 
R.A.—Rising Author. Herrick!” 

“Well?” 

“Do you think it strange, Herrick, that I felt no 
scruple about marrying under a false identity?” 

“You were justified—but foolish.” 

“There’s always the possibility of discovery,” she said 
miserably, “and discovery would ruin Eugene!” 

“Nonsense, my dear! It wouldn’t. You’re a most un¬ 
worldly child, or you’d know it wouldn’t.” 

“I’ve made up my mind,” she said, a wild light in her 
eyes, “that if Eugene ever discovers the truth, I’ll kill 
myself! I couldn’t live and bear it! So you can under¬ 
stand,” she added sadly, “why I’m not overjoyed to see 
you, Herrick!” 


THE SNOB 


103 


“Throw off your fear of me!” I begged, “and let us 
get some joy out of this meeting! I need you as much 
as you need me—Pm awfully alone, Nancy! The Ap¬ 
pleton family, my dear, does not enthusiastically admire 
my ideas or the things I do. I fancy you won’t find me 
quite so bad as they do. Can’t you let my presence here 
and in Leitersville bring back for both of us some of the 
happiness of the past instead of its suffering? For you 
know, my dear, it was a happy life for seventeen years!” 

“Oh, wasn’t it!” she breathed, melting under my ap¬ 
peal, slipping her hand from my clasp and smoothing the 
hair back from my forehead. “It will be wonderful to 
have your friendship again, Herrick! I do realize that! 
With one of my own race and kind once more!” she 
sighed with a long breath of homesickness. “Oh, but 
I’ve been lonesome!” 

“But Eugene?” I inquired. “He hasn’t dispelled the 
lonesomeness ?” 

“Oh, he has done so much more than that! After all 
I’d suffered, after the terrible shocks one after another, 
after my wanderings and gropings—to have found my¬ 
self at last anchored, possessed, protected by a great 
love—” 

It was almost intolerable to remember, as I heard her, 
that Curry would have jilted her if she had not fallen 
ill; that at the time of his marriage to her, he was 
practically betrothed to another girl; that he had pas¬ 
sionately lamented his marriage as the great misfortune 
of his life! 

Had she no suspicion of the truth? 

“Nancy,” I ventured, “Eugene told me of your want¬ 
ing to be married when you thought you were dying. I 
supposed of course it was the sentimental notion of a 
lovesick girl—but now that I know it’s you he’s married, 


104 


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that explanation of such a fantastic performance won’t 
do. What is the explanation?” 

“I wanted Eugene to have my money in case I died. 
You see, as I was told I had a fighting chance for re¬ 
covering, I wasn’t willing to risk betraying who I was by 
summoning a lawyer and making a will. So I made sure, 
by marrying Eugene, that he would get all I had except 
what the state would take. I managed to write a state¬ 
ment which I put into my jewelry case and addressed it 
to Eugene—he would have found it if I had died.” 

“Telling him who you were?” 

“Yes, and leaving it to him to decide whether he’d ac¬ 
cept the estate with all the horrible notoriety that that 
would plunge him into (and which he would shrink from 
far more than a less sensitive man would)—or whether, 
by making no claim, he would spare himself that hateful 
ordeal!” 

“You didn’t think then that the money would not be 
good for him?” 

“I—I’ve discovered that since,” she faltered. 

“You are sole manager of your estate now, aren’t 
you?” 

“Yes. If I weren’t, I could probably not hide away as 
I do.” 

“When a woman,” I deliberately and cold-bloodedly in¬ 
formed her, “happens to be the wife of a tight Pennsyl¬ 
vania Dutchman, my dear, she has reason to be thankful 
that, under Providence, she is financially independent! 
You’ve got to devise some means by which you are free 
to use your comfortable income, even while avoiding any 
of the disasters you fear, such as betraying your past, 
hindering your husband’s quest for his ‘best self’ (isn’t 
that what you think he’s chasing?) having him think more 
of your money than of you. How can it be done?” 


THE SNOB 


105 


“I don’t know and I wish I did. For I would like to 
use a lot of my income! I’d like so much to pay back 
to Eugene’s mother what she gave him for his college 
expenses. I’d like to have a car. I hate living here 
all summer and helping with the housework, when 
Eugene and I might be traveling or living in a home of 
our own. I’d like to keep two good maids when we go to 
Leitersville.” 

“The Head Master’s house is so large as to make sev¬ 
eral maids a necessity, Nancy, and your social life in 
connection with the school, too, will demand it. Eugene’s 
salary is of course large enough to justify it, if you 
can’t use your own money.” 

“But I’m learning that a Pennsylvania German has an 
ingrained prejudice against paying for domestic work. 
And I have no greater antipathy than doing unnecessary 
household drudgery in a world full of more worth while 
things! How is it to be managed, Herrick?” 

“It’s got to be managed somehow! You’d be an awful 
dunce to make a household drudge of yourself just be¬ 
cause Eugene expects you to—when your standards of 
life and his, your background and his, are poles apart!” 

“Not in the essential things,” she protested, looking 
troubled. “Only in a few material details which will 
naturally adjust themselves, Herrick.” 

“Yes, if you are firm and don’t let yourself be bullied.” 

I expected her to resent that, but she flushed sensi¬ 
tively as she answered, “What can I do? Eugene even 
talks of our coming here again next summer to save 
expense and he’s hoping that by that time I shall have 
learned enough about housework to be able to help Weesy 
more!” She laughed a little, but there was no mirth in 
her laugh. 

“Look here!” I exclaimed indignantly, “you’re start- 


106 


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ing out all wrong, Nancy! Put your foot down now, 
right off, on all that sort of thing! You shouldn’t 
ever have begun it!” 

“I hate to be a disappointment in any way to my hus¬ 
band—and for him to find me (whom he thinks a dower¬ 
less bride) not only unable, but quite unwilling to do his 
housework, wouldn’t be a disappointment, it would be a 
knock-down shock!” 

“But, my dear, he has gone about in Leitersville gay 
society enough to know how people live. He knows how 
Dr. Lyman’s family lived when he was Head Master.” 

“Of course he knows; and he will of course want to 
live nicely. He’s much more fussy about appearances 
than I am. But he’ll expect me, I do believe, to accom¬ 
plish it without servants! That’s the hitch in Eugene’s 
character (we’ve all got a hitch somewhere, you know) he 
can’t bear to see me not being busy all day at housework! 
A thing I never did in my life! It’s the Pennsylvania 
Dutch idea of a woman, Herrick—one of the few Pennsyl¬ 
vania Dutch limitations that Eugene has not quite out¬ 
grown. He would rather—” 

There was a knock on the door, followed by the turn¬ 
ing of the handle—which, as the door was locked, of 
course did not yield. Nancy’s eyes met mine in con¬ 
sternation. 

“Nancy!” came Weesy’s voice from the hall. “Make 
open! What fur did you have the door locked yet?” 

Nancy glided swiftly and noiselessly to the door and 
with a dexterous movement silently turned the key at the 
same instant that she loudly turned the handle. “Why, 
it isn’t locked, Weesy,” she truthfully stated, as with 
innocent gaze, she faced an alarmed and suspicious Weesy 
on the threshold. “Do you want the tray? Mr. Ap- 


T H E S N O B 107 

pleton could not eat, he has such a—a queer feeling in 
his head!” 

“Och,” cried Weesy, coming into the room, “if he got 
hit on the head in his accident, it’ll mebby give something 
ugly yet! Does it make funny in your head?” she asked 
me solicitously. “But no, it don’t wonder me any if 
your head does make funny, readin’ all them books of 
Lypholate’s ! It’s enough—ain’t, Nancy?—to make any 
person’s head go off, to use it so hard! Give it a rest, 
a little, can’t you?” 

“Mrs. Curry was rubbing it a bit for me—I found it 
very soothing,” I said feebly. 

“It wondered me what kep’ her here and her ironing 
waiting to be did,” said Weesy. “Come on, now, Nancy, 
and get through all oncet, or you’ll have a shamed face 
when Lypholate gets home from fishin’ and finds you ain’t 
through all.” 

Nancy, avoiding my eye, followed her sister-in-law 
from the room. 


CHAPTER XI 


A LTHOUGH I could guess how chagrined Curry 
must feel upon learning that I was here in his 
home, I could not imagine how he would act 

about it. 

“If he didn’t have Nancy on his hands, I believe he 
would simply beat it without seeing me.” 

Nancy did not come to see me again during the whole 
afternoon, which made me in my weakness feel neglected 
and sore and childish. 

“She might at least come in and read to me a while, 
or fuss round me a bit when I’m sick and lonesome and 
my ankle hurting!” 

At four o’clock I heard her voice and Curry’s in the 
adjoining room; he had probably just got home from his 
fishing trip. Intermingled with their voices, I could hear 
water poured into a basin (there was nothing so modern 
as a bath-room in the house, I had been informed) fol¬ 
lowed by the splash of washing. I found it difficult to 
realize Nancy Claxton in the homely and undignified 
intimacies of such a setting as this farm house. And if, 
as seemed to me probable, Curry, when here in his native 
environment, reverted to type and dropped that excessive 
fastidiousness which Leitersville so greatly admired, how 
could Nancy fail to become completely disillusioned?— 
even disgusted! 

It was half past five when, to my pleased surprise, the 
pair of them, coming into my room together, bore between 
them a small table on which was spread a dainty supper 
for three; cold ham, thin bread and butter, new corn, a 
108 


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109 


salad, red raspberries, steaming coffee. The jolly cozi¬ 
ness of it as they placed the table beside my bed and sat 
down, Curry cordially shaking hands with me and rallying 
me upon my plight, robbed the situation of any sting it 
could have had for him or any embarrassment for me. I 
felt grateful to Nancy for her tact in having arranged 
this little party (for of course she was responsible) and 
I hoped Curry also appreciated her cleverness. 

He was fresh and spruce in a suit of ecru palm beach 
cloth. Nancy had changed from her pink gingham frock 
of the morning to a low-necked, short-sleeved white dress 
the conspicuous simplicity of which I recognized as very 
characteristic of her. Her style of dress always had 
been individual and, in my opinion, artistic and dis¬ 
tinctive. It must be that Curry ignorantly mistook this 
highly expensive simplicity and individualism in dress for 
village plainness, cheapness, lack of “style.” 

“You look like a Fra Angelico angel, Mrs. Curry!” I 
told her—at which her husband’s eyes swept her in swift 
appraisement, for as he knew I was no flatterer and gen¬ 
erally meant most of what I said,' he valued my opinion; 
and undoubtedly my approval or admiration of his wife 
was a bit soothing to him at this awkward moment of my 
discovering him (after a year’s acquaintance with his 
rather snobbish pretentions) in his crude native surround¬ 
ings. I could fancy his thinking, “Well, here’s at least 
one member of the family I needn’t be ashamed of, even 
if she isn’t the brilliant mate I might have married.” 

“Eugene doesn’t usually care for my frocks,” said 
Nancy. “He thinks they’re much too plain. That is his 
reaction, I tell him, from his New Mennonite rearing.” 

Eugene instantly looked annoyed at her frank refer¬ 
ence to his New Mennonite rearing and even I thought it 
a shade tactless, unless, indeed, she felt that in accept- 


110 


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ing as a matter of course those circumstances which she 
was sure need not mortify a right feeling man, she was 
helping her husband in that “quest for his real self” which 
she was so sure he was pursuing. I suspected, however, 
that this frankness of hers in meeting the situation 
seemed to Eugene only crude lack of sophistication in not 
realizing how embarrassing it was. 

Knowing all that I did of Nancy, her husband’s at¬ 
titude towards her, as I observed it during our supper 
that first evening I saw them together, was very trying 
to me. To be sure, it was evident that he was enamored 
of her; and not only sensuously; his imagination was 
stirred by her loveliness. Oh, yes, it was obvious enough 
that he was enjoying his bride who had been thrust upon 
him; that he found her, as most men must, desirable and 
delightful. Nevertheless, his manner towards her faintly 
suggested not only a sense of injury, a grievance, but a 
patronizing condescension that made me want to vul¬ 
garly smack his smug face. How any man could feel 
other than humble before the divine gift of such a rare 
woman as Nancy, I could not understand. Yet that air 
of homage to ladies which had been the real secret of 
his success in Leitersville society was entirely absent in 
his manner to his wife. He seemed to expect the homage 
to come from her side to him. He was not only not 
chivalrous towards her, he was inconsiderate and his tone 
was slightingly careless. 

On her part there was the radiant happiness of one who, 
after tragic shipwreck, loneliness, despair, finds herself 
anchored, possessed; a source of at least occasional de¬ 
light to one she loved. 

Yet across this glow of happiness was that shadow of 
wistful uncertainty, an anxiety to please, that from her 
to him gave me a sense of outrage. 


THE SNOB 


111 


“Lucky dog that I am!” said I, as Nancy helped me 
to the delicious looking salad she said she had herself 
prepared, “to have fallen among Good Samaritans and 
in a houseful of books!” I pointed to the large portion 
of Curry’s library that bestrewed my bed. “It would 
have been ghastly to have had to lie here with nothing to 
read!” 

“Aurelius, Emerson,” said Curry, inspecting the books. 
“Too depressing for an invalid. I must bring you some 
jolly novels.” 

“Do, please,” I agreed. 

“The gospel of Aurelius and Emerson,” he began in 
the earnest tone he had for his epigrams, “the passion¬ 
less serenity which they preach, sometimes seems to me 
too much the dead level of the plane, that neither stirs the 
depths nor reaches to the heights of life.” 

Nancy looked at me beamingly, as who should say, 
“That’s his thoughtful, real self speaking—isn’t it 
admirable?” 

“Emerson was, of course, limited by his unconquer¬ 
able puritanism,” I admitted, “though I do think he 
dug deep and soared high. This salad is bully, Mrs. 
Curry. I’m fiendishly hungry, having eaten no din¬ 
ner.” 

“Why didn’t you eat any dinner?” asked Curry. 

“The shock of meeting your wife took away my ap¬ 
petite,” I replied—and at Nancy’s look of consternation, 
I added, “for I promptly fell in love with her at first 
sight.” 

“That’s one thing, then, that you and I have in com¬ 
mon,” Eugene gallantly retorted—and Nancy’s young 
face glowed with pleasure. 

I turned upon her reproachfully. “Why didn’t you 
come back and visit with me this afternoon? Here I 


112 THE SNOB 

lay alone the whole long afternoon! I thought of course 
you’d be back.” 

At Curry’s surprised face over this tone of intimacy 
towards one I had, presumably, just met, so unlike my 
usual rather morose stand-offishness, with which he was 
familiar, Nancy darted a look of frantic warning at me. 

“A man that’s been knocked up in an accident expects 
to have a fuss made over him,” I complained. “What were 
you doing all the afternoon?” 

“Ironing, Mr. Appleton.” 

“In this heat? All afternoon?” 

She nodded. 

“You see, Curry, how badly she behaves when you go 
out fishing all day. You’ll have to stay at home to keep 
her in order.” 

“But you see, Appleton, I’m so old-fashioned as to 
believe in the domestic woman. It’s a modern fad, you 
know, to discredit everything that the Past has taken for 
granted, good and bad alike; a child’s duty to its parents, 
a mother’s love, fidelity of husbands and wives, domestic¬ 
ity of women, reverence of all kinds— Perhaps some of 
those simple virtues (as they were once considered) the 
now repudiated ‘sentimentality’ of home, baby, mother, 
wife, took us as near to blessedness as we shall ever come 
in this life!” 

“I’ve no theoretical objection to a domestic woman. 
God knows I think a woman’s got a right to be domestic 
if she wants to be. But personally, I find them unexcit¬ 
ing—domestic women. Are you a domestic woman, Mrs. 
Curry?” 

“Not from choice.” 

“She wouldn’t dare say she was after you’ve called them 
bores. What becomes of our homes without domestic 
women?” 


THE SNOB 


113 


“In losing our housekeepers, maybe we’ll find mates, 
companions, friends. But perhaps you prefer a house¬ 
keeper? Martha or Mary?” 

“Martha before dinner, Mary afterwards!” 

“You’d like a harem, would you?” 

“You see, Eugene,” Nancy pointed out to him, “even 
in Jesus’ time, the companionable, conversational Mary 
wasn’t domestic.” 

With a little contemptuous shrug, he half turned his 
back to her and addressed himself exclusively to me, as one 
might snub a forward child. “When a woman isn’t 
domestic, she’s usually a failure as a mother—her natural 
function.” 

“I wonder,” Nancy speculated, “which makes the bet¬ 
ter mothers, Eugene—washwomen or school teachers?” 

“You wonder, do you?” he mockingly repeated. “You 
wonder a lot of foolish things my dear, don’t you?”— 
and again he turned to me. “I’m not one of those who 
believe that modern Feminism need necessarily be in¬ 
compatible with domesticity.” 

“Of course it need not. But we don’t put a blooded 
race horse to the plow.” 

Nancy flushing up to her hair, hastened to answer me. 
“But Eugene and I don’t happen to be of the blooded 
race horse breed. We are, as you see, plain country 
people.” 

Again Curry looked annoyed at her thrusting upon 
our attention the embarrassing fact (of which she wa3 
unaware of course) that he was not just what he had al¬ 
ways posed to me as being. 

“Is this,” he asked me with a lift of his eyebrows, 
“your boasted brotherhood of man, Appleton,—this talk 
of some horses for the plow and others for the track?” 

“I’m rather in sympathy with Lenin who declares he’s 


114? 


THE SNOB 


going to have a whole nation of gentlemen. But a 
gentleman may prefer, say, working in a field to teach¬ 
ing school, or a lady of birth like housework better than 
a lecture platform. Obviously people ought to do what 
they’re fitted to do and like to do.” 

“But surely a dependent wife should serve her hus¬ 
band in return for her support?” he argued. 

“How about that, Mrs. Curry?” I asked. 

“I hold,” she proclaimed oratorically, “that a wife 
should be free to choose how she shall earn her living— 
whether by keeping her husband’s house or in some more 
congenial way.” 

“Hear, hear!” Eugene ironically exclaimed. 

“For myself,” persisted Nancy imperturbably, though 
she flushed under his slighting tone, “I’d prefer to earn 
mine by teaching than by ironing and cooking and 
sweeping.” 

“But that being quite impracticable,” Curry answered 
her, “since an American gentleman is really supposed, 
you know, to support his wife, you will earn your living 
by keeping my house and not by teaching.” 

“I am sure,” I said guilefully, “that judging from this 
supper, Mrs. Curry will manage the Head Master’s house 
quite as beautifully as Mrs. Lyman always did it and 
with just as few servants. Surprising how well Mrs. Ly¬ 
man did do it with only two maids, isn’t it, Curry?” 

“We shan’t be able to afford two maids,” he quickly 
affirmed. “Two maids for two people! I should say 
not!” 

“But you’ll have to do lots of entertaining, you know 
■—parents bringing their children, school officials, lec¬ 
turers from out of town—” 

“We can always have in one of the Academy refectory 
waiters,” he explained, “when we must.” 


THE SNOB 


115 


“Mrs. Lyman seemed always to be an exceedingly busy 
woman even with her two maids for two people. She 
told me that if they returned another year she would 
absolutely have to keep a man besides.” 

“But Mrs. Lyman,” Curry argued with feeling, “has 
an income of her own. I understand she brought her 
husband quite a bit of money.” 

I frowned in perplexity. “I don’t seem to make the 
connection there?” I said questioningly. “I suspect 
that of being strictly Pennsylvania Dutch logic!” 

Eugene again winced so perceptibly at this candid 
recognition of his Pennsylvania Dutch birth that I 
realized he was really feeling keenly the embarrassment of 
my presence in his home. 

“The Pennsylvania Dutch,” he retorted, “do have an 
honest sense of give and take.” 

“Glad to hear it! For then, my dear Mrs. Curry, on 
the days your lawful supporter is out fishing, you don’t 
have to iron and cook and sweep. When he loafs, you 
loaf.” 

“But I need to loaf a bit,” argued Curry. “You know 
what’s before me in September—and how I’ve worked all 
winter.” 

“Wasn’t Mrs. Curry teaching all winter?” 

“But she won’t be teaching in the fall.” 

“But she’ll be doing what she doesn’t like to do nearly 
so much, if you have your way!” 

“It takes one’s bachelor friends to tell one how to 
bring up a wife!” 

“Apparently! I’m going to keep an eye on both of 
you next winter and see that you behave yourselves. I 
warn you, you’re going to see a lot of me.” 

Eugene did not look overjoyed at the announcement. 
In the early months of our acquaintance at the Academy, 


116 


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I had recognized the fact that he considered my friend¬ 
ship an asset. Not now, evidently; not, at any rate, in 
Leitersville; I was too unpopular with the trustees who 
employed him. 

“You think,” he said with an uneasy laugh, but in the 
smooth, gliding, velvety tone he never lost, “that I can’t 
be trusted to take care of this little goose as she should 
be taken care of?” 

“Not so long as you think more about her duty to you 
than of yours to her!” 

“You always were engagingly frank, Appleton!” 

“If you were free to choose, Mrs. Curry,” I asked cu¬ 
riously, “what work would you elect to do?” 

“I’ve really no objection to home-making—I’ve some 
talent for it, I think. But a house drudge can’t be a 
home-maker.” 

“Delightfully feminine logic!” Curry shrugged. 

I saw that he had simply fallen into a nasty habit of 
nagging at his wife and treating her opinions contemp¬ 
tuously. Scarcely could she speak without calling from 
him a mild snub or a smooth little sneer. 

“But it’s her own fault!” I inwardly fumed. “She 
shouldn’t tolerate it! It’s inexcusable weakness! And 
Nancy’s not weak! She ought to pitch a dish at his 
head!” 

Instead, however, of doing something useful and ef¬ 
fective like that, she only tried to hide her hurt and 
mortification at his manner by a conciliatory tone that 
made me want to shake her. 

“Feminine logic?” she gently repeated. “Well, as it 
was masculine logic that precipitated the late war and the 
Versailles Treaty and that sits in Congress and that runs 
our politics and that makes our laws and forces strikes 


THE SNOB 


117 


and establishes our prisons and courts and—really, 
really, you know, men have no room to say a word about 
any other brand of logic!” 

“Perhaps not, except of that sort affected by un¬ 
sophisticated little country girls!” he said, as he handed 
her his cup across the table to be refilled. She, finding 
the pot empty, rose to carry it and the cream pitcher to 
the kitchen for a fresh supply. 

“Excuse me a minute,” she said; and I felt a distinct 
shock at seeing Eugene, the erstwhile gallant gentlemen 
of the Academy Faculty, not only not offer to go himself, 
but not even get up to open the door for her as she turned 
to leave the room. 

“Do forgive me, Mrs. Curry,” I hastened to say as she 
stepped away from her chair, “for my inability to be 
polite!” 

She evidently understood this implied criticism of her 
husband’s remissness, for she flushed uncomfortably as 
she quickly went away. 

Of course a mere breach of conventional manners would 
have meant little to either Nancy or me; but to discover 
that a man such as Curry had for nearly a year appeared 
to me to be, held the Pennsylvania Dutch view of a wife 
as a chattel, to whom courtesies were not only not due, 
but would be misplaced, and that his public social graces 
were therefore a mere veneer, was, I confess, a bit star¬ 
tling. And if so to me, what must it mean to Nancy 
who had idealized him as a superman! 

“That’s a rare, lovely girl you’ve had the luck to 
marry!” I said to him the moment she was gone, “and 
you’ll have to stand for my bluntness, not to say im¬ 
pertinence, in telling you that you must get over your 
Pennsylvania Dutch ideas of a woman, if you want to keep 


118 


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her respect! Yes, you must! A woman like that can’t 
go on idealizing a man whose own ideals of women are 
low!” 

He looked more astonished than offended at my rather 
brutal candor. “Nancy’s never told me, as you so 
flatteringly do, that she thought my ideals of women 
were ‘low’!” 

“You talked just now, you know, as though all a wife 
could mean to a husband was either domestic efficiency or 
money! Gosh! And your wife an exquisite creature 
like that!” 

“I am glad you appreciate her so much,” he said, much 
more gratified at my admiration than resentful of my 
criticism. “But it does seem to me, Appleton, that the 
very least a man may expect from a dowerless wife is 
‘domestic efficiency.’ To be sure, there’s the romantic or 
spiritual side,” he admitted, “but there again, you’ll 
hardly say the scales are against me!” 

“Oh, come now, Curry, I know you like yourself fairly 
well, but you can’t possibly be so pleased with yourself 
as to feel you’re worthy of that gift of the gods, your 
wife!” 

He looked at me oddly. “You actually are hit, I 
believe! She’s a dear, of course. But when you come 
to balancing accounts between her and me, don’t forget 
that I gave up marrying an heiress, a great lady, for a 
penniless village girl.” 

“Ass ! Dorothy Renzheimer is a vulgar little upstart; 
your wife is a lady. Don’t you know it?” 

“You always were quixotic, Appleton. Dorothy Renz¬ 
heimer has all her life had advantages such as poor little 
Nancy has never even dreamed of. In any situation Dor¬ 
othy would be at home and at ease—whereas Nancy is un¬ 
sophisticated, inexperienced,” he said, his sense of injury 


THE SNOB 


119 


coming out in his tone. “I can’t even feel confident that 
she’ll be equal to the social demands made upon her in 
Leitersville.” 

I suppressed a grin. Dorothy, in Nancy’s native 
world, would have been a monkey or a clown! 

“It seems to me, Curry, that the question for you is 
whether you are equal to the spiritual demands made upon 
you by the love of a girl of rarest quality! Who and 
what were her parents? Do you know?” 

“Her father was an Ohio country doctor.” 

“Well?” I said significantly. 

“You mean that mine was a Pennsylvania Dutch 
farmer. But I have outgrown my family, Appleton, and 
Nancy has not.” 

“No, I don’t think she has!” 

“Oh I thought you considered her a paragon, a Fra 
Angelico angel! And of course she is too.” 

“Don’t you see that she so plainly didn’t have to out¬ 
grow her family?—that she is obviously well-born?” 

“It’s because you meet her for the first time as the 
prospective lady of the Head Master’s house, as my wife,” 
he replied with amazing complacency, “that she seems to 
you, perhaps, less simple and unsophisticated than she 
really is. I do hope Leitersville may see her with your 
partial eyes and not as the little village teacher I am 
taking into a new and untried life.” 

Nancy’s return at this moment prevented my replying 
to this unspeakable smugness. 

Again Curry failed to rise as she came into the room 
carrying the coffee and cream pitcher and it was I who 
had to reach from the bed and draw out her chair. Since 
of course he could not have behaved like this before his 
marriage (for Nancy must surely have thought she was 
marrying a gentleman) how did she feel in her heart at 


120 


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the discovery of this post-nuptial manner?—this raw 
shedding of a masquerade cloak? 

With the impression lingering in my mind of Curry’s 
look of anxiety at my proposed intimacy in his home in 
Leitersville, I asked, “Shall you give up lecturing now 
that you are Head Master of the Academy?” 

“But as Head Master I expect to be more in demand 
than ever for lectures,” he answered, surprised. “It will 
yield me a very nice addition to my salary.” 

“But you’ll have to change your tone and style con¬ 
siderably, not to offend your bosses, won’t you?” 

“Oh, of course, yes. The trustees are proposing to 
hold me down, I know. Naturally! What I fear is that 
the caution I shall find necessary will—well, as it were, 
clip the wings of oratory!” he smiled. 

“Caution of that sort would, I should think, clip wings 
of any sort!” 

“Yes, it’s a nuisance! They nearly threw me out last 
winter, as they did you, for the things I said!” 

“And my objectionable remarks were made only to the 
boys, not to public throngs. Yes, indeed, you’ll have to 
forswear choice epigrams now,” I lured him on, my off 
eye on Nancy’s face to note the effect, the while I was 
inwardly wondering at myself for being deliberately sly 
and cruel. “Fancy your saying next winter, as I heard 
you last, to a huge crowd, among whom were scattered 
all our prosperous and conservative trustees, ‘World 
capitalism has become a monster, a modern Frankenstein, 
that has gotten out of hand and beyond control’! Ha!” 
I laughed rather viciously. 

“I mas young and rash last winter, wasn’t I!” he said 
with a little shudder. 

“It won the Head Mastership for you! They elected 
you to shut you up, you know!” 


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“But,” spoke in Nancy warmly, “he won’t be shut up! 
A man like Eugene doesn’t work merely for hire! He 
works to give his best service; to pass on to his pupils, 
regardless of consequence, the best that life has revealed 
to him. That’s a true teacher’s ideal!” said young, en¬ 
thusiastic Nancy. 

“You know all about it, don’t you, my dear!” he gently 
sneered. “It was,” he addressed me, his back half turned 
to her, “the dire effect upon the public of your being 
thrown out that made them afraid to throw me out too. 
They’re a shrewd lot!” 

“So you really owe your job to me. And it’s I,” I 
grinned, “that have made a hide-bound conservative of 
you!” 

“He isn’t that—he couldn’t be false to himself for the 
sake of his position!” protested Nancy. 

“One year under the rod of that bunch of trustees, 
Mrs. Curry, whose conservatism has become, as conser¬ 
vatism is apt to become, a stagnant, noxious pool, and 
your husband’s oratorical flights will have ceased, he will 
no longer soar, he will only hover an inch above the base 
earth! What’s the use of that, Curry?” I asked as he 
began to scribble into his ever-present note book. “You 
can’t use my bright remarks any more!” 

“Conservatism becoming a stagnant, noxious pool,” he 
repeated, “is very good. Where did you get it?” 

“Evidently where you don’t get your brilliancy—out of 
my own dome!” 

“It’s going to be a great bore,” he said, a slight im¬ 
patience in his always suave tone, “to have a lot of clowns 
like those trustees, a newspaper-educated Chamber of 
Commerce group, dictating to me what I shall think and 
teach and lecture about!” 

“But with your views, Eugene,” persisted Nancy, look- 


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ing bewildered, “I don’t see how you can work under such 
men!” 

“I have to earn my living, don’t I?—not being 
financially and matrimonially free as Appleton is; as 
free as a man of my—well, gift, if you’ll allow me—for 
public speaking ought to be!”—and here I noted the 
faintest hint of an implied reproach; “as I might have 
been if you,” patting her hand, “hadn’t bowled me over 
and caught me!” 

She drew her hand out of his reach. “Plenty of poor 
men,” she said, “are true to their convictions, and a man 
like you couldn't be false to them!” 

“A man like me can be tactful and avoid giving of¬ 
fense. He’s got to be when he has a wife to support.” 

“He’s got to be, you mean of course, dear, only in so 
far as it doesn’t involve being insincere.” 

“I mean what I said, and I said ‘avoid giving offense,’ 
I believe. There’s a woman’s logic for you! You think 
I ought to employ a servant for you, or even two, and yet 
you’d have me defy those who make it possible for me 
to even clothe and feed you! I’d suggest, my dear, that 
you let me manage my own work in my own way without 
feminine advice.” 

He rose. “It’s getting late; we must leave you to your 
rest, Appleton. Have you everything you need?” 

“Yes, thank you. Including a perfect view from my 
window of the sunset over the river and hills. Look!” 
I pointed to my flaming red window. 

This giving Curry one of those chances he never could 
resist, he strolled over to the window and gazing out 
upon the crimson twilight, spoke to us over his shoulder 
in the velvety tones of his public speeches—“The heart 
of the universe must be beautiful and divinely good, when 



T H E S N O B 123 

out of it comes such loveliness—the sunset, the moonlight, 
the stars, the lily, the rose!” 

Again Nancy’s shining eyes sought mine to invite my 
admiration of such superior sentiments, and I was divided 
between my longing to kiss her sweet, innocent face and 
my impulse to shout imprecations at her for her credul¬ 
ity and lack of spirit. 


CHAPTER XII 


D URING my week of confinement it surprised me 
to find, from day to day, how very little Nancy 
and Eugene managed to see of me. In spite of 
Nancy’s tactful breaking of the ice by that cozy supper 
at my bedside, Curry evidently suffered in having me here, 
for he paid me only the briefest daily visits, during which 
his manner was aloof and ill at ease. As for Nancy, it 
seemed to be not lack of inclination, but of time, that kept 
her from me. She seldom came near me except when she, 
instead of Weesy or Mrs. Curry, carried in my meals; 
and even then, lingering too long brought upon her a 
mild complaining and criticism from the family and, as 
I learned, from her husband himself. Evidently she 
helped all day long with the work of the farm house, en¬ 
deavoring heroically “to do the right thing” in the dif¬ 
ficult situation in which she found herself; trying to fit 
a square peg into a round hole. I hoped she would soon 
come to see what wasted effort it was. 

“She is so qualified for another kind of service in life,” 
I fretted. “It’s like a Tolstoi wasting himself making 
shoes when he could have been writing Anna Kareninas /” 
If the comparison was absurd, I did not at all feel it 
so at the time, so incongruous did it seem to me for Nancy 
Claxton to be doing actual drudgery in a farm house. 

I gathered from stray comments by various members of 
ihe family that Nancy’s only reward for all this futile 
and painful self-sacrifice was their contempt for her 
“doppling” ways and her ignorance of what every woman 
should know. 


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125 


I had to put a strong restraint upon my inclination to 
advise and admonish her as to her proper “line” with 
these people. In spite of the age-long intimate friend¬ 
ship between the Claxtons and Appletons, her affairs 
were, strictly speaking, none of my business. And after 
all, a man and wife must struggle through their own dif¬ 
ficulties ; no one else can ever enter fully into them. 

“So long as her infatuatipn for Curry lasts she’ll con¬ 
tinue to be supine, I suppose. It’s of course love and not 
cowardice that makes her submit. And perhaps she’s 
held down, too, by the fact of her having asked him to 
marry her prematurely, before he was quite ready. Is 
she troubled, too,” I wondered, “by the fact that he mar¬ 
ried her under the belief that she was dying? 

“But once she’s disillusioned about him,” I concluded, 
“she’ll be quite able to defend herself without my help or 
advice!” 

The question was would she ever be disillusioned? Ac¬ 
cording to some modern novelists, men invariably recov¬ 
ered from loving their wives; but women? My extensive 
novel reading had, I found, left me unenlightened here. 
Some novelists, to be sure, painted what they seemed to 
regard as quite admirable women whose love, under all 
circumstances and any kind of treatment, remained 
steadfast and self-sacrificing. I saw nothing admirable 
in such stupidity. I sincerely hoped Nancy would not 
prove to be like that. That even an infatuation could 
reduce one who was naturally so self-contained and of 
such poise as I knew her to be, to the pass of allowing 
herself to be dominated and slighted, greatly puzzled me. 

“It must be the crushing effect of the awful suffering 
she’s lived through!” I thought sadly. 

I wondered whether her not repeating, in spite of my 
hints, that pleasant supper for the three of us and her 


126 


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refraining to come with Eugene when he paid his brief 
daily calls upon me, were due to a reluctance to have me 
witness her husband’s snubbing attitude towards her. 

“I don’t believe she lets herself realize just how badly 
he does behave to her. Or does she fancy that she really 
covers it from view by her cheerful endurance of it?” 

The day the doctor announced that I might get on my 
feet and take my meals with the family, Curry ig- 
nominiously fled. 

“Obliged to go to Leitersville on business,” Nancy ex¬ 
plained his absence at the first meal, a midday dinner, 
which I had at the family board in the kitchen. “He will 
probably stay until the end of the week.” 

By which time I would no doubt be gone. 

The big, spotlessly clean kitchen was cozy and home¬ 
like, for a Pennsylvania Dutch kitchen is also the family 
living room. There was a rag carpet on the floor; a big 
old yellow settee with a patch-work cover on it against 
the wall; the dining table along the opposite wall; several 
rocking chairs and a sink containing a small pump com¬ 
pleted the room’s furnishings. The cook-stove and bak¬ 
ing table had been moved for the summer to the “out 
kitchen.” 

I was directed to take my place on the bench that ran 
along the wall behind the table. It was the first time 
in my life that I had ever sat on a bench to dine except 
at Sunday school picnics when I was a boy; I slid into 
my seat beside Nancy and at her glance of anxiety lest I 
manifest surprise, my sudden childish inclination to laugh 
almost overcame me. I was thankful Eugene was not by. 

The table was loaded with food; fried sausage, several 
vegetables, several kinds of pies, cakes and canned fruits, 
and a huge pile of bread; then all sorts of “side dishes”— 
pickles, jellies, sour red beets, pepper slaw. 


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127 


“Don’t you like sour to sossage?” asked Weesy, push¬ 
ing the pepper slaw and pickled red beets towards me. 
“Me I always like sour to my meals even up to pie yet.” 

“Weesy she’s so much fur sour that way,” Mrs. Curry 
confirmed her daughter-in-law’s statement. “But Ly- 
pholate not. He’s more fur sweet. Och, now, it does 
beat all how much fur sweet ah-ver Lypholate is!” 

“But Yi he’s fur sour like me,” said Weesy. “He’s so 
much fur spec and sour with; ain’t, Yi?” 

“Yes, anyhow,” said Yi, his mouth full of potato. 

“We’re all so much fur sour except Lypholate not,” 
said Mrs. Curry. “Yes, me I canned forty jars of sour 
last year—pickles and beets and pepper slaw and chow 
chow and whatever.” 

Nancy at my side, looking pale and discouraged, ate 
very little. 

“Appetite off?” I asked her solicitously. 

“Too tired to eat,” she answered listlessly. 

“Little fool, little fool 1” I openly scolded her, to the 
family’s dull surprise. “Why don’t you join your hus¬ 
band at Leitersville or run off to the seaside while he's 
away or—” 

Her warning, frightened glance stopped me. 

“Us we ain’t no sich millionaires!” growled Yi. “It’ll 
be time enough fur ah-ver Lypholate to leave his wife go 
pleasure-seekin’ to the sea shore or wherever after he’s 
paid back Mom fur his grand education!” 

“Me 1 never get away all summer; us we’re got so much 
work all the time!” pouted Weesy. “I ain’t even been 
on church all summer.” 

“And you haven’t once put on the dress I made for 
you,” Nancy told her. “And it’s so becoming to you. 
Take her to church next Sunday, Yi, so she can wear her 
new dress. Oh, no, I forgot you don’t call it ‘church’— 


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and I suppose you would not want her to wear such a 
gay frock to the Mennonite meeting.” 

“No, fur the reason that I become it so!” said Weesy 
crossly. “You must look as onbecoming as you other¬ 
wise kin on Mennonite meeting! And my new frock the 
dark color makes me so pretty complected! I couldn’t 
wear it to meeting—och, no!” 

“As soon as my car arrives,” I said, “I’ll drive you and 
Mrs. Eugene into Virginsville some evening to see a pic¬ 
ture show and that will give you a chance to wear your 
becoming frock.” 

Yi regarded me somberly. “With you takin’ Weesy 
to a movin’ pitcher show and Nancy makin’ her sich fancy 
frocks, much chanct the Holy Spirit’s got to do His 
work in her heart! Why can’t yous leave her be till the 
Holy Spirit’s got her conwerted oncet!” 

“I don’t want to get conwerted, Yi!” Weesy objected 
resentfully. “I want to have my fun a little first. It 
ain’t fur my soul, but fur your own that you’re so con¬ 
cerned anyhow!” 

“It ain’t neither—what’s over you?” he protested. 

“Yes, it is, too! You have afraid Gawd’s got it in fur 
you fur tryin’ to git around Him by marryin’ me before 
you turned plain!” 

“Yes, and you’d see your own husband go to everlastin’ 
punishment before you’d give yourself up!” Yi re¬ 
proached her with a sudden gleam in his dull eyes that 
gave me a start; made me feel distinctly uneasy. To 
what lengths might not his fanaticism and fear lead him? 

“You’d sacker-fice your husband and your Gawd,” he 
continued, “just because you’re so much fur pleasure- 
seekin’!” 

“Much chanct I ever get fur pleasure-seekin’!” retorted 
Weesy. “You bet I’ll go with you along, Mister,” she 


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129 


declared to me, “to the movin’ pitcher show! Me and Yi 
used to go often sometimes,” she added, “before he give 
hisself up and turned plain. Do you mind, Yi, that piece 
we seen where the willainness she separated the leading 
lady from the leading man on their bridal night and they 
never met again till act three? I couldn’t har’ly keep 
from cryin’, the leading lady and the leading man they 
had sich tough luck!” 

“Yes, that there piece,” said Yi, shaking his head, 
“was most too sad! I didn’t like it. It got me down¬ 
hearted. And that ain’t what I went to a pitcher show 
fur—to git down-hearted!” 

“Well, I guess anyhow not!” agreed his mother. “To 
spend good money fur to git yourself made down-hearted! 
That would be funny too again!” 

“I’d sooner see Charlie Chaplin than sich a sad piece; 
Charlie Chaplin he kin always git me laughin’,” said 
Weesy. “Yi he used to laugh so loud at Charlie Chap¬ 
lin, it gimme a shamed face fur him! I used to laugh 
more at Mutt and Jeff than at Charlie Chaplin, though 
to be sure, Charlie Chaplin has got me goin’ a’ready too. 
But Mutt and Jeff! Och, my souls! Them fellahs cer¬ 
tainly had me tickled a’ready!” 

I suddenly realized as I listened to Weesy that she was 
a voter! 

“Might as well enfranchise cows!” I thought. 

When one considered the smugness with which “loyal 
citizens” talked about “Americanizing” the foreigner! 
The Pennsylvania Dutch came here too long ago not to be 
considered Americans as much as any of us. 

“Do you vote, Mrs. Yi?” I inquired. 

“Och, no, I don’t bother. Because you see, Yi he 
darsent wote. New Mennonites don’t wote. So I just 
let it. I did wote a’ready—oncet or twicet or so—when 


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Yi did, before he joined meetin’. I just woted same as 
him so’s there wouldn’t be no argyment or disturbance. 
But now I don’t bother with it no more.” 

“But you ought to use your new rights as a citizen, 
Weesy,” urged Nancy. 

“My rights! I don’t look fur my rights in this here 
world!” pouted Weesy. 

“The vote will give them to you sooner than Heaven 
will.” 

“Och, you better keep away from that there poll, 
Weesy!” her mother-in-law warned her. “Too many wild 
women go to that there poll that better not go!” 

“But more tame ones,” Nancy assured her. 

“Well, to be sure, I know some nice ladies that go to 
that there poll—yes, that I do. But they ain’t a-plenty, 
I guess!” 

“You sayed, Nancy,” spoke in Yi, “that Lypholate 
will be home till the end of the week—” 

“No, that he may be away until the end of the week.” 

“Till the end of the week he’ll get home, you sayed,” 
insisted Yi, confused over their different uses of the word 
“until,” the Pennsylvania Dutch using it in place of 
“by.” “Well, but he darsent keep ah-ver Ford away so 
long! Us we need it fur market till Sa’rdays a’ready.” 

“He knows that and he’ll surely be home by Friday 
night,” Nancy, also confused, assured him. 

“He hadn’t ought to have took it!” grumbled Yi. “He 
sayed the gasoline would come cheaper than the railroad 
ticket, but he don’t count the wear on my car! And 
that there second-hand Ford car I had her four years 
a’ready and she wasn’t just so new when I got her and 
her age is beginnin’ to tell on her a little.” 

“She makes so funny still, ah-ver Ford!” complained 
Mrs. Curry. 


THE SNOB 


131 


“Yes, mind if she don’t!” cried Weesy. “Fords is all 
right when they go. But when they don’t go—och, my 
souls!” 

“You said it!” nidded Yi. “When they don’t go!” 

“It’s hell!” breathed Nancy reminiscently—but at the 
horrified consternation of the family she amended her 
remark—“it’s healthy! Bad for the heart and lungs to 
go so fast!” 

“Now, now!” Yi sternly admonished her. “You swore! 
You know you did! Ah-ver Lypholate’s wife swearin * 
yet!” 

“A body’d think,” said Mrs. Curry reproachfully, 
“that bein’ sich a dopple as you are at the housework, 
Nancy—so’s you got to hire your washin’ yet—you’d 
try in all other ways to make it up to ah-ver poor 
Lypholate!” 

Nancy looked at me and smiled, offering no reply to 
her mother-in-law. I seemed to be more embarrassed 
than she was by the primitive unreserve of the family as 
to their personal affairs. 

“Seein’ how grand educated ah-ver Lypholate is,” Yi 
supplemented his mother’s criticism, and how he had a 
right to look high in pickin’ a wife, the least you kin do, 
Nancy, is to mind your maurals and not swear anyhow! 
My goodness!” 

“It wonders me, Nancy,” put in Weesy, “that you 
didn’t even bring Lypholate no aus tire!” 

“I never heard of one before I came here,” said Nancy, 
amazingly unperturbed. Perhaps if she had, for a fact, 
been penniless, she could not have stood this running 
commentary so complacently. 

“What in God’s name is an ‘aus tire’?” I asked, re¬ 
gretting, as I saw them stare, my unnecessary profanity. 

“A household outfit,” Nancy explained. “Kitchen 


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things, a stove, tins, kettles; besides, bedding and linens. 
A Pennsylvania Dutch bride that doesn’t have a good aus 
tire is disgraced.” 

“Yes, it gives her an awful shamed face!” added Weesy. 
“But ah-ver Nancy it don’t make her nothin’, it seems!” 

“If you’d ever so forgit yourself, Nancy, as to swear 
like you done a bit ago, when you git to Leitersville among 
Lypholate’s grand friends—och, tut, tut!” lamented Mrs. 
Curry. 

“You best watch yourself,” added Yi, “and not make 
ah-ver Lypholate have ashamed yet fur his wife!” 

I was glad to see that though Nancy’s bearing towards 
this family was considerate—as theirs to her was not— 
they were quite powerless to hurt or offend her. She 
remained as unaffected by their criticisms as though they 
had been foolish children. 

It seemed to me that they unconsciously, not deliber¬ 
ately, had adopted Eugene’s slighting attitude towards 
her. They were not intentionally unkind. They actually 
did feel a contempt for a dowerless wife who had not even 
the compensating asset of being a husky, capable house¬ 
hold worker. Had Eugene married a vulgar snob who had 
put on airs to them, they would undoubtedly have re¬ 
spected her profoundly. But for the sort of breeding 
that quite simply and naturally assumed their level, claim¬ 
ing no least superiority to them, they had neither under¬ 
standing nor appreciation. It was wholly lost upon 
them. Was it equally lost upon Eugene? I feared it 
was. 


CHAPTER XIII 


I T was a few days after Eugene’s abject flight that 
a letter came to the farm house announcing an im¬ 
pending visit from his sister, Lottie, accompanied 
by “Professor” Klam, her husband, and Florence, their 
five year old child. 

In spite of the fact that my knee being now almost 
well, and my repaired car having arrived from Columbia, 
I had no least excuse for remaining here any longer, I 
determined, nevertheless, to stay on to meet Mrs. Lottie 
whom the family here and even Nancy seemed too con¬ 
sider very formidable; I might perhaps break the force 
of her heavy impact upon my little friend by injecting 
myself between them. The image I had been led to form 
of the lady made me feel that Nancy needed to be pro¬ 
tected from her. 

“Any objections to my staying on at the farm for a 
while, Nancy?” I asked her as we drove together on the 
Lincoln Highway the first afternoon I had my car back 
again. I had simply picked her up bodily under the 
appalled eyes of Weesy and Mrs. Curry, flung her over 
my shoulder like a bag of potatoes, carried her out of 
the kitchen where for five hours she had been paring 
peaches for canning, deposited her hatless and wearing 
her pink gingham frock, in the car and driven away with 
her before she or any one else had been able to catch their 
breath to protest. 

“They’ll never recover from the shock of this!” she had 
gasped, gurgling with laughter as we sped away. 
“They’ll recount it from now on until they’re gray and 

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feeble! A married woman going out riding with any 
other man than her husband! Your picking me up and 
carrying me! Man-handling me! Oh!” she sighed bliss¬ 
fully, “how they’ll revel in the lurid immorality of it!” 

Her eyes were bright with joy at her deliverance from 
the kitchen, at the soft, warm air, the delicious summer 
odors, the gay sunlight, the swift, smooth gliding through 
space. 

“Well, they can’t blame you” I pointed out. “I over¬ 
powered you.” 

“With sheer brute force!” she exulted. “They’ll de¬ 
cide that you’ve all along been a reckless brigand in dis¬ 
guise! They’ll be worried for my virtue and Eugene’s 
honor!” 

“I’m only sorry,” I said, “that Mrs. Lottie Klam wasn’t 
by to see it!” 

“So am I!” 

“Good! You’re improving! I was beginning to fear 
you’d lost that lively sense of humor I seem to remember 
you used to have. You were a sprightly child, you 
know!” 

“Well, if the Klams didn’t provoke my sense of humor 
nothing under heaven could!” 

It was here that I asked her whether I might stay on. 

“Do you mean have I any objections?” 

“Yes. Have you?” 

“It’s marvelously comforting, Herrick, my dear, to 
have you ’round!—to feel your friendliness brooding over 
me! I’m so deliciously conscious of it every minute! 
But—but I’m so constantly afraid that we’ll forget 
ourselves!” 

“You want me to stay,” I pronounced conclusively. 
“And I’m sure Yi and Weesy would like me to remain 
for the board I pay?” 


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135 


“Yes, they’re making two hundred percent, profit!” 

“Eugene, then, is the only one who doesn’t want me 
here?” 

“It would be almost more than he could bear to sit 
with you at his mother’s table!” 

“And you want to spare him that?” 

“No. For his own soul’s sake, Herrick, I want him 
to have to stand up to it. When one has known real 
shame—as I have,” she faltered, “the sort Eugene feels 
does seem so unnecessary!” 

In my heart I wondered whether Eugene would think 
Nancy’s shame, if he knew of it, a greater embarrassment, 
a worse cross, than he considered his own family. 

“I’d like to stay on, Nancy, to see you through this 
visit of Mrs. Klam. She must be a grenadier!” 

“She’s an army of grenadiers! They all stand round 
for her almost as much as they do for Eugene. Even he 
admires and respects her amazingly. Somehow, I can’t 
manage to be impressed. I’ve tried to be. Eugene ex¬ 
pects me to be. But she just seems to me hopelessly 
stupid and absurd. Of course I don’t tell Eugene that! 
But, Herrick, I’m sure that never before was so much self¬ 
admiration encompassed within one human bosom—and 
an ample bosom at that! You know Lottie really thinks 
she matters to God Almighty; that He’s personally con¬ 
cerned with every detail of her morals and manners and 
highly satisfied with the result of his handiwork! No 
one ever before knew so well as she does just how to keep 
a house clean and sanitary, how to rear a child, how to 
cook and cater, how to dress, how to keep a husband’s 
fidelity; to hear her monologues of self-praise—oh. 
Lord!” 

“This is hopeful! I was afraid you might lie down at 
her feet and let her jump on you! You seem to have 


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developed such a pernicious habit of letting people bully 
you! Is Mrs. Klam’s self-admiration as baseless as that 
consoling illusion usually is?” 

“Well, no, it isn’t. I’m afraid I’d be proud, too, if 
I were so practically efficient as she is. She does all her 
own housework except her washing and she does it so well 
and then guards the beautiful result so carefully that her 
husband has to smoke out of doors and her child may 
never, except under impossible rules, bring a playmate 
into the house, and both her husband and child have to 
remove muddy shoes before stepping on her scrubbed 
kitchen porch (there are slippers in a locked box at the 
foot of the steps). She has a whole set of rules like 
that which they have to live by. One gets the impression 
that she was created by God to serve her house instead 
of her house having been built to serve her. Her favorite 
topic of conversation is her efficient housekeeping—when 
she isn’t telling you what an efficient mother, club woman, 
American, neighbor and church member she is; and if 
you’ll respectfully let her tell you how to do and be all 
that she is, she loves you. But when one looks restive and 
bored and unappreciative, then one becomes anathema 
to her.” 

“But I should think her husband would take to drink 
and her child become imbecile.” 

“Her husband, would you believe it, is as pleased with 
himself as she is with herself! A strutting little turkey- 
cock ! And they both pride themselves on their wise 
judgment in having selected a perfect mate.” 

“Nancy! You’re making this up!” 

“You’ll see for yourself. Next to himself, Elmer ad¬ 
mires Lottie, and next to herself, she admires Elmer.” 

“A very happy arrangement, I must say!” 


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187 


“When they’re not telling you of their own good points* 
they’re recounting each other’s. He approves of every¬ 
thing she most genteelly does and thinks and says. And 
she admires him as much, if not more, than she does 
Eugene. Just imagine!” laughed Nancy, as though the 
very acme of absurdity was to admire any one as much as 
you admired Eugene. “And oh, Herrick!” she went on, 
with a long, deep sigh, “the immaculate purity of their 
moral sentiments! With never a suspicion of their own 
ignorance and stupidity!” 

“But I should think, you know, that Mrs. Klam’s 
neighbors and acquaintances would ridicule some of that 
egotism out of her.” 

“In a little town like Columbia? On the contrary, 
they admire, revere, quote and copy her. How Mrs. Klam 
efficiently cleans out corners with a hairpin or sanitarily 
disposes of garbage or competently washes her own auto¬ 
mobile or averts moths. And of course their village ad¬ 
miration has exaggerated her consciousness of her own 
tiresome virtues until now, to sane people (like me!) her 
effect is so soporific that when she begins to monologue, 
I promptly doze. She doesn’t like me.” 

“It sounds to me suspiciously as though the dislike 
were a little mutual.” 

“No, really, Herrick, I couldn’t rise to anything so 
like interest in Lottie as to dislike her. She simply wear¬ 
ies me and makes me want to get away from her,” 

“I gather from the talk of the family here that she 
has the Pennsylvania Dutch proverbial frugality in rather 
an exaggerated form?” 

“Yes, she and Elmer are both very ‘near,’ as the ‘Dutch 5 
call it, though Lottie calls it being a good manager. 
Next to her own and her husband’s personal superiority. 


138 


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the thing she respects and loves is money. It puzzles 
me so—it’s like an insanity—-the way they feel a deep 
respect for a person just because he’s rich!” 

“Yet you are not tempted to declare your own riches?” 

“ ‘Tempted’? To subject myself to their completely 
changed attitude towards me! If ever they do find out 
I’ve money, I shall flee!” 

“Then I’m tempted to tell them! For I think you 
ought to flee! Your being here is incongruous !” 

“Let me work it out myself, Herrick, and don’t you 
interfere!” she pleaded. “Promise!” 

“I won’t interfere unless I see you going too far in 
self-effacement! There’s a limit to my endurance, if 
there isn’t to yours! But don’t be uneasy, my dear,” 
I laid a reassuring hand on hers as I met the alarm in 
her eyes. “Of course I know it’s your problem—to be 
worked out in your way, not mine. On the whole, then, 
you find the admirable Lottie far less endurable than 
Weesy and Yi and Mrs. Curry?—whom you seem to take 
placidly enough!” 

“Nobody could take Lottie ‘placidly’—she bears down 
on you so! Oh, of course she has her good points; she 
appreciates Eugene; she does love her little girl, though 
she tyrannizes over her to the child’s ruin; she has some 
taste in dress—that is, she’s conventionally stylish. 
Prides herself on her strict conformity to all accepted 
standards.” 

“A standard only has to be accepted to make it right 
and sacred to most people! It’s no wonder, is it, that 
Bernard Shaw thinks this planet must be a lunatic 
asylum for the other planets! Is Lottie’s husband as 
standardized as she is?” 

“He’s freakish rather than standardized. She’s large 
and stately; he is little and fussy. She contents herself 


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with privately comparing herself to her neighbors, to 
their disparagement, while Elmer actively goes after them, 
advises and reproves them, and they think him a busy¬ 
body and a nuisance.” 

“And he’s a musician?”—I was puzzled. 

“He fondly imagines he is. His music is almost the 
worst thing about him—though perhaps that’s going too 
far! But wait until you hear him sing!” 

“God protect me!” 

“God’ll need to! There’s a cabinet organ in the farm 
parlor, you know,” she warned me. “And I ought to 
prepare you, too, for another peculiarity of Elmer’s— 
his mispronouncing nearly every word of more than two 
syllables. How it does make Eugene wince!” 

“What’s the attitude of the Klams towards the family 
at the farm?” 

“Lottie ignores Weesy, tolerates Yi, patronizes her 
mother, snubs me. Elmer advises and scolds us all and 
tells us how exemplary and respectable he and Lottie 
are and she joins in the chorus.” 

“And Lottie resents your callousness towards her per¬ 
fections ?” 

“She considers my failure to be impressed as not only 
inexcusable stupidity, but as insult added to the injury I 
inflicted upon her and Eugene by marrying him when 
he could have married (so she has intimated to me!) a 
girl named Dorothy Renzheimer who lives in Leitersville. 
Did you know her, Herrick?” 

Her tone was casual, but a betraying red crept into 
her face as she spoke. 

“No one in Leitersville could escape knowing Dorothy 
Renzheimer, my dear, she’s such a bouncing, conspicuous 
sort of person, besides being old Leiter’s granddaughter, 
and he's the financial and political boss of the town, who 


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dictates to the Academy Faculty what opinions they’re 
to hold on the origin of species, the immortality of the 
soul, the Treaty of Versailles, West Virginia mines, the 
I. W. W.’s, Soviet Russia, Scott Nearing, Turkey and 
Socialism.” 

“No wonder you couldn’t remain on the Faculty! 
How Eugene can, puzzles me! But about this Dorothy 
Renzheimer—did Eugene—did she—like him?” 

“All the marriageable girls liked him. And some of the 
married ones. He has a fatal attraction for your sex, 
Nancy, and you may as well adjust your mind to that at 
the start. It’s not his fault, of course.” 

“Is Miss Renzheimer—is she attractive, Herrick?” 

“Not to people of taste. She’s rather vulgar and 
tiresome. The only likable thing about her is her quite 
primitive frankness.” 

“Then her only possible asset in Eugene’s—in Lottie’s 
—eyes was her money?” 

“And her position in Leitersville.” 

“Oh, that!” smiled Nancy—and I read in that smile 
how entirely ignorant she was of the great value her hus¬ 
band attached to this thing which from her standpoint 
was so negligible. To her the difference between Dorothy 
Renzheimer, Weesy, Lottie, would be only one of degree, 
not of kind. The people of her own native sphere had 
been of another race. “But if she is like that, Herrick— 
this Miss Renzheimer—how could even Lottie think that 
Eugene might, if he had not been engaged to me, have 
married her?” 

“Of course he could not have, without having first 
become another man from the one everybody takes him! 
for,” I assured her guilefully. 

The slightly troubled look in her eyes cleared up. “Of 
course I know he couldn’t, with his fine ideals, have mar- 


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ried for money, without love or even respect! I was 
typing one of his lectures for him last week, in which he 
says, ‘Aristocracy of the soul is the only true gentility. 
We are all born to the purple spiritually. All, all are 
sons of God.’ That,” she insisted, “is Eugene’s real feel¬ 
ing. Isn’t it fine? He does say such fine things, 
doesn’t he?” 

“He does.” 

“And he simply does not realize,” she added gravely, 
“how bad money would be for him. He thinks it would 
elevate him above all sordidness—‘release his soul,’ he 
says. If I believed it would, I’d manage in some way to 
give him mine. But I can’t think that it would.” 

“Nancy!” I abruptly asked her, “do you believe that 
I have your best welfare at heart?” 

“Of course I do, Herrick,” she answered with a grate¬ 
ful squeeze of my arm. 

“And that I’m some years older and more experienced 
and more worldly-wise than you?” 

“Yes? Well?” 

“Then promise me solemnly that you will never give up 
the control of your money to Eugene.” 

She was thoughtfully silent for a moment. “You 
mean,” she asked, “for his sake or for mine?” 

“For yours!” I exploded. “Except as ‘his quest for 
his true self’ affects you , my dear, I don’t care a damn 
about his true self! What I do care about is that you 
shall keep in our own hands your means of self¬ 
protection.” 

“Self-protection? Against what, Herrick?” she asked 
in a subdued tone. 

“Against slavery to another person’s ideas of life that 
are not your ideas and never can be! Against stultify¬ 
ing and unnecessary household drudgery—and unneces- 


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sary deprivation of comforts. Your own income is your 
only protection against all this!” 

“Oh! You misjudge Eugene!” she said with a little 
catch of her breath. “I need no better protection than 
his love!” 

“Promise me!” 

“I admit that Eugene has some things to learn—and 
so have I. We’re teaching each other. Marriage means 
so much adjusting and compromising that sometimes I 
wonder that any marriage at all can stand!” 

“Your promise, Nancy, that you will never yield up 
your control of your money.” 

“That’s such a sordid idea for you to have, Herrick!” 

“We’re dealing with a sordid clan—a sordid condition. 
Your promise—come!” 

“Well—I promise. But I insist it’s not for my self¬ 
protection but for Eugene’s own sake that Pm afraid to 
give him my money—or to let him know I have money.” 

“Have it so, my dear. But remember I have your 
promise .” 

We drove for a while in a thoughtful silence. But very 
soon we began to chat again, for we were discovering, 
Nancy and I, in these days of Eugene’s absence, how very 
much we had to say to each other; how much we had in 
common—our background, our memories, our tastes, our 
instincts, our ideas. We talked just now of our child¬ 
hood, of her mother (but that was precarious ground) 
of the authors to whom we had become addicted, the poets 
and prophets that had had an influence in shaping us; 
and I was thrilled to find that she was still, as of 
old, the only completely companionable girl I had ever 
known. 

Her family and mine had lived for generations as 
neighbors and closest friends and the comradeship which 


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through this propinquity had grown up between her and 
me and had been the chief j oy of our youth, had, we were 
now learning, lost nothing during our three years’ separa¬ 
tion, but rather had gained new points of contact and 
become enriched and deepened through our wider ex¬ 
periences of life. 

That afternoon we seemed to come very close. It was 
an hour never to be forgotten by either of us. 

It fascinated me to watch the change that came over 
Nancy under the spell of our unrestrained communion— 
to see her weariness disappear, the anxious, wistful look 
in her eyes give way to placid contentment, her whole 
being grow softly radiant—the effect on my steering was 
noticeable! 

It was not until the hour drew near for the early farm 
house supper and I had turned the car to go back, that 
she began to wilt again. 

“Oh, dear, it will be so tiresome to hear them go on 
about this!” 

“Would Eugene share their disapproval of this immoral 
tete-a-tete?” 

“I don’t know. He—he’d think I ought not to have 
deserted his mother and Weesy at the peach paring.” 

“Because he doesn’t want you to destroy the chance of 
a welcome here in your future summers! If you’re wise, 
you’ll make them forbid you to darken their doors! I’ll 
help you—we’ll flirt under their very eyes—so that they’ll 
order you off the premises!” 

“I wish,” she sighed, “they’d order me off before Lot¬ 
tie swoops down upon us! Not that I mind her —but 
the terrific preparations we shall have to make!—and 
they’ll expect me to help with it all—the cleaning, cook¬ 
ing, baking, scrubbing, sweeping, scouring!—oh, darn- 
gosh-devil-damn-MZ, how I hate it!” 


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“Why on earth don’t you go away while Eugene is 
gone?” 

“I’d have to account for the money it takes.” 

“Didn’t he leave you any?” 

“He—didn’t see that I’d need any money; any more 
than the little he thinks I have left of my own savings.” 

“Join him at Leitersville. I’ll take you in, in my car.” 

“I—I don’t know that he’s there,” she falteringly ad¬ 
mitted, flushing with embarrassment in acknowledging her 
ignorance of his whereabouts. “We—we respect each 
other’s right to personal privacy, Herrick. We—I don’t 
ask questions.” 

“Well, if he respects your right to privacy as much as 
you respect his, then go away and don’t account to him 
any more than he accounts to you. I tell you, my dear, 
he needs some wifely discipline!” 

“Herrick don’t you think that since I’ve married into 
this family, I must try to be one of them? Wouldn’t 
it be selfish of me to run away from all this work they’ll 
have to do for Lottie’s visit with her husband and child?” 

“I can’t see that it’s any least concern of yours, 
Nancy.” 

“You’ll see how offended they’ll be because I deserted 
this afternoon!” 

“Let them take it out of me, then, for spiriting you 
away. What business have they to expect you to pare 
their peaches for them when you pay your board?” 

“But there’s Eugene’s board, too, which is not paid 
for.” 

“Good heavens, they don’t expect you to work for his 
board, do they?” 

“Yes if he doesn’t pay them anything. I’m afraid to 
offer them any more than I’m now paying, for I can see 
how puzzled they are at my savings going so far! I 


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think they are beginning to be just a little suspicious 
about the extraordinary elasticity of that small teaching 
salary of mine! I’m in constant dread of their letting 
it out to Eugene that I’m paying my board. All this 
duplicity is of course disgusting!” she added drearily. 

“It is!” I agreed. “And, as I’ve told you, you can’t 
keep it up. For Eugene’s salvation as well as for your 
own, you’ve got to stop getting down on all fours before 
him! Stand up to him, Nancy! Slavery is almost as bad 
for the soul of the master as for that of the slave!” 

“What nonsense, Herrick!—to talk of my slavery to 
Eugene!” 

“It’s bad for both of you and you must put an end 
to it!” 

“He and I will soon be in our own home and then,” she 
said hopefully, “things will of course be quite different.” 

“Not unless you take a stand.” 

“I’m trying to adapt myself, Herrick—to compromise 
with—” 

“But you do it all—all the adapting and compromis¬ 
ing ! Let Eugene do a little of it!” 

She was silent. Every mile that took us nearer the 
farm found our spirits falling like a barometer. 

“I should think,” I said, “that even Weesy would balk 
at working so hard for Lottie whom I gather she dis¬ 
likes quite whole-heartedly.” 

“Weesy’s awfully scared of Lottie! Thinks she’s the 
grandest lady in the land! And Lottie ignores poor 
Weesy as though she were a worm!” 

“Does Lottie ignore you, too?” 

“If she only would! No, she labors to impress me. 
And when she sees how her labors are in vain, she con¬ 
cludes that Eugene has made the most lamentable mis¬ 
take of his life! I’m not only poor and obscure and 


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incompetent; I’m not a loudly-professing Christian 
Church member or a hundred percent. American patriot 
who thinks that forcing an embittered alien to kiss our 
flag on his knees will create in his heart a loving loyalty 
to that flag! I’m not, it seems, properly concerned 
about what other people think of me, about appearances; 
I have no reverence; I don’t stand in awe of my betters; 
I believe in outlandish things that genteel ladies never 
dream of believing—” 

“How about Eugene’s beliefs? Does she think them 
‘outlandish’?” 

“She thinks he has ‘beautiful thoughts.’ I find, Her¬ 
rick,” added Nancy, perplexed, “so many people don’t 
get hold of the radicalism of Eugene’s ideas at all.” 

“He whitewashes the radicalism so that it’s invisible 
to all but the initiated.” 

While she considered this in silence, we turned a corner 
and the farm house came in view. 


CHAPTER XIV 


T HE Klams’ attitude towards me when upon their 
arrival I was first presented to them in the 
“front room,” seemed slightly aggressive; as 
though they rather resented me as an unwarranted in¬ 
trusion. I suspected that their ground for this was the 
same thing that had driven Eugene from home—embar¬ 
rassment before a sophisticated stranger for the crudity 
of the farm house and its inmates. 

“Professor” Klam, a prancing little man with a neat, 
small black mustache, a red necktie, and a self-important 
air, put me in my place at once as an inferior; while Mrs. 
Klam, a big, handsome, very well dressed woman, tol¬ 
erantly condescended to me. 

However, when the elder Mrs. Curry almost immedi¬ 
ately handed out to them the one fact concerning me 
that seemed always in her mind, it appeared to change 
the atmosphere with surprising promptness. 

“He pays Yi and Weesy twenty dollars a week yet! 
Yes, mind if he don’t! He don’t think nothin’ of that!” 
she said, undeterred by my presence from a discussion of 
my peculiarities. “See that there ottomobile out in the 
road standin’? That ain’t no sich a common Ford car— 
that there’s sich a Packard car that costs awful ex¬ 
pensive, Lypholate says. Well, that there car’s hisn. 
Money’s awful plenty with him, Lypholate says. Ly¬ 
pholate knowed him at Leitersville.” 

“And,” added Weesy, “he wears all silk shirts—ain’t, 
Mister?” appealing to me for confirmation of the in¬ 
credible. “And sich a all-white suit he calls hny 

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flannens’ (not meanin’ winter underwear, mind you!) and 
he wears a silk urn -brella that rolls up that nice and neat 
and skinny! When you think how easy a white suit 
gets dirty, it wonders me that a man would spend fur 
one.” 

“But money ain’t nothin’ to him, seems!” added Mrs. 
Curry, shaking her head hopelessly over such an un¬ 
explainable phenomenon, while the Klams stood about in 
awkward embarrassment at all this shameless frankness. 
“I used to think ah-ver Lypholate dressed too expensive,” 
Elypholate’s mother continued, “but when I see the folks 
he travels with!” 

“Has Eugene come home yet?” asked Mrs. Klam hast¬ 
ily, evidently anxious to cut short these painful per¬ 
sonalities. 

“No, he ain’t come home yet.” 

“I hope his wife ain’t been so inconsid-urt as to go 
gadding off too, just when you’re got the exter work of 
a boarder?” inquired Professor Klam officiously, recall¬ 
ing to my mind what Nancy had said about his being de¬ 
tested in Columbia as a busy-body. 

“No, she’s in the kitchen out, settin’ the table fur me,” 
answered Mrs. Curry. “I guess she’d be runnin’, too, 
if she had the money. But I guess Lypholate didn’t let 
none with her. Well, I’ll let yous here, now, with ah-ver 
boarder; yous kin all entertain yourselfs till I make din¬ 
ner on the table oncet.” 

The abrupt transformation from chilling aloofness to 
smiling affability as Mr. and Mrs. Klam graciously in¬ 
vited me to go with them to the front porch until we 
should be summoned to dinner, struck me as lacking in 
delicate shading. 

Florence, their five year old child, spotlessly robed in 
white, looking like a mechanical wax doll, was carefully 


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placed, as though she were breakable bric-a-brac, on a 
cushion on the porch step at her mother’s feet and told 
to sit still and not get dirty or mussed—which instruc¬ 
tions the little girl, with a look of self-conscious virtue, 
obeyed so passively that, despite my weakness for children, 
I couldn’t feel interested in her. 

It was immediately apparent, however, that in her par¬ 
ents’ eyes she was an altogether admirable product of 
their own superior excellence. 

“No need to tell our Florence, Mamma, to keep clean,” 
said the “Professor” boastfully as we all sat about on 
the big porch rocking-chairs. “She hates a speck of dirt 
on herself as much as you do!”—upon which the child 
sat up more primly than before, looking a degree more 
complacently virtuous. 

“Well, the reason she hates dirt so much,” Mrs. Klam 
explained to me, “is that I’ve never left her run round 
and get dirty like some childern. Never once since she 
was born has our little Florence been what you might 
call really dirty.” 

“You see, Mr. Appleton, my wife ain’t like so many of 
your stenerous modern women that want to encrouch 
on man’s sphere and neglect their homes. With so many 
women these days, you know, if it ain’t politics it’s card 
parties or even mebby gambling yet! Oh, to be sure, 
Mamma casts her vote like other ones, that’s taken for 
granted, and of course a card party now and then, that’s 
only reasonable and we’re both of us always perfectly 
reasonable. I always believe in being reasonable in all 
things and not going to extremes. But Lottie is one 
of these mothers, don’t you know, that keeps on the job. 
No neglected child round our happy home, left run as 
she pleases whilst her mother’s out to card parties or 
wearin’ out good shoe leather runnin’ round shoppin’ all 


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day or to political meetings! I bet you there ain’t any 
child, I don’t care if it’s born in a millionaire’s home or 
not, that gets the care and attention that our Florence 
gets!” 

As I contemplated Mrs. Klam’s large proportions, too 
florid complexion, rather steely blue eyes, firm lips, and 
the air of self-satisfaction that emanated from her pres¬ 
ence, I felt that Florence’s doom—a crushed and color¬ 
less personality—was a foregone conclusion. 

“When I see how some children are left run!” she took 
up her husband’s eulogy of her exemplary motherhood, 
“and how their maural training is not paid any atten¬ 
tion to and they’re left form untidy habits just because 
their parents won’t sacrifice themselves to train them, 
well, 1 couldn’t neglect my dooty like that! I couldn’t 
say my prayers if I did! My dooty always did come first 
with me, didn’t it, E1P—before my pleasures. Nobody 
could ever say it of me that I put my own comfort be¬ 
fore my dooty to Husband and Child and Home, could 
they, El?” 

“Nobody’d better say it to me, anyhow!” responded 
El threateningly. “I wouldn’t hesitate to tell them my 
opinion of them!” 

“No, El never does hesitate,” Mrs. Klam again ex¬ 
plained to me, “to speak his mind. And it makes no 
difference who it’s to either. He’d as soon tell the Gov¬ 
ernor or our Congressman or Mr. Jacob Leiter or any 
one at all, what he thinks about them as he’d tell the 
poorest laboring man! That’s the way he is. He never 
stands back for any one, no matter who.” 

“Why should I?” inquired El smartly. “I don’t admit 
any one’s better’n me, no matter what he’s got. An 
American citizen’s any one’s equal. A hundred percent. 


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American citizen, you can’t go higher. That’s honor 
enough for me anyhow.” 

“Then it naturally follows that you admit no Amer¬ 
ican citizen as your inferior—‘even the poorest laboring 
man’ ?” 

“Well, I ain’t a Bolshevist—or a Socialist,” he de¬ 
murred. 

“No, I see you’re not. There’s no Socialist system 
that does not recognize and provide for what seem to 
Socialists (if not to you, Mr. Klam) to be natural in¬ 
equalities.” 

“You’re mistaken; Socialists want to reduce every¬ 
thing and everybody to a dead level of equality,” af¬ 
firmed Klam quite conclusively; “they want to wipe out 
the ‘natural inequalities’ to which you made reference 
to—which any one can see ain’t sensible.” 

“It’s only unnatural and artificial inequalities they 
want to wipe out. Didn’t you bring overalls for Florence 
with you, Mrs. Klam, so that she can run round the farm 
and have some fun?” 

“Overalls! My dotter always has and always shall 
wear skirts, Mr. Appleton! I don’t even put rompers on 
her, they’re so much like pants! I don’t approve of those 
immodest things for little girls. I think it’s often the 
first downward maural step!” 

“This thing of girls wearin’ pants, it’s not nice,” af¬ 
firmed Elmer frowning. 

“And I never leave Florence sit straddled on her hobby 
horse, but sideways,” added Mrs. Klam. “I try to keep 
her little mind clean and her thotts pure and wholesome. 
I’ve taught her never to listen to dirty stories if other 
childern try to tell her any. And never to repeat any 
smutty words she hears.” 


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“She’s never heard a dirty story in her life,” Elmei 4 
bragged. “To be sure, we’re very careful, too, who she 
plays with. We don’t leave her play with any childem 
till we’ve inquahr’d if they’re Christian-raised and good- 
mannered and clean-minded.” 

“You can’t be too particular who your child associates 
with,” said Mrs. Klam. “And El’s just as particular as 
I am. Most fathers don’t concern themselves. He’s 
one father in a hundred, if I do say it.” 

“And I guess I ain’t such a poor husband either, as 
husbands go; eh, wifie?” Elmer demanded in a tone that 
expressed no modest, anxious doubt as to the impending 
reply. 

“ You’ll do,” she smiled coquettishly. “El’s a husband 
this way,” she elucidated it; “he appreciates his home. 
He certainly does apreciate how nice I always keep things 
and how I raise Florence. And he isn’t one to run round 
and seek his pleasures outside his home.” 

“When I seek my pleasure, my wife seeks it along with 
me. When I go to a movie, she’s right there along. Or 
a card party or an auto-trip or a day at Atlantic City, 
she’s my companion and I’m hers.” 

“So many husbands don’t appreciate a wife’s efforts. 
But El isn’t like that. He always seems to think,” Mrs. 
Klam smiled again coquettishly, “that no one can do 
things quite like his little wife does!” 

As she was almost twice his size, this kittenish playful¬ 
ness was a bit weird. 

“I don’t think it, I know it!” maintained Elmer as to 
an opposing army. “If you can find another home con¬ 
ducted more scrupulous than mine is, show it to me! 
Leave Florence speak her piece for Mr. Appleton, 
Mamma.” 

“All right, El,” Mrs. Klam, to my consternation, ac- 


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quiesced. “Come, Florence, stand up and speak jour 
new hymn for the gentleman.” 

Too well trained in perfect obedience to demur, the 
child came primly forward and, with a stiff little bow 
that suggested a crude mechanism needing oil, she began 
perfunctorily to repeat with neat precision, to her par¬ 
ents’ utter astonishment and mortification, 

“ ‘Old Dan Tucker he got drunk, 

He fell in the fire and he kicked up a chunk; 

A coal—’ ” 

“Florence!” exclaimed her scandalized parents in unison 
—and Florence mechanically came to a dead stop. 

“What on earth are you saying? Where did you 
learn that naughty piece?” 

“That’s the hymn Aunt Nancy teached me.” 

“Taught me, Florence—say ‘taught me,’ ” commanded 
her mother. 

“Taught me.” 

“Aunt Nancy hadn’t ought to teach you such things!” 
cried her father. “The idea! We’ll have to keep you 
away from Aunt Nancy if she spoils you like that!” 

“I’m not at all surprised!” said Mrs. Klam s.tiffly, 
looking like the Day of Judgment. “Trying deliberately 
to corrupt the little clean mind of a child with a ribald 
drinking song! No, I’m not at all surprised! Indeed 
Florence shall be kept away from her Aunt Nancy!” 

“It’s a nursery rhyme, as of course you know, and not 
a drinking song,” I ventured to put in. 

“But I’m very careful what rhymes and stories I leave 
Florence hear,” protested Mrs. Klam. “Some of Mother 
Goose I wouldn’t leave her hear for anything; and indeed 
I think all of Mother Goose is so silly and has no mean¬ 
ing any how, that I don’t see that it does a child any 


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good—it’s not at all helpful or educative,” she reasoned. 
“And lots of fairy stories, like such as Bluebeard, I 
wouldn’t leave her listen to.” 

“Mamma uses her intelligent judgment about what 
Florence dare hear read to her,” said Elmer. “Too many 
parents don’t give attention to what their children hear 
read. That’s not Mamma’s way, leave me tell you!” 

“Now, Florence, speak the hymn Mamma taught you 
—about ‘When doomed to death—’ ” 

Florence tried once more. 

“ ‘When doomed to death, the apostle lay 
At night in Herod’s dungeon cell, 

He combed his hair with a wagon wheel 
And died with a toothache in his heel.’ ” 

I shouted such a laugh that the mechanical child ac¬ 
tually started; but Elmer, seeing his wife’s grim dis¬ 
pleasure, bit his lip hard to suppress his own inclination 
to laugh. 

“That will do, Florence. Mamma’s not pleased with 
you at all. You can go and sit down. And you can’t 
have any dessert at dinner.” 

The child’s lips quivered, tears filled her eyes and she 
began to whimper. 

“Florence!” warned her mother solemnly—and the 
whimpering ceased abruptly, as at the press of a button. 

“I never leave her cry,” Mrs. Klam said. “She’s been 
trained not to from little up.” 

I caught the child to me as she was returning to her 
cushion, set her on my knee and, to divert her from her 
distress, showed her my watch with chimes. 

“Don’t leave her hold it, she might drop it,” warned 
Mrs. Klam. “I never leave El give her his watch to 
hold that I gave him for a wedding present.” 


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“You bet I’m careful of that watch! If I’d lose that 
watch, I’d lose my home!” declared Elmer, upon which 
he and his wife laughed and laughed again with prolonged 
enjoyment of his humor. 

“You bet I’d never have dare to face Lottie again with¬ 
out that watch!” he expanded the joke delightedly, while 
I made the chimes ring for Florence’s entertainment. 

“I take it, Mr. Appleton,” he turned to me when the 
joke appeared to have been exhausted, “that you’re a 
perfessional man?” 

“What profession do you ‘take it’?” I asked. 

“Well, now,” he said, regarding me speculatively, “I 
couldn’t just to place you there. Not in my perfession, 
I take it. I’m a perfessional musician myself. Great¬ 
est art on the map, music! Ain’t it the art though? 
Got all the other arts skint, if you ask me! No, you 
ain’t a musician, I take it. A lawyer mebby? No,” he 
quickly decided, looking perplexed. “Don’t know as I 
can place you ezackly. And I’m generally pretty sharp 
at sizing up a man. Get his number generally as soon 
as I look at him! You ain’t a college proff ? No? And 
you don’t look to be a business man—I’m acquainted 
with all the gents of our Chamber of Commerce in 
Columby and you ain’t their style.” 

“Thank God for that!” 

“Oh, but they’re our best citizens, the men of our 
Chamber of Commerce!” 

“Who make our great country what it is, heh? Yes, 
I know what disinterested ‘best citizens’ they are—how 
earnestly they consider and act for the best interests of 
the few at the cost of the many l—and oppose every meas¬ 
ure that, however it might benefit the general public, 
might shave off a few of their own special privileges. 
‘Best citizens’!” I laughed. 


156 


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Professor Klam looked at me doubtfully. “But I 
gathered from mother-in-law’s and sister-in-law’s remarks 
that you were one of those same best citizens who enjoy 
‘special privileges.’ But you sure don’t sound like one! 
Sounds more like the way these sore heads talk that can’t 
get up in the world! Now me, I never grudge other men 
their money. I’m glad to see ’em pile it up. Looks 
good to me! Shows this is for sure the land o’ opportu¬ 
nity and some day I’ll mebby get the chance to make my 
little pile!” 

“How? By the service you give to society through 
teaching music?” 

“No such slow way for mine! Music’s all right for an 
art or a perfesh, but not as a money maker. Specula¬ 
tion’s the thing! Cute speculation. I got some dough 
laid back to use any time I can get the dope on some deal 
that’s a get-rich-quick stunt. See?” 

“I see.” 

“I thought it was only the onsuccessful that slammed 
our American institootions, Mr. Appleton, so I’m sup- 
prised at you, you being as well-fixed as mother-in-law 
and sister-in-law led me to doodooce. I’m a hundred 
percent. American myself and I think this country’s the 
best Gawd ever made!—and the man that don’t like it, 
especially your dirty foreigners, better get—” 

“—out-and-go-back-home-where-it’s-worse,” I inter¬ 
rupted. “Can’t you be more original than that, Profes¬ 
sor? Next thing you’ll be handing me out that other 
bromide—that we’re not going to tolerate in this fair 
land of ours any man that’s so unintelligent and such a 
poor citizen as to be dissatisfied with our government— 
a government where senators and congressman exchange 
favors in a cold-blooded give and take for their own 
constituents and their own personal interests; a system 


THE SNOB 


157 


of rotten deals!—our noble law makers voting for tariff 
schedules which they know to be a wholesale robbery of 
the public—‘getting theirs while the getting is good’— 
dishonest incompetents without vision, without states¬ 
manship ! How long are the American people going to be 
such sodden asses as to put up with it?” 

“Gee, ain’t you bitter though! Evidently you ain’t a 
Harding Republican,” said the professor considering me 
thoughtfully, the instinctive disapproval he felt for my 
sentiments modified by the fact (which he had been led to 
believe) that I belonged to the very class whose “special 
privileges” I assailed. 

“But I can’t see,” he added, “that the Democrats are 
any more pertikkler. Look at Wilson’s Admin—” 

“I prefer not to, it would spoil my dinner.” 

“Every time the Democrats get in they near leave the 
country go to perdiction!” 

“El!” Mrs. Klam reproved him, “that’s as good as 
swearing—perdition means —you know!” 

“But that’s why I used ‘perdiction’ instead of that 
other word, Mamma, in front of Florence.” 

Mrs. Klam drew my attention to this parental thought¬ 
fulness. “Well, you wouldn’t find many fathers think¬ 
ing that far, now would you, Mr. Appleton?” 

“Most fathers,” added Elmer, before I could reply, 
“don’t stop at saying anything at all in front of their 
childern. But I ain’t that kind of a parent! I always 
think twice before I speak in front of Florence.” 

“And then to have my sister-in-law try to spoil Flor¬ 
ence for me!” Mrs. Klam said indignantly. 

“Yes, Nancy sure does try to exert a friv-u-lous in- 
floonce over little Florence!” added Elmer, also in¬ 
dignantly. 

“And here I’d been hoping that when we lived in Leiters- 


158 


THE SNOB 


ville,” said Mrs. Klam, “that I could let Florence with 
her Aunt Nancy whenever El and I wanted to go a little; 
if, for instance, we felt like going to a movie or to a card 
party or to make a call or so on our neighbors. But 
dear me, if I ever did let her with Nancy, I’d be worried 
every minute, wondering what badness she was teaching 
her!—things no nicely raised child ought to hear! So 
of course I can’t ever let her with Nancy when El and I 
want to go.” 

“No, you’ll have to forego the privilege, certainly, of 
using Mrs. Eugene as your child’s nurse,” I said sym¬ 
pathetically. “You’ll be driven to taking Florence with 
you to the movies.” 

“But we’re very careful what movies we take her along 
to,” Elmer assured me. 

“I’d be ashamed to be seen taking a little innocent 
child along to some movies I’ve seen already,” said Mrs. 
Klam. 

“Oh, but now, Mamma, I don’t know as we should feel 
ashamed —very nice people have their childern along.” 

Mrs. Klam thoughtfully conceded, “Yes, that’s so; I 
guess we wouldn’t need to feel just to say ashamed, so 
long as we saw nice people there with their childern. And 
to be sure, some of the pictures are quite educational 
and instructive. Now here last night there were some 
pictures of hell taken from a book called ‘Dante’s Inferno’ 
that would be good for any Christian-raised child to 
see.” 

Professor Klam frowned intelligently. “Now let’s see, 
who was it, Mamma, that wrote that book, ‘Dante’s 
Inferno’?” he asked. 

“I think Dante’s the author’s name, El, and he wrote 
this book called ‘Dante’s Inferno.’ ” 

“His latest?” 


THE SNOB 159 

“But he’s not living any more, El. Don’t you remem¬ 
ber it showed a picture of ‘Dante’s Death’?” 

“I must have dozed off just then. Apt to get drowsy 
except when the funnies are on. Die recently?” 

“Well, I—he was a foreigner,” said Mrs. Klam doubt¬ 
fully. “A Spaniard. Do you know when he died, Mr. 
Appleton?” 

“He’s been dead quite a while; since 1321 a. d.” 

“Oh, a classic writer,” nodded Elmer briskly. 

Mrs. Edam rather abruptly changed the subject. “It’s 
to be hoped,” she sighed, “that my poor brother will 
remain childless, for it certainly would be hard on a man 
as fine as what he is to see his children raised so un¬ 
cultured and crude as what Nancy would raise hers— 
teaching them drinking songs yet! You know what a 
wonderfully fine man Brother is, Mr. Appleton! A man 
that could have married so much better and—oh, well!” 
she broke off mournfully, “it’s done now and can’t be 
helped!” 

“ ‘Of all sa-ad words of tongue or pen, the sa-addest 
are that it might have ben,’ ” quoted Elmer feelingly. 
“Ye-es, I fear Brother-in-law sure did throw himself 
away when he picked his wife! Unsuitable match every 
way you look at it—soash-ly, fynansh-ly, intellec-shly, 
maur-ly. Now me, when I picked my wife, I showed judg¬ 
ment! Heh, Mamma?” 

“Oh, El!” Mrs. Klam smilingly protested. “But 
Eugene didn’t ‘pick’ his wife, El, she picked him and 
worked on his tender feelings to make him marry her all 
of a sudden before he really knew what he was doing!” 

“Yes, it ain’t credulous that Brother-in-law would have 
been so blind as to what he owed himself and his position 
if he hadn’t o’ been you might say worked on. She won’t 
even make him a good housekeeper.” 


160 


THE SNOB 


“Even a good housekeeper, El!” protested Mrs. Klam. 
“I consider that the chief essential for a wife! And you 
say ‘even a good housekeeper’!” 

“But still it might be overlooked a little that she ain’t 
a good housekeeper if she’d brought him money or high 
society or even intellec-s/mZ-ty and high maurals. But 
when she’s got none of ’em and still can’t housekeep—” 

“Not one of those qualities, El, would make up,” firmly 
maintained Mrs. Klam, “for poor housekeeping, which 
can’t be overlooked in a wife however high her station 
or large her fortune or great her intellect or pure her 
maurals.” 

“Well, to be sure, I wouldn’t stand for poor house¬ 
keeping, no matter what else my wife brought me,” Elmer 
gave in. 

“And the worst thing about her, Mr. Appleton,” Mrs. 
Klam sorrowfully added, “is she don’t seem to feel how 
infer-or she is to my brother. You know what my brother 
is. Well, she acts just as if she was perfectly worthy of 
him!—where she ought to be humble and grateful!” 

“Grateful? What for?” I asked. 

“Why,” she explained, a shade of impatience in her 
tone at my dullness, “for being the wife of such a man as 
Brother, when she couldn’t rightly have looked to marry¬ 
ing a man in his position. But she just takes it as a 
matter of course! Won’t even leave me help her, as I 
so gladly would, to fit herself better to fill her social posi¬ 
tion as his wife. I could help her so much with my ad¬ 
vice—I’ve gone out so much in society in Columbia. But 
the trouble with Nancy is she don’t see she needs any 
advice. If I offer her any, she’s just as likely as not 
to laugh! Yes, laugh yet! To think of Brother Eugene 
marrying such a light-minded person and him what 
he is!” 


THE SNOB 


161 


“He has the best of the bargain in one point, however,” 
I said, lifting Florence from my knee and rising; “his 
wife has not endowed him with five in-laws to love him 
and be kind to him!” 

And with a smile and a little ceremonious bow, I 
strolled away to go in search of Nancy—leaving them 
to digest it. 


CHAPTER XV 


I FOUND her carrying chairs from the “front room” 
to the long dinner table laid in the kitchen. She 
had been working since daybreak and was looking 
fagged. 

“Go and sit down,” I ordered her, taking a chair 
from her. “How many more of these do you want car¬ 
ried out?” 

“Two. Oh, I’m tired,” she sighed, sinking upon the 
settee against the wall. “Would it be very low-down, 
Herrick,” she asked as I returned from my task and sat 
down beside her, “to plot with you to kidnap me right 
after dinner and take me motoring, so that I can escape 
the awful dish washing and clearing up?” 

“You and that pitiable child, Florence, are going to 
be snitched away under their very noses directly after 
dinner,” I assured her. “Let Mrs. Klam help with the 
work—it’s her mother’s house. Are you weak-minded, 
Nancy, to let that husky woman sit about and take her 
comfort while you drudge for her and her family? I’ve 
no patience with you, my dear!” 

“But both she and Eugene are always treated as very 
grand company. Lottie never lifts a finger to help when 
she visits here.” 

“And you fall right in line with Weesy and Mrs. Curry 
and abjectly work yourself weary for her and her little 
shrimp of a husband!” 

“Not for them; I can’t see old Mrs. Curry and Weesy 
so overworked, Herrick.” 

“If Mrs. Klam can stand it—her own mother—” 

162 


THE SNOB 


163 


“What she can stand is irrelevant, my dear. I shall 
feel a pig, running away after dinner! But I’m awfully 
tired! And then there’s the waiting on the table—” 

“You are not going to play waitress to Mr. and Mrs. 
Klam if I have to tie you up!” 

“How can you take the Klams so seriously, my dear? 
They’re not the least little bit on my mind. Weesy 
can’t serve the dinner alone and if I don’t help, Mrs. 
Curry will.” 

“Mrs. Klam would sit still and let her mother wait on 
her?” 

“She’s done that all her life.” 

“Well, you shan’t wait on her and that’s flat ! If you 
try it. I’ll make a scene. I warn you!” 

“Herrick!” she fearfully whispered, “you will be care¬ 
ful not to betray —” 

“I shan’t care what I betray if you dare to wait on 
that dinner table!” 

In spite of the fear in her eyes, she suddenly laughed. 
“You who believe in the dignity of labor! And you call 
Eugene inconsistent!” 

“But it’s your waiting on that Klam family that I 
won’t tolerate!” 

fiC You compliment them too much. Why, Herrick, 
they’re as negligible as clams. I’m afraid that’s almost 
a pun!” 

“I’ll overlook even a pun if you’ll promise not to wait 
on the table.” 

It was a few moments later, when I was making 
Nancy laugh almost merrily by my account of Florence’s 
weird combination of John the Baptist and Old Dan 
Tucker, that Weesy, hot and tired, hurrying in from the 
kitchen with a great platter of stewed chicken, turned 
upon Nancy in sullen resentment. 


164 


THE SNOB 


“You’re got time to set down to talk and laugh and 
enjoy yourself, ain’t?—just when dinner must be dished 
up!” 

I realized, if poor Weesy did not, that the bitterness 
she felt was not provoked at all by Nancy’s defection, 
but by the presence of the Klams who, after causing her 
to work so hard all day, would reward her by ignoring 
her; and she, being too overawed by them to rebel, was 
moved to take it out on Nancy by whom she was not at 
all overawed. 

I laid a detaining hand upon Nancy as she would have 
risen. “Sit still—I’ll help—you’re too tired.” 

It was against the most embarrassed and vehement 
protests from both Weesy and Mrs. Curry that I car¬ 
ried in from the “summer kitchen” vegetables, pies, 
pickles, jellies, bread, cake—God knows what! 

“It’s a wonder, Nancy,” Mrs. Curry the while up¬ 
braided her daughter-in-law who rested from her labors 
on the settee, “that it wouldn’t give you a shamed face 
to leave ah-ver boarder help whiles you set!” 

“But she’s a boarder too,” I could not help throwing 
in. 

“Yes, well, but that’s different, too, again,” argued 
Mrs. Curry. 

Nancy, undisturbed by their reproaches, amused her¬ 
self by ordering me about as I tried to help—to the 
further consternation of Weesy and Mrs. Curry, who 
seemed to consider that a man who paid twenty dollars 
a week unprotestingly for board, was one to be treated 
as a Sultan by serfs. 

“Put the cake at this end,” she directed me. “The 
bread over there. The cream in the middle by the sugar 
bowl—to be in reach of all, don’t you see? Now hurry 


THE SNOB 


165 


up and bring in the water and fill the glasses—watch out, 
you’re slopping the table cloth—don’t you dare to! 
Yes, put the pitcher there. Donkey! Your elbow’s in 
the butter!” 

“Nancy!” whispered Mrs. Curry aghast. “He’ll up 
and leave if you sass him so! Get up and work your¬ 
self and don’t expec’ him to do it! The wery idea!” 

A meditative look had come into Nancy’s eyes that 
made me curious. “Do you know,” she said in a low 
voice, when the big dinner bell had been rung and we 
were for a moment alone while waiting for the guests to 
come in from the porch, “Eugene would think himself 
outraged if I sat still and let him do what you’ve just 
done ?” 

“But you would not feel outraged if he sat still and 
let you do it! If you ask me, I think Love seems to have 
robbed you of your common sense! You spoil Eugene 
as ridiculously as the rest of this family do!” 

The entrance of the Klams, leading Florence between 
them checked her reply. But her gravely thoughtful ex¬ 
pression as we took our places, made me hopeful. 

“Well, well, well, this smells fragrant!” Professor 
Klam exulted greedily, his eyes glittering as he surveyed 
the loaded table. “You sure are a good purvider, Yi—- 
that I must give you.” 

When Nancy with the rest of us sat down to the table 
instead of standing by with Weesy as she was evidently 
expected to do, to fill our coffee cups, replenish the 
vegetable dishes, pour the water, cut more bread, they 
all regarded her with displeased surprise. 

As soon as little Florence, at her mother’s direction, 
had “asked the blessing,” Mrs. Curry rose heavily from 
her chair. 


166 


THE SNOB 


“I’ll help Weesy if Nancy won’t,” she wearily an¬ 
nounced; and as Nancy would have yielded and risen, I 
interposed. 

“Sit down, Mrs. Curry,” I said to the old woman. 
“We two husky men are not going to let you wait on us, 
are we, Professor? It’s up to you and me—Yi’s been 
working in the field all morning.” 

Professor Klam laughed pleasantly at my humorous 
suggestion. “Lottie wouldn’t leave her husband do a 
woman’s work. She’s too wifely!” 

“Well, I should hope!” said Lottie. “Are you sick, 
Nancy?” 

“Ill? I? Why, no, what makes you think so?” 

“Well, since you’re not helping Weesy—” 

“I hope, Mrs. Klam,” I said solicitously, “you’re not 

ill?” 

“No,” she answered in surprise, “what makes you— 
oh!” as light dawned, “but I’m a visitor you know,” she 
smiled, “and Nancy’s living here.” 

“Boarding for the summer—like me,” I nodded. 
“Well, then, I’m waiter,” I concluded, rising and seiz¬ 
ing the huge platter of bread. 

From every one but Nancy came indignant protests, 
to which I remained impervious. It was painfully morti¬ 
fying to them all, but especially to Mrs. Curry and 
Weesy, to have me so demean myself as to wait upon 
them. 

During the progress of the meal, as I awkwardly and 
inefficiently performed my job, I could see from the dis¬ 
approving looks that continued to be cast upon Nancy, 
that they all held her responsible for this embarrassing 
situation. It seemed to rouse the imp that I had known 
in her of old, for she met their implied criticism by 
further shocking them with her autocratic orders to me. 


THE SNOB 


167 


“Attention to business, waiter, pour the water.” 
“Look, serf, don’t you see the bread plate’s empty?” 

When Elmer wanted more coffee and Weesy was at the 
time refilling the chicken platter, I saw him, instead of 
asking me to get it for him, consult with his wife aside— 
whereupon she, with a glance at Nancy expressing her 
sense of personal injury, said, as she picked up his cup 
and rose, “ I’ll get it for you, El!” 

But as she came back from the kitchen, Nancy was 
holding out her own cup to me. “Coffee, waiter, and see 
that you don’t let any grounds get into my cup, if you 
don’t want a calling-down.” 

As I deferentially took her cup, Mrs. Klam gravely 
asked her, “Do you think, Nancy, you’d be acting up so 
familiarly with a strange gentleman if your husband was 
here?” 

“But is a waiter a gentleman, that’s the question?” 
said Nancy flippantly. “If you want to see the lengths 
to which I can go in ‘acting up familiarly with a strange 
gentleman,’ Lottie, bring on your ‘strange gentleman’! 
The stranger, the better!” 

“I wish, Nancy,” Mrs. Klam retorted, “you’d stop 
flirting right in front of little Florence!” 

“Am I flirting? Now I’ve often wondered what, 
really, flirting was. And I don’t know that I yet see—” 

“Little Florence ain’t used to seeing such friv-u-lous 
conduct!” frowned Elmer. 

“And I don’t want her to get such ideas into her clean 
little mind!” protested Lottie. 

“But my dear Angel-Wings, what ideas?” asked 
Nancy. 

“Kindly don’t call me nicknames, Nancy! You’re 
putting thotts into Florence’s mind that I’ve always 
tried to shield her from! Your influence on her—” 


168 


THE SNOB 


“May, let us hope, give your poor child a few redeem¬ 
ing vices!” Nancy recklessly inserted. 

When, upon my return with her coffee, she further 
commanded my services,—“Now, waiter, some chicken, 
and I’ll tip you with a kiss!”—Elmer regarded her 
darkly. “When the cat’s away,” he said insinuatingly. 
“I never saw you cut up so light-headed!” 

“This kind of behavior, Nancy,” Mrs. Klam se¬ 
riously admonished her, “was bad enough when you were 
a single girl! Oh, yes, we used to hear rumors—of how 
you flirted with your male pu-pills,” she pronounced with 
conscientious precision. 

“My favorite male pu-pill was Jake Hogentoggler and 
my chief pastime,” said Nancy with pensive tenderness, 
“was kissing Jake. I made him stop after school every 
day for my parting kiss. How I loved that male pu- 
pill! I suppose it did cause ‘rumors.’ But now,” she 
sighed, “I have to be content with kissing his photo¬ 
graph.” 

Mrs. Klam actually blushed for her. “I won’t leave 
my dotter hear such shameless—” 

“Yes, well, but Lottie,” interceded her mother, “Nan¬ 
cy’s only plaguin’ you—-Jake Hogentoggler’s six years 
old.” 

Mrs. Klam looked disgusted. “I certainly would 
think, Nancy, that being married to a man like Eugene, 
you’d settle down and not be so flippant!” 

“Settling down is so apt to produce flatness, not to 
say fatness,” said Nancy with a glance at Lottie’s large 
proportions. “Waiter, darling,” she addressed me, “hop 
’round with the celery and be spry about it!” 

I wondered, as I obeyed her, how Eugene, if he had 
been here, would have taken this sprightliness, not to say 
hilarity. But having been a witness to his surprisingly 


THE SNOB 


169 


subduing effect upon his wife, I was inclined to agree 
with the Klams that she never would have let herself go 
like this before him. 

Through all the meal Mr. and Mrs. Klam kept up their 
monologues of self-admiration; but here in the bosom of 
the family these ego-eulogies mostly took the form of 
an implied or expressed criticism of the inferiority of 
the others. For instance, Weesy’s sudden exclamation, 
nearly dropping a dish as she uttered it, “There runs one 
of them field mice agin!”—brought from Lottie the asser¬ 
tion that her manner of housekeeping eliminated such 
irrelevancies as mice. 

“Didn’t you never have a mice in your house, Lottie?” 
Weesy, looking offended, inquired. 

“Just once a mouse did somehow (I never did account 
for it) get into my kitchen; but I scarcely slept or eat, 
night or day, until I had caught it, though it took nearly 
a week of trap-setting, cleaning up, poison baiting— 
and if I hadn’t done that way, my house would have 
been overrun too. To be sure, you can’t keep house 
right without taking trouble.” 

“I got other things to do besides chasing a mice fur a 
whole week!” Weesy pouted. 

“Nothing more important,” insisted Lottie; and here 
followed a minute account of the unflagging zeal with 
which she had pursued that agile and adroit mouse that 
had once had the temerity to enter her spotless Chris¬ 
tian home; its skill and cunning in eluding both her vigi¬ 
lance and her many devices for capturing it; its auda¬ 
ciously appearing now and then for an instant just to 
“taunt” her and let her know it was still there; its 
trickily misleading her from one part of the house to 
another; and when she recounted at last her triumphant 
finale, almost a Te Deum, I mourned the sad end of that 


170 


THE SNOB 


adventurous rodent whose evident sense of humor had 
been its undoing. 

“So you see,” she concluded, “no one would have mice 
about if they’d take the trouble I take.” 

The subject of the mouse having been at last ex¬ 
hausted, I tried but failed to follow her mentally through 
her long, detailed elucidation of her own superior, intri¬ 
cate and tedious process of disposing of her garbage, the 
various complicated stages of drying, dividing, wetting, 
mixing, burning, sunning, drowning, burying her gar¬ 
bage. You would have supposed that she thought 
of nothing but garbage from early morn till dewy 
eve! 

“If the waiter may talk in,” I said, as I stood over her 
with the water pitcher, “how do you ever find time, Mrs. 
Klam, from your devoted service to Garbage, to serve 
your God, your family and your Country?” 

“Please, Mr. Appleton,” she gently protested, “I must 
ask you not to use the name of God and Country so 
lightly in front of little Florence, we’re trying so hard 
to teach her reverence.” 

“There’s far too little reverence these days,” said El¬ 
mer. “If reverence was inculculated more in the 
Home—” 

“To hear yous Klams talking about raisin’ your Flor¬ 
ence,” sighed Weesy when Elmer concluded a harangue 
about Reverence in the Home, “it makes me more satis¬ 
fied I ain’t got no childern to raise, fur I couldn’t do it 
right! My baby died fur me,” she explained to me while 
the whole family listened, the Klams with a look of 
patient endurance, “when it was five months old a’ready. 

I tried so hard to keep it, but it went. And now, I 
guess, for all, it’s better it went, fur I couldn’t o’ raised 
it like what Lottie thinks you must raise a child! I 


T H E S N O B 1T1 

guess I permitted an awful sin when I tried so hard to 
save it!” 

“Com-mitted a sin, you mean,” Elmer corrected her. 

“And anyhow,” continued Weesy, ignoring the cor¬ 
rection, “the doctor sayed if it had of lived it would 
have been a warf, fur it had ammonia and sich yaller 
yanders.” 

“Gracious, what’s a ‘warf’ and ‘yaller yanders,’ 
Weesy P” asked Nancy wonderingly. 

“A warf’s a undergrowed person,” Weesy explained. 

“You mean a dwarf, Weesy,” Elmer again corrected 
her, “and yellow jaundice.” 

“Och, well,” retorted Weesy, “if youd lost your front 
teeth, El, and had your new false ones in, I guess you 
couldn’t talk grammar neither! What is it you want, 
Florence?” she inquired of the little girl who, pointing to 
a vacant spot on her large dinner plate, was asking for 
something rather indistinctly because her mouth was full 
of food. “Eat your mouth empty before you say,” 
Weesy advised. 

Florence swallowed and spoke. “I want something 
for that place, Aunt Weesy,” she said, pointing to the 
empty space on her plate. 

“Well, what is it you want me to put there?—a dab o’ 
potato or a chunk o’ chicken or some tomats or what?” 

“Some what put in Elmer facetiously. 

“A dab o’ potato,” Florence replied, and as Weesy 
obeyed, Mrs. Klam rebuked both her sister-in-law and 
her child. 

“You see, Weesy, how quick Florence imitates your 
expressions! ‘A dab o’ potato’! Please be careful of 
your expressions before Florence! Now, Florence, ask 
Aunt Weesy nicely for some potato and don’t say ‘dab 
o’ potato.’ How do you ask her nicely?” 


172 


THE SNOB 


Florence, nearly in tears with self-consciousness and 
embarrassment at being the center of attention under re¬ 
proof, was in the throes of struggling to “ask nicely,” 
when Yi, for the first time during the meal, broke his 
bovine silence and interrupted her. “You’re permitting 
a worse sin now, Weesy, than when you tried to save 
ah-ver baby!—by not turnin’ plain and givin’ yourself 
up!” 

Again the glitter in his eyes made me shiver, it was 
so evident to me that his fanatical religious fear was 
more and more becoming with him a dangerous obsession. 
I would be glad when Nancy was safely out of this house; 
away from the chance of becoming involved, a second 
time in her life, in a hideous tragedy. 

“I gotta to stand an awful lot for your sake, Yi, 
workin’ fur all your folks so much,” said Weesy sulkily, 
“and I ain’t standin’ yet fur bein’ bothered all the time 
about my religion!” 

“No, Mr. Appleton, no ice cream for Florence,” Mrs. 
Klam regretfully, but firmly, interposed as I placed a 
saucer before the child. “You remember I told her on 
the porch she couldn’t have her dessert to-day—and,” 
she added, passing the saucer on to Yi, “I always keep 
my word to my child. Mamma’s very sorry, Florence, 
but she must keep her word.” 

Florence’s lip quivered and her small body stiffened 
to hold back the crying which was a forbidden indulgence. 
Her father offered a feeble protest. “It wasn’t rightly 
her fault, Mamma, when you come to think of it. Her 
Aunt Nancy—” 

“I know that, El. But Florence must learn not to 
repeat things her Aunt Nancy tries to teach her. You 
heard me say she couldn’t have any dessert, didn’t you? 


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173 


Well, did you ever know me not to keep my word to 
Florence?” 

“Indeed I never did, Mamma!” 

Mrs. Klam, while she ate her own large plate of ice 
cream, explained to the company her methods. “If I 
say to Florence that I will reward or punish her, she 
knows I’ll do it. Because I never fail to keep my word 
to her. A parent that says she’s going to punish and 
then fails to do it, loses a child’s respect and trust. I 
never do that! A child respects a parent when she 
knows you’ll never break your word. Now, Florence, 
now!” she said warningly as the martyred child began to 
sob, “you know what Mamma does when you cry!”— 
and Florence, looking frightened, choked back her crying. 

When the meal was over, Mr. and Mrs. Klam, lead¬ 
ing Florence between them, started for the front porch, 
but I, sitting down with Weesy to our belated dinner, 
stopped them. 

“Hi, Professor, it’s your turn now. Bring me some 
coffee, will you, and hot chicken from the kitchen?” 

“Nancy’s done; she'll wait on you,” he retorted. “I 
never yet in my life waited on table and I don’t intend 
to begin now!” 

“Neither did I, Elmer,” said Nancy, “and I don’t in¬ 
tend to begin now either.” 

The elder Mrs. Curry rose heavily. “I’ll wait on you, 
Mr. Appleton, if Nancy’s too high-minded to.” 

“But your daughter’s not going to let you, Mrs. 
Curry; are you, Mrs. Klam?” I interposed, while Mr. 
and Mrs. Klam stood regarding me doubtfully, uncer¬ 
tainly. “You go and sit on the porch, Mrs. Curry; 
shan’t she, Mrs. Klam?” 

“Of course you must not overtax yourself, Mother,” 


174 


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said Mrs. Klam perfunctorily; “you better come on out 
on the porch with us.” 

“But I can’t let Weesy to do all,” objected Mrs. 
Curry. “It’s too much, if Nancy won’t help.” 

“Say, Nancy,” Elmer here demanded quite imperti¬ 
nently, “what’s over you, anyhow? What would your 
husband think of your refusing to help his folks?” 

“He would think too highly of his dear sister, your 
wife, Professor, to suppose she wouldn’t ‘help his folks,’ 
as you naively express yourself, dear Professor; to 
suppose she wouldn’t set an example of filial duty to 
Florence.” 

“When I come home for a day’s visit, I am expected 
to wait on the boarder ?” asked Mrs. Klam in a tone of 
ominous quiet. 

“If I was Yi,” Elmer again spoke in, “I wouldn’t leave 
my wife do more’n Lypholate’s wife!” 

“Nor would Eugene wish it otherwise, Nancy,” added 
Mrs. Klam, “as you very well know.” 

Yi, with evidently no least interest in the dispute, took 
his hat from a hook in the wall and left the room. 

Surreptitiously I whispered to Weesy at my side, “Eat 
your dinner, then get a headache and go to bed, so that 
Mrs. Klam will have to help her mother!” I suddenly 
rose from the table and before the startled eyes of them 
all I snatched up Nancy, threw her over my shoulder, 
seized small Florence, perched her straddled over my 
other shoulder, and made for my car—followed by fright¬ 
ened looks which proclaimed a suspicion as to my sanity. 
“We’ll be home by supper time!” I called back to the 
dumb-stricken group that from the doorway stared after 
us in helpless consternation, the Klams too stunned to 
make even a move to rescue their clean-minded child from 
her compromising posture on my shoulder. 


CHAPTER XVI 


W HERE’S the nearest ‘ice cream parlor’ where 
we can give this child the dessert she craves?” 
I demanded as we rode away. 

It was evident that Florence, seated on her Aunt 
Nancy’s lap, nestling against her confidingly, almost lov¬ 
ingly? did not share the family disapproval of her new 
relative. 

“We must not undermine family discipline,” Nancy 
admonished me. “It isn’t your dessert, Florence, that 
we’re going to give you, but a post-prandial provender— 
don’t forget.” 

“But—but Mamma says I mustn't remember the smutty 
words you teach me!” 

Nancy looked at me and shook her head hopelessly. 
“Think of a child of five knowing such a word as ‘smutty’ 
and having the idea constantly thrust upon her of evil 
lurking in everything!” 

“Something should be done about it,” I growled, “be¬ 
fore it’s too late! Where’s the ice cream parlor?” 

“In Virginsville, the scene of my dazzling pedagogical 
career. Look for a sign:— 

JACOB FENSTENMACHER, DENTIST, DOCTOR, 
LAWYER, PREACHER. ALSO HOME-MADE 
ICE CREAM FOR SALE. 

I didn’t believe her, but a ten minutes ride brought us 
up to the sign. While Florence, without any scruples, 
ate her ice cream, the gentleman of many professions 

175 


176 


THE SNOB 


who served it, inquired smpathetically whether we needed 
dental services—or perhaps a physician?—then perhaps, 
with matrimony in view, did we desire the services of a 
minister of the Gawspel? He only stopped short of ask¬ 
ing us whether we wanted a lawyer for divorce proceed¬ 
ings—at which question I would have been glad to take 
him up in Nancy’s behalf. 

“You’ve spoiled the day for Angel-Wings,” she told 
me when we were once more in the car flying through the 
country. “She was enjoying herself impressing you and 
disapproving of me! She hadn’t counted on sitting 
’round all day with just her mother. Weesy says Lottie 
hardly ever visited them before I came to the farm. She 
seems to revel in her delightful sense of injury at my 
hands for having ‘snitched’ her brother! That’s what 
she actually thinks, or thinks she thinks, I did!” 

“If she was trying to impress me, she succeeded!” 

“She’s desolated, I’m sure, at our flight!” 

“Not to mention our kidnapping her child and sub¬ 
jecting her immaculate purity to your pernicious in¬ 
fluence for several hours!” 

“She’ll fumigate her when she gets her back!” 

“And when I consider, my dear, how spotlessly pure 
you’d instantly become in their eyes the moment they 
learned of your comfortable income—” 

She checked me with a look of fright, indicating, over 
Florence’s head, her apprehension lest the child under¬ 
stand. 

“Look here, Nancy,” I changed the subject, “I’m wor¬ 
ried about Yi. He’s brooding too much! Looks bad 
to me!” 

“Poor badgered Weesy! She says he talks religion to 
her half the night. But he might as well talk to the mat¬ 
tress. She’s as obstinate as a mule.” 


THE SNOB 


177 

“I tell you he’s going dippy about his salvation! 
That’s another reason why I shall be very glad when you 
get away from here. There’s no telling what a fellow in 
Yi’s mental state may do! You must not consider com¬ 
ing back here next summer. Promise!” 

“I’ll make no more promises, my dear. How can I tell 
what I shall do or how I shall feel next summer?” 

“Well, I’m building a good deal upon the hope that a 
year’s time may restore your common sense! Maybe 
by next summer you’ll have developed to the point of 
letting me run away with you to Italy or Egypt!” 

“Fancy Angel-Wings hearing you say it!” 

“Do you think she’s washing the dishes? Weesy agreed 
to go to bed with a headache, so I suppose Mrs. Klam 
has had to turn in and help.” 

“If we didn’t have Florence with us, I’m sure she would 
go straight home before she’d wash all those dishes.” 

“Florence, if your mother and father go home without 
you, will you like staying out here with Aunt Nancy a 
few days?” I asked. 

“But I haven’t any clean clothes along.” 

“But in the country nice children always get dirty. 
Only bad children stay clean. I’d show you how to make 
mud pies. I’m sure you never made mud pies, did you?” 

“No sir. I darsent play in the mud.” 

“But in the country you must play in the mud and get 
as dirty as possible.” 

“I don’t like to be dirty. I like to be nice and clean.” 

“I’m afraid, Nancy, she’s past depraving.” 

“Do you know,” said Nancy anxiously, “Eugene agrees 
with his sister that children should never be allowed to 
get dirty! He says if he had a child he’d make a scene 
every time he found its hands dirty, he thinks it’s so 
unsanitary—while my own idea is that a child who never 


178 


THE SNOB 


got its hands dirty would be fit for treasons, stratagems 
and spoils. Of course I admit the desirability of a child’s 
being scrubbed at least once a day. The only kind of 
dirty children I object to are those who have been un¬ 
interruptedly dirty for more than a day. If Eugene 
and I have children, that question of dirty hands is going 
to be a breaking-point! Queer thing,” she went on med¬ 
itatively, “that Eugene should highly approve of such 
an artificial person as Lottie, when he says in one of his 
lectures, ‘None of us knows how base we are because none 
of us are natural. We’ve forgotten, under civilization, 
how to be natural!’ He approves of Lottie’s way with 
Florence—a discipline of fear!—yet he said once in a 
lecture, ‘Punishing the sinner doesn’t help him to get rid 
of his sin any more than punishing a poor man for his 
poverty would help him to riches.’ Do you know, Eugene 
bewilders me sometimes a little!” 

“You’ll learn to understand him—some day,” I said 
cryptically—and to cover my feelings I pressed the ac¬ 
celerator so sharply that we almost took a header over 
the dashboard. 

When two hours later we were returning to the farm, 
I was glad to see how unconcerned Nancy was as to the 
criticism she was bound to meet there for her lurid flight 
with me. 

“If only,” I thought, “she could be equally independent 
of Eugene’s opinion of her F’ 

“Looking for Eugene back soon?” I asked as we turned 
into the lane leading to the house. 

“I—don’t know. He wrote me from Leitersville ask¬ 
ing me to let him know when you had gone and I answered 
that you had decided to stay on for the rest of the sum¬ 
mer. He wrote back that in that case he would remain 
in Leitersville and I answered that in that case I would 


THE SNOB 


179 


join him there at once, as I refused absolutely to stay 
here at the farm without him.” 

“And what did he say to that?” 

“I’ve had no answer—yet. His mother had a letter—” 
She hesitated. 

“Yes?” I urged. 

“—suggesting that if she wanted her son at home, she 
must not have summer boarders. Yi replied to it.” 

“Well? What did Yi reply to it?” 

“I didn’t see his letter.” 

“But you know very well what he wrote. So do I. Yi 
hospitably and fraternally informed Eugene that if it 
was a choice between a paying and a free guest, he’d 
keep the paying guest!” 

“I don’t know why I discuss these sordid things with 
you!” Nancy frowned. 

“Has Eugene answered Yi’s letter.” 

“Not yet.” 

“When are you going to join him?” 

“Oh, Herrick, I do hate to go to him unless—unless he 
sends for me; unless he wants me as much as I want him!” 
she faltered, her voice choked. 

“Go to the mountains or the shore—no, I know you 
can’t do that and keep your secret.—Hello! Look!” 

We were drawing up to the porch steps and Nancy, 
glancing up at my sudden exclamation, saw, seated on a 
porch rocking-chair, between Mr. and Mrs. Klam, her 
husband. 

Her face went white, her bosom heaved tremulously, and 
that look stole into her eyes which she so often wore in 
his presence, an expression of anxious uncertainty so un¬ 
characteristic of her as she used to be that I always in¬ 
tensely resented it. Love, I bitterly reflected, was almost 
making a coward of her! 


180 


THE SNOB 


Yet startled as she evidently was by his sudden and un¬ 
expected return—by his catching her red-handed, as it 
were, in her truancy from duty—the irrepressible joy 
that the sight of him caused her, shone through her un¬ 
easiness. Quickly the color came back to her cheeks, and 
her eyes, in spite of their anxiety, sparkled with eagerness. 
Oh, there could be no doubt that she loved him! Prob¬ 
ably he gave her some reason to, since she was not a fool. 

He rose from the rocking-chair and came slowly down 
the steps to the car, his face extremely grave, almost for¬ 
bidding. 

“Back at last!” he greeted us rather distantly, shak¬ 
ing hands with me, kissing his niece as he lifted her to the 
ground, then giving his hand to Nancy to help her down. 
He tilted up her face to kiss her and instantly the touch 
of her lips was too much for him; the disapproving aloof¬ 
ness with- which I could see he wanted to treat her de¬ 
flections from her duty, as of course reported to him by 
his sister, broke down before the radiant sight of her 
youthful freshness and sweetness, all his own, from which 
for ten days he had been absent. The lover in him came 
quickly to life and he clasped and held her close, his face 
buried in her white neck. 

I did not enjoy the picture, so I turned away and went 
up the porch steps to the Klams. 

Florence was relating to her bewildered parents that 
Mr. Appleton was going to run away with Aunt Nancy 
to that country shaped like a boot where dirty Dagoes 
came from, and that Aunt Nancy had gotten her some 
ice cream. 

“Not dessert, Mamma. Aunt Nancy said it wasn’t 
dessert, but some smutty name that I forgot, like you 
said I was to.” 


THE SNOB 


181 


“It was I got you the ice cream, Florence,” I inter¬ 
posed. “Don’t give Aunt Nancy the credit.” 

“What’s all this about you and Nancy running off to 
Italy?” Elmer inquired, eyeing me suspiciously. 

“Nothing doing, I’m afraid, Professor. She refuses to 
come with me, though I offered her a villa, a yacht, a 
Rolls Royce and an airship. She turned me down flat!” 

“A person never can tell, Mr. Appleton,” smiled Mrs. 
Klam, “when you are serious and when you are only 
cutting up.” 

“Easiest thing in the world to tell, because I never am 
serious.” 

“Oh, come now, Mr. Appleton, Eugene says you’re very 
intellec-shal and litter-airy.” 

“That’s why I’m never serious.” 

She was diverted from answering me by the sight of 
her brother, his arm about Nancy, leading her past the 
porch around to the back entrance of the house. To see 
them in this loving embrace when, after the report Eugene 
had received of his wife’s frivolous behavior in his ab¬ 
sence, he certainly ought to be very gravely displeased 
with her, was apparently disappointing and annoying to 
Mrs. Klam. 

“Well!” she breathed with a sigh of sad resignation, 
“Nancy certainly does know how to throw dust in the 
men’s eyes and twist them round her little finger! I 
feel I wouldn’t be doing my dooty, Mr. Appleton, if I 
didn’t warn you, a perfect stranger to my sister-in-law, 
not to leave yourself get taken in by her. I never so 
much blame a man for falling, as I blame a woman for 
tempting him.” 

“Scriptural authority for that,” Elmer backed up his 
wife. “Garden of Eden. Eve tempted Adam.” 


182 


THE SNOB 


“A man never gets fresh with a girl he respects,” Mrs. 
Klam dogmatized. “If he takes liberties with a girl, it’s 
because he knows he dares to. So I never pity a girl 
that falls. I always say ’twas two-thirds her own fault* 
She opened the way.” 

“You bet you! They lead a man on,” said Elmer, 
knowingly. 

“That your experience, Professor?” I asked. 

“El don’t speak from experience, but from observa¬ 
tion,” Mrs. Klam answered for him. “He sees, as every 
one else does, that a man’s got to know pretty well what 
a girl is , before he’d have the nerve to play rough-house 
with her; pick her up and throw her over his shoulder and 
all like that! Now isn’t that so, Mr. Appleton?” 

“It didn’t take Nancy long,” Elmer spoke in before I 
could answer, “to leave you know you dared pick her up 
in your arms. Huh!” he grunted disapprovingly. 

“She opened the way,” Mrs. Klam firmly insisted; 
“calling you ‘darling’ right in front of us all!—and of¬ 
fering to tip you with a kiss! No, I don’t blame you, 
Mr. Appleton!” 

“You were led on,” nodded Elmer. 

“To prove it,” added Mrs. Klam, “did you try to go 
that far with me? No, you did not!” she announced in 
a tone of Virtue Triumphant. 

“No, I did not,” I agreed, considering her thoughtfully. 
“But I really didn’t mean to slight you, Mrs. Klam. 
Fact is I’m not husky enough. Some difference, you 
know, between a heavy weight like you and a fairy like 
Mrs. Eugene!” 

“Yes, isn’t she scrawny!” Mrs. Klam retorted. “But, 
Mr. Appleton,” she shook her finger at me coquettishly, 
“you’d get something worse than a heavy-weight to carry 


THE SNOB 


183 


if you did try to toss me round, leave me tell you! You’d 
get your ears boxed, I’m afraid!” 

“I’d just like to see any man try to get fresh like that 
with my wife! Not that I blame you, Mr. Appleton—as 
Lottie says, a man gener-ly knows who he can get funny 
with.” 

“A woman that a man respects , he don’t pick up and 
throw over his shoulder,” Mrs. Klam repeated herself, ap¬ 
parently admiring this dogma. 

“Do you think, Mrs. Klam,” I asked gravely, “that 
this conversation is good for Florence’s clean little female 
mind to hear?” 

“She don’t understand. But if she did, she’d learn 
what her parents think of women that have so little self- 
respect as to leave men pick them up in their arms!” 

“And,” added Elmer, “her being so bold with you right 
out in front of all of us! Shameless, I call it, if you 
ast me! Offering to kiss you right there before the whole 
family! Eugene could har’ly believe it! He said it 
wasn’t like her. I tol’ him he didn’t half know her! 
She’s got him fooled! Offering to kiss a strange man yet 
in front of every one!” 

“I agree with you, Professor, in preferring such offers 
to be made to me in strict privacy—alone in the dark. 
My tastes same as yours in that respect.” 

Elmer snorted a laugh that struck me as ribald and 
to my astonishment Mrs. Klam giggled. 

“Oh, Mr. Appleton,” she said, shaking with mirth, 
“you are full of your jokes, aren’t you!” 

“Up to the present moment, Mrs. Klam, I must con¬ 
fess my humor has not been appreciated. I’ve never been 
considered a funny man,” I modestly admitted. 

“Point is,” said Elmer, assuming a judicial tone, “point 


184 


THE SNOB 


is, that Nancy, with all her hoydenish ideas of po py- 
ritty—” 

‘‘Pro-piety, El,” Mrs. Klam corrected him. 

“Ezactly—po-priety=—point is that Brother-in-law 
Eugene is going to have a shamed face for his wife in 
his grand new position in Leitersville, the hoydenish way 
she carries on! She don’t know how ladies act in such 
wealthy, swell society as they’re got in Leitersville. She 
never met up with such folks as she’ll have to mix up with 
as Brother-in-law’s wife!” 

“No, I’m sure our social menagerie at Leitersville will 
be a very new experience to her,” I agreed. 

“Then of course I know you must feel, Mr. Appleton,” 
said Mrs. Klam, “what a pity it is that my brother mar¬ 
ried so much out of the sphere he’s raised himself to!” 

“I do indeed,” I answered so heartily that she looked 
surprised, not expecting quite such an unqualified en¬ 
dorsement of her sentiments. 

“I guess you know how you’d feel yourself in Brother’s 
place, if your wife made free and easy with other men 
and you holding such a fine public position!” 

“Yes, and I’ve warned your brother, Mrs. Klam, that 
if he wants to keep his charming wife, he’ll have to get 
over his Pennsylvania Dutch ideas of a woman!” 

The Klams both stared at me incredulously. “My 
brother,” answered Mrs. Klam stiffly, “has no ideas of 
women that are not to be deeply respected by all! You 
ought to see how the women feel that go to his lectures, 
Mr. Appleton!” 

“I have seen them.” 

“Then you know,” she triumphed, “how women think 
of him!” 

“Yes, I know.” 

“If Nancy would only leave me teach her, I could show 


THE SNOB 


185 


her just how to fill her difficult society position in Leiters- 
ville with en-t\rc satisfaction.” 

“I’m afraid it wouldn’t be possible for a woman of Mrs. 
Eugene’s culture and breeding to satisfy Leitersville’s 
vulgar standards, Mrs. Klam.” 

She looked bewildered. “You’re so contrary in your 
remarks, I can’t tell what you do think! Do you call it 
‘breeding’ to leave a man pick you up and throw you 
over his shoulder?” 

I realized that if the woman rang that sentence on my 
ears once more, I’d be in danger of knocking her down 
and jumping on her! 

“I’m sure, Mr. Appleton, you never saw a perfect lady 
leave a man pick—” 

I rose and interrupted her. I spoke deliberately and 
brutally. “I’ll tell you what I’ve never heard a ‘perfect 
lady’ do, Mrs. Klam; I’ve never heard her criticize, un¬ 
charitably and stupidly, her own brother’s wife, if you’ll 
excuse my bluntness!” 

I felt that after that my departure from the porch 
was about due. So I took myself off. 


CHAPTER XVII 


T HE contemplation of Eugene’s humiliation at 
my presence in the bosom of his family, was so 
unpleasant to me that nothing would have in¬ 
duced me to subject myself and him to it but the compel¬ 
ling necessity (so I felt it) of protecting Nancy in a 
measure, not only from the hard conditions of her plight 
and from what seemed to me her almost pathological 
submission to her husband’s idea of a wife, but also from 
the danger I sensed—and which no one in the family 
seemed to realize—of Yi’s increasing despondency and 
fanaticism. The look I sometimes surprised in the young 
farmer’s sad, cow-like eyes, made my flesh creep. 

Eugene kept himself out of my way as much as pos¬ 
sible, contriving to be late for most of his meals (dis¬ 
regarding the extra work this caused the women) 
promptly withdrawing from any association he did happen 
to be having with me upon our being joined by any of 
the family except Nancy; covering his sensitiveness under 
a grave dignity that I could see impressed and thrilled 
Nancy as being both fine and touching. 

I wondered why, since he was so ashamed of his fam¬ 
ily, he was not proportionately proud of his wife; proud 
that one member of the household, though not of his 
blood, could at least speak grammatical English. But 
his attitude towards her continued to be that of a highly 
superior being with a secret grievance against an inferior. 

To see her submitting day after day to the too heavy 
housework put upon her, tried me very much. Eugene, 
however, only when he saw her drudging, manifested some 

186 


THE SNOB 187 

mitigation of his sense of injury, though he himself never 
dreamed of drudging. 

I often had a hard struggle to hold my tongue under 
the strain of his irritating habit of snubbing nearly 
everything his wife said and the equal strain of seeing 
her meekly tolerating it. 

It was not a cheerful household! When once in a 
while Eugene did sit at meals with the rest of us, the 
suffering of his snobbish soul was very evident; and indeed 
sometimes the table talk was enough to move a heart 
harder than mine to some sympathy for the poor wretch. 

One evening at supper when he happened to be with us 
Weesy and old Mrs. Curry gave us their ideas on 
“readin’ ” as a pastime. 

“What yous see in it!” Mrs. Curry shook her head over 
the mystery. “Me, I couldn’t set still and keep quiet 
long enough to read. It wonders me how you kin, Ly- 
pholate. Yes, and Nancy, too, and ah-ver boarder 
likewise.”' 

“Well, me, if I do read,” Weesy contributed, “no one 
darst talk! Not even come in the room and set. Every¬ 
thing’s got to keep off! Or I don’t get no sense of it.” 

“But do you git much sense of it even if eVery one 
does keep off?” inquired her mother-in-law skeptically. 

“Well, if I oncet kin git interred in readin’, I don’t 
hear nothin’ they say no more! It’s gettin’ interred 
oncet that’s so hard. Unlest everything keeps off, I 
can’t get interested. But oncet I’m interested, they 
kin talk about anything at all and I don’t hear ’em no- 
more !” 

“Well, it would have to be awful interestin’ readin’ that 
would keep me from hearin’ what they’re sayin’ in the 
room!” cried Mrs. Curry. “Well, I guess, then, any¬ 
how !” 


188 


THE SNOB 


“Yes, well, before I’m interred oncet, if everything 
don’t keep off, I can’t git the sense of it.” 

Eugene, biting his lip, his eyes downcast, was, I saw, 
about to speak in to divert my attention from this 
vain repetition, when his brother Yi anticipated him. 

“If you’d read your Bible, Weesy,” he said somberly, 
“you’d get the sense of it all right. You’d see you was 
on your way to Perdition and draggin’ your husband 
with!” 

“Well,” retorted Weesy sullenly, “I guess I ain’t 
draggin’ you to a much worse perdition that you’ve 
dragged me!—you with a groutch on all the time and 
never a jolly word fur a person!” 

“Perdition ain’t jolly! ‘There shall be weepin’ and 
gnashin’ of teeth’!” 

“Och, quit plaguin’ yourself so about your salwation!” 

“Yi gits it from his Pop, bein’ sich a groutch,” Mrs. 
Curry said in a tone of apology for her son. “Pop he 
was always sich a groutch too. Yi comes by it honest; 
he didn’t steal it!” 

“Yes, I know it comes a little natural to him to be 
ugly-dispositioned that way,” admitted Weesy, “but I 
don’t see how that helps me any—-that it comes natural 
to him!” 

Yi was sitting at one end of the table and I was sitting 
next to him on his left, at right angles to him. As I 
watched his face, the glitter in his eyes, his forehead 
growing blood red, the veins in his temples swelling like 
cords, I thought it advisable to try to change the sub¬ 
ject. I turned to him and asked him a question. “By 
the way, Yi, is there a haberdasher in Virginsville?”— 
an unfortunate inquiry which only plunged us deeper 
into melancholy discussion. 

“Whether there’s a—haverdisher—or whatever? I 


THE SNOB 


189 


don’t know what that is, right—a haverdisher. That 
there word ain’t familiar with me. Does it re fer,” he 
inquired suspiciously, “to women or to whiskey?” 

“It refers to neckties and stockings, Yi,” Eugene ex¬ 
plained with an embarrassed laugh. 

“Better put your thotts on things that moth and rust 
cannot corrupt nor thieves break through and steal! 
Neckties is what yous think of—when hell’s yawnin’!” 

His voice was sepulchral, tragic. I marveled at the 
blindness of the family that they did not see whither he 
was tending. 

Suddenly pushing back his plate, as though the sight 
of his food disgusted him, he rose, turned away from the 
table and strode out of the room. 

“Yi has fell off his wittles from plaguin’ hisself over 
you, Weesy,” Mrs. Curry mourned. “He don’t har’ly eat 
no more!” 

“For all you get out of sticking to the world, the flesh 
and the devil, Weesy,” said Nancy, “I should think you 
might as well give them up and have a little peace 
with Yi.” 

“I believe it would be a lot more cheerful ’round here 
if you did, Mrs. Weesy,” I agreed. “Yi’s making him¬ 
self ill!” 

“I ain’t never wearin’ myself plain!” said Weesy 
obstinately. 

Eugene at this point made a determined move to divert 
my attention from the family—broaching a theme he well 
knew would catch me; something about the scandal of our 
still keeping our conscientious objectors in jail, when all 
the Allies had long ago freed theirs. 

“The land of the free imposing twenty years sentences 
on men for their opinions!” I hotly answered, rising to 
his bait. 


190 


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“The pacifist,” said Eugene sententiously, “may be 
sneered at as a traitor to his country by him who, in 
hating his country’s enemies, is a traitor to humanity, to 
brotherhood, to love!” 

Said Nancy, “In fighting to save the world for our¬ 
selves, and not for our enemies as well, we fought for our 
own destruction!” 

“Now you don’t say so, my dear!” commented Eugene 
in the bored half-amused tone with which he always re¬ 
ceived her ideas. 

Nancy colored sensitively, but persisted; “Since one 
can only fight with hate, but never against it, and can 
never fight with love but always against it, how can war 
be anything else than accursed?” 

“Wisdom speaks!” murmured Eugene. 

“Isn’t it surprising, Mr. Appleton,” Nancy, with 
heightened color, turned from him and spoke exclusively 
to me, “that with Hate always on the side of war and 
Love always on the side against war, Christians should 
wage wars, and even call them holy wars? Christians 
always call all their wars holy wars, don’t they! Do 
you know—” 

“There, there, my dear,” Curry interrupted her, “hop 
up and get me some tea and don’t try to talk of things 
beyond your depth!” 

“How superior and patronizing we are!” I shrugged as 
Nancy, her eyes glistening (I couldn’t tell whether with 
anger or tears) rose to wait upon her husband. 

“Women do chatter so!” he said fretfully, though he 
flushed as sensitively under my irony as Nancy had 
under his. 

“If all women would chatter as wisely against war, they 
might succeed in bringing about what statesmen, or rather 


T H E S N O B 191 

politicians, have failed to—a civilized and human way of 
settling disputes!” 

“We’ll have wars as long as we have nations,” he said 
in his smooth, gliding, platform tone. “A national 
anthem can lure us to destruction as the Pied Piper lured 
the children to the mountain I” 

“Wisdom speaks! Marvelous! That’s not a bit bet¬ 
ter, if as good, as the things Nan—Mrs. Curry said!” 

4* “But, Appleton, women don’t think; they dress!” 

“There’s nothing to prevent their doing both.” 

“It’s a pity you’re not more popular in Leitersville, 
you’re such a champion of Nancy’s! She’ll need cham¬ 
pions, I’m thinking, in the difficult role before her!” 

“Other champions than yourself?” 

“All she can get, poor child! But your championship, 
old man, wouldn’t be an asset; eh?” 

“Do you know, to succeed in Leitersville doesn’t seem 
to me to be an achievement that would reflect great credit 
on any one.” 

“Because you failed there, old man?” 

“Because Leitersville failed me. Now if the town suc¬ 
ceeded with Nancy —if it won her heart and her faith, 
that would be a feather in Leitersville’s cap!” 

“I only hope she won’t be a flat failure there! I do 
wish,” he said petulantly, “that she were the kind to make 
them sit up and look!—with more dash and style than 
she’s got, poor girl!” 

Nancy’s return with his tea checked the clever retort 
that rose to my lips and that I hated to waste. 

I had been observing in the past week that Eugene, 
under any real or fancied neglect, on Nancy’s part, of 
what he considered her duty to him, would become very 
cold and distant towards her, subtly contriving somehow 


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to convey that, in view of that vaguely hinted sacrifice 
he had made of himself for her, he deemed a great deal 
due to him from her, and that under the circumstances 
she had no right to make any demands of her own. Even 
if I had not been aware of all the circumstances of his 
marriage, I would have sensed this mental attitude 
of his. 

While he seemed to enjoy snubbing his wife, extract¬ 
ing therefrom a sense of power and superiority, yet when 
sometimes it would reduce Nancy to a prolonged silence, 
he would grow uneasy; for in the first place, he did not 
like it at all when she refrained from giving him any oc¬ 
casion for exercising his amiable art of sneering at her; 
and in the second, he was apparently not wholly indif¬ 
ferent to her attitude towards him; though he did not 
seem to mind wounding her, he did seem a bit afraid of 
her very rare indignation; and he simply could not stand 
it when she held herself off in a silent aloofness. 

Sometimes, when he had been treating her more slight¬ 
ingly than usual, I would deliberately engage her in talk 
which entirely excluded him; and sometimes, though not 
often, she would fall in with my purpose to punish him 
and play up to me. More often, however, she would 
defeat me by resolutely drawing him in, in spite of me. 
Usually that air of cold displeasure which he would as¬ 
sume when offended, would act as a lash to discipline her 
momentary revolt and quickly restore her sweet docility. 
But occasionally, when he had gone far enough in his 
contemptuous disrespect towards her to goad her to some 
resentment, she would, to my relief and to Eugene’s cha¬ 
grin, and even alarm, remain entirely indifferent to his 
displeasure. These rare occasions were, to me, very re¬ 
freshing. 

I wondered sometimes, these days, why I found myself 


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193 


really wanting Nancy to get over her love for her hus¬ 
band; to lose her faith in his epigrams and in his air of 
spiritual uplift; to see him as I saw him. 

“If her illusion made for her a fool’s paradise, I’m 
not sure I’d want to see her enlightened, since the truth 
isn’t always the most desirable thing to have, about those 
nearest to us. But she certainly is far from happy!” 

The question was, would her love survive her inevitable 
realization, sooner or later, that Eugene was two-thirds 
humbug? And would this realization leave her bereft 
and broken-hearted, or happily released from a wretched 
bondage ? 

“Even if she’s got to go through some suffering,” I de¬ 
cided, “I’d rather see her work her way out of her infatua¬ 
tion than be submerged by it!” 

However, I resolved to put a curb upon my very strong 
inclination to aid and abet the natural process of her 
disillusionment. 


CHAPTER XVIII 


OR the most part, Eugene ignored his mother and 



brother and Weesy, scarcely ever addressing 


A a remark to them. When he did, now and then, 
condescend from his height to speak to them, it was so 
manifestly for effect—to impress Nancy or me rather 
than to communicate with them, for he invariably talked 
above their heads—that I wondered whether they them¬ 
selves, simple as they were, did not realize it. 

“Hell has become obsolete, Yi,” he told his brother one 
morning at breakfast in response to Weesy’s complaints 
that she was all “wore out” because Yi had not “left” 
her close an eye all night long, “so afraid he has of 
going to Hell!” 

“The only Hell Americans believe in any more, Yi,” 
continued Eugene, “is the Hell of Not Succeeding; of 
not making money.” 

“See Carlyle’s Past and Present” said Nancy. 

Eugene squirmed at being caught and for once did not 
attempt to snub her comment. 

“It need not matter to us, Yi,” he went on resolutely, 
“whether there is a life beyond this. Our concern is to 
live each hour here like immortal beings! How can we 
hope for another life when we’ve failed to find in this one 
its immortal elements?” 

“I go by Gawd’s Word which says he that believeth not 
shall be damned,” returned Yi miserably. “You’re an 
owbeliever, you can’t help me any!” 

I was coming to feel an intolerable pity for Yi’s suf¬ 
ferings. After breakfast that morning I tried to 


194 


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195 


talk to Eugene about it. But he was not interested. 

“You heard him tell me I couldn’t help him. I never 
could help any of my family except my sister Lottie. 
They are so far beneath me,” he said bitterly, “that they 
can’t hear the sound of my voice when I speak!” 

It was that evening, when Yi did not come in at supper 
time, and Weesy, somewhat perturbed at such an unpre¬ 
cedented variance from custom, was about to go out to 
look for him, that something made me stop her. 

“Let me go, Mrs. Curry! Eugene, will you come 
with me?” 

Nancy, the first to realize what I apprehended, clutched 
her bosom. Weesy and Mrs. Curry stared at me dumbly. 
Eugene, looking vague, rose slowly from the table to 
follow me. 





PART H 

FROM NANCY’S POINT OF VIEW, 





PART II 


FROM NANCY’S POINT OF VIEW 
CHAPTER I 

I T was a critical period in my life—a time of per¬ 
plexity, consternation and confusion, of hurt and 
suffering—that Herrick Appleton amazingly turned 
up to become once more, after three years, my closest, 
kindest friend; my confidant as of old; in a sense my 
protector. That it was a propitious time for this to 
happen was so far from being apparent to me that I 
thought it at first a dire calamity. But how I would 
ever have lived through the sordid misery of that first 
summer after my marriage, without the solace of his 
companionship, his understanding and sympathy, I often 
wonder now. I think I would have gone under com¬ 
pletely. 

Greatly as my husband hated to have Herrick with us, 
he did not know the real menace that lurked for him in the 
presence of my old friend—the contrast daily before my 
eyes of the different breeding, the different standards of 
the two men—even though this did seem to me at the time 
merely superficial, due to Herrick’s greater advantages 
in his youth. Indeed, I almost resented my friend’s su¬ 
periority over my husband in these matters. But before 
the summer was over, I began to realize, with an appall¬ 
ing despair, that this painful contrast presented by the 
two so near to me, far from being superficial, was only 
too evidently fundamental. 

Of course I had always known that under Herrick’s 
199 


200 


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cool reserve, under his rather irritably critical attitude 
towards people and his ruthlessness towards any one he 
suspected of posing, there was a fine sensitiveness, a capac¬ 
ity for very deep, warm feeling; but I had not known, 
before that ghastly summer evening when he and Eugene 
carried in poor Yi—his neck broken, his wrists slashed 
and ragged, a gruesome, hideous sight—how selfless 
Herrick could be; how profoundly he could be moved by 
another’s troubles; how he could spend himself, body, 
brain and heart, for others. 

As Yi’s will left the farm to Weesy, his mother who 
from her childhood had worked like a dumb, driven brute, 
with scarcely a respite, was now left homeless and penni¬ 
less. It was Herrick and I, rather than Eugene and 
Lottie, who seemed concerned as to what provision should 
be made for her. 

“The natural thing, of course,” I said when one evening 
about five days after the funeral, Eugene, Herrick and I 
were discussing the matter—sitting on the front porch 
after Mrs. Curry and Weesy had gone to bed—“would 
be for Lottie to take her mother to live with her.” 

“Lottie can’t do that! You forget she’s going to live 
in Leitersville!” Eugene promptly vetoed this suggestion. 

“Is there a law against mothers and daughters living 
together in Leitersville?” asked Herrick. 

“Lottie’s ways and mother’s are too different. Mother 
wouldn’t be contented in Lottie’s home.” 

“Then of course she must come to us,” I said. “I think 
I can make her contented.” 

“That just shows,” responded Eugene, his tone smooth 
and suave as always, but with a certain aloofness that 
I had learned to know as an expression of his displeasure 
with me, “how little idea you have, Nancy, of the social 


THE SNOB 


201 


position you’ll be expected to fill in Leitersville! You 
couldn’t keep mother shut up out of sight!” 

“No, nor I shouldn’t want to exactly!” 

“If you don’t try to learn something, I shall want to 
keep you out of sight!” 

“But it’s your mother, not me, we’re concerned with 
now—what shall we do about her?” I anxiously asked. 

“ ‘We’?” he repeated with a lift of his eyebrows that 
inquired why I meddled with what was none of my business. 

“What shall you and Lottie do, then?” 

“I think you can quite safely leave that question to us P 

“Perhaps,” suggested Herrick, “Weesy will be glad 
to keep Mrs. Curry here with her?” 

“No, her own mother and brother are coming here to 
live,” I explained, “her brother to run the farm on 
shares.” 

“It’s mother’s own fault that she’s in such a plight!” 
Eugene said fretfully. “She didn’t consult Lottie or me 
when she deeded the farm to Yi. It was a most foolish 
thing to do!” 

“But what else could she do,” asked Herrick, “when 
she could not pay the interest on the mortgage ( as she ex¬ 
plained to me) which she had to put on the farm in order 
to send you to college?” 

Eugene offered no reply to this. The momentary 
silence which followed was rather heavily expressive. 

“By the way,” I ventured, under cover of Herrick’s 
presence, to ask a question which I would scarcely have 
dared to ask my husband if we had been alone, ‘ what did 
you and Mr. Appleton tell me, Eugene, was to be your 
salary at the Academy?” 

“None too much for our needs,” he hastily replied, 
“considering that what I earn,” he added ruefully, ‘ is 


202 


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all that will ever stand between us and want! If you had 
anything at all-—or were even a good manager—like 
Lottie, for instance—but you’re not, you know! If we’re 
not very careful, we may find ourselves stranded as badly 
as mother has gotten herself through lack of foresight!” 

“Yes,” nodded Herrick, looking thoughtful, “if your 
mother had had foresight and prudence, she could live 
quite comfortably now on what she must have paid for 
your four years at Princeton, couldn’t she? That in¬ 
vestment does seem to have lacked foresight—from the 
point of view of her personal comfort.” 

“The matter seems to interest you, Appleton!” 

“Bather more than it seems to interest you, Curry,” 
Herrick smiled. 

“I am not in the habit of airing the family finances to 
the general public!” 

“We can hardly call Mr. Appleton the general public, 
dear,” I said, “the way he has made our trouble his own!” 

“I fully appreciate all you’ve done, Herrick, but there 
are still some privacies—” 

He paused and frowned. Herrick said nothing. 

“What is your salary to be, Eugene?” I deliberately 
repeated my question, though I knew how intensely it an¬ 
noyed him. 

“Why do you ask?” he coldly parried. 

“Because we’ve got to decide what we can spare for 
your mother’s support.” 

“Kindly leave that to me, Nancy!” 

“But it’s I that will have to do the managing and 
saving. So I’ve got to know. Tell me, Eugene.” 

“Can’t we talk of something else than—” began 
Eugene, but Herrick spoke in. 

“It’s eight thousand dollars with house, coal and auto- 


T H E S N O B 203 

mobile thrown in—and about one thousand dollars more 
from jour husband’s very popular lectures.” 

Eugene flushed with annoyance as Herrick spoke. But 
he made no comment. 

After a moment’s awkward silence, I suggested that it 
would surely cause us no inconvenience whatever, with 
such an income as that, to pay back what Eugene owed 
his mother for his education. 

“It’s amusing,” he smiled, “to hear you planning how 
you're going to dispose of my salary! Do you know, 
Appleton,” he turned resolutely from the discussion of his 
mother’s fate, “I’d like your advice on a question of 
policy—ethical policy, one might say—” 

“It’s quite good ethical policy, I think, to take care of 
one’s mother!—if you’ll forgive my impertinence, Curry!” 

“Can we drop my strictly personal affairs for a mo¬ 
ment? A question of policy at the Academy. I’m won¬ 
dering how I shall deal with the Jewish problem—” 

“You might take the Golden Rule as your guide.” 

“An awfully impracticable guide!” he sighed. 

“Then be guided by your highest ideal of what edu¬ 
cation is; and what the work and influence of an educator 
should be.” 

“The work and influence of an educator who isn’t 
judicious, is, as you know, apt to die a quick, unnatural 
death ! Your own case!” 

“But my work and influence are not dead merely be¬ 
cause the Leitersville trustees won’t let me teach in 
their little school, Curry!” 

“You couldn’t get a teaching job in any school or 
college in the land!” 

So much the worse for the schools and colleges of 
the land! But I still teach.” 


204 


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“Ah, but we’re not all writers with a reputation and 
an independent fortune.” 

“It’s because so-called educators, these days, are ‘ju¬ 
dicious’ (to the exclusion of everything that can really 
be called education) that in America to-day education 
is such a failure.” 

“Of course,” Eugene admitted, “we could do much 
better work if we were not hampered.” 

“As for your Jewish question, if we ever want to 
grow up spiritually, we got to stop distinguishing be¬ 
tween foreigners and compatriots; in so far as individ¬ 
uals or nations maintain barriers, they shut out life 
and love and peace and God!” 

“Let me take that down!” said Eugene. “Get me a 
pencil, Nancy!” he added, after fumbling in vain in his 
pockets. 

“Don’t you dare to move Nan—Mrs. Curry! Get 
yourself a pencil!” Herrick roughly told him. “You’d 
better keep in practice a little in the way of manners 
to ladies! Leitersville will expect it of you, you know!” 

Eugene looked surprised and quite boyishly indig¬ 
nant. “But to one’s wife, in one’s own home,” he naively 
argued, “one is hardly expected to be formal and con¬ 
ventional !” 

It was so obvious that he sincerely believed good man¬ 
ners to be in all cases (as in his own case) not an ex¬ 
pression of the spirit, but a painfully acquired “guinea 
stamp,” that Herrick and I both laughed involuntarily. 
I found myself, however, horribly startled to hear myself 
laughing at such a thing—the kind of thing that all 
during the long summer had been apt to affect me far 
otherwise than with amusement! That I could laugh— 
did it mark some change in me of which I had been un¬ 
aware?—or— 


THE SNOB 


205 


But my wonder over myself was cut short by Eugene’s 
really puzzled look at our amusement—followed by an 
offended expression that made me rather contrite. 

It was after that night, however (which though I was 
not definitely conscious of it, must have marked a crisis 
in my inner life) that I found I no longer regretted, as 
I had at first, Herrick’s living in Leitersville. On the 
contrary, I looked upon that fact as my most sustaining 
comfort; which indeed it proved to be. For through all 
my varied experiences—weird, humorous, grotesque, un- 
happy—in that little Pennsylvania Dutch city, there was 
always the consciousness in the background that Her¬ 
rick’s friendly understanding was there for me at my 
need. 


CHAPTER II 


I T was agreed, after some family discussion, that Mrs. 
Curry was to stay on with Weesy at the farm and 
that Lottie and Eugene would each pay a monthly 
sum for her board and other necessary expenses. I 
doubted whether either of them would live up to this 
agreement. If Eugene did not see the need of providing 
me, his wife, with money for her necessities, he would 
hardly be more generous to his mother; and as for Lottie, 
she no doubt felt in her heart that her brother, having 
much more income and fewer expenses than she, and be¬ 
ing much more indebted to their mother, ought not to ask 
his sister to contribute from her narrow resources to what 
was clearly his obligation. 

How I did want to put into Eugene’s hands the money 
with which to buy a comfortable home for his mother! 
But I dared not. My heart knew no stronger desire at 
this time than to prove my husband’s disinterested love; 
to test him out in our home life in Leitersville and see 
what, from his point of view, he would make of it; to give 
him every chance to come through as a man and a gentle¬ 
man at least, if not as the god my heart had imagined him. 

To carry out this test I must appear to submit to 
some things to which of course I had no idea of submit¬ 
ting permanently. Indeed, if I had been the dowerless 
wife Eugene supposed me to be, I think I would have 
been far less patient in adjusting our lives. For in¬ 
stance, in view of his strange aversion to letting me 
handle money, his seeming to be afraid to trust me with 
it, his preferring to take the time and trouble to pay all 


THE SNOB 


207 


the household bills himself rather than give me a dollar— 
his idea of a woman in relation to money being that of 
the usual Pennsylvania Dutchman who has not outgrown 
our late barbaric law which classed us with idiots, chil¬ 
dren and criminals—in view of the humiliation to which 
this attitude of his subjected me, I would certainly, had 
I been penniless, have insisted upon doing congenial work 
outside my home for a decent salary, rather than waste 
my youth in uncongenial work for no salary at all, not 
even a bit of pocket money. As it was, however, I 
would, for ends of my own, postpone for a time my re¬ 
volt against the conditions imposed upon me. 

The double-dealing to which I was compelled tem¬ 
porarily to resort, in my adjusting experiment, I would 
have found most distasteful had my purpose not made 
it seem justifiable; for it was, of course, for Eugene’s 
sake as well as my own, it was to save our love and our 
life together, that I was scheming. My improvised ill- 1 
ness of a whole week forced him to consent to the abso¬ 
lutely necessary servant that he had prohibited upon 
our starting our housekeeping. But what he took for 
a half grown girl at nominal wages was a young woman 
with bobbed hair and short skirts who, looking fourteen, 
was really twenty-eight, a thoroughly trained maid whom 
I had secured through a Philadelphia employment agency 
and who demanded just eight times the wages he grudg- 
ingly gave me for her each week—I of course secretly 
making up the deficit. Greatly as he enjoyed the dainty 
meals she cooked and childishly proud as he was of what 
he called the “swanky” service she gave us in the dining¬ 
room, his aversion to paying her small weekly fee was so 
much greater than his pleasure in her services, that as 
soon as I decided to be well enough to get out and about, 
he insisted upon her being discharged. I gave her pri- 


m 


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vately a week’s vacation with pay and after three days 
I.had a relapse and went back to bed, determined not to 
arise therefrom until Eugene had learned how very much 
less expensive and more comfortable that supposedly 
cheap half-grown girl was than a neglected home and 
doctor’s fees. 

“Well, this is rather a shock—to find I have an in¬ 
valid on my hands!” was his conjugal comment on the 
situation. 

I fully realized, as I lay in bed in enforced idleness, 
that two months ago I would not have risked giving 
Eugene such cause for disappointment in me. I would 
have struggled to meet his expectations and to get along 
without the help he thought it weak and self-indulgent 
of me to require. But now, something seemed to have 
gone out of me; after the painful and fruitless toil of the 
long summer, I found myself amazingly indifferent to his 
opinion of me as a household drudge. 

“You seem to me, Eugene,” I told him, “rather in¬ 
consistent ; you want a showy, stylish, fashionable wife 
who will impress Leitersville; and at the same time one 
who will do all her own housework when there’s no finan¬ 
cial necessity for it. Is such a combination ever found?” 

“See how beautifully Lottie keeps house without any 
help—and society here is taking her up faster than it 
is you!” 

I did not offer him the obvious explanation—that 
Lottie was more their kind. 

Our home on the Academy campus was a large house 
with what I recognized as delightful possibilities. The 
trouble was it was furnished; and in Leitersville taste! 

I consulted Herrick as to whether I dared risk bringing 
in some of the rugs, furniture, silver and china from my 
own old home. 


THE SNOB 209 

“Think what I could make of this house, Herrick i 
Can I risk it?” 

“You’d give yourself away. The furnishings of 
Claxton Manor are so unique—they’d be exotic here. 
And I’m not sure the trustees wouldn’t resent your set¬ 
ting aside this furniture that they’ve provided. ‘Good 
enough for your predecessors, why not good enough for 
you? Giving yourself airs!’—that would be their atti¬ 
tude, I’m afraid. You might risk a few rugs and a 
little china and plate; furnish your own bed-room and 
an upstairs living room—the private part of the house 
that visitors don’t see. But you will have to go care- 
fuUy.” 

“I’d love to bring on the dining-room furniture; 
can’t I?” 

But this he vetoed as quite too risky. 

I followed his advice, and Eugene proved gratifyingly 
appreciative of the two cozy, inviting rooms I arranged. 
Indeed, his astonishment at the quality of my things gave 
me some moments of apprehension for fear suspicion had 
been aroused in his mind. 

“Some one in your family must have had some taste—* 
and some money! Two big oriental rugs and all these 
little ones! And that silver service is stunningly effec¬ 
tive! Why even the Leiters and Renzheimers haven’t 
anything more spiffy. Why didn’t you ever tell me you 
had these things? I never dreamed of it!” 

“But when your mother asked about my aus tire , I 
did tell her that I had all the furnishings of my old 
home.” 

“But I supposed it was a lot of old junk one would 
expect to see in an Ohio country doctor’s house! I 
never dreamed of such things as these! Your father 
must have had a mighty good practice! And yet,” he 


210 


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added ruefully, “he left you quite unprovided fori Reck¬ 
lessly extravagant, I suppose, buying things like these 
that only a millionaire would buy!” 

I was glad he took it for granted that I had had all 
I owned sent on to me, and that he did not ask me any 
awkward questions. I did not care to do any more lying 
than was quite necessary. 

“These two rooms certainly have an air!” he exulted 
over our re-furnished living room and bed-room. “But 
don’t they make the rest of the house look rotten!” 

He was so proud of our really beautiful living room 
that even quite formal visitors who came to see us when 
he was home, he insisted upon taking upstairs. There 
was something pathetic to me in this childish pleasure 
over a bit of “elegance,” as he termed it. He had never 
had a real home before; a home that, from his stand¬ 
point, he need not feel ashamed of. 

He conceded to me a meed of praise for my training 
of Addie, the maid whom he took for a child in her 
teens, and who, of course, had required no training, being 
a thoroughly experienced woman. 

“I must say you’ve done well with that youngster! 
And in such a short space of time! I’m surprised 
that you know so much about social usages— But of 
course the women’s domestic magazines these days—” 

I glanced up smiling at the joke—and felt depressed 
at seeing that he meant it; believed I studied women’s 
magazines to find out how to serve meals! Did he per¬ 
haps think me equally studious of works on etiquette? 

One day after I had paid a visit to some of the Acad¬ 
emy classes, I found myself fired with a desire to take 
the vacant position in the department of History and 
English. But when I begged Eugene to let me have it, 
although I could see that he would have liked very much 


THE SNOB 


211 


indeed to have had me earn the salary of the post, he 
firmly refused my beseeching. 

“I’d be too much criticized for letting my wife work 
for money,” he decided. “I know many married women 
are doing it, but Leitersville isn’t up to that yet,” he 
said regretfully. 

“Leitersville is destined to get a few jolts one of these 
days,” I prophesied. 

“Not from you or me, I trust. It doesn’t like to be 
jolted and is apt to ruin those who do the jolting. Look 
at Appleton!” 

“Leitersville couldn’t ruin Mr. Appleton!” 

“Well, of course he’s too big. But it could ruin you 
or me! And that reminds me to warn you again that 
here in Leitersville we can’t be too intimate with Apple- 
ton. Moderately, of course. But I’ve my position to 
consider, you know.” 

“One has one’s self-respect to consider, too, Eugene!” 

“One need not lose one’s self-respect because one acts 
with ordinary discretion, my dear. If Appleton had not 
been a journalist of note, a man of wealth and of well- 
known family (none of which things you and I are) 
Leitersville would have ruined him for all time!” 

“ ‘No real evil can befall you except what you your¬ 
self invite,’ ” I quoted. “See Lecture by Dr. Eugene 
Curry on Heaven and Hell. What was it you said?— 
‘You hoist the flag in your own soul to summon love or 
hate, truth or falsehood, adventure or monotony, which 
only await your signal to throng upon you’—something 
like that you said, my dear—and I thought it fine! 
Well?” 

But it never embarrassed Eugene to have me quote him 
against himself; on the contrary, my excellent memory 
for his beautiful epigrams always flattered and pleased 


212 


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him. I had often noticed that when Herrick’s occasion¬ 
ally caustic remarks would contain at one and the same 
time compliment and criticism, Eugene would always lap 
up the compliment and ignore the criticism. 

He caught me to him just now as we stood before the 
open fire of our newly furnished living room, and kissed 
my cheek in expression of his appreciation of my quoting 
him so accurately. 

“You are a sweet thing, you know! So sweet!” he 
murmured, his face buried against my neck. “So 
sweet!” 

He could be a royal lover. Only a few months ago, 
when he had been to me a god all ivory and gold with 
no hint of clay, such caresses as these would have trans¬ 
ported me to Elysium. But in discovering the feet of 
clay of my gold and ivory god, a certain quality in his 
kisses made me, to my secret distress, wince from them. 
To be sure, that same quality had, before our marriage, 
been present in all his love making, but I had not then 
understood it. It took marriage to teach me what I 
had never dreamed of—that to most men love means 
only passion. I had supposed passion was an expression 
and incident of love; not love itself. But now I was 
coming to feel that if my fair body were blighted, the far 
richer treasures I had to give—my tenderness, sympathy, 
understanding, devotion—would be meaningless; and this 
realization did miserably cheapen love for me and drag 
it down from the heights on which my imagination had 
enshrined it. 


CHAPTER III 


M EN can be so amazingly blind to what goes on 
under their very noses! Eugene actually sup¬ 
posed that my little servant and I together did 
all the work of our large house, including the washing, 
iioning, cleaning and cooking. He never dreamed that 
I employed a woman by the day to do most of the work 
of the house during his absence at the Academy, while 
Addie merely cooked, served, made the beds and dusted, 
I intelligently directing her and spending most of my 
time at the piano or at books or receiving visitors. 

Of course I did not intend to keep up all this duplic¬ 
ity an hour longer than was necessary to what I con¬ 
ceived as my high purpose. As soon as that was accom¬ 
plished—or had failed—I would openly live the life I 
thought right; not the sort I was living now—that of an 
idle parasite—but a life of congenial work that would 
justify tny existence. . 

It was true, as Eugene had pointed out to me, that 
compared to Lottie’s immediate success with a certain 
rather influential contingent of Leitersville, my own 
much simpler personality made slow headway. 

One evening Herrick dropped in to bring me some books 
he wanted me to read, and as he and Eugene stood before 
me in the cozy sanctuary of our living room, a realiza¬ 
tion I had long been half consciously trying to avoid was 
forced upon me—I was coming to dislike seeing my hus¬ 
band and Herrick together; for several reasons; for my 
embarrassment at Herrick’s uncanny penetration; for his 
merciless,irony at poor Eugene’s little weaknesses and 

213 


214 


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vanities of which, before our marriage, I had had no 
least inkling; for the fact that Herrick’s thin, sharp 
face with its strong jaw and countenance of uncompro¬ 
mising honesty, in contrast with the gentle thoughtful¬ 
ness and spirituality of Eugene’s face, brought out a 
certain something in my husband’s expression which I 
could not bear to see; a something sleek, secretive— 

Eugene took the present occasion to mention com- 
plainingly that several “important” people who had 
promptly called on Lottie, had not as yet paid that at¬ 
tention to me; and Herrick, manifesting but slight in¬ 
terest in this fact that seemed so significant to Eugene, 
vouchsafed the opinion that Dorothy Renzheimer was at 
the bottom of it. “She’s not got over her chagrin at 
your not marrying her /” he said bluntly. 

“I don’t think it’s that at all,” Eugene returned, un¬ 
embarrassed and rather flattered; he had quite ceased to 
feel Herrick’s presence as a check upon personal pri¬ 
vacies, after his six weeks at the farm and his intimate 
experiences with us over the tragedy of Yi’s death. “It 
is because Nancy is so different from Lottie. Lottie has 
a lot of dignity; she has personality; and people see how 
admirably capable she is; and she has the knack of dress¬ 
ing in good style—you’re too countrified, Nancy!” he 
said fretfully. “Can’t you manage to get over it? You 
might try—for my sake!” 

I avoided Herrick’s eye. “Shall I take Lottie for 
my model, my dear?” I meekly asked. “She’d love me, 
you know, if I went to her and besought her, ‘Teach me, 
sister, the ways of high society and I shall be so grateful! 
And what do you consider the very best way to keep cock 
roaches out of lard?’ Lottie would be mine forever! 
The truth is, Eugene, if you didn’t think it necessary to 
your work, I would feel it a dreadful waste of time 


THE SNOB 


215 


to get involved in Leitersville society. Devastating!” 

“Lottie doesn’t find it so. She thinks Leitersville so¬ 
ciety very superior to Columbia’s.” 

“That’s nice—for both Leitersville and Lottie. But 
I, you see, have lived in the country all my life and—■’* 

“It’s obvious—you don’t have to proclaim it! But so 
did I until I went to college. You can overcome your 
disadvantages if you try. You don’t,” he surprisingly 
conceded, “have nearly so many to overcome as I 
had.” 

“And you,” nodded Herrick appreciatively, “have en¬ 
tirely overcome all of yours! Great feat!” 

I winced for my husband as I saw him flush slightly 
and dart a look of suspicion at Herrick who, I knew, was 
moved to say such things only because he so resented 
what he considered Eugene’s lack of appreciation of me. 

“Well, at least,” retorted Eugene with dignity, “I’ve 
learned to feel at home in any society and I’m not merely 
tolerated, I’m sought after. If you’ll just keep your 
eyes open, Nancy, and watch how some of the swells here 
dress and do things, the way Lottie takes them in, you 
can soon catch on to what is expected of you.” 

It was hard to keep my eyes from meeting Herrick’s 
challenging twinkle! 

“I’ll try my best, dear, to emulate Leitersville’s high 
class manners!” I replied. 

“You’ve no room to be sarcastic and superior about 
it, you know! You’ve plenty to learn from Leitersville. 
Even from Lottie, if you weren’t so absurdly self- 
satisfied ; so unaware, my dear, of your own deficiencies!” 

“Do you know,” I said thoughtfully, “if Leitersville 
enthusiastically accepted me, I’d be alarmed about myself! 
I’d feel that something ought to be done about it and 
done quickly!” 


216 


THE SNOB 


“What reason you have for thinking yourself so awfully 
above the ordinary,” Eugene shrugged, “I confess I 
fail to catch!” 

“To be your wife is to be uncommon, Curry 1” mocked 
that wretched Herrick. 

“I don’t mean,” I explained, “that I’m not interested 
in Leitersville people. Any kind of people interests me. 
Lottie and Elmer interest me, and their immaculate child; 
and that bloodless, statistical lady with a reputation in 
Leitersville for profound learning, who told me in the 
course of one short call, how many men to a fraction 
were slain at Gettysburg, the exact conditions at the 
Battle of Bunker Hill (explaining at great length and 
with historic proof that it was really Breeds Hill) the 
dates at which our territories became states, the ways of 
alligators in their native habitat—she did, too, say ‘na¬ 
tive habitat,’ ” I anticipated a challenge as to this incred¬ 
ible conversational phrase. 

“Mrs. Peffer!” Herrick chuckled. “She’s getting 
ready for a trip to Europe next summer and is soliciting 
my help in ‘studying up art’! My God, what she’s cram¬ 
ming into herself about pictures! Her accumulation of 
facts would put to the blush the National Bureau of 
Statistics, if there is such a device. She’s not going to 
be caught unprepared on European soil! From Paris 
she’ll be writing letters to the Leitersville Gazette , as she 
did from California last year—giving the ‘home folks’ 
facts as to the city’s area, population, height of build¬ 
ings, number of churches, and so forth, as though Paris 
had been hitherto undiscovered by the world.” 

“She told me,” I added, “how she’s studying up, before 
she sails, ‘the Dickens country, the Burns country, the 
Walter Scott country, the Luther country’—oh, Gawd, 
how ignorant she made me feel!” 


THE SNOB 


217 


“Don’t be so common!” Eugene fairly shivered—and 
as I saw Herrick’s quick, angry flush, I hastened to inter¬ 
cept his possibly caustic retort— 

“Couldn’t you, Mr. Appleton, when Mrs. Peffer comes 
to you for information about ‘art,’ try to humanize her? 
■—help her to at least a little realization of Beauty in 
place of her appalling acquisition of Facts?—or isn’t it 
worth the fearful effort?” 

“I beg of you, Nancy, don’t sneer at a fine woman like 
Mrs. Peffer!” Eugene coldly insisted. “She is one of the 
most respected ladies of Leitersville!” 

“She’s got them awed cold with her fund of beastly 
information,” said Herrick. “Chautauqua stuff. She’s 
always ‘taking up courses.’ It’s not intellectual curi¬ 
osity, it’s a blind-as-a-bat ambition to ‘improve her 
mind,’ however painful the process. She ought to be 
decorated with a Green Cross of Knowledge!” 

“You two are hyper-critical! Mrs. Peffer is a woman 
of position here, Nancy, that you want to cultivate.” 

“To have Facts and more Facts thrust down my 
throat faster than I can digest them?—when it’s not 
facts that I hunger for. Even to save your position, 
dear Head Master, I refuse to be intimate with a Fact- 
Register. My Negro washwoman is more human and in¬ 
teresting !” 

“Your Negro washwoman?” asked Eugene with a start 
of surprise. 

“I was speaking rhetorically,” I hastily explained, 
“meaning any Negro washwoman.” 

“All the same, Mrs. Peffer is a lady, Nancy,” he re¬ 
peated, “with whom you need to be friendly.” 

“A lady? Is she? She told me she’d ‘sooner study 
up a subject than eat.’ Creditable, perhaps, but hardly 
the style of ‘a lady,’ my love. Not that I’m avid for the 


218 


THE SNOB 


society of ‘ladies’! The word is almost obsolete, isn’t it? 
It’s human beings one finds interesting, whether in a jail, 
a drawing-room or at the wash-tub—isn’t it?” 

“Sometimes I wonder, Curry, what in God’s name you 
mean by a ‘lady,’ any way!” said Herrick. 

“I thought I meant what any one else would mean!” 
retorted Eugene. 

Again I threw myself into the breach. “I do insist, 
however, that Leitersville is very entertaining.” 

“Of course it is,” assented Herrick. “A town where 
there was no one to make fun of would be too dull to 
live in!” 

“But,” I added plaintively, “I would like to draw the 
line at going to their parties! Must I really go to their 
parties, Eugene?” 

“Yes, and do some entertaining yourself as well. 
When we’ve been to a few dinners and you’ve seen how 
they do it, we shall have to give a dinner. You two can 
imagine,” Eugene suddenly relaxed and became confi¬ 
dential and surprisingly natural, “all I had to learn to 
get where I am! I was so much more unsophisticated 
than you are, my dear girl! My only asset was (if 
you’ll let me say it) a winning personality; a thing I 
wasn’t responsible for any way! But the things I didn’t 
know! For instance, it was so amazing to me, when I 
first began to mingle with people, to hear how they chat¬ 
tered! I, an inarticulate country boy, who had lived 
always with people whose inner life was wholly unex¬ 
pressed, I who had never even tried to tell any one what I 
thought or felt about anything at all, never dreamed 
that it could concern or interest any one but myself—to 
hear people discuss freely in public their thoughts and 
feelings—at a dinner party perhaps—I can look back 
and laugh at my own bewilderment over what seemed to 


THE SNOB 


219 


me the fevered madness of just ordinary conversation!” 

“Most people,” remarked Herrick, “instead of think¬ 
ing more than they give out, talk a lot more than they 
think! You can have that one, Curry, if you think it 
good enough. It’s a safe one, any way.” 

But Eugene’s note book was not brought out. “I 
find,” he said gloomily, “that so much caution in public 
speaking as my position makes necessary, not only clips 
the wings of oratory, but atrophies thought. Free 
thinking is the only possible thinking.” 

“Then surely the price you pay for your position is 
too heavy?” said Herrick interrogatively. 

“It’s easy for you to take that stand, Appleton—a 
man of means and a confirmed bachelor!” 

“Not ‘confirmed’! This cozy home of yours would ex¬ 
cite envy in a much more confirmed bachelor than I am.” 

“Isn’t it nice? Nancy does have a knack, doesn’t 
she, in fixing up a house! If only she took an equal in¬ 
terest in making her social way—” 

“She lacks one requisite,” said Herrick in a tone of 
discouragment over me. “She hasn’t a vulgar soul!” 

“But when one lives in a world of vulgar souls!” Eu¬ 
gene shrugged. “One has got to be practical.” 

“Vulgar souls have got to,” agreed Herrick. 

“If you were a poor man and had to earn a living for 
a family, you’d have to change your attitude, Appleton— 
you’d have no choice. By the way, you did the Acad¬ 
emy an ill turn when you took young Bradley, the 
Bishop’s son, away with you.” 

“His leaving was wholly voluntary.” 

“But he followed you. I wonder whether I could get 
him back. He was an asset; a man of family and brains 
and character. Valuable and rare qualifications for a 
teacher of boys.” 


220 


THE SNOB 


“But do you think it a good thing to expose boys to 
‘vulgar contacts*—I seem to remember your shuddering 
at my toleration of ‘such a boorish clown’!” 

“I’ve always suspected that you knew all along of 
Bradley’s family connections!” 

“You ought to know by this time that the family con¬ 
nections of people don’t affect me—as they seem to 
affect you!” Herrick retorted—but instantly the expres¬ 
sion of his face indicating his fear that in hitting at 
Eugene he might be hurting me, he changed his tone. 
“No, Curry, you can’t get Bradley. He’s studying 
Chemistry in Germany. He writes me of the huge laugh¬ 
ter of German scholars over our naive legislation against 
the teaching of Evolution!” 

Eugene sighed. “We are still a bit barbaric and 
primitive!” he conceded. 


CHAPTER IV 


O FTEN during those first weeks of my social ca¬ 
reer at Leitersville, I would find Eugene regard¬ 
ing me with a puzzled speculation, and I 
learned that what perplexed him was the fact that 
not only was I never flustered by meeting people 
of presumably far wider worldly experience than I 
had ever enjoyed, hut in one or two rather trying 
situations that arose, I displayed what he consid¬ 
ered a savoir-faire which he could not reconcile with 
the things I so often said and did that in his opinion 
were “countrified,” “common,” “tactless,” “too blunt”; 
he was also perplexed over the fact that while his sister 
Lottie, in spite of her vast self-esteem, lacked the social 
ease that in me so surprised him, and was frequently 
rather strained and excited when meeting the rich and 
great, and often did embarrassingly unsophisticated 
things, she was nevertheless a far greater success with 
Leitersville than I was. He explained my self-possession 
by deciding that I was too inexperienced to know what 
I was “up against.” 

One day when upon my meeting for the first time one 
of Leitersville’s leading entertainers, the wife of a wealthy 
corporation lawyer, my composure, not to say phlegm, 
actually amused Eugene. 

“You almost treated Mrs. Diener condescendingly!” 
he chuckled when she had gone. 

“Oh, I hope not!” I said in quick genuine regret. “I 
do try to conceal my feelings!” 

“You feel condescending towards a person like Mrs. 

Diener! Don’t be absurd!” 

221 


222 


THE SNOB 


“I’m afraid I am guilty of feeling just a little con¬ 
descending towards a pretentious person who says ‘Leave 
me outen the light,’—even if she is a Leitersville Leading 
Lady. To be sure, I object equally to Lottie’s- ‘/’ZZ ex¬ 
tinguish it for you, Mrs. Diener!’ Perhaps it is pernick- 
etty to admit as my equals only those who speak of turn¬ 
ing off the light. My village simplicity—” 

“Why it is that you can’t sense these social distinc¬ 
tions— You were more friendly with Mrs. Diener’s social 
secretary than with Mrs*. Diener herself! You’re not 
stupid in other matters; why can’t you use your intelli¬ 
gence in this business?” 

“But I do. Mrs. Diener’s social secretary is the only 
intelligent and interesting woman I’ve met in Leiters¬ 
ville !” 

“She’s not invited out at all and Mrs. Diener herself 
only has her on hand when she needs her assistance. If 
one of the waitresses at a party interested you, I suppose 
you’d sit down and chat with her!” 

I did not tell him that Lottie had, to her consternation, 
once caught me doing practically that very thing in the 
dressing-room at the Country Club. 1 had found the 
maid in attendance, who was earning her way through a 
business college by working at parties, so very much 
more amusing and original than the rest of the party. 
“I didn’t think you were this green!” Lottie had said to 
me disgustedly when she caught me. 

For obvious reasons, I regretted that Lottie’s house 
was just across the street from the Academy campus; 
she could so conveniently run in on me and discover the 
extra working woman I employed unknown to Eugene; 
find me criminally engaged in reading a novel while the 
beds were still unmade—Addie not getting ’round to bed¬ 
making until almost eleven o’clock; finding out, by stop- 


THE SNOB 


223 


ping in the kitchen to question Addie before she came up 
stairs to me, that we used what she considered an un¬ 
necessary amount of cream, butter and sugar for a 
family of three; and that I neglected to have the ceilings 
dusted (I’d as soon have thought of cleaning the sky!) 

I misled her about the extra working woman by elab¬ 
orately assuming that Eugene knew of her; though Lottie 
did think it quite incredible that her brother was willing 
to pay out so much money for housework. 

“It is so unnecessary! What on earth do you do all 
day?” 

“Not what you do—our tastes being widely different. 
Have some fudge? It’s good. That’s one thing I can 
cook—fudge. Fortunately. Eugene’s extravagantly 
fond of it. 

“If you can make good fudge you could learn to do 
useful cooking.” 

“Perhaps such learning would not be utterly beyond 
my mental capacity—but I shall most carefully avoid 
acquiring it. It comes in so handy, not knowing how to 
cook.” 

“How on earth do you mean, comes in handy not know¬ 
ing how—you mean knowing how comes in—” 

“No. I’d find it very inconvenient to know how to 
cook. For you see I prefer reading novels or going to 
movies or going j oy riding with Mr. Appleton or—” 

“How can you joke about such serious things as—” 

“As cooking? Oh, I can joke about much more serious 
things than that! I could make some frightful jokes, 
for instance, about the new pastor of the Church on the 
Avenue, preaching his series of sermons against Cath¬ 
olics and Christian Science and Unitarians and Evolution, 
poor simp!” 

“You’re so slangy, Nancy! In Brother’s position as 


224? 


THE SNOB 


Head Master of the Academy, for his wife to be slangy! 
To call Reverend Kellog, the leading minister of the city, 
a ‘poor simp’! Do be more careful!” 

“Take some of this fudge home for Florence. Damned 
good fudge!” 

“Oh!” gasped Lottie, and added firmly, when she had 
recovered, “No, Nancy, Florence is being punished and 
can have no candy for three days. Fm very sorry to 
say that Reverend Kellog’s little daughter Mary led 
Florence into mischief!” 

“I thought that child looked promising! She presented 
herself here one day and asked me whether Florence Crab 
lived here, and when I said no, she asked me where she did 
live; when I said I didn’t know any such child, she re¬ 
membered the name was Florence Lobster ‘or some kind 
of a fish,’ and then I saw she meant your Florence,” I 
said, innocent of any uncomplimentary implication. 

“The poor little motherless one,” said Lottie, “is so un¬ 
trained! Reverend Kellog does his best, but a man is so 
helpless! Still, I think he spoils Mary somewhat. He 
has not, to my knowledge, punished her at all for what 
they did yesterday—for which Florence, much less de¬ 
serving of punishment, is undergoing three whole days 
deprived of playmates and candy.” 

“Perhaps Dr. Kellog feels that Mary should be re¬ 
warded rather than punished for so efficiently helping 
him in his work of saving souls!” 

“What do you mean?” asked Lottie impatiently, “if 
you mean anything at all!” 

“If Mary leads Florence into mischief, she may do 
more towards saving one soul than any of Dr. Kellog’s 
silly attacks on other sects will do! What interesting 
mischief did she lead Florence into?” 


THE SNOB 


225 


“So ‘interesting’ as nearly to cause a riot in the town! 
Didn’t you hear about it?” 

“No. What was it?” 

“Well, it seems that Mary got all stirred up by her 
father’s sermon against Catholics, so she enticed Florence 
yesterday to the Roman Catholic Church and got her 
to help write on the door with chalk something perfectly 
dreadful and sign after it her father’s name and her own 
and Florence’s!” 

“Oh! What did she write?” 

Lottie whispered the awful words:— 

“ ‘To hell with the Irish Catholics! 

‘Rev. J. W. Kellog and Mary. 

‘Florence Klam.’ 

The Catholics nearly mobbed Reverend Kellog!” 

Lottie’s look of genuine horror froze the laughter that 
rose to my lips. 

“Your poor child must be greatly bewildered most of 
the time, Lottie, as to what she is being punished for!” 

“She knows perfectly well. For giving Mary her chalk. 
Florence darsent give away her things. And for wander¬ 
ing away down to the Catholic Church when she darsent 
leave the block.” 

“Can’t you see that it’s Dr. Kellog that’s to blame for 
inciting his daughter to hate and profanity ? A most en¬ 
terprising child she must be! It’s Dr. Kellog that should 
be punished! I hope this thing is a lesson to him. But 
it won’t be. He’s too stupid!” 

“He’s a very excellent man!” Lottie primly defended 
the pastor of the rich and fashionable “Church on the 
Avenue,” as it was called. “He’s so considered by all!” 


226 


THE SNOB 


“To be so considered by Leitersville is enough to damn 
any minister!” I sighed. “The only genuine, fearless 
Christian minister they ever had here they drove out. He 
spoiled Big Business!” 

“If you refer to Reverend Calloway, they say he did 
a lot of harm by stirring up unrest in the Church and 
town and getting people to think too much about things 
they’d better leave be. By the way, talking of Big Busi¬ 
ness,” added Lottie, a look of complacency coming upon 
her countenance, “have Mrs. Renzheimer and her daughter 
Dorothy called on you yet?” 

“They have not yet availed themselves of the privilege 
of knowing me,” I answered, realizing from her expres¬ 
sion that she herself had already been the happy re¬ 
cipient of this social recognition. “But if they are any¬ 
thing like the husband and father, Mr. George Renz¬ 
heimer, who called here last night on some business he had 
with Eugene (he’s an Academy trustee, you know) I mar¬ 
vel that even Leitersville can accept him socially, he is 
so uncouth.” 

“Now, Nancy, take a hint from me and don’t give your¬ 
self away by criticizing every one that doesn’t take you 
up. Any one can see it’s just sour grapes. Mrs. Renz¬ 
heimer and Miss Dorothy called on me and I found them 
very nice.” 

“My dear Lottie, one of your most engaging char¬ 
acteristics is that you find any one ‘nice’ that has a big 
income. Even I, if I acquired a fortune, would become 
rather ‘nice’; now, wouldn’t I?” 

“You’d at least become a little justified in lolling ’round 
reading novels while Brother works to pay for all your 
housework!” she retorted rather cleverly, I thought. 

“I hate idleness,” I admitted, “but I prefer it to house- 


THE SNOB 


227 


work. However, I’m very soon going to get a job of 
some sort.” 

“Get a job! Brother’s wife get a job! Gracious! 
Don t you think your job is seeing after your own home?” 

“And yours, apparently,” I smiled, “is seeing after 
me.” 

“I could help you so much if you’d leave me help you.” 

“But I haven’t noticed your waiting until I let you.” 

“Now, for instance, the way you dress; Miss Dorothy 
Renzheimer was saying she thought you dress so odd!” 

“Is she, then, as ungrammatical as her father? Tut, 
tut!” 

“Indeed, she’s highly educated. She attended a very 
expensive finishing school for two years. She thinks 
you ought to dress to conceal your thinness more. You 
are awfully thin, you know,” said Lottie with a slight 
shudder. 

“No wonder you and Miss Renzheimer shudder at the 
thought of all the dieting you’d have to do to attain my 
dainty figure!” I said sympathetically. 

“I’m considered to have a very neat figure!” said Lottie 
indignantly. 

But if I found Lottie’s neighborliness annoying, El¬ 
mer’s frank inquisitiveness and prying into our affairs 
were so blatant as to disturb even Eugene. Indeed, El¬ 
mer soon acquired a reputation in the neighborhood for 
being an impertinent busy-body and it was only the high 
esteem in which his wife and brother-in-law were held 
that saved him from being unmercifully snubbed for his 
freely offered advice, his openly telling people about it 
when he didn’t approve of them, his tiresome boasting. 

His wife, far from being embarrassed by these peculiar¬ 
ities, admired them. When he would relate with relish 


228 


THE SNOB 


to friends and neighbors his favorite anecdotes illustra¬ 
tive of Elmer Klam’s independence of character, and other 
high qualities, she did not seem to realize that she was 
his only auditor who was appreciative and not bored. 

“Now just to show you how I never knuckle down to 
anybody, no matter how high a person it is,” he would 
say with his strutting cock-of-the-walk air, “here once 
when I was courting my wife, I took her for a buggy- 
ride to visit the Gettysburg battle field, and when we 
stopped on the top of the hill to take in the nice view, 
another carriage came up behind us and the driver yelled 
out, ‘Will you drive to one side? You’re obstructing the 
view for the President of the United States!’ It was sure 
enough President McKinley in the buggy behind us! 
But do you suppose that made me any difference? It 
did not! I had as much right to the middle of the road 
and the front view as the President of the United States 
—or any Senator or Cabinet member or even any King 
had! For I was an American citizen! And one Amer¬ 
ican citizen is the equal of any other American citizen 
whether President or music perfessor! And I stood on 
my rights. I called back, ‘I have this place and I’m keep¬ 
ing this place! I’ve as much right to it as the President 
of the United States has!’ And he hollered to me, ‘But 
I tell you President McKinley is in this carriage!’ ‘I 
wouldn’t care if George Washington was in that car¬ 
riage!’ I called back. ‘McKinley’s only an American 
citizen like all the rest of us, ain’t he? I don’t move for 
any one!’ I hollered. And I don’t either. I ain’t that 
kind! An American is an American, I always say, and 
one American is as good as any other American! All 
born free and equal, a self-evident truth. I was raised in 
the public schools and I’m proud of it, for there I learned 
that in a democracy a free American citizen is any man’s 


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229 


equal whether he’s a President or an Emperor or a Money- 
King or whatever! Well, that party in the back carriage 
he hollered and he bawled and he swore, but not an inch 
would I move till 1 got good and ready! Then, and not 
till then, I moved. That’s the kind of a man I am. I 
always was and I always will be!” 

“Yes, that’s the way El is,” Lottie would uphold and 
abet him. “He’s awfully independent that way! He'll 
never step aside for any one else. He holds to his rights 
no matter who comes along. And he is not afraid to 
stand up and say so too, right in their face! He was 
always like that.” 

“Professor Klam gives* me a pain!” I frequently over¬ 
heard from an Academy pupil; and an occasional neigh¬ 
bor, forgetting our relationship, would groan in my pres¬ 
ence, “That Professor Klam makes me tired, the way he 
hates himself!” 

As a teacher of music at the Academy, Elmer was not 
inefficient, for the work was, of course, quite primary. 
But his pretentions to musicianship were so palpably 
ludicrous that even Leitersville repudiated them, the 
Thursday Music Club withholding from him any recogni¬ 
tion and his utmost efforts failing to secure for him a 
church organ, in spite of the fact that for the honor and 
prestige of being the organist of “the Church of the Ave¬ 
nue,” he offered to return his entire salary to the Church’s 
charity fund. To his chagrin this munificent offer was 
respectfully declined. The only thing he managed to get 
was the directing of the music of the Baptist Sunday 
School. Inasmuch as the smaller town of Columbia had 
accepted him as a real musician, his Leitersville experi¬ 
ence was very humiliating to him; but he vented his feel¬ 
ings by pitying a town that could so blindly miss its 
chance of something really good. 


230 


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Naturally with two such relatives as Elmer and Lottie 
living across the street from me, I could not hope to keep 
my domestic arrangements concealed very long from 
Eugene. 


CHAPTER V 


I T was an unseasonably mild afternoon in the first 
week of October and I was sitting out under the big 
trees of the campus which sloped right down to the 
banks of the beautiful Conestoga Creek. 

The book in my lap lay unheeded while I watched with 
dreamy, sleepy pleasure a half dozen very little boys div¬ 
ing from an island in the creek about a half mile out. 
They looked, from that distance, like Lilliputians a foot 
high, their naked white bodies gleaming in the sunlight 
like polished ivory—agile, graceful—darting in and out 
of the water like dazzling fishes. I envied them; and I 
pitied the Academy boys who, from the other end of the 
campus, were also enviously watching them; for “the ob¬ 
servance of the Sabbath” was, by order of the trus¬ 
tees, and against Eugene’s judgment, strictly enforced 
at the Academy, and swimming to-day would have been a 
crime. 

“They look like white sea gulls!” I thought happily, 
wishing that Herrick or Eugene or some one would come 
along to share my enjoyment of it. 

And just then the new pastor of the Church on the 
Avenue, Dr. Kellog, approached me from across the 
lawn; a man in his prime, well-built, well-dressed, sleek, 
as spiritual and intelligent, apparently, as a prosperous 
undertaker. To me the only interesting thing about him 
was his highly original little daughter Mary who resem¬ 
bled him in nothing. But in my eagerness to share with 
some one my pleasure in the beauty of those sporting 
little boys in the distance, I welcomed him cordially, draw- 
231 


232 


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ing his attention at once, as he shook hands with me and 
sat down in the wicker chair beside me, to the scene be¬ 
fore us. 

“Did you ever see anything more graceful than the way 
they duck and dive? I’ve not been able to read a line, 
they fascinate me so!” 

Dr. Kellog looked greatly astonished and glanced un¬ 
easily towards the groups of Academy boys about the 
grounds. “But—but, Mrs. Curry ! I’m here to get your 
signature to a petition to the Mayor demanding the arrest 
of those boys who every Sabbath afternoon so outrage 
decency as to bathe in the creek without bathing suits— 
in a state of nudity !—right before the eyes of all the 
people who live along this creek!” 

The back lawns of all the houses on “the Avenue,” as 
the principal resident street of Leitersville was called, ran 
down to the creek. 

“I have to make my daughter Mary keep to the front 
of the house on Sabbath afternoons,” he gravely con¬ 
tinued. “And your relatives the Klams, are obliged to 
keep their daughter Florence, also, from looking out the 
back windows. It is a serious nuisance and must be 
stopped!” 

“But it’s horrible to suggest such ideas to those two 
little girls!” I said indignantly. “If childhood can’t re¬ 
main uncorrupted—” 

“Exactly! We must protect our children from cor¬ 
ruption. I misunderstood you for a moment. Here’s 
the petition to which we want your signature—” unfold¬ 
ing the paper he held, on which I saw a long list of names. 
“Will you sign just after Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Klam?” 

“No, Dr. Kellog, I will not, though I’ll gladly sign 
a petition that those very little boys be left unmolested 


THE SNOB 


233 


in their play! To arrest them would be criminal cruelty 
to babies—they’re about seven or eight years old! 
They’d be frightened out of their senses!” 

“But you just said—Mrs. Curry you surely don’t up¬ 
hold this indecency?” 

“The indecency of this petition—no!” 

“But—but I don’t understand you! Do you think our 
young people can remain clean-minded and pure if we 
allow such a shameless exposure of nudity right out in the 
open?” 

“ 4 Ad imaginem Dei creavit ilium’!” I quoted. “I 
think since the nudity is a half mile away our young peo¬ 
ple run a good chance of remaining clean-minded and pure 
if we don’t suggest to them that God’s image is too vile 
and corrupting to be looked upon with the naked eye!” 

“We’re not savages, Mrs. Curry!” 

“No, we seem to have traveled far from the childlike 
innocence of savages, don’t we? The sight of those chil¬ 
dren in their beauty and innocence,, makes me want to 
worship their Creator!—and it seems to make you 
ashamed of your Creator, Dr. Kellog! You know, 
I don’t often feel like worshiping the Creator of 
this cruel and rather frightful world! It may seem odd 
to you, dear Dr. Kellog, but your sermons against other 
sects don’t make me feel nearly so religious as those nude 
boys make me feel—if you’ll excuse me saying so!” 

Dr. Kellog looked stern and troubled. “Fm very sorry 
to hear you talk like this, Mrs. Curry!” 

“Not nearly so sorry, I’m sure, Dr. Kellog, as I am to 
find you wasting your time on that shameful petition!” 

“But I really don’t understand you! Shameful? 
Why?” 

“Well, you know it was only after Adam and Eve had 


234 


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sinned that they ran for fig leaves. And Swedenborg 
says, ‘The angels in the highest heavens are in a state of 
nudity and know no shame.’ To the pure—” 

“Ah, but since we are a fallen race and not ‘angels in 
the highest heaven,’ no’r yet the innocents our first par¬ 
ents were while in the Garden of Eden, that’s the very 
reason, my dear Mrs. Curry, that we must cover our 
nakedness with fig leaves!” said the minister rhetorically 
and triumphantly. 

“I should think you’d be afraid of starting that orig¬ 
inal small daughter of yours on a vice crusade!—when 
you think of her zealous effort to aid and abet you in your 
sectarian propaganda!” 

He smiled. “She is an original child, isn’t she? Gets 
it from her mother,” he added in a tone of appropriate 
sadness for “the dear departed.” 

“Evidently!” was my mental (not spoken) comment. 

“But it seems incredible to me, Mrs. Curry,” he per¬ 
sisted, “that a lady of your evident intelligence and—and 
refinement, should so lack a sense of—well, propriety— 
as to refuse to sign this petition!” 

“Sign that petition! I’d be ashamed to look in the 
mirror and meet my own eyes if my mind were so un¬ 
clean that I could not see those children out there with¬ 
out thoughts of evil! Do you know what I think Amer¬ 
icans will be doing next? They’ll be prohibiting by law 
nude cows and horses and dogs to be seen in the open for 
fear the sight induces pruriency!” 

The clerical gentleman rose. “Of course if that is how 
you feel,” he said stiffly, “we cannot discuss the matter 
further. But I am surprised and hurt—and I must ad¬ 
mit shocked, Mrs. Curry!” 

He took his ceremoniously ministerial departure, leav- 


T H E S N 0 B 235 

ing me to return to my enjoyment of the little swimmers 
in the sunlight. 

A few minutes later Eugene j oined me, and so little im¬ 
pression had Dr. Kellog’s call made upon me—except to 
fill me with wonder at the stupidity and mental impurity 
of some people—that, with unabated enthusiasm, I drew 
my husband’s attention to the far-away island scene. 

“Isn’t it the most beautiful sight you ever beheld!” 

“But you are so verdant, Nancy!” he complained, “to 
talk as you did to Dr. Kellog!” 

“Why, how did you know?” 

“He came to the house to get my signature.” 

“And how did you talk to him, my dear?” 

“Not like 6 an untutored savage’!” 

“But of course you didn’t sign?” 

“But of course I did sign—as you must too. When 
you’re in Rome— We can’t impose our standards upon 
other people.” 

“Nor let them impose theirs on us, Eugene.” 

“We’ve got to be politic. You shocked Dr. Kellog!” 

“Not nearly so much as he shocked me!” 

“I wish you weren’t so raw! You’ll get me into trou¬ 
ble here with your village manners!—your lack of sub¬ 
tlety, of finesse. People of the world, Nancy, salve things 
over a bit, adapt themselves, compromise. They don’t 
crudely plump down their ideas regardless of where or on 
whom they land!” 

I did not answer at once. I had to wait until a painful 
little lump in my throat was safely swallowed. Then I 
quietly said, “You’ll admit that Mr. Appleton is a man 
of the world and I don’t see him salving things over and 
compromising.” 

“He doesn’t have to.” 


236 


THE SNOB 


“It’s only the intellectually middle class that think 
they have to!” I retorted. 

“You call me intellectually middle class’?” he in¬ 
quired amused. 

“Eugene, that you could stoop to sign that vulgar, 
silly petition rather fills me with disgust!” 

“Indeed!” he sneered. “It’s more to the point, how¬ 
ever, that your not signing it annoys me excessively. I 
told Kellog you’d think better of it. You’ll have to 
sign it.” 

“I wish you could see,” I said sadly, “how you harm 
yourself by acting so often against your real convic¬ 
tions! If you go on this way, why, Eugene, my dear, 
you’ll become an utter hypocrite! Even in a worldly 
sense, the juggler with his conscience usually ruins him¬ 
self. He’s always in the end repudiated and despised 
by the very society he has tried to propitiate! Look at 
Lloyd George and Woodrow Wilson!” 

“Hear, hear! How wise we are!” he smiled mockingly. 
“I can take care of my own ethics, thank you! Under¬ 
stand, Nancy, you must sign that petition!” 

I would not argue that point, though my silence meant 
that I certainly would not sign it. I smiled mournfully 
to myself as I thought how much more hypocritical my 
secret domestic regime would seem to Eugene than his own 
“tactful” descent to the level of the people he felt he had 
to please and satisfy. Well, I did not enjoy my hypoc¬ 
risy. I loathed it. I could never have reconciled my¬ 
self to doing, from motives of cowardice, what I was now 
doing from far other motives—the effort to bring into 
harmony two personalities that, I was beginning wretch¬ 
edly to fear, were hopelessly mismated. 

“By the way, Eugene, you didn’t give me Addie’s wages 
yesterday,” I said, my quiet tone concealing the quicker 


THE SNOB 


237 


beating of my heart in anticipation of his irrita¬ 
tion at the reminder. I was obliged to go through the 
form of asking him for Addie’s weekly wages to avert his 
wonder and suspicion as to why the girl stayed on without 
pay. It was requiring some stoicism to put through this 
experiment of mine. “Eugene, I would appreciate it so 
much if you didn’t make me ask you for the money every 
week! It embarrasses me.” 

“It ought to! You are perfectly well now and are 
surely able to do as much work as that child can do. 
Lottie says she never sees you doing any housework!— 
that you lie ’round reading novels! It would be enough 
better for your health to take a broom and sweep!” 

“But I’m so afraid that if some of the people you call 
‘important’ found me sweeping, they might suspect that 
I came from a village! The ‘important’ people here all 
keep one or two maids. Some day, my dear, I’m going to 
have a butler. Oh yes, I am—you’ll live to see it!” 

“Visitors never catch Lottie sweeping; she manages 
too well. Look here, Nancy, I’m going to pay Addie off 
next Saturday and dismiss her. You’re too self-indulgent 
for your own good!” 

“I appreciate your thoughtfulness for my good, my 
dear, but if you dismiss Addie, I shall be obliged to scrub 
the front porch on my hands and knees before all the 
boys and in sight of the whole neighborhood—after which 
I shall certainly take to my bed until you get Addie 
back again.” 

He looked at me with an expression which, before our 
marriage, I had never once seen on his face—once would 
have been enough, I am sure, to have frightened me off. 
Its was a cold, ugly look of mingled spite and dislike that 
somehow seemed to me to savor of effeminacy rather 
than virility. Of course I knew he did not dislike me 


238 


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all the time; only now and then, when I became particu¬ 
larly irritating—he being unaware of the fact that the 
irritation was mutual; for thus far I had managed to 
conceal from him how often he jarred upon me; how he 
sometimes made my very soul shrink and curl up in its 
shell to hide its aversion. Even Herrick’s keen pene¬ 
tration did not suspect me of these occasional secret re¬ 
vulsions. 

“What right have you to refuse to do your part as a 
wife?” he coldly demanded, “seeing that you are wholly 
dependent upon your husband and have nothing of your 
own!” 

“Nothing,” I sighed, “but an old silver service, a few 
old rugs, and some old furniture—tut, tut, Nancy, 
couldn’t you do better than that?” I said—wondering 
whether he suspected that even this little fraction of my 
possessions was worth what, by his standards, was a small 
fortune. And if he should know of my estate on the Hud¬ 
son, the rent of which yielded me more than his yearly 
salary?—and of all my other sources of income! I was 
determined that he never should know until I was quite 
clear as to which he would value more—my possessions 
or me. 

“If you ever lose your job, Eugene, the sale of my 
things would keep us going comfortably quite a while. 
And I’ve another asset—enough education to earn my 
own living—as I did for two years before my ambitious 
marriage; and, Eugene, you must admit that I make a 
comfortable home for you here.” 

“You do. But you could do it less extravagantly, 
my dear. When you consider the burden of expense I 
carry-—with Mother to provide for—” 

“Ten dollars a month! Which, Weesy complains, you 
don’t send! Oh, Eugene! At least take care of your 


THE SNOB 


239 


mother ungrudgingly! Think of all she’s done for you!” 

“That’s my affair—oblige me by keeping off of it. 
Nancy!” 

“But you just said I should consider your expenses— 
the support of your mother. I’m considering too (since 
you’re going to discharge Addie) your extravagance in 
engaging a secretary for your personal work in addition 
to the one the Academy gives you! My dear, that is a 
useless extravagance, a riot of self-indulgence! Oh, I 
have an idea! Let me be your personal secretary and 
I’ll use the salary (it’s seventy-five dollars a month, isn’t 
it?) to pay Addie and your mother. Will you?” 

“And have you prying into all my private affairs, dic¬ 
tating and advising—no, thank you, my dear!” 

“Do you have secrets from me, my dear, that your 
personal secretary may know?” 

“Even a married man likes his privacies.” 

“And a married woman too,” I nodded. “I don’t 
tell you everything either.” 

He laughed easily. “I know all about you that I want 
to know, my dear—and perhaps,” he added ruefully, 
“some things I’d as lief not know!” 

“Marriage is very illuminating,” I said sweetly. “I’ve 
learned some things about you too, dear, since our 
marriage that I didn’t know before.” 

He darted a swift, almost startled glance at me. He 
was realizing, to his evident discomfort, a new note in my 
attitude to him since we had left the farm and were 
established in our own home; a shade less of the docile 
submission with which I had endured the ordeal of the 
long summer. 

“Is it the expense of your extra secretary that makes 
you unable to pay your mother and our maid?” 

“Leave my mother out of it—that’s not your affair. 


240 


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Nancy! It’s not only Addie’s wages, it’s her board. I 
happened to go through the kitchen when she was eating 
her lunch yesterday and the way she was spreading on 
the butter! At sixty-five cents a pound! All the food 
bills are nearly doubled when she is here.” 

“That’s partly because she gives us more elaborate 
meals than the ready-cooked, canned things I serve you, 
dear.” 

“Why can’t you learn to cook as she does?” 

“For the same reason that you need an extra secre¬ 
tary. Come, dear, it’s too lovely a day to argue and 
fuss! Let us be nice to each other! How about a walk 
up the creek?” 

“Are you going to behave yourself about Dr. Kellog?” 

“Sign his filthy petition? Of course not.” 

“Look, Nancy, it is advisable that you should sign it. 
I insist upon it. Or if that’s too strong for you, I beg 
you to.” 

“That’s better. But I can’t, Eugene.” 

“You mean you won’t?” 

“I mean I can’t.” 

“Come, come, don’t be obstinate! I want you to, my 
dear.” 

“If I consented to put my name to a thing I consider 
imbecile and unclean, I would be worse than obstinate, 
I’d be a cad! Now please let us drop it!” 

“Then I’m a cad, am I?” 

“Did you consider the petition imbecile and unclean?” 

“Imbecile of course. Well? Then I’m a cad?” 

“What would you call yourself?” 

“A man of common sense. A diplomat.” 

“Do you know,” I laughed, “what Mencken says of 
American diplomacy?—that it is ‘hypocritical, disin¬ 
genuous, knavish and dishonorable’—and to this judg- 


THE SNOB 


241 


ment, he says, he makes ‘no exception whatever, either 
recent or long past.’ ” 

Eugene took out his note book. “In my lecture next 
week before the Civic Club on American Ideals , I could 
very aptly quote that—disapprovingly of course. Now, 
how does it go?” 

When later in the day Dr. Kellog returned with his 
petition, and I, for the first time in my married life, re¬ 
fused to yield to my husband’s wishes, coaxings and in¬ 
sistence, he, astonished, angry and offended, demon¬ 
strated his indignation in a form which he evidently con¬ 
sidered the extreme of stringency—he left our bed-room 
that night and locked himself in the guest room across 
the hall. 

I was lost in wonder at his delusion. “That he should 
consider that a punishment to me— that! Oh, God, how 
little he knows me!” 


CHAPTER VI 


I T was with mingled distress and rage that I witnessed, 
the next Sunday afternoon, six frightened, shivering 
little hoys brought to shore by a policeman and 
marshaled to the Mayor’s office or the police station — 
I did not know. “Pruriency triumphant over Inno¬ 
cence !” I later heard Herrick’s sneering comment on the 
episode. 

My experiences of life up to the time of my marriage 
had been limited to just two small areas — that of my 
old home where from childhood I had known toleration 
and encouragement of free discussion of every sort of 
opinion and (after one dead, empty year shut off from 
the world) my two years in the little Pennsylvania 
Dutch village of Virginsvillc where in Eugene’s friend¬ 
ship I had again known a broad tolerance and entire 
freedom of thought and expression; so that I was not 
schooled in caution and secrecy as to my ideas and was 
entirely ignorant of the intolerance and narrowness that 
rules in small cities among the so-called educated. It 
was, therefore, inevitable that in spite of Eugene’s warn¬ 
ings (which I did not take seriously) I should quite inno¬ 
cently and unconsciously expose myself to the criticisms 
and even condemnation of the people of Leitersville. 
And the amusing part of it (I never could take it trag¬ 
ically as Eugene did) was that during all the rising 
furor over me, my ideas, my habits, my clothes, the 
nude statuettes in my living room (Venus of Milo and the 
Apollo Belvedere) and finally my absolutely damning 
attitude as to the little nude bathers in our creek, I 

242 


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243 


remained entirely unaware of the fact that I was making 
any impression on any one and went right on in my 
reckless course, making it worse and worse all the time, 
smiling and pleased through it all, for I was finding Lei- 
tersville so interesting that I was beginning to feel I 
had found my vocation and could write a usefully amus¬ 
ing book about it. 

“The only thing I lack,” I told Herrick, “is technique 
and style and genius.” 

“Don’t let such unimportant drawbacks discourage 
you. Do the best sellers usually display technique and 
style and genius?” 

“But I want to write a best seller that has all that.” 

“A large order!” 

“But Herrick, if I could just faithfully put down 
what I see here in Leitersville! Oh, gee!” 

“Go to it, my dear, and see what you can do.” 

“We might write it together?” 

“I couldn’t write a novel without making you the hero¬ 
ine. You write the book and I’ll criticize what you 
write. You can make me the hero and Eugene the 
villain.” 

Although for weeks after Dr. Kellog’s Sunday after¬ 
noon visit to me, nearly every one who came to see me 
referred to the nude Sunday swimmers, it never occurred 
to me that these people, having heard of my refusal to 
sign the petition and some of my (greatly misconstrued) 
remarks thereon, were, as the Academy boys would have 
said, “trying to get a rise out of” me. 

“Aren’t you awfully relieved, Mrs. Curry, to have had 
that indecency stopped?” Mrs. Niedemyer asked me dur¬ 
ing an afternoon call. 

“Oh, no, I enjoyed watching them.” 

“Enjoyed— Why, what a queer thing to enjoy!” 


244 


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“Queer to enjoy the beauty and grace and innocence 
of children playing?” 

“But for the morals of the neighborhood, Mrs. Curry, 
surely you think it was right to stop such—why, on 
account of your young maid, Addie,—she could see those 
naked boys from her kitchen window! Enough to make 
her turn bad /” 

“But Addie isn’t a degenerate, she’s a perfectly decent 
girl. Don’t you want to go this evening, Mrs. Nied- 
emyer, to Mr. Appleton’s Forum to hear his talk on 
Gandhi?” 

“Candy? A humorous lecture it is?” 

“Mahatma Gandhi.” 

“Dear me, what’s that?” 

“Another Christ, Mr. Herrick says.” 

Mrs. Niedemyer looked uncomfortable. “Has it any¬ 
thing to do with those bad boys? Mr. Appleton’s such 
a queer man, you never know what he’ll say next! I’d 
be nearly afraid to go to one of his lectures! I’ve heard 
him say things that made me feel that funny, I didn’t 
know which way to look! Why, once didn’t he tell me 
right out that his sister in New York was going to have 
a baby! I thought I’d die on the spot!” 

“Heavens! Why?” 

“Oh, Mrs. Curry , for a man to tell a lady such a 
thing! Why, my husband would no more— And they 
say no one attends those meetings at his house but a lot 
of laboring people, though he himself is such a gentleman! 
It seems so queer he’d want those kind of folks at his 
house! He’s a very elegant man himself, I’ve always 
thought, except for his queer views and he won’t join 
the Leitersville Men’s Club, although invited, and it’s not 
so easy to get into that club, you know! Dr. Curry 
belongs of course, don’t he?” 


THE SNOB 


245 


“I don’t know.” 

My not knowing a matter of such social significance 
was, I learned long afterwards, one of the proofs of my 
rural ignorance. 

“My husband wouldn’t leave me attend Mr. Appleton’s 
Forum,” Mrs. Neidemyer continued. “Mr. Appleton 
does have such queer opinions, doesn’t he! They say,” 
she added in a tone of awe, “that he’s a Bolshevist! Yes, 
Mrs. Curry, I heard that for a fact! Such queer views 
for a gentleman to have!” 

“But his views aren’t ‘queer,’ Mrs. Niedemyer; they’re 
only the views of the world’s leading thinkers!” 

“Oh, but they say the leading thinkers often have very 
queer ideas indeed! Look at the queer ideas Darwin 
had! Did you say, Mrs. Curry, you liked watching 
those—those naked boys?” she asked, lowering her voice 
and looking puzzled. 

“Loved to. Gandhi is such a great celebrity, Mrs. 
Niedemyer, that you’d better take advantage of learn¬ 
ing all about him at Mr. Appleton’s Forum,.” 

“But I’d be afraid to risk it! I’d be afraid of the 
queer things Mr. Appleton might say; things, you know, 
that might not be very refined. I’d just die if he said 
such things when I was sitting there! Didn’t you mind 
having that young maid of yours, Mrs. Curry, watch 
those boys all stripped?” 

“Why should I? She’s twenty-eight years old, a per¬ 
fectly self-reliant young woman that would rightly re¬ 
sent my concerning myself with her morality—which is 
her affair. Have you,” I quickly asked to divert her 
from this nauseating theme, “read Babbitt?” 

“No, hut I heard Mrs. Peffer say she hated to think 
of the time wasted that it took to read that book, where 
she could have used that time for reading a book that 


246 


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was instructive or that uplifted you or that had some 
pretty characters. She says that book hasn’t one fine 
character!” 

“It hasn’t one single poor one! The character sketch¬ 
ing is marvelous!” 

“But she meant no lovable characters that you could 
take as a model.” 

“No,” I grinned, “Mr. Lewis doesn’t make characters 
for us, but of us!” 

“Well, for my part, I must say I like an uplifting 
book. Or what’s the use of it? Why, Mrs. Curry, 
some of the popular new novels, the leading characters 
aren’t even refined!” 

“Are life and nature ‘refined’?” 

“Oh, well, but that’s different!” 

Another day I had a visitor, Mrs. Bergstresser, who 
opened up the delectable subject of the nude boys by 
drawing my attention to my lower moral standard as 
compared to my sister-in-law’s. 

“You and your sister-in-law don’t resemble each other, 
do you?” 

“It’s a way with sisters-in-law, not to resemble each 
other, don’t you think?” 

“Yes, isn’t that the truth! And you are certainly 
different from Mrs. Klam!” 

“Thank you—I mean, do you think so? I’m afraid 
you flatter me. Have a chocolate?” I held out a bon¬ 
bon dish from the tea table. 

My serving tea to callers was, by the way, Lottie had 
told me, considered ultra-stylish on the part of one who 
in other respects fell below standard as to what was 
deemed in Leitersville to be real elegance. For instance, 
I was sometimes so silent in company as to seem 
really shy; at a neighborhood thimble tea I hemmed 


T H E S N O B 247 

kitchen towels while the other ladies embroidered fine 
doilies or did something they called “drawn work” to ex¬ 
quisite lingerie; I had been known to rest my elbow on 
the table at a luncheon; I had no “jolly give and take in 
social conversation,” but was often, in the midst of the 
liveliest fun, as serious as a country Mennonite. And 
I didn’t even know whether or not my husband belonged 
to the exclusive Leitersville Men’s Club! 

“You see,” continued Mrs. Bergstresser, “Mrs. Klam 
is so—well, so particular!” 

“About many things,” I nodded over my tea cup. 
“About mice and cockroaches and dust on the ceiling 
and Florence’s clean little mind and garbage and her 
brother’s wife’s morals and manners!—I should say she 
is particular!” 

“And you’re so—well, not lax exactly, but easy-going, 
aren’t you! Mrs. Klam was so particular to keep her 
little Florence from seeing those bad, nasty boys that 
went swimming all undressed over at the island!” 

A feeling of despair came upon me. I wondered how 
Leitersville would occupy itself once it had exhausted this 
salacious topic! I little dreamed that it never would ex¬ 
haust it; that the juicy kernel of interest in it was my 
connection with it and my supposedly ribald comments 
about it; and that twelve years hence they would still be 
discussing it with all the relish it had for them to-day 
and with amazingly embellished versions of my “views” 
about “nudity.” 

“If you had a little daughter of your own, Mrs. 
Curry,” persisted Mrs. Bergstresser as she sipped her 
tea, “wouldn’t you protect her from looking at such 
things ?” 

“I’d certainly try to protect her from hearing pru¬ 
rient suggestions about human nakedness! Have you 


248 


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heard of little Mary Kellog’s latest adventure?” I pa¬ 
tiently tried to change the wearisome subject. “Her 
revenge upon Mrs. Klam because Florence was not al¬ 
lowed to play with her for three days on account of their 
writing on the Roman Catholic Church door? Mary 
knew that Mrs. Klam was giving a card party last night, 
so she escaped from the Manse, went down to the Square 
where the Salvation Army were playing a drum and a 
tambourine and singing hymns, and induced the leader 
to take his Army up to the Klams where, she told him, 
some very wicked people were ‘carousing’ and gambling 
with cards! So for nearly an hour the card party was 
treated to a deafening uproar of drum, tambourine and 
shrill singing of hymns and loud praying for the lost souls 
given over to the lust of the flesh and the pride of the 
eye—and it was too warm to close the windows!” 

Mrs. Bergstresser informed me she had been at the 
party and knew all about the commotion, but she had not 
been aware of the distressing and disgraceful fact that 
the minister’s child was responsible! Her horror was 
not assumed. 

“Mrs. Klam had to ’phone to the police station and 
have them ordered away!” she told me. “Really, Dr. 
Kellog ought to do something about that child! If only,” 
Mrs. Bergstresser sighed, “poor little Mary had a mother 
like Mrs. Klam, what a different child she’d be!” 

“Very,” I readily admitted. “And what a dull place 
Leitersville would then be without the thrilling suspense 
we’re always in as to what Mary will be up to next! 
Mary’s pranks and nude swimming children seem to be 
all that keep us alive!” 

Even my neighbor across the street from the Academy, 
Mrs. Diffenderfer, whose sole topic of conversation I 


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249 


had thus far found to be Food, was diverted long enough 
from the discussion of apple dumplings, noodle soup, 
waffles, clam chowder, to ask me, “Would you think it 
was all right, Mrs. Curry, to leave the Academy boys go 
swimming in the creek right here without bathing suits 
on?” 

“I’ve no authority over the boys, you know. Won’t 
you let my cook have your recipe for that lovely pump¬ 
kin pie you sent me last week, Mrs. Diffenderfer?” 

“Did you like it? Well, you take and beat four 
eggs—” 

I kept an attentive gaze fixed on her throughout her 
long spiel about pumpkin pie, the while I wasn’t hearing 
a word of it, the subject, though not touching my life 
at any point, being a welcome diversion, because pump¬ 
kin pies were not nude boys, so I strenuously pretended 
to listen, though I didn’t like her pumpkin pies any¬ 
way; they were tame and uninteresting after the highly 
spiced ones Addie made with rich, flaky crust and vital¬ 
ized with brandy from my father’s old wine cellar, a few 
bottles of which had been sent on with my furniture. 

“What a menagerie this town is!” I thought, as Mrs. 
Diffenderfer wandered on from pumpkin pie to mince pie 
and from thence to clam chowder and vegetable soup. 

“My husband just loves my vegetable soup. When¬ 
ever I don’t know what to have any more, Hen’ll say, 
‘Oh, well, Mamma, leave us have some of your vegetable 
soup.’ So then I take and order a bone and with the 
stock I’ve boiled off from time to time, don’t you know— 
I’m very saving with left-over meat and bones and always 
make stock of— But my son, Hen junior, prefers waf¬ 
fles. He’ll say, ‘You can give me waffles, Mother, any old 
time and I won’t kick!’ My waffles are wonderfully 


250 


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light that way, if I do say it l You see there’s so much 
in the mixing. Now I take and mix my butter and milk 
first, you see; it’s a great mistake to—” 

Mrs. DifFenderfer’s telephone and mine were on the 
same line and it seemed to me that I never took down the 
receiver without catching her in the act of telling some 
friend or neighbor what she was having for lunch or 
dinner and how she “took and mixed it.” “I’m having 
chicken corn soup for lunch to-day; Hen always says 
if I’ll just give him some of my chicken corn soup—” 
“Well, I thought I’d just take and have apple dumplings 
to-day, Hen’s so fond of my—” “Oh, this morning 
Hen junior said he wanted me to have flannel cakes 
for—” 

Even Eugene, whenever he encountered this neighbor 
of ours, whether on the trolley car, on the side walk, or 
in society, was not spared by virtue of the dignity of 
his office, or his personal dignity, or his reputed spirit¬ 
uality of mind, from harangues on Food. 

“She actually told me to-day,” he would report to me, 
“that she was giving Hen pot roast for dinner, flavored 
with carrots and tomatoes!” 

“Yes, you may think it bad enough to have her tell 
you her bill of fare, but suppose,” I said ruefully, “you 
had to pretend to be interested while she minutely re¬ 
cited her recipes! ‘You take and mix a quart of salt to 
a pinch of vinegar, then stir in a peck of lard and beat 
up your pepper very light—” 

It really made me melancholy to learn that this su¬ 
premely important matter of meals could mean dire trag¬ 
edy to the poor woman—which was made manifest when 
one Sunday morning, looking quite wild, she told me of 
the rise and fall and ultimate ruin of her breakfast 
waffles through the negligence of her maid. ‘Even after 


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251 


I took and mixed them up and got the waffle iron at just 
the right heat, didn’t she up and— You see, we always 
have waffles for breakfast on Sabbath morning. No 
matter whether we have company or not, waffles are our 
Sabbath morning breakfast. And have been ever since 
we were married sixteen years ago. Never missed them 
on one single Sabbath morning! And then to have thi& 
dumb dopple up and— Well, I’ll tell you what I did—I 
just got up from the breakfast table and I said to Hen 
and Hen junior, I said, ‘Before I’ll leave you miss your 
Sabbath morning waffles, I’ll go out and mix up some 
fresh batter and I'll bake them for you!’ And I did. 
Hen and Hen junior sat and waited while I did it. I 
just couldn’t bear it to have them not have their Sabbath 
morning waffles. I’d never have gotten over it!” 

“Give me waffles or give me death!” I cried when she 
had left Eugene and me after this recital of the tragic 
violation of the sanctity of her “Sabbath” breakfast. 

There was one other trifling episode which brought 
upon me, all unconsciously, the judgment and condem¬ 
nation of Leitersville’s “best society.” It occurred at 
a large dinner where I happened to sit next to Dr. 
Warren, a rising young nerve specialist from Philadel¬ 
phia, who engaged me in an interesting discussion in 
which he claimed that the modern neurotic woman owed 
her sick nerves to her selfish and unnatural refusal to 
bear children. 

“The race can’t be allowed to die out P’ he affirmed 
dogmatically. 

“Oh, why not? When you look at it! At the ruling 
and leading specimens, for instance—the Big Four at 
Versailles and Tom Mix and Billy Sunday and the Ku 
Klux Klan—” 

We became so earnest that we attracted attention to 


252 


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ourselves and a silence fell upon the table which suddenly 
brought us up short. 

“What’s the interesting discussion?” asked the host¬ 
ess, Miss Eichler, a straight-laced Presbyterian of the 
old school who admired her pastor, Dr. Kellog, as much 
as she disapproved of his daughter Mary. As she was 
rich enough to tempt a man who, saddled with a wild 
Indian like Mary, could not expect to win youth and 
beauty, and as Dr. Kellog was known to spend most of 
his spare time in this austere lady’s company, I trembled 
for Mary and speculated in private as to how I might, 
in case Miss Eichler became her step-mother, kidnap the 
poor child and hide her where her father could not find 
her. I was sure he would be grateful to me. “May we 
all have the benefit of the absorbing conversation?” in¬ 
quired Miss Eichler. “What is it about, if one may 
ask?” 

“Certainly,” I agreed, smilingly taking in the whole 
table. “We’re discussing birth control.” 

The ghastly silence that followed my simple state¬ 
ment did not enlighten me as to the shock I had given 
them, for the reason that I really was young and inex¬ 
perienced and their kind of squeamishness was so behind 
the times, as I knew the times through reading and 
through the free life of my old home. 

Miss Eichler, after an awful instant, very pointedly 
projected a topic of quite another nature. “Dr. Kellog 
has just been telling me how encouraged he feels to find 
quite a revival in the Church these days of the old- 
fashioned type of experimental piety.” 

The irrelevancy of this bewildered me at first; then, 
as the new subject was at once taken up with almost 
feverish eagerness, I felt amused at the flightiness of so 
abrupt a transition. 


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253 


Of course if Eugene had been present, I would have 
learned from him, on our return home, with bitter 
reproaches, what a faux pas I had made, but he was in 
New York on business. So it was not until many months 
afterwards that I heard how I had that night added 
another dark splotch to the unenviable notoriety I had 
acquired through my views on the nude swimmers. 

It must have been about this time that murmurings 
began to spread as to the richness of some of my cloth¬ 
ing, the simplicity of which had been, at first, I suppose, 
misleading as to its quality. It began with Mrs. Nied- 
emyer’s noticing in the crown of my very plain hat the 
name of an exclusive little New York shop that seemed 
to amaze her; she handled the hat reverently. 

Then there was my mink coat. It was of course gen¬ 
erally known that before my marriage I had been a 
village school teacher and as it was manifest that a 
Head Master’s salary could not buy mink coats, how 
had I come by the one I flaunted? 

When Lottie ventured to ask me, I told her truthfully 
that the coat had been my mother’s. 

Some of my acquaintances questioned me quite frankly 
about my apparel. “Is that pretty gown you have on 
one of your trousseau, Mrs. Curry?” Mrs. Feltenberger 
inquired about a fur-trimmed suit I wore to a card party. 

“But I didn’t have any trousseau, seeing I was mar¬ 
ried on my death-bed!” I smiled. 

“But you didn’t get this gown in Leitersville surely?” 

I shook my head as I sorted my cards, wondering 
how far she would go. 

“I was sure you could not have bought it here it’s 
too unusual. Looks imported. It would not pay our 
shops to carry such things—not enough people could 
afford to buy them, you know. Most of our people who 


254? 


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wear such stunning things, get them in Philadelphia. 
Do you shop in Philadelphia, Mrs. Curry?” 

“No.” 

“In New York?” 

“Sometimes. It’s your turn to bid, Mrs. Neidemyer.” 

Eugene who had never as yet offered me a dollar for 
clothes, assumed that the few new gowns in which I 
appeared were paid for with my savings from teaching. 
But even he could not long remain so deluded, I knew. 

Meantime, Leitersville society was beginning to put 
two and two together and make them equal ten. They 
summed me up:—loose views as to human nudity, as to 
servants’ morals, as to certain books dealing too openly 
with the sex question—combined with a style of dress de¬ 
ceitfully simple and plain to mislead an unsuspicious 
husband as to its outrageous costliness; young, pretty, 
reckless—what was the obvious conclusion? 

But although I was quite humbly conscious of my 
failure to take Leitersville by storm or even to win the 
mere liking of most of the people I met, and though I 
would have felt rather flattered if I had known that far 
from being the negligible person I considered myself, I 
was really the sensation of the town,—nevertheless, there 
were moments in which I did wonder whether there were 
not something all wrong with me when I found myself 
so completely out of sympathy with and really antag¬ 
onistic towards some things which the people about me 
thought wholly commendable. For instance, when the 
secretary of the Civic Club publicly read a grateful 
letter from the indigent widowed mother of the girl 
whom the Club was helping to educate by supporting her 
while she went through the High School, I winced miser¬ 
ably from the abject gratitude of the woman. I felt (per¬ 
haps quite wrongly) that she owed more resentment than 


THE SNOB 


255 


thanks to these smug*, comfortable women who patronized 
her in her poverty and humiliation and then flaunted 
before the whole town her acceptance of alms, a monthly 
stipend for the girl’s board and clothing. I felt a blind 
fury at hearing the complacent secretary say from 
the platform, in a self-consciously charitable tone of 
voice, “The mother, Mrs. Dietz, seems to be very appre¬ 
ciative of all we’ve tried to do; and the daughter, Sarah, 
is very worthy”—when any member of that club would 
have preferred death to the shame of being exposed to 
an audience as a recipient of charity. And yet how 
evidently these women admired their own “charity” in 
helping this girl! 

“We’re not charitable enough to forego the luxury of 
practicing charity,” I thought, “and to substitute social 
justice for it.” 

But why did I alone, of all the women in the club, 
feel cold towards this “sweet charity”? Could it be that 
I alone was right and all of them in the wrong? 

“But how remarkably thoughtful above the average 
I must be then!” in self-derision I told myself. “Surely 
something must be the matter with me , not with all these 
others!” 

However, I remembered Job’s unshaken faith in God’s 
goodness in spite of all the evils which God heaped upon 
him; I would be no less faithful to the God in my own 
heart, to my own inner conviction that so-called “char¬ 
ity” was in a large part a self-indulgence of the rich and 
smug. 

I was sure that, for the sake of a more just social 
order, I would gladly forego the special advantages I 
had always enjoyed from my own considerable wealth; 
but so long as we lived in a society where there were 
upper and lower dogs, I certainly didn’t propose to be- 


256 


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come a lower dog if I could help it. It was not that I 
did not value comfort and even luxury for myself; I 
wanted them for everybody. 

There was a Mrs. Frey in the club who at nearly 
every meeting, no matter what was being discussed, 
managed to work in a certain phrase she had acquired 
which she evidently loved and cherished:—“I always feel,” 
she would say impressively, “that no civilization can be 
higher than the status of its women,”—and from this 
premise she would deduce, to her own satisfaction and 
that of her hearers, the unavoidable conclusion that 
American women, being the free, fine, and truly feminine 
goddesses of liberty which the whole world knew they 
were , it followed that in the United States was the 
highest, most Christian civilization the world had ever 
known. 

But I remembered that there were those who told us 
that Chicago was the most barbarous city in the world 
and I had not heard that the status of its women was 
that of “benighted heathen lands.” 

When the club launched a campaign for funds to es¬ 
tablish American Christian colleges for women in east¬ 
ern countries, I did have sense enough not to rise in 
the meeting and give utterance to my conviction that 
while it might be well to try to advance the education of 
women in eastern countries, it seemed a useless expense 
if that education were to be the American Christian brand 
that produced the women of this Civic Club, drugged by 
self-satisfaction into a blindness to reality. 

These, then, were the people of whose judgment of me 
my husband was nervously apprehensive, lest they find 
me “green and raw.” I would have been conceited 
enough to have considered him rather undiscerning if I 
had not realized, from my summer on the farm, how cir- 


THE SNOB 


257 


cumscribed were his standards of comparison and how 
very far he was from suspecting that to the wife for 
whose manners and gentility he was so uneasy, he seemed 
himself enbarrassingly unsophisticated. 

However, although I was at the time unaware of it, 
his apprehensions of my social failure in Leitersville were 
being realized beyond his darkest fears. 

Of course the reason I remained so long unconscious 
of the sensation I was creating was that the members: 
of one’s family are always the last to hear gossip about 
one; and as for Herrick, he did not go into society, his 
associates being mostly the laboring people of Leiters¬ 
ville with whom he was trying out an experiment in 
classes in history, economics, the science of government— 
with an open forum held at his own house, since Jacob 
Leiter, the town boss, and his “gang,” as Herrick called 
them, would not permit an open forum in any public hall 
of the town. 

In spite however, of his social isolation, Herrick did 
not miss some of the universal excitement over me. 

“Do you know, Nancy, my dear, that every one in 
Leitersville seems to be in a high state of turmoil over 
your refusal to sign that damned petition of Dr. Kel- 
log’s ?” 

“Oh, not really?” I said incredulously and quite indif¬ 
ferently, for if people could be as silly as that, its only 
effect on me was to make me feel a little sorry for them. 

“Yes,” nodded Herrick, “you’ve shaken the Respect¬ 
ability here to its foundations!” 

“Who told you that?” 

“Dorothy Renzheimer, who professes herself pro¬ 
foundly shocked. I told her I was glad to hear that there 
was one woman in the town too clean-minded to sign that 
nasty paper! But she told me in a horrified whisper that 


258 


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you could not possibly be ‘clean-minded,’ for she’d heard 
you read Oscar Wilde’s Plays ! ‘So do I,’ I told her, 
‘and I’d supposed that all educated people did.’ I sent 
her home rather discomfited.” 

I laughed—and never thought of the matter again. 
That is, not until ten or twelve years later, when to my 
astonishment and amusement, I learned from an old 
Leitersville acquaintance that the town had never stopped 
discussing this thing; that every new-comer to the town, 
whether visitor or resident, was told of it; that it had be¬ 
come a Leitersville tradition. 

“They say you approved of nudity in public!—that 
you told Mrs. Niedmeyer you liked to look at men walk¬ 
ing on the bank of the creek without bathing suits on; 
that you told Mrs. Peffer you didn’t care anything about 
the morals of your servants—all you cared about was 
that they did your work; that you said to Mrs. Berg- 
stresser you considered it narrow minded to cover the 
body except for warmth; that you said to Miss Eichler 
you didn’t see why Greek art was immoral just because it 
wasn’t Christian—’’ 


CHAPTER VII 


I ’M obliged to go to New York to-night—will you 
pack my bag, dear?” Eugene casually threw out one 
evening in December as we were having our after 
dinner coffee in the living room. This was the fourth 
time since September that he had, in this off-hand way, 
announced a departure for New York just at the moment 
of leaving, and, somehow, it had at each time come to me 
as a slight shock for which I was not prepared; partly 
because it seemed a bit inconsiderate, if not really unkind, 
to tell me so abruptly that I was to be left alone for a 
week or ten days in our big house; and partly because 
I really did feel rather abandoned and desolate when he 
was away, since I had no real friend except Herrick in 
the town and he, unconventional though he was, always 
refused absolutely to come to see me in Eugene’s ab¬ 
sence or to let me go to see him. 

“It would give Leitersville too good a chance, my dear. 
And it would be playing with fire. For me, I mean. 
You’re a very alluring young person, you know, Nancy, 
and I’m not by nature a monk exactly!” 

“If you and I, Herrick, can’t safely enjoy an eve-* 
ning together with talk and books and music—” 

He shook his head. “You’re much too kissable. And 
once I’d kissed you—the fires of hell would break loose!” 
“ ‘Fires of hell!’ Gracious !” 

“You don’t begin to know me!” he said gloomily. The 
glitter in his eyes, the tense look about his lips, startled 
and, I must admit, thrilled me. The danger signs were 

259 


260 


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so unmistakable that I could not question his wisdom 
in refusing to comfort my loneliness. 

To Eugene, just now, I said rather listlessly, “How 
long shall you be gone?” 

“Until I’m ready to come back, my dear,” he retorted; 
nothing irritated him like a direct personal question and 
he never volunteered any information as to why he went 
or when he would come home. Nor did he ever, on his 
return, tell me anything about his trip. If I asked I 
was snubbed. Sometimes an occasional visitor’s ques¬ 
tions in my presence after one of his absences would 
bring out the fact that he had stopped at a luxurious 
hotel, seen some good plays, met some distinguished “ed¬ 
ucators” (as they are called). 

“It’s lonely for me here, Eugene, when you are away. 
Take me with you! It’s such ages since I’ve seen New 
York!” 

“I didn’t know you’d ever seen it.” 

“Yes—I’ve seen it. Will you take me with you, dear?” 

“Not possible. Going on business.” 

“Why need that prevent your taking me with you?” 

“Why such useless expense?” 

“To give me pleasure.” 

<s You do nothing but amuse yourself from morning to 
night! Refuse to do your own housework and then ex¬ 
pect me to take you on expensive trips! What next!” 

“I don’t live in idleness from choice. I want to teach.” 

“That being impracticable, the fact remains that you 
do live in idleness.” 

“The truth is, Eugene, I’m doing a lot of reading and 
studying to prepare myself for some really congenial 
work.” 

“Your work is here in our home.” 


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261 


I pondered in silence the fact that he regarded me 
(not without some justification) a parasite, consuming his 
earnings without giving him what he considered an ade¬ 
quate return. How this would have wounded both my 
pride and my love a few months ago! But now it did not 
interfere at all with the carrying out of my experiment, 
the cold-blooded and almost impersonal testing of my 
situation and of my relation to him. 

“Then you won’t take me to New York with you?” I 
was not too proud to plead. 

“Why Nancy, the car-fare alone, round trip, is four¬ 
teen dollars. And hotel rates are frightful.” 

“You are going on Academy business?” 

“Whether I am or not, my dear, is my affair 1” 

“Don’t forget to leave me some money,” I said in a 
matter-of-course tone, as though he were in the habit 
(which he was not) of leaving me money when he went 
away. 

“What for?” 

“A stamp! Or I may need a tooth pick!” 

“You don’t need any money, since you charge every¬ 
thing you have to buy and can get your stationery at 
the Academy office. What do you want money for?” 

But as he spoke he drew out his purse and handed me 
two dollars. 

“Addie’s last week’s pay,” I said. “Now some for me.” 

“I told you I’d give you no more money for Addie. I 
told you to dismiss her. If she stays on, you can tell her 
she’ll be working for her board and room. She’ll get no 
more wages from me.” 

“What is this two dollars for?” 

“For you in my absence; though I don’t see what you 
need any ready money for.” 


262 


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I coxisidered the advisability of tossing the two dollar 
bill into the open fire before which we sat. But that would 
not be carrying out my role. 

“I wish,” he said, “you’d try to keep down the grocer’s 
and butcher’s bills; they’re surely unnecessarily large. 
My absence ought to make an appreciable difference in 
their bills this month. 

“Then you are going to be away some time?” 

“Uncertain.” 

“It is very lonely for me.” 

“If you did your own housework as you should, my 
dear, you would not have time to be lonesome.” 

“What will your address be?” 

He had the grace to hesitate before naming the very 
expensive hotel at which I knew he usually stopped, 
though when he wrote to me, he used picture post cards 
and not his hotel paper. “I’ve got to maintain a cer¬ 
tain standard as Head Master when I’m interviewing 
parents of pupils,” he explained rather apologetically. 

He would come back from New York with a new assort¬ 
ment of high quality ties, hose, shoes, gloves, shirts. His 
clothes were always topnotch in style and material and 
he had the proper outfits for every possible occasion. 
Yet he never thought it necessary to offer me any money 
for clothing, pocket money, or any personal need. And 
now this two dollar bill for which I had begged! An 
awful dreariness swept over me as I saw, in a momentary 
flash, the beautiful image of the god-like man I had 
married. 

“I’ll tell you what you might do in my absence, Nancy,” 
he suddenly suggested. “Run out to Virginsville and 
visit Mother and Weesy at the farm. I’ll give you the 
car-fare and you’ll be saving your board here, you 
know.” 


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263 


“I’m to visit at the farm while you’re staying at the 
Vanderbilt in New York?” I asked in a tone of imper¬ 
sonal curiosity as one might investigate a phenomenon. 

“I’m going on business, not pleasure.” 

“But you’ll have a devilish good time!” 

“Why shouldn’t I? I don’t account for my actions 
to you, my dear. Understand that!” 

“But you expect me to economize and pinch while you 
indulge yourself.” 

“I earn the money, don’t I? I couldn’t endure the 
grind of the school if I didn’t have some recreation. 
What’s more, the people I meet, the plays I see, the lec¬ 
tures and music I hear are all experiences I need for my 
work, for my lectures. Run out to the country. It will 
do you good.” 

He rose, patted my shoulder and went into our bed¬ 
room to prepare for his jorney. 

I dutifully followed to pack his bag. 


CHAPTER VIII 


T HE intimacy that sprang up between the two 
scape goats of the town, the Reverend Dr. Kel- 
log’s irrepressible Mary and myself, was an¬ 
other favorite topic of gossip. Mary, on a very slight 
acquaintance with me, having found that, unlike most 
of her father’s church members, I was not only quite un¬ 
critical of her way of life but rather sympathetic with 
it, and as hungry to mother her as she was to be moth¬ 
ered, promptly adopted me as her “very dearest friend,” 
as she informed me, disregarding the disparity in our 
ages; and in a remarkably short space of time we had 
come to be quite necessary to each other. 

Lottie amiably told me that some of the Presbyterian 
Church members didn’t think my influence on Mary was 
for the best and that some of them had gone so far as to 
warn Dr. Kellog that he ought not to allow his child to 
be with me so constantly. 

But I suppose Dr. Kellog must have decided that, dan¬ 
gerous though I might possibly be, Mary’s adventurous 
spirit was safer in my house than when at large on her 
own resources, for he not only did not interfere, but 
seemed grateful to me for my motherly interest in Mary. 

One of her recent ideas had broken up a Wednesday 
evening prayer meeting. When a kneeling Elder was 
leading in prayer with tightly closed eyes and head tilted 
back at a painful angle, Mary, concluding that he was 
talking in his sleep, took from her pocket a big marble 
and shot it across the floor at his knee to awaken him, 

264 


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265 


eliciting from him a howl of pain that startled, frightened 
and eventually broke up the meeting. 

“Do you know Mrs. Curry,” she asked me one day, 
“that Mrs. Eeltenberger that lives on Second street is 
the Virgin Mary?” 

“No, that’s something I didn’t know. How does it 
happen ?” 

“Lucy Hess told me Mrs. Feltenberger was God’s 
mother. She said ‘Come on down with me to see my god’s 
mother.’ ” 

“Her god-mother!” I smiled, and explained to Mary her 
mistake. 

“What’s a virgin, Mrs. Curry?” 

“An unmarried woman or girl.” 

“But the Virgin Mary was married to Joseph!” 

“Not when Jesus was born.” 

“Oh, gee, wasn’t that an awful disgrace to her? When 
Marne Zigler that lives in the alley behind the Manse had 
a baby, I took Florence Klam in to see it and Mr. and 
Mrs. Klam nearly swoon’d with h’ahr! Because they said 
it was a terrible disgrace to Marne Zigler because she 
wasn’t married to a husband, and they said Florence 
would certainly be roon’d if she played with me!” re¬ 
peated Mary with quite impersonal and detached inter¬ 
est in the Klams’ opinion of her effect on their daughter. 
“No wonder Daddy preaches against Roman Catholics 
for worshiping the Virgin Mary if she was a bad woman 
like Marne Zigler!” 

“She wasn’t, my dear. She was a very good woman.” 

“Then isn’t Marne Zigler bad either?” 

“I don’t know your friend Mame Zigler.” 

“But you know she had a baby without being married 
to a husband. Mr. and Mrs. Klam said so. And they 
said that was somepin awful! They said I mustn’t go 


266 


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near her or speak to her! Don’t you think it’s wicked to 
have a baby without being married to a husband?” 

“It’s against the law.” 

“Then did the Virgin Mary break the law?” 

“Ask your father to explain it to you, Mary.” 

“No, he’ll be shawked. He’s always shawked when I 
talk to him about religion. And sometimes he punishes 
me for being ig-rev’rent. So you tell me, Mrs. Curry.” 

I had to be very diplomatic in my refusal to assume 
any such responsibility, lest I rouse the child’s danger¬ 
ously and quite insatiable curiosity. “I’ll have to look 
it up in the Encyclopedia or something—don’t you want 
to go over and get Florence to come and play with you?” 

“I’d rather play with you—just we two by ourselves.” 

“Poor little Florence!” I sighed, for I foresaw that 
child’s doom from overrearing. Given no least chance 
for free and natural development, she was being made 
unfit for association with her kind. 

“You can’t have any fun with a person that isn’t al¬ 
lowed to get dirty,” Mary pointed out to me. “Flor¬ 
ence doesn’t even want to get dirty. She don’t like me to 
come near her if I’m not perfeckly clean. And I hardly 
ever am. She called to me when I passed her house to¬ 
day, ‘Mary, you go home and get washed all nice and 
clean and then come and play with me, will you, Mary?” 
And I called back, ‘I’m clean enough to suit myself and 
it’s my own concerns!’ And she said, ‘Are you going to 
my Aunt Nancy’s?’ And I said, ‘Yes, and my Aunt 
Nancy is going to take me out in her automobile.”’ 

“Am I, Mary? I didn’t know that.” 

“Will you,—Aunt Nancy?” 

Up to this moment she had always called me “Mrs. 
Curry.” 

She was a responsibility. Sometimes I was at my wits’ 


T H E S N O B 267 

end to know how to deal with her, though if she had been 
my own child, the puzzle would have been simpler. 

One day, with a gleam in her eyes as of one who had 
come to a momentous decision, she said to me, “Aunt 
Nancy, did you ever read that e’citing pome about the boy 
that stood on the burning deck?” 

“Yes.” 

“It just goes to show, doesn’t it, Aunt Nancy, that 
that’s what comes of obedience to parents! I never did 
quite believe in obedience to parents myself. Aunt 
Nancy, and now that I know it can lead to a child’s 
burning to death, I’m never going to uphold to it again,” 
she announced. 

“Oh, yes, you are, Mary dear, because you don’t want 
to worry and hurt your father who loves you and is 
very kind to you,” I said piously. 

“Well, anyway, Aunt Nancy, I won’t obey him like 
that boy did—against my better judgment, Aunt 
Nancy.” 

The Presbyterian Sunday School superintendent in¬ 
quired one Sunday of his assembled school, who would 
volunteer to write a letter to the little daughter of the 
missionary they were supporting in Dakota and Mary 
was of course the first to rise and announce her willing¬ 
ness to adventure. When her letter was written, she, 
exultant over a task well done, proudly submitted it to 
me for my admiration. I wondered a bit at her not 
showing it to her father rather than to me. But he, 
unfortunate man, had never known how to win her con¬ 
fidence. 

The letter greatly astonished me because it was so 
wholly unlike Mary, so unnatural as coming from her; 
until I suddenly realized that the child’s highly dramatic 
instinct had produced the sort of letter that she con- 


268 


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ceived the pious superintendent and his overpious 
women assistants to expect her to write; a letter that re¬ 
flected, as Mary believed, that Sunday School superin¬ 
tendent’s idea of “a Christian child.” 

“My dear Rowena, 

“I hope some day you will be able to come to see our 
church on Children’s Day. It is so pretty. Miss 
Gable, our dear superintendent which died not long ago, 
trimmed up the room other years, so we thought we 
would fix it that way this year so that she would have 
a part in it. Miss Gable was superintendent for forty- 
five years and now she is with her Maker. We all hope 
you may have a nice Sunday School and we will send 
money to our missionary to make a nice one, so you 
can go there and learn more of our dear Jesus Christ 
who died to save us. I hope our dear Lord will bless 
you and your friends and we all will pray for you and 
your friends. I prayed for you in Sunday School to¬ 
day after I heard of you and your little friends. I 
would be so glad to receive a letter from you telling me 
all about where you live and your friends. It would be 
so interesting. I would love to see you and your friends 
at our Sunday School some day. My address is on the 
first page. 

“Mary Keleog.” 

She was so beamingly proud of this composition that 
I had a struggle to hide from her my amusement over it. 

I wondered what Rowena’s mother would think of a 
child of seven that would write a letter like that. Would 
the woman believe in its genuineness? 

“She’ll probably think Mary the most horrible little 
prig!—when she’s really an artist!” 


THE SNOB 


269 


When in two weeks an answer came, the very first 
letter Mary had ever received in her life, she was wild 
with delight and excitement; for Rowena, the mission¬ 
ary’s daughter, wrote a perfectly natural and spon¬ 
taneous letter, without a word of pious cant, telling 
very entertainingly of her school, her brothers and sisters, 
her friends, her parents. The picture she made fired 
Mary’s imagination to fever heat. Her reply went back 
that same day, a radiant outpouring about things that 
interested her (in which category her “Aunt Nancy” fig¬ 
ured rather large) every gay and bubbling line betraying 
her relief at not being obliged to keep up the religious 
farce. 

For several years after that these two children who 
had never seen each other kept up this correspondence 
with unabated zeal. 

Mary was the only child in whom I had ever known 
Eugene to be the least interested. One of the dis¬ 
appointments, not to say shocks, of my marriage had 
been the discovery that my husband did not care for 
children; for I had always disliked men for whom children 
had no appeal. Eugene never noticed them. But his 
attention had been drawn to Mary one day in the fall 
when, in passing the Manse, he had seen her in the 
garden at the side of the house, kneeling beside a flower¬ 
bed where she had evidently been digging and planting; 
she seemed to be praying audibly, for her hands were 
piously clasped and she was talking aloud. Pausing in 
surprise to listen, he heard her say, “Now, God, this 
garden is going well. So don’t you interfere and make 
it rain and hail and spoil all my work! For Jesus’ sake, 
Amen.” 

His next encounter with her was one day when he met 
her and Florence Klam going to school, and as he 


* 


270 


THE SNOB 


stopped for a moment to speak to his little niece, Mary 
talked in and told him eagerly, “What do you think 
we’re going to see in our school this afternoon, Uncle 
Eugene?” (promptly adopting Florence’s relative with¬ 
out a “By your leave?”) “We’re going to see some of 
the real water of Niagara Falls ! Sally Weitzel’s going to 
bring a pitcher full of it to school for us to see!” 

But a few hours later, when school was “out,” she 
called on him at his Academy office to explain, in droop¬ 
ing dejection and disappointment, that she had misunder¬ 
stood Sally Weitzel who had told them that morning at 
school that she had “a pitcher of Niagara Falls” which 
she would bring to school and it was only a picture post 
card! 

In spite of the fact that Lottie sedulously shielded 
Florence from too much of my undesirable influence, she 
was, nevertheless, very jealous of our fondness for Mary 
Kellog and our having her with us so much. 

Lottie was a constant source of wonder to me; her 
combination of hardness towards her old mother and 
ruthlessness in disciplining her only child, together with 
a maudlin sentimentality that called children “wee folks” 
and talked publicly of a mother’s love, a wife’s “lawlty,” 
a Christian’s “juty,” seemed to me inexplicable. She 
would proudly relate things about herself that made me 
so ashamed of her that I suffered. 

“When I was preparing supper yesterday,” she re¬ 
counted at a card party where I happened to be at the 
same table with her, “Florence committed some misde¬ 
meanor for which I told her that as soon as supper was 
over I would have to chastise her. Well, when her Papa 
came in, she sobbingly told him that Mamma had said she 
would have to chastise her. Now El does hate to have 
her chastised, so he did a really unwise thing, though he 


THE SNOB 


271 


did not realize until later what a predicament he was 
putting me in! He said to Florence, ‘Well, well, now, 
Florence, we’ll kneel right down here in the kitchen and 
pray to Gawd that Mamma won't chastise you.’ So they 
knelt down and first he prayed that Mamma would soften 
her heart and forgive and then he made Florence pray. 
Now you see what a problem that gave me to solve! I 
always keep my word to Florence. If I say I’ll chastise 
her I never fail to do it. But how could I do a thing 
that might weaken her faith in prayer? That was a prob¬ 
lem, wasn’t it? What was I to do?" 

This fine point was eagerly taken up and discussed 
with keen interest by all the women at our table except 
me, every one of them contributing an opinion on the 
subject, or an anecdote apropos of faith in prayer, or 
of keeping your word to “little ones.” 

My silence in the midst of their chatter becoming con¬ 
spicuous, they turned upon me to demand almost aggres¬ 
sively, how I would have “solved such a problem.” They 
loved so to mouth that word “problem,” I think they 
thought it savored of culture. 

“You see,” I replied, “such a ‘problem’ couldn’t exist 
for me because I’d never teach a child such superstition 
about prayer and God and if I couldn’t guide my own 
little girl without beating her, I’d give up and let her 
take her own way to the devil, rather than send her 
there by making her afraid and resentful!” 

I was not pleased with this speech. I knew it was 
tactless and even reckless. But these women sometimes 
roused in me an irrepressible perversity. 

Of course all they got out of it was that I had said 
I would let my child go to the devil. 

I never did learn how Lottie had solved her “problem”; 
for the consternation with which my remarks were met 


272 


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was so depressing and the comments they elicited so 
bromidic, that suddenly I felt I could stand no more, and 
on the plea of a headache I excused myself and went 
home. 

Lottie came over the next day at an hour when she 
knew Eugene would be at home—just when we were 
finishing luncheon—and pointed out to me in his presence 
how I was injuring her dear brother by my “scandalous 
remarks.” 

“What was it you really did say, Nancy?” Eugene in¬ 
quired anxiously. “Of course, Lottie, she did not say 
what you’ve just repeated—that’s nonsense! Well?” he 
demanded of me. 

“I don’t remember exactly. It wasn’t worth remem¬ 
bering.” 

“But it will be remembered by all those folks that 
heard you, Nancy!” complained Lottie. 

“Hereafter when I’ve got to let off steam, I’ll clothe 
it in language they can’t misconstrue. When they ap¬ 
pealed to me yesterday for my opinion of Lottie’s ‘prob¬ 
lem’ I should safely have quoted Josiah Royce—‘My 
dear ladies, we must first think the Family in order to 
know the individual— Here, as elsewhere, the universal 
is prill# to the particular— In the same fashion, the true 
Infinite is not the negation of the Finite, but that which 
is the organic unity of the Infinite and Finite. Yet the 
universal must not be conceived—” 

“That’s not Royce, it’s Caird,” put in Eugene 
learnedly. 

“I read something like it in Royce—he quotes 
Caird.” 

“You can’t deny, Nancy,” resumed Lottie, “that you 
said you’d leave your own child go to the devil and 
wouldn’t teach her to pray to Gawd and—” 


THE SNOB 273 

“If I can’t bring up my own child the way I please,” 
I began— 

“But you use such tough words, like ‘go to the devil,’ 
and ‘hell’ and even ‘damn’ sometimes!—right out before 
folks! I do think—” 

She gave vent, here, to what were evidently long pent- 
up grievances, pouring forth such a flood of criticism of 
my strictly personal and private affairs, interspersing 
it with so much free advice and so much sympathy for 
her poor, long-suffering, martyred brother as she con¬ 
trasted her own wisdom with my folly, her own high 
qualities of character with my pitiable infirmities, that 
suddenly the worm turned and I gave her a small dose 
of her own medicine. Assuming a tone of kindly con¬ 
descension, as of one speaking from a great moral height 
to a lowly sinner, I said to her, “Don’t you know, my 
poor, dear woman, that self-praise is always a very sus¬ 
picious sign?—that virtues of which you are proud and 
self-conscious, are not really your own, but a mere 
veneer? Only the goodness that you take for granted 
and are not conscious of, is real and inherent goodness. 
If you pride yourself on your honesty, you’re probably 
at heart a thief. If you’re proud of being chaste, you 
are probably at heart a libertine!” 

But Lottie stared at me uncomprehendingly. “I don’t 
know what you’re talking about! You must be crazy! 
Me a ‘libertine’! My goodness ! Do you know what she’s 
talking about, Eugene? Do tell her, Brother, that she 
must try for your sake to talk more refined and not use—” 

Eugene, looking very bored, would nevertheless have 
risen to his sister’s expectations, for he turned to me 
with a look of irritation and was about to speak—when 
I decided to prevent his admonishing me in his sister’s 
presence by abruptly leaving the room. 


CHAPTER IX 


E UGENE was forming a habit of going out and 
leaving me alone every evening on which we did 
not have a social engagement together. Where 
he spent at least four evenings a week apart from 
me I had no idea, since he deeply resented the 
bare suggestion of any obligation on his part to 
inform me of his doings; not, of course, because he 
was doing anything he was ashamed to tell me, for 
the Head Master of a school has to be as circum¬ 
spect and correct as the pastor of a church, but 
solely because of his touchy fear of my encroaching upon 
his right to complete personal liberty and all the privacy 
as to his own affairs that he saw fit to keep. I respected 
his right to such liberty and privacy, but I did wonder 
why he should be so elaborately secretive as to where he 
spent his evenings and whether he would be quite com¬ 
placent under a similar attitude on my side. I was so 
curious as to this latter question that I determined to 
put it to a test, so one evening as he was lounging on the 
big couch before the living room fire, reading the eve¬ 
ning paper, and would, I knew, get up in a few minutes 
to go out, I went to our bed-room, put on my dressiest 
evening wrap, and then strolled into the living room, 
drawing on a pair of long white gloves. 

“Ah?” he said in surprise as he glanced up from his 
paper, “Whither away?” 

“Are you going out this evening?” I asked. 
“Presently, yes.” 

“‘Whither away?’” 


274 


THE SNOB 


275 


“That’s my affair.” 

“Good-night,” I said strolling on towards the 
door. 

“But where are you going?” he threw after me over 
his shoulder. 

“ ‘That’s my affair.’ ” 

He rose, his newspaper in his hand, strode across the 
floor and faced me. “What are you up to, Nancy? 
Where are you going?” 

It was sheer curiosity that prompted him. 

“As it happens,” I ventured experimentally, “I’m 
going where you are going.” 

To my surprise he looked distinctly startled. “But— 
but I am going—you can’t be,” he said in a tone of un¬ 
certainty and with a troubled look that made him appear 
actually guilty. 

“If I ‘can’t be,’—well, then, I suppose that’s not where 
I’m going,” I smiled. 

“Why don’t you tell me?” he asked coldly. 

“Where did you say you were going, dear?” 

He looked at me narrowly. “I get you!” he shrugged 
with a bored lifting of his eyebrows. “Come here, fool¬ 
ish child!” 

But I was not going to be fondled and cajoled into 
an admission. “Haven’t time,” I said, walking on to the 
doorway, from where I threw him a kiss, then hurried 
downstairs. 

“Nancy!” he called from the top of the stairs—but 
my answer was the closing of the front door. 

I stood on the doorstep and wondered where I should 
go. There were only two possible places, a moving 
picture or Herrick’s. 

Eugene had no idea how many afternoons and evenings 
Herrick and I spent together. Not that we were sur- 


276 


THE SNOB 


reptitious about it; I only followed his own tactics and 
did not mention my personal doings. 

When at eleven o’clock that night I returned home, 
I was surprised to see Eugene’s hat, overcoat, and gloves 
on the hall couch. He seldom got back before midnight. 

On my way upstairs, I saw that our bed-room was 
dark. So he had already gone to bed and was asleep. 
I decided not to disturb him. I would sleep in the guest 
room. 

Evidently, however, he had not been asleep and had 
been listening for me, for while I was undressing in the 
guest room, he came to me. 

“What are you doing in here, my dear?” he asked in 
a tone of quite unwonted hesitation. 

“I didn’t want to disturb you.” 

“I wasn’t asleep. Naturally, I cculd not sleep while 
you were out!—Come, my love!” 

Next morning at breakfast, he asked me casually, 
while glancing over his mail, “By the way, where were 
you last night, dearest?” 

“By‘the way, where were you, darling?” 

“Here at home!” 

So I had startled him into spending an evening at 
home! “And I,” I told him, “had an engagement with 
Her—Mr. Appleton.” 

The flash of green-eyed jealousy he darted at me across 
the table made me wonder why, if he cared for my faith¬ 
ful love, he did not take more pains to guard it? 

I was a little surprised that he made no comment on 
my information; did not repeat his frequent warning 
against a noticeable intimacy between our household and 
one who was so unfavorably regarded in Leitersville 
as was Herrick—Eugene’s idea being that we must not 
cut him altogether, not only because of his great kindness 


THE SNOB 


277 


and helpfulness to us last summer, but because his dis¬ 
tinguished associations and acquaintances in a larger 
world than Leitersville might some day prove useful 
to u 

That night Eugene again decided to stay at home. 
I did my best to compensate him for any self-denial he 
might be exercising, by being as amiably companionable 
as possible and we were really having rather a pleasant 
time together, when about nine o’clock the telephone 
bell rang. As it was on the table just at my elbow, 
I picked it up to respond, but Eugene, springing to my 
side, took it from me. “Probably for me,” he hastily 
explained. 

I was impressed, as he talked, by the guarded tone in 
his voice, a touch of nervousness, almost of apprehension. 
When he hung up the receiver, his face was flushed. 

“I’ve got to go—over to my office,” he told me, percep¬ 
tibly hesitating before stating his destination. 

About ten minutes after he had gone, when, having 
abandoned my effort to arrive at an understanding of 
his odd manner, I had taken up a book, Herrick walked 
in. 

“Eugene not at home?” 

“No. He has been called over to his office.” 

“Well, why do I go through the formula of asking for 
him anyway?—when we both know it is not he that I 
come to see! As you jolly well know, if you’re intelli¬ 
gent, I’d never step foot in here to see Eugene!” 

“Yet you won’t come near me when you know he is 
out of town!—the only case on record of your paying 
any attention to public opinion!” 

“For your sake, not my own. Ah!” he suddenly ex¬ 
claimed, “I’m glad to see this!” 

He crossed the room to my writing-desk by the window 


278 


THE SNOB 


over which I had hung a small portrait of my mother. 

As he stood silently looking at it, his face grave and 
thoughtful, I went to his side; and together, for several 
minutes not speaking, we gazed at the beautiful loved 
face. 

“That you can bear to have it here,” he presently 
said, gently, “is a most gratifying sign to me, my dear, 
that you are recovering from your morbid view of 
things.” 

“I’m beginning to realize, Herrick, the very obvious 
but usually ignored truth that shame and disgrace can 
come only from within, never from without. Sounds as 
though I were quoting one of Eugene’s ‘lectures. But 
I’m not.” 

“No, you’ve delved that out for yourself! From your 
knowledge,” he stated deliberately, “of Eugene.” 

I felt my face grow hot. I had not meant to betray 
myself like that. I had done it quite unconsciously. 
But Herrick was so pitilessly keen; and so brutally frank 
to me about Eugene! 

“If you care for my happiness, Herrick, why are you 
all the time trying to expose Eugene to me in a bad light 
rather than—than put the best light on him?” 

“It’s because I do care for your happiness that I 
would have it built upon truth, not lies. Look!” 

He drew aside the window curtains and pointed to 
the Academy building at the other end of the campus. 
“There’s no light in Eugene’s office. He’s not there.” 

‘Where is he?” 

“Where he’s ashamed or afraid to have you know!” 

“Do you know where?” 

“No.” 

“But, Herrick, my dear! To be suspicious about a 


THE SNOB 


279 


perfectly explainable thing like that!—his not being at 
his office!” 

He promptly admitted (rather too promptly, I at 
once felt) that such a circumstance was of course ex¬ 
plainable ; then abruptly dropped the curtain and re¬ 
turned to the portrait. 

“I can’t tell you, Nancy, how glad I am to find you 
able to have this before your eyes again! And to find 
you realizing that nothing external to yourself can 
really disgrace you!” 

“You know, Herrick, when I was a child, the bare 
idea of ever losing my mother was such a hideous black¬ 
ness that I thought it just could not happen to me! 
And then when I think how glad I was to see her die and 
escape her misery!—that in all my agony and loneli¬ 
ness and shame, I’ve never wished her back for a moment!” 

“Because you always were an unselfish little angel!” 

“Eugene thinks I’m a monster of self-indulgence!” 

“What does he think he is?” 

“Well, he doesn’t excessively dislike himself!” 

“Surely, Nancy, this portrait must suggest something 
to Eugene?” 

“What do you mean?” I asked with a start. 
“ Mother’s picture never appeared in public, Herrick!” 
I faltered. 

“No, dear, I know,” he soothingly answered. “I mean 
that this portrait is such a give-away of that nice little 
yarn of yours about being a country doctor’s daughter! 
A portrait by Elihu Vedder! The style of dress and the 
pearls and the fine, exquisite face! That a country 
doctor’s wife? Does Eugene think it?” 

“When I first spoke of having a portrait of my mother 
in this room where he brings all our visitors, he said he 


280 


THE SNOB 


didn’t want ‘any family chromos hanging ’round to queer 
us’; and when he saw it,—well, he had never heard of 
Elihu Vedder, he thinks the pearls are genuine Wool- 
worth’s, and though he does think the face ‘so refined 
as to give added tone to this room,’ he suspects nothing.’* 

“That’s positively stupid of him!” 

“He hasn’t your experience of life to draw on, Her¬ 
rick. I don’t think it is stupidity.” 

“It’s lack of perception. He simply is not sensitive 
to some things.” 

We left the window and strolled over to the couch 
before the fire. 

The portrait of my mother set Herrick to reminisc¬ 
ing—“You know, Nancy, I remember so well my wonder 
over you when you were born—the first baby I had ever 
known at close range, though I was eight years old at the 
time. I used to sit by the hour watching you and spec¬ 
ulating over you, not only with scientific curiosity over 
a queer specimen, but with an overwhelming compassion 
for your helplessness in contrast with my sturdiness; and 
as you developed, your sweetness and cuteness fasci¬ 
nated me. When you began to talk, everything you said 
seemed to me endearing and entrancing. How many 
little things I remember because they impressed me so 
much! Once when you were about three, you picked up 
an old story book and said, ‘Oh, I haven’t seen this book 
for years and years T I thought that so funny, I’d wake 
in the night and laugh over it! I never can forget 
your radiant excitement over the little birthday party 
you had on your third birthday, with ten beautifully 
dressed children, a lot of gifts and the dining-room table 
brilliantly decorated. You kept saying, ‘My birfday’s 
in dimon-woom! Did you see my birfday in dimon- 


THE SNOB 


281 


woom?’ And next morning your nurse told us that the 
first thing you said when you woke was, ‘Want to go 
downstairs to my birfday in dimon-woom.’ One of 
your gifts was a doll so large you could hardly handle 
it. The way you loved that doll! You’d make your 
nurse get up in the night to bring it to you in bed. Once 
when it bumped against your head and the nurse offered 
to spank it for hurting you, you said so tenderly, ‘But 

it didn’t mean to, Hannah!’ A few days after your 

birthday, when you woke one afternoon from your nap 
and I told you that your mother and some other ladies 

had been in to look at you while you were asleep, you 

said, ‘And did they say I was cute? And did you tell 
them ’bout my birfday in dimon-woom?’ One day you 
said to me, ‘Herry, I used to be a dear, dear little baby 
and now I’m a big, bright girl!’ Once when your nurse 
was ill, you tidied your playroom yourself, looking very 
self-righteous and playing hard to the gallery (I being 
the gallery) and when your mother offered you a quarter 
for doing it, you said virtuously, ‘I don’t want anything. 
Mother!—but if you’re going to give it to me, bring it 
over.’—Am I boring you?” he suddenly inquired. 

“When you are talking so beautifully of me? If you 
could know what I’m feeling at your remembering all 
those little things about me!” 

“Do you realize how cruel you were in leaving me for 
three long years in ignorance of where you were?” 

“Did you ever try to find me, Herrick?” 

“I did all that I could do without causing you any 
more publicity. I drew the line at that! But you had 
covered your tracks too completely. Of course a detec¬ 
tive could have found you for me. But I would not re¬ 
sort to that. I did respect your wish to hide from me.” 


282 


THE SNOB 


“Herrick, I thought I was doing you the greatest kind¬ 
ness in sparing you the embarrassment of your friendship 
for our disgraced family!” 

“But you’ve grown into a larger view by now? You 
know now that you would be embarrassed to own me for 
a friend if the whole damnable situation had ever called 
up any emotion in my breast but stronger and deeper 
friendship for you!” 

“I know that now—yes, Herrick!” 

Our eyes met on it—a long look into each other’s very 
hearts. 

“You know, Nancy,” he said quietly, drawing my hand 
into his clasp, “you and I are true mates—by the ruling 
of the gods!” 

There was a sound of footsteps mounting the stairs. 
I glanced at the clock on the mantel. It was half past 
eleven. The next moment Eugene, appearing in the 
doorway, stopped short, and for an instant silently con¬ 
sidered us, as we sat together on the big couch before 
the open fire. 


CHAPTER X 


H ERRICK went away almost immediately, pausing 
only to remark to Eugene that one could never 
find him at home these days; to which Eugene 
offered no reply. 

I was prepared to hear, as soon as Herrick was out 
of earshot, some sarcastic comments on the frequency of 
our being together and I braced myself for reproaches or 
criticism. But to my surprise, none were forthcoming. 
Eugene was very silent as we prepared for bed. Was 
he sulking? No, his manner seemed more conciliatory 
than offended or indignant. There was a troubled look 
about his eyes that smote me a bit; was I making him 
uneasy or actually causing him some unhappiness? I 
could hardly so flatter myself! And it was not like 
him to bear annoyance uncomplainingly. 

I recalled how hastily he had intercepted my answering 
the telephone that evening; his guarded, nervous tone as 
he talked into the receiver; his telling me he was sum¬ 
moned to his office, but his office windows remaining 
black all the evening. Was he concealing some dark 
secret from me? 

I concluded, however, that his forebearance probably 
meant nothing more than a feeling that since he con¬ 
stantly left me alone, he could hardly expect me to dis¬ 
miss a visitor who presumably called to see him as well 
as me. 

If he did feel any uneasiness at the apparently growing 
friendship between Herrick and me, it was not strong 
enough to overcome the lure that continued to take him 

283 


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from home almost every evening; and whatever that lure 
was, it was not work at his office, for I never saw the win¬ 
dows in that wing of the Academy building lighted after 
he had left me. 

Even my coming down with a severe and really serious 
case of grippe did not keep him by me for one night. 
When the doctor told him I must have a nurse, he in¬ 
stalled Lottie as my day nurse and instructed our maid, 
Addie, that she would have to stay in with me every eve¬ 
ning until I was well enough to be left alone. 

Lottie, who I am sure was only too glad of such a 
chance as this to confirm some of her suspicions as to my 
way of housekeeping, most graciously and, as Eugene 
thought, generously, agreed to give me all the time she 
could spare from her own home and family. But Addie, 
to Eugene’s indignation, promptly affirmed that for extra 
service at night she would have to have extra pay. Their 
discussion took place in the living room which adjoined 
the room where I was lying with a temperature of one 
hundred and five. 

Now it had never become evident to Eugene’s obtuse 
masculine perceptions that Addie, whose face seemed to 
him as childish as her cropped hair, her slim figure and 
her short frocks, was a grown woman who knew her own 
value so well as to be quite haughtily independent. 

“But you need not give us any extra service, Addie— 
just even it up by omitting all the cleaning until Mrs. 
Curry is well again.” 

“It’s the exter hours I got to be paid for. I’m used 
to my evenings off.” 

“A child like you ought not to be running out every 
evening. I am surprised that Mrs. Curry has allowed 
it,” 

The girl laughed derisively. “Allowed it! Every la- 


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285 


boring man has his evenings, don’t he? A servant ain’t 
a slave these days, Mr. Curry!” 

My fevered brain could picture Eugene’s stare of as¬ 
tonishment during the instant’s silence that followed this 
speech; the girl was usually so quiet and courteous. 

“You’ll get no extra pay for staying at home in the eve¬ 
ning where in any case you ought to stay!” he affirmed. 
“I tell you I am not asking you to do any extra work. 
You can do less” 

“I guess my evenings out is worth as much to me as 
yourn is to you, Mr. Curry. You don’t see yourself 
stayin’ in nights!” 

“Tut, tut, Addie, you are saucy! I’m afraid you are 
trying to take advantage of Mrs. Curry’s illness to get 
more wages—to work a hold up ! A child like you! Out¬ 
rageous ! Understand me, you will not leave the house 
one evening until Mrs. Curry is well!” 

“Whoopie! Bla—a! Well, Mr. Curry, I guess I’ll 
take a wacation till Missus gets well. Me and you can’t 
come to no understanding. I’m quittin’.” 

“You must not leave us in the lurch like that when 
we have illness and anxiety! To take such advantage of 
us!” he exclaimed in incredulous indignation. 

“It’s you that’s tryin’ to take adwantage of me and 
save yourself the price of a nurse like the doc ordered!” 

“You are impertinent! If Mrs. Curry allows you to 
talk like this, I do not!” 

“She never give me no cause to. But you and me can’t 
hit it off, Mr. Curry, so I’m quittin’. Anyways, I wouldn’t 
work here with that sister of yourn nosin’ into my affairs! 
—if you’ll excuse me sayin’ so. So I guess you and Mrs. 
Klam’ll have to manage between yous. If she’ll take care 
of Mrs. Curry through the day, you can take the night 
shift. When Mrs. Curry is well, I’ll come back.” 


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“No, Addie, if you leave now you can never come 
back.” 

“It ain’t, as a general thing, the question whether I can 
go back to a place; it’s whether the folks can get me 
back!” chuckled Addie. 

Her footsteps moved towards the door; but Eugene 
stopped her. “Here’s a suggestion—you can stay away 
through the day and come only at night; and for that 
I will pay you half your wages.” 

“Give up half my wages and board!” scoffed Addie. 
“Nothin’ doin’! If I leave here I take another place. 
I got to have some place to eat, don’t I?” 

“Well, couldn’t you work some where else through the 
day and come here in the evening? I’d pay you a dollar 
a week. That extra dollar would come in nicely for you.” 

“A dollar a night you mean,” said Addie. 

“I said I’d pay you half your week’s wages for staying 
here just at night. A very generous offer!” 

“Well, that’d be seven and a—” 

“Addie! Addie!” I feebly screamed—and as the girl 
hurried in to me from the living room, I managed hastily 
to whisper to her before Eugene, slowly following, had 
reached the bedside, “I’ll pay you what is right—don’t 
discuss it with Dr. Curry—he does not understand such 
things—” 

“All right—don’t you worry about me, Missus!” she 
reassured me in a soothing tone which, ill as I was, made 
me suspect that she probably understood far more as to 
the condition of things in my home than I had ever meant 
her to. 

“What is it, dear?” asked Eugene, putting her aside 
and laying a large cold hand on my burning head. 

“Quiet! I must have quiet! Don’t argue—I can’t 
bear it!” 


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“There, there, all right, my dear!” 

He motioned Addie to follow him out of the room. But 
when she vigorously shook her head to indicate that she 
meant to stay with me, he turned from the bedside and tip¬ 
toed away. 

“Addie!” I whispered faintly, “don’t let them drive you 
away. Don’t let Mrs. Klam worry you into leaving! 
Whatever happens, don't leave me! Promise!” 

But if she did promise, I did not hear her, for I sud¬ 
denly collapsed with exhaustion into a state of semicon¬ 
sciousness. 

For some days after that I was too weak and too stupe¬ 
fied from fever to know anything that was going on. 
When the crisis was past and I began to come back to 
life, I found, to my relief, that Addie and not Lottie 
was taking care of me. 

Addie told me all about it when I was able to listen. 
Mrs. Klam, she said, had attempted to “run” her; to 
criticise her “extravagance”; to reorganize her whole 
working routine— 

“At first I didn’t pay no attention—-just left her gas 
away whiles I went ahead and done as I always had did. 
She wasn’t hirin’ me. Then she tried to make me do her 
way and when I still didn’t pay no more attention than 
if she was a toad, she got mad and told your Mister to 
send me off and she’d take care of you evenings as well 
as through the day. He tol’ me to go and offered me two 
dollars fur the week! I just laughed and tol’ him I was 
workin’ fur you and you’d pay me when you was able— 
and that I wasn’t leavin’! Not unlest yon fired me! He 
sayed he’d get the po-lice to put me out. So me, I just 
phomed to the Doc to come ’round here as soon as he oth¬ 
erwise could. And I put it to him—how I’d passed you 
my promise I wouldn’t leave you and that if you did pull 


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through, you’d mebby have a re-lapse if you found I’d 
went. The Doc he sayed he’d anyhow noticed you was 
less restless when I nursed you than when Mrs. Klam 
was fussin’ ’round you and that your condition bein’ 
serious, if Dr. Curry didn’t want to get a trained nurse he 
must leave me take care of you and get some one else to 
do the housework. But Dr. Curry he tol’ the Doc that 
Mrs. Klam was a good nurse and that me he was discharg¬ 
ing. Then the Doc he sayed that if I was discharged, a 
trained nurse must come or he’d drop the case, fur Mrs. 
Klam was a strain on you that you was too weak to 
stand. I heard your Mister tell his sister that he 
wouldn’t of gave in to the Doc, but that two of his boys 
was at the Academy; and he was afraid, too, he says, 
that the Doc might talk ugly ’round Leitersville, and to 
be sure, he says, seein’ how the Doc ’tends all the best 
families, he’d sure have a chanct to talk all right! So 
then Mrs. Klam she sayed she wquld not stay if I stayed, 
and she ain’t been near since and I must say it’s a good rid¬ 
dance! Well, I guess! Say, the way that woman don’t 
hate herself gives me a pain! Your Mister he eats over 
at her house and I do what housework I can between 
whiles.” 

It seemed that Eugene had not yet discovered the fact 
that Addie was receiving from me more than two dollars 
a week, though I was pretty sure that she by this time, 
was perfectly aware of the deception I imposed upon 
him. 

“One night,” Addie continued her recital, her voice 
falling into a tone of awe, “me and the Doc us we thought 
you might die! And the Doc he sayed we must get Mis¬ 
ter home. It was eleven o’clock and I didn’t know where 
he was at. Doc he phomed all ’round, to the Academy and 
to Mrs. Klam’s and to a couple of trustees—and then I 


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289 


sayed, ‘Try Dr. Appleton.’ But Dr. Appleton he sayed 
Dr. Curry wasn’t with him , but he’d find him if he had to 
call on the po-lice! And sure enough, in fifteen minutes 
he had him here. He knew where to look fur him. And 
say, Missus, mebby both them gents wasn’t white and 
scared! Gee whiz!” 

If Addie knew, she did not volunteer any information 
as to where Dr. Curry had been found by Dr. Appleton 
<—and I did not ask her. 

During my convalescence I saw very little of Eugene. 
Of course his taking his meals at Lottie’s kept him away 
from home even more than usual. He generally managed 
to visit me at least once a day for a few minutes. But 
there were some days when I did not see him at all. 

Herrick kept my room filled with flowers; and when I 
was able to sit up he spent some hours every day with 
me, reading or talking. I found that he had been terribly 
frightened about me. 

“I want to ask you something, Herrick,” I said to him 
one day. “Tell me where you found Eugene the night 
you thought I might be dying?” 

There was a perceptible pause before he answered quite 
glibly, “Oh, I met him on the street. On his way home.” 

Herrick was a very poor liar. However, if he thought 
it better not to tell me the truth, I would not urge him. 

In my hours alone, I often wondered whether Eugene 
did not care for me at all any longer—except to lust 
after me! He would, I well knew, be ardent enough as 
soon as I was again well and blooming! And I had once 
fondly dreamed that I would always mean to him all that 
he at that time had meant to me—romance, poetry, 
beauty, religion! 


CHAPTER XI 


A BOUT twice a week Eugene and I went out to 
some social affair and these were the only eve¬ 
nings we ever spent in the same place. Fre¬ 
quently at these functions I met Miss Dorothy Renz- 
heimer who, while she gushed over Eugene, ignored me. 
She and Eugene invariably managed to get away together 
for a tete-a-tete; either disappear entirely for an hour, or 
separate themselves from the rest of the company by 
repairing to a far corner, or to the stairway, or to an 
alcove. 

It was quite evident to both him and me that I was not 
popular at these social gatherings. He attributed it 
to the fact that I was “not up to them.” 

When an invitation came to us to a large dance at the 
Renzheimers’ home, I pointed out to Eugene that we 
could not accept it, since the Renzheimers had not only 
never called to see me, but had unmistakably indicated by 
their attitude and manner to me that they did not want 
to have any relations with me. 

“Why would they ask us if they don’t want us?” he 
asked sullenly. 

“They do want you. But it’s very ‘green’ of them to 
suppose they can have you at their party when they’ve 
made it impossible for your wife to go to their house!” 

“The Renzheimers green!” he smiled. “That from 
you! My dear child, when once you see their gorgeous 
house and their ballroom and the supper they’ll serve 
and—” 

“I’ll not see it, for of course I can’t go.” 

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291 


“Suit yourself. But I’m going.” 

“The invitation requires an answer. Shall we send 
your acceptance and my regret together or separately?” 
I, in my turn, smiled. 

“Leave it to me,” he answered curtly; but I am sure my 
question found him at a loss. 

“Aren’t you afraid,” I inquired, “of seeming ‘countri¬ 
fied’—accepting an invitation which your wife can’t 
accept ?” 

“I’ve known the Renzheimers intimately for three years. 
No reason why I should stand on formality with them, 
I can’t let myself be hampered, my dear, by your fail¬ 
ure to please them; by their not finding you up to them.” 

I made no reply. We were at breakfast. I no longer 
ever saw him alone except at meals. The silence that 
fell between us was rather heavy. Now and then I found 
him casting an uneasy glance at me across the table. 
But neither of us spoke. And when presently he rose to 
go to the Academy, he omitted his usual parting kiss; 
not because he was offended with me, but because he 
thought I must be offended with him, or at least hurt. 

I did leave it to him to answer the invitation and I never 
asked him how he had formulated his answer, partly be¬ 
cause I was not curious, but more because I knew he would 
refuse to answer such a direct and personal question. 

It was about this time that there came to me the 
blessed knowledge that the passionate longing of my heart 
was going to be realized—I was going to have a baby. 
This was to me a stupendous experience and if it had 
come to me a bit earlier, before I had become quite so 
disillusioned, it would have been an ecstasy so great 
that all the bitter suffering that had led to my hiding 
away from that world in which I had been reared, would 
have been wiped out, forgotten, leaving only faint 


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shadows in the place of the deep scars my spirit bore. 

But now, in the midst of my trembling 1 joy, doubts 
assailed me, doubts which I tried to smother as fast as 
they were born; disloyal doubts which must not live in 
my heart towards the father of my baby. For the indif¬ 
ference, the coolness which had been creeping upon me in 
the past months I found giving way, now, to a sense of 
quite helpless dependence upon my husband, to a long¬ 
ing for the protection of his strength in my weakness 
and perhaps peril; for his love as I had first known it; 
for a spiritual union with him which should make ready 
a home for our child. And I longed as well to pour out 
upon him the great tenderness that seemed to fill my 
heart towards every living thing. 

Eagerly I looked for a propitious time to break the 
good news to him. But the right moment seemed amaz¬ 
ingly elusive. He must hurry away directly after break¬ 
fast ; his luncheon he frequently took at the Academy re¬ 
fectory ; and after dinner he hated to be interrupted in his 
reading of the daily paper; when that was done he must 
hurry off to his nightly rendezvous, whatever it was— 

And while I watched and waited, quivering with eager¬ 
ness, for the happy moment when I could quietly tell him 
of the blessedness that was to be ours, and see his proud 
thankfulness, see his tender, protecting love for me re¬ 
born, see him, for his child’s sake, rise to his best and 
truest self—those ugly doubts would thrust up their 
heads; was it right to bring a child into the world born of 
lust, not of love; hampered possibly by an inheritance 
from its father of pitiable characteristics and from its 
maternal grandfather of a tendency to hideous vice? 
What chance would my child have? 

I could only hope that in the sacredness of that hour 
when I would tell Eugene my great news and he would 


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take me in his arms and fold me to his heart, cherishing 
and helping me, a high resolve would be horn in both our 
souls to be worthy of the holy gift of a child. 

For of course I knew that all men who were not brutes 
or savages reverenced a woman with child; that husbands 
at these times were utterly tender and devoted and very 
anxious. I sighed happily as I considered what a pleas¬ 
ant change it was going to be from the cold, aloof rela¬ 
tion in which we had been living, broken only by occa¬ 
sional gusts of passion. 

But when I had waited in vain for over a week for a 
moment when Eugene would not be in too much of a hurry 
for a quiet half hour with me, I found that I would have 
to deliberately force the occasion for a talk with him. 

It was one evening when we had finished our after din¬ 
ner coffee upstairs in the living room, and he was about 
to take up his newspaper that, my heart heating thickly, 
I sat down beside him on the big couch before the fire. 

“I have something to tell you, dear.” 

He reached across my lap to get the newspaper that 
lay on the couch. But I took his outstretched hand in 
mine. “Wait a minute, dear. I must talk with you.” 

“Hurry up then—I must go out soon—and I’ve not 
had a minute all day to read the papers.” 

“You won’t be much interested in the papers,” I said, 
beaming, “and you won’t want to go out, when you’ve 
heard my news!” 

“Indeed?” he returned skeptically. “Well? Be quick, 
my dear.” 

“Eugene! Think of it! Think of what is coming to 
us! We’re going to have a baby!” 

“Oh, my dear, what a nuisance!” 

I did not move or speak. But I think my face must 
have gone white. 


29 4 


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“I ought not to say that, I suppose. But .1 really 
don’t especially want a child. And I’m rather afraid 
of the expense. A child, these days, costs a mint!—Are 
you quite sure?” 

I nodded. I could not speak. 

“How long have you known?” 

“A week.” My voice was a whisper. 

“Then there’s no hope that you might be mistaken?” 

I shook my head. 

“I wish we’d been more prudent! It was only yester¬ 
day that I paid the doctor’s bill for your grip attack. 
A wife surely is an expensive luxury!” he said ruefully, 
lifting his free hand to pinch my cheek. “Well, of course 
if it is inevitable, we shall have to make the best of it.” 

He drew his hand from my clasp and again reached for 
his newspaper. This time I did not stop him. 

“You’ll have to be careful of yourself,” he continued 
as he noisily rustled his paper in unfolding it. “Don’t 
let us have any avoidable doctor bills. And I certainly 
think that with the expense of a confinement looming 
ahead of us, you ought to dismiss Addie until you get 
to the pass where you will have to have her.” 

I did not reply. I felt turned to ice. The founda¬ 
tions of my life seemed to have dropped out. How little 
I had known him! I would not have conceived it possible 
that he would take my announcement like this. The gro¬ 
tesque contrast to what I had expected might have moved 
me to hysterical laughter if I had not been at the moment 
so stonily without feeling. 

He was reading his paper now; had immediately be¬ 
come engrossed in it; was apparently unmindful of me at 
his side, white and cold. 

It seemed to me that, sitting so near me, he must feel 


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295 


what was going on in my soul—the terrible revulsion from 
him—my very flesh shrinking in disgust from his com¬ 
monness. It was that—his commonness—which I felt 
almost to the exclusion of any wound to my heart. 

“He has the peasant’s brutal view of a woman! 
There’s not a fine thing about him! He is simply coarse 
and common /” 

It was this sudden clear recognition of his inherent 
vulgarity, the constant evidences of which I was always 
trying to gloss over in my mind and excuse, that killed 
in that hour my reviving love for him. 

Of course I could see many palliating causes for his 
lack of fineness; there were his blood, his rearing, the 
Pennsylvania Dutch standards, the peasant stolid ac¬ 
ceptance of maternity as a merely natural process, noth¬ 
ing to make a fuss about from either a sentimental or 
physical view of it; babies were born almost as frequently 
and easily as calves or pigs—with the disadvantage of 
being far more expensive and in the end less profitable. 
Often the birth of a calf or a litter of pigs gave more 
satisfaction. This was, I felt in every sick nerve of me, 
Eugene’s brutish view of my “condition.” It was more 
horrible to me than anything I had as yet learned about 
him; he had suddenly become to me what he had never 
quite been before—an object of repulsion and loathing. 

For twenty minutes while he read his paper I never 
moved or stirred. 

When he had finished, he tossed it across my lap to 
the other end of the couch, yawned, stretched and rose 
to his feet. 

“Going out for a while,” he announced as usual. 
“Good-by.” 

He bent and kissed my unresponding lips and, not no- 


296 


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ticing anything unusual in my manner or face, turned 
away and went downstairs. After a moment I heard the 
front door open and close. 

In my stupid blindness I had looked forward to an eve¬ 
ning in his arms, petted and cherished; to a wonderful and 
rapturous communion over our coming child; to fascin¬ 
ating and exciting discussion of its education, its rear¬ 
ing, even its clothes that I must begin to get ready. 

And here I was, just as on every other evening—alone. 
Sadder and lonelier than I had ever felt before during all 
the heavy sordid days of my married life. 

What saved me, by the grace of God, from bitterness 
and cynicism was the very lively consciousness I had of 
two things—my baby and Herrick Appleton. 


CHAPTER XII 


I THINK it was astonishment rather than grief that 
I experienced constantly during those first weeks 
of pregnancy. Eugene’s taking it all as a matter- 
of-course, manifesting no sense of responsibility for my 
welfare, no concern for my happiness during this trying 
and burdensome time, going his way as regardless of me 
as he had always been; never dreaming of inquiring how 
I was; of doing any least thing to divert or give me pleas¬ 
ure; of paying me any lover-like attention—when I had 
fondly supposed that I would be his first and dearest con¬ 
sideration ; that his every thought would be for me, to do 
all in his power to help me through the difficult days— 

I had never imagined that any man could be like this at 
such a time. It seemed to me just coarse; monstrous. 
But the saddest aspect of it all was that it did not deeply 
hurt me; that on the night I had told him of the baby, the 
last shadow of the high ideal I had had of him had van¬ 
ished and that now he had no longer any power to wound 
me. 

He was very far from knowing this, for in my weakened 
physical state I was supersensitive on the surface and 
easily moved to tears. 

But I did not pity myself, I pitied him, for his blind¬ 
ness in having forfeited such a love as I had had for him. 
He would have found it so easy to keep it! And surely 
it had been worth keeping! 

He was very insistent upon Addie’s leaving us for a 
few months—until I managed to convince him that it 
would be his own comfort and convenience that he would 

certainly sacrifice in discharging her. 

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When he learned that almost as soon as I knew of my 
condition I had, as a matter-of-course, engaged a trained 
nurse for my ordeal, he was incensed. “Consult me be¬ 
fore you go ahead and incur needless expense! Lottie 
can take care of you in your confinement. You won’t 
need a nurse. Anyway, not a trained nurse; there are 
inexpensive practical nurses that are just as good. My 
mother had eight children and never had a nurse for one 
of them.” 

“And five of them died in infancy,” I reminded him. 

He had never a suspicion of the shocks he was giv¬ 
ing me by what seemed to me his gross insensibility to all 
that was due me at this time. 

To avoid nerve-wracking argument with him, I did not 
tell him of my further arrangements for my confinement; 
of my engaging a room at the Leitersville Hospital so that 
I might elude Lottie’s interference. I foresaw that I 
would be obliged to establish myself at the hospital well 
in advance of my time, while I was still able to help my¬ 
self, or Eugene would certainly prevent my involving him 
in so much expense. 

“He will one day be summoned to the hospital to find me 
there cozily settled in my room,” I decided. 

I shuddered to think of what my situation would be if 
I were penniless. “The State ought to pension every 
pregnant woman for two years; but the State only pen¬ 
sions those who murder for her, not those who create!” 

I wondered how I would act under the present circum¬ 
stances if I were as dependent on Eugene as he supposed 
me to be. Of one thing I was sure—I would fight for my 
child’s best good with my last breath. 

“Dr. Baker wants to see you this morning at his of¬ 
fice,” I told Eugene one morning at breakfast; Dr. Ba¬ 
ker was our physician. 


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299 


“What for?” 

“He’ll tell you.” 

“Why don’t you tell me, if you know.” 

“I—I can’t.” 

“Nonsense, my dear! What is it?” 

“You’ll have to go to him, Eugene.” 

“Is it about your condition?—or about his sons at the 
Academy ?” 

“About—yourself.” 

He stared. “When did he tell you he wanted to see 
me?” 

“Yesterday.” 

“Well? Do be explicit! Did he come here to tell you 
or did he telephone?” 

“I went to his office to put myself in his care from now 
on until—” 

“Nancy, that’s perfectly useless extravagance!” he 
said, flushing with displeasure, but his voice, as always, 
low, smooth, almost hushed. “Putting yourself in the 
doctor’s care for six months! The way you do pamper 
yourself! Any one would think I was a millionaire! It’s 
utter nonsense! Lottie can tell you anything you want 
to know. She’s been through it all. Ask her . Don’t 
keep running to the highest priced doctor in town!” 

I mopped away the tears that were so near the sur¬ 
face these days and answered in an unsteady voice, “I 
was in pain.” 

“I didn’t know that!” he returned, relenting. “Why 
didn’t you tell me?” 

“You could see it for yourself if you ever noticed me.” 

“But, Nancy, he’s probably just working you for a 
big fee if he says you’ve got to be in his care from now 
on until your confinement. That’s absurd. You are not 
that ill.” 


800 


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I would not discuss the point. “You must see him to¬ 
day,” I repeated. 

“What about?” he insisted irritably. “Is there some¬ 
thing wrong with you?” 

“No. Everything’s all right. It’s you —” 

“What on earth do you mean?” 

“He wants to instruct you—” 

“Instruct me ? Huh! As to how I must keep you in 
cotton wadding and pamper you to your hurt! No one 
understands so well as Dr. Baker does how to swell his 
own bank account by getting on the right side of the 
women! Next thing, he’ll order a trip south for you, or 
a month at Atlantic City! He makes the wives of this 
town perfectly useless to their husbands—and the hus¬ 
bands pay the bills! Well, I shan’t trouble him to ‘in¬ 
struct’ me! I’ve a better use for my spare time—and for 
my money too!” 

I was so sure, however, that since Dr. Baker was not 
only a valuable patron of the Academy, but a citizen of 
standing and influence, Eugene would not only go to see 
him, but would heed his instructions, that I proceeded 
to act on this conviction that very morning by moving 
my belongings across the hall to the guest room and es¬ 
tablishing myself there. 

“Celibacy during pregnancy, for the good of both the 
child and the mother,” was the doctor’s pronouncement, 

I had not foreseen that the effect of this upon Eugene 
would be to make him almost unbearably irritable, like 
a man suddenly deprived of his usual eight cigars a day. 
But either Dr. Baker had succeeded in impressing upon 
him a sense of responsibility for his wife and child, or 
else Eugene knew me to feel that responsibility very 
deeply for he did not diverge from the doctor’s orders. 
I paid a price, however, for his forebearance—my endur- 


T H E S N O B 301 

ance of the vicious temper which the circumstances seemed 
to develop in him. 

During the first six weeks that I was with child I was 
in abject and ignominious misery every minute of the day 
and night and I looked a ghastly sight—blotchy spots on 
my face, dark circles under my eyes, my hair lusterless 
and lifeless, it was truly appalling. 

Eugene did not conceal his distaste for my altered 
looks. He actually shunned me. But Herrick said to me 
one day, when I asked him how he could bear to look at 
such a “chromo” as I was, “So long as your face expresses 
you , you are beautiful to me!” 

His constant consideration and delicate thoughtfulness 
for me at this time brought out in rather vivid relief that 
indifference of Eugene’s which more and more seemed 
to me a true expression of his inherent lack of breeding. 

At the end of six weeks, my physical misery very sud¬ 
denly came to an end and I felt perfectly well, except for 
the heaviness and fatigue which were of course inevitable. 
And with the cessation of my suffering my appearance 
changed; my complexion cleared and bloomed, my hair 
glistened, my eyes sparkled and I realized, to my pleased 
surprise, that I had never been better looking. I think 
it is only very rarely that pregnancy causes a woman to 
bloom and glow with a greater radiance than she ever has 
at other times; but so it was with me. I saw men look 
at me with eyes that said to me what every woman under¬ 
stands—“You are a desirable woman!” At the parties 
to which Eugene and I continued to go a few times a 
week, my unpopularity with the women was not lessened 
by the fact that their husbands apparently found me at¬ 
tractive. 

This change in me produced in Eugene an increase of 
his irritability, a sullenness, and sometimes a dull fury 


302 


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that were a revelation to me of some phases of life of 
which I had been very ignorant. 

Sometimes when Herrick happened to be a witness to 
these displays of temper, or to my husband’s complete 
lack of chivalry towards me, his letting me climb the 
steep stairs of our old house for a wrap, his not paying 
any attention to me, not waiting upon me, which, under 
the present circumstances, seemed so beastly,—Herrick 
quite openly expressed his disgust. 

“You might at least have married a gentleman, Nancy, 
even if he did have to be a fool!” he burst out one evening 
when we found ourselves alone after some particularly 
crass behavior on Eugene’s part. 

“Oh, Herrick, please don’t talk to me like that!” 

“Don’t be conventional, my dear!” 

“If it’s being conventional to have a sense of decency! 
And you know,” I added, a breathless catch in my voice, 
“my father was called a gentleman!” 

“Yes,” Herrick almost groaned, “ ‘the most perfect 
gentleman of his time,’ fi a gentleman of the old school,’ 
‘a Chesterfield,’ the newspapers called him.” 

“His unfailing, exquisite courtesy to Mother!—while 
living a secret life of hideous shame!” I shuddered. “The 
word ‘gentleman’ can never mean much to me any more, 
Herrick!” 

Herrick had nothing to answer to that. 

It was just about this time that at one of Eugene’s 
popular lectures delivered before a large and more than 
usually enthusiastic audience, Herrick and I, sitting to¬ 
gether, heard him tell to his spellbound hearers, “The 
wisest man is not he who merely sees farthest and deepest, 
but he whose love for mankind outruns his knowledge. 
Seeing without loving is like looking upon shadows.” “It 
is not through churches or Bibles that we rise to God, but 


THE SNOB 


303 


through unselfish associations with our fellow-men.” 
“Your doubts may be more truly religious than other 
men’s convictions and take you nearer to God. Do not 
crush, but meet them.” “Don’t feel it incumbent upon 
yourself to make other people good; it will fully occupy 
you to keep yourself good.” “It ill becomes you to talk 
about your rights until you have recognized and per¬ 
formed your duties.” “Your griefs you may use, if you 
will, to sweeten and enrich rather than to embitter and 
impoverish your soul.” “Hate trembles before the clear 
eyes of Love.” 

I thought of his mother; of his child that he did not 
want; of his ill-concealed bitterness that he had missed 
his chance to marry Dorothy Renzheimer’s fortune— 

Herrick and I, side by side in the packed auditorium of 
the Civic Club, avoided looking at each other. 


CHAPTER XIII 


« "W" DO hope,” Lottie said to me, “that when you begin 
I to show it, you’ll act genteel about it and keep out 
JL of sight! Especially of the Academy boys!” she 
shuddered. 

She advised Eugene that as it was “up to” him and me 
to give a party in return for all the hospitality we were 
accepting, we ought to do it before I began to look con¬ 
spicuous. 

So Eugene broached the matter at breakfast one morn¬ 
ing. “It seems to me, Nancy, that you have been about 
in Leitersville quite enough, now, to have learned how 
to give a big dinner. Do you feel you can venture to 
put it through?” 

“I’m by nature daring and adventurous, my dear, so 
if you think it is necessary to give a dinner you’ll not find 
me wanting in courage!” 

“Of course it is necessary. If we don’t entertain, we 
won’t be invited.” 

There spoke the Pennsylvania Dutchman who did not 
give something for nothing. 

“And you want to be invited?” I asked. 

“My wife’s got to take her right position here—there’s 
to be no shirking that; most women would be glad of the 
chance you have to get into Leitersville’s best set. But 
you have so little ambition and pride, Nancy! I wish you 
were more like Lottie!” 

“My ambition and pride don’t soar towards such un¬ 
attainable heights!” 

He dismissed this heavy irony with a shrug. “To be 
304 


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305 


sure I did hope,” he continued, “that before we had to 
entertain, you would get a chance to see how the Leiters 
and Renzheimers serve a dinner. Of course no one else 
here entertains so elaborately. But,” he added, “when 
you did have that chance, you refused to take advantage 
of it. You might have gone to their dance even if they 
hadn’t called on you. You could afford to compromise 
a bit when you think who they are!” 

“But that’s it—when I think who, or rather what, 
they are, I can’t compromise. Miss Dorothy Renzheimer 
has taken such a lot of trouble, Eugene, to let me know 
she doesn’t like me, that I think she must have been very 
much in love with you.” 

“How penetrating we are!” he scoffed. “That isn’t 
why they’ve cut you. It’s because they don’t care par¬ 
ticularly for people who are not a bit spiffy.” 

“I’ll try to be resigned.” 

“Dear me, we do think our irony is clever, don’t we?” 

I wondered whether he would insist upon my inviting 
these Renzheimers to our dinner. I didn’t really care— 

But it seemed that even he realized that, in view of their 
open antagonism to me, it would be incongruous to in¬ 
vite them. “The Renzheimers’ recognition is really nec¬ 
essary to your real success here,” he said, “and so, al¬ 
though we can’t ask them to our dinner, I want to give 
such an elaborate affair that they and others will hear 
about it!” 

“Oh, Eugene, don’t be so darned silly!” 

It came from me involuntarily. I did not mean to say 
it. It was no part of my role to criticise him like that. 

He looked surprised and offended. He considered 
snubbing his prerogative. “It is only because you have 
had so little worldly experience, Nancy, that you think 
such things silly.” 


306 


THE SNOB 


“It is because you have had so little that you don’t 
think them silly!” 

“But I have had a lot of worldy experience—four years 
at Princeton and two years here,” he protested. 

“You call Leitersville the world?” 

“There’s a lot of wealth and fashion here.” 

“Eugene,” I asked, genuinely puzzled, “don’t you 
really feel Leitersville’s vulgarity?” 

“All fashionable society is spiritually vulgar, I sup¬ 
pose.” 

“No, I mean quite concretely and definitely its social 
vulgarity.” 

“Do you feel yourself competent to judge of that?” he 
shrugged. “Why, I’m not even sure you know enough 
to get up this dinner party properly.” 

I began to wonder how it was to be done—this “getting 
up” a dinner party “properly”—with one maid, no ca¬ 
terer in the town, and no extra help available except the 
rather inexperienced Academy servants. It was one 
thing to give a dinner under such circumstances, I re¬ 
flected, and quite another when you had a staff of trained 
servants. I knew how Leitersville hostesses slaved over 
their parties. My heart sank as I thought of going to 
all that trouble, all that useless waste of my time and vi¬ 
tality, for a thing that it seemed to me would give no one 
any satisfaction. 

“I wonder why,” I said to Eugene, “these Leitersville 
women spend themselves so over this thing they call ‘so¬ 
ciety’; I don’t believe they get any real amusement from 
it.” 

“Because you have no social gift, or any taste for so¬ 
ciety—” 

“But I have a taste for real society—where there’s 


T H E S N O B 307 

wit, genuine fun, interchange of ideas, exciting dis¬ 
cussion—” 

“You don’t find that kind of thing in society, my child,” 
he smiled at my ignorance and inexperience. “You’d 
find it in Appleton’s Forum!” 

“But of course there is such a thing as brilliant society 
—groups of artists and intellectuals and—” 

“Much you know about it!” he interrupted, passing me 
his cup for more coffee. 

“If you knew more about it, my dear,” I answered as 
I filled his cup, “you couldn’t stand what they call ‘so¬ 
ciety’ here—coming together to eat a big meal and ex¬ 
change platitudes and bromides. If one should have the 
temerity, at a Leitersville party, to drop a live idea, it 
would create consternation—get one suspected! And for 
this feast of the body and famine of the soul, a hostess 
will slave like a dog for days! Must I be as insane as 
the rest of them and lend myself to such futile business?” 

“The penalty for being so very superior to one’s neigh¬ 
bors, as you fondly think yourself, my dear, is that 
they let you severely alone!” 

“If people in our circumstances had the courage to ask 
their friends to perfectly simple meals, simply served— 
will you let me do that, Eugene?” 

But no, he wanted to “do it up with swank.” 

“It will be expensive, you know,” I warned him guile- 
fully. 

“Well, we shall have to make that up by retrenching in 
other directions. In gasoline, for instance. Use the 
trolley car.” 

“Shall you use the trolley cars?” 

“I haven’t time. It would be a false economy for me. 
You have all the time there is.” 


308 


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“I find it necessary to avoid trolleys these days for 
fear I have a child with weird complexes!—the signs in 
the trolleys obsess me so—I can’t forget them. Ever 
notice Leitersville trolley car signs?— 

“IT’S E. Z. TO MOVE WHEN YOU HIRE E. 
ZEITER’S MOVING VAN. 

“DADDY, JOIN MOTHER IN THE PUREST 
DRINK OF ALL—MILK. DAIRY PRODUCTS CO. 

“SAFETY FIRST. BE CAREFUL, DADDY, 
DON’T GET HURT. WE’D MISS YOU AT HOME. 
The School of Commerce has one—AFTER SEVEN 
O’CLOCK WHAT? DO YOU WASTE PRECIOUS 
EVENINGS IN A MAD SCRAMBLE FOR PLEAS¬ 
URE, OR ARE YOU DEVELOPING YOUR CHAR¬ 
ACTER AND ACCUMULATING KNOWLEDGE? 
The witty ones—MAKE YOUR DOLLARS HAVE 
MORE SENSE. But when they fall into poetry, I’m 
lost! The Merchants’ Trust Company has a poem— 

“ ‘When rainy days come 

You’re snug and content, 

For your money has earnt 
Just 4%.’ 

Then there’s Johnson’s Cough Drops— 

“ ‘Stop that tickle 
For a nickel.’ 

You see, my dear, the mental furniture I accumulate from 
riding on trolley cars ! What kind of a child will I have! 
No, we can’t save on gasoline. Better cut out desserts.” 

But Eugene required desserts; the kind Addie made 
had become essential to his well-being. “It’s not nec¬ 
essary to skimp the table. Lottie can advise you how 


THE SNOB 


309 


to get up this dinner without unnecessary expense. Con¬ 
sult her. She knows how to do these things very econom¬ 
ically.” 

She did. The two parties Lottie had given in Leiters- 
ville had been actually parsimonius, though the account 
of them in the Leitersville Gazette , contributed by El¬ 
mer’s own pen and printed in the column headed Social 
Whirl of Leitersville , stated that the “floral decorations” 
were pink roses (there had been three rosebuds in a vase 
on the dining-room table) that a collation was served at 
ten-thirty (the “collation” was grape juice and cake) 
that “an artistic and cultured program was rendered” 
(Florence had recited a hymn and Elmer had.sung, shrilly 
and jerkily, two very sentimental love songs) Elmer, who 
thought he had a literary style and often told “folks” 
that the only reason he was not a writer was because he 
was a musician, concluded his account of the party with 
the statement, “A pleasant time was participated in by all 
and social conversation.” 

“The most comfortable way to give parties,” I declared, 
“would be for each guest to bring his own dinner! Eco¬ 
nomical for the host and easy for the hostess.” 

“I must admit,” said Eugene “that you have caught 
on to some things, Nancy, more readily than Lottie has; 
you don’t, for instance, let Addie serve our soup at din¬ 
ner in bouillon cups. I was mortified at that break Lot¬ 
tie made at her first dinner! Went and rented those 
bouillon cups on purpose 1” 

“I told her to use soup plates and offered to lend her 
mine,” I said, “but she thought bouillon cups ‘much more 
swell’ and was sure I didn’t know.” 

“Well, that’s one thing you did know and she didn’t. 
And her finger bowls were so full of water you could not 
dip your fingers in them without their overflowing! I 


310 


THE SNOB 


hope you’ll escape any such mortifying breaks!” 

He proceeded to instruct me on some points which he 
thought might have escaped me in my observation of 
Leitersville table manners and customs. I listened with¬ 
out comment and succeeded in keeping my face gravely 
attentive. 

Later that morning, without having consulted Eugene, 
I called at Herrick’s house to ask him whether he would 
care to come to our dinner, and I had time, while I waited 
in his study for his Chinaman to summon him, to ex¬ 
amine some new pictures he had hung on the walls since 
last I had been here—gruesome, awful things!—Ryan 
Walker’s Without a Kennel , Roger Bloche’s Cold, Theo- 
phile Stemlen’s The Liberatress, Kerr’s The Hand of 
Fate , Lilien’s The Vampire —all of them depicting the 
most hideous and cruel inhumanity. 

“How can you live with such pictures of cruel suffer¬ 
ing about?” I demanded with a shiver as he came in to me. 

“You would keep such brutal suffering from your 
sight, I would blot it from the earth! You could not 
stand it on your walls, I can’t stand it in the world! 
These pictures should stare one in the face every day, 
every hour, until what they represent is banished to the 
hell from which it came! Well,” he added, cooling 
down, coming to me and taking both my hands in his, “I 
hope you are here to announce that, having left Eugene, 
you’ve come to live with me?” 

“Herrick, I’ve got to give a dinner two weeks from 
to-day. Do you want to come to it?” 

“I’d go to hell to be near you, Nancy! Will you put 
me next to you? So that if I become too overcharged 
with the gibes I shall want to fling, I can ease myself 
by spitting them out to you.” 

“You must promise to behave pretty! I want Eugene 


THE SNOB 


311 


to be satisfied with this party. Oh, Herrick, if you’d 
hear that poor man anxiously instructing me as to how 
you place knives and forks and what he calls ‘the two- 
plate service,’ and so on!” 

“Gosh!” Herrick grinned. “You’re improving fast 
when you can make fun of him!” 

“Oh!” I broke out impetuously, “if I could not laugh 
at him a little how could I stand him!” 

My own words appalled me as I heard them. My face 
burned as I met Herrick’s keen, grave eyes piercing me. 

“Don’t look at me like that!” I almost sobbed. “Your 
eyes bore like gimlets! Leave me some mental privacy, 
Herrick! I despise myself for flaunting my disloyalty!” 

“Nonsense! Don’t be damned sentimental, my dear. 
Face facts squarely.” 

“Do you think one is happier for being disillusioned?” 

“That’s weak. Happiness at the cost of stupid blind¬ 
ness is not for you , Nancy—since you’re neither stupid 
nor blind!” 

I turned away from him, went to the window and 
stared out over the Avenue, seeing nothing, the dull, 
heavy thumping of my heart making me feel physically 
faint. 

He came and stood behind me. But he did not speak. 

“Do you know,” I presently said, surprise and even 
wonder in my voice, “I can close my eyes and see Eugene 
as he appeared to me while we were engaged—a Greek 
god! A man of high attainments and consecrated life, 
whose attitude to the world could make him say, ‘Why 
take a pilgrimage to the Holy Land when the Holy Land 
is here where you walk with your fellow-men?’ Oh, Her¬ 
rick, that exalted being, that young prophet with a 
flaming vision, is dead and the man I am living with is 
a complete stranger to me, an alien of another race! 


312 


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Isn’t it weird that some one you thought you knew as 
you knew yourself, can become transformed into an ab¬ 
solutely different person when you come to live with him? 
It’s uncanny!” 

“Nancy! Stop looking so childishly innocent, or I’ll 
crush you in my arms! Go home!—and if you can’t 
come here looking less alluring than you are in that 
warm brown coat and hat, stay away, for God’s sake!” 

“Herrick, did you ever meet the young Mrs. Charles 
Leiter that has just come home to Leitersville after a 
year in Europe; whom every one seems to speak of with 
awe? Apparently, she’s much, oh, much holier than the 
Renzheimers and the rest of the Leiter family! Is she 
truly anything remarkable?” 

“Yes, she is. Charles Leiter, who is heir to old Jake’s 
power and millions, is not crude like the rest of the 
family; like his bouncing sister and niece, Mrs. Renz- 
heimer and Dorothy, for instance. He is the youngest 
child and only son of old Jake and no money was spared 
in educating him. He’s not only a highly sophisticated 
and polished product, but he really is interesting; and 
the girl he has married is charming. To Leitersville 
she seems to be the last word in class exclusiveness— 
I suppose because she doesn’t go to their parties; 
I’m sure they’re incapable of recognizing what really 
does set her apart as different from themselves— 
since they have never recognized it in you! She 
and Charles are away a great deal and as they come 
here only to rest up they keep to themselves mostly. 
Leitersville finds them rather inaccessible. To secure 
Mrs. Charles Leiter for a social function would be 
a triumph for any hostess. Yet, she’s a very simple 
girl; as simple as you are, my dear. About your 
age, too. Gnce a year she and Charles give a gorgeous 


THE SNOB 


313 


tea or lawn party or something at their beautiful house 
cm Leiters Hill and invite all their Leitersville acquaint¬ 
ances, and that’s their sole contact with Leitersville 
society. You see, Charles Leiter’s wife can do what the 
wife of the Academy Head Master can’t do—she can 
be royally independent of Leitersville’s approval or dis¬ 
approval. It’s because they know she is impervious to 
anything they may say or think, that they regard her 
with awe. But she is really much more democratic than 
they are. She’s entirely sympathetic with what I am 
trying to do here. In short, my dear, she belongs to 
your world and mine.” 

“And she is Dorothy Renzheimer’s aunt!” 

“By marriage, yes.” 

“I envy her the privilege of cutting their parties,” I 
sighed. 

It was just at this moment that the Chinaman ap¬ 
peared in the doorway of the study and announced, “Mrs. 
Charles Leiter.” 

As I turned to look at Herrick in questioning sur¬ 
prise, the eager expectation in his face gave me suddenly, 
to my astonishment and dismay, the sharpest pang of 
jealousy I had ever known in my life. 


CHAPTER XIV 


A S a theme of conversation in Leitersville society, 
the leading place so long held by the little nude 
swimmers seemed now to have been usurped, tem¬ 
porarily at least, by the more interesting subject of 
Mrs. Charles Leiter. Ilcr holding herself aloof as she 
did; never coming down from her home on Leiters Hill 
to honor their social gatherings; never appearing at 
church, which in Leitersville was practically a social 
dub; not even attending the parties given by her hus¬ 
band's elder sister, Mrs. Renzhcimer—all this inaccessi¬ 
bility* 1 learned, endowed her, in the Leitersville mind, 
with a subtle fascination which enhanced her social value 
far beyond that accorded to mere lavishness of enter¬ 
taining. 

Eugene had a great deal to say about her. He seemed 
to love to talk about her, as though it gave him an agree¬ 
able sense of intimacy with one whom it was creditable 
to know. 

“There's a young lady of distinction!” he would say 
admiringly. “I was talking to her this morning for a 
minute on the sidewalk. She certainly does carry herself 
as though she veere used to things!” “Now there’s a 
woman, Nancy, that you couldn ? t pretend to find com¬ 
monplace as you pretend to find most people here. She 
is an aristocrat! Even as inexperienced a girl as you 
are would have to recognize that.” “Mrs. Charles Leiter 
drives her own car and she certainly does sit up in that 
car with an air!” “Mrs. Renzheimer would feel awfully 
set up if she could get her brother Charles’ wife to one of 

314 


THE SNOB 315 

her dinners. But she can’t 1 Mrs. Leiter would rather 
come to one of my lectures. She told me so.” 

Somehow, when he went on in this vein, I winced from 
telling him of my acquaintance with his paragon; of the 
friendship that had so quickly and spontaneously sprung 
up between us after our meeting at Herrick’s; of our daily 
walks into the country, our drives, our long intimate 
talks; the simple truth being that as Mrs. Charles Leiter, 
only two years older than I, had always in Leitersville 
found herself as stranded and starved spiritually as I 
was, we had almost immediately, with Herrick clearing 
the way for us, found ourselves so sympathetic and con¬ 
genial in our tastes and ideas, that nothing could have 
been more natural and inevitable than our present friend- 

This growing intimacy seemed thus far to have es¬ 
caped Leitersville’s vigilance. It is true Mrs. Leiter’s 
car was several times seen driving into the Academy 
grounds, but no one dreamed that she was calling on me, 
since it was known that she never paid calls; and as our 
walks and drives were all into the country and our visiting 
done in the seclusion of our homes during the hours favor¬ 
able to uninterrupted conpanionship, we had not yet 
roused any comment on the situation. 

I dreaded Eugene’s inevitable discovery of it; to have 
to endure his vulgar elation, his snobbish satisfaction, 
his feeling of triumph over the less fortunate who craved 
in vain such an intimacy, his sense of being honored by 
Mrs. Leiter’s condescension! To stave off this ordeal as 
long as possible, I became almost secretive about our ac¬ 
quaintance. When at our meals he would regale me with 
an amazing variety of information as to Mrs. Charles 
Leiter’s Parisian clothes, tastes in household furnishings, 
devotion to her husband, indifference to her “in-laws,” 


316 


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musical education, interest in art, discriminating literary 
judgment, I wondered what was the source of all this 
rather accurate information which he managed to ac¬ 
quire. 

“Where do you find out all this ?” I was at last driven 
to ask him—and to my surprise, he looked a bit em¬ 
barrassed. 

“Oh, I see Dorothy now and then.” 

“Dorothy Renzheimer? You call her ‘Dorothy*? 
Dear me, so chummy as that? And yet she has never 
called on me!” 

“You know why.” 

“I am afraid I do.’* 

He shrugged and turned to his food. My ideas on the 
subject were not important to him. Yet he did look a 
shade self-conscious; a bit uncomfortable. 

“They say,” he continued after a moment, “that Mrs. 
Charles Leiter comes from an old Boston family with dis¬ 
tinguished traditions behind them. And indeed I recog- 
nized as soon as I met her that she’s true blue.” 

“Do you think (as you so often ask me) that you are 
qualified to judge?” 

“Judge of what?” 

“You lost out, you know, in your guess about that 
young scientist at the Academy who turned out to be 
the son of Bishop Bradley; and I’ve known other in¬ 
stances—” 

“Any one might have been mistaken about Bradley. 
Don’t try to discuss things you don’t understand,” he 
answered in a bored tone, as he might have reproved a 
tiresome child. 

“Mr. Appleton was not mistaken about Bradley.” 

“And you think him, I suppose, more qualified than I 
to judge of good breeding?” he asked jealously. 


THE SNOB 


317 


“In Bradley’s case he was.” 

Well, he should be, when you consider his background, 
but it happens that he is not!—surrounding himself with 
the riff-raff of Leitersville, giving the vulgar, unwashed 
rabble of the town the run of his home, preferring such 
society to the best here ! He is not fastidious. It may 
be foolish,” he added, complacently smiling, “but as I 
remarked at Mrs. Baumgardner’s dinner last night, it 
does make a difference to me to know that a man or 
woman lives south of Market street in Philadelphia!” 

“I heard you proclaim your sensitiveness to that dis¬ 
tinction and—Eugene, you really must stop saying such 
tilings!” 

“Indeed? You don’t tell mel ‘Must?’” He looked 
amused. “And why, pray?” 

“Because you make yourself ridiculous I” 

He colored with resentment. “Everybody doesn’t hap¬ 
pen to know my early background as you do,” he coldly 
reminded me. 

“But that is not what I mean! I mean that people of 
breeding don’t say such things. They don’t think them.” 

“And how, pray, did you come by your intimate knowl¬ 
edge of what ‘people of breeding’ say and think?—the only 
people of class you have ever known being those you have 
met through me —and those few evidently not finding you 
their kind! Everybody that is anybody, Nancy, knows 
that there is an absolute line drawn, socially, between 
the south and north side of Market street, Philadelphia.” 

“But it is not the people on the south side, Eugene, 
that keep talking and thinking of that line.” 

“Will you tell me where you imbibed your quite un¬ 
canny familiarity with the private thoughts and feelings 
of those who live south of Market street?” 

“I can only judge them by myself—” 


318 


THE SNOB 


“Which means you know nothing at all about them.” 

“Even less than you do?” 

He darted a keen glance at me across the table; a shade 
of perplexity in his eyes over this new spirit he was find¬ 
ing in me. How short time ago I had been all worship¬ 
ful humility before a god! 

“Being pregnant doesn’t seem to improve your dispo¬ 
sition!” he remarked indifferently. 

The most hopeless thing about him was that he saw 
no other reason than that for the change he was finding 
in me. 


CHAPTER XV 


are so different, Nancy, from what I had been 
led to supposel” 

JL “Who had led you to ‘suppose’ anything about 
me, Edith?” 

Mrs. Charles Leiter and I, having gotten a little chilled 
from motoring, were having hot chocolate and toast 
in my living room, which my trim, capable Addie had 
brought to us on a dainty, tempting tray. It was four 
o’clock in the afternoon and Eugene was due at home 
about five. I hoped that a perverse fate would not to-day 
bring him home earlier than usual; I shrank from witness¬ 
ing the struggle he would have with himself to curb his 
inclination to fawn upon Mrs. Charles Leiter ; for he was 
of course far too subtle not to cloak, under a dignified 
reserve, his secret sense of inferiority to those he called 
“people of class.” 

It was his habit to go, immediately upon his return 
home, to his study on the first floor and shut himself in 
there to read, write and smoke until dinner time; but if 
he should recognize Mrs. Leiter’s car and liveried chauf¬ 
feur at our door, it would certainly bring him in glad 
surprise and curiosity upstairs to investigate. This 
I earnestly hoped would not happen. 

In view of Leitersville’s attitude towards Mrs. Leiter, 
I had been surprised and a little amused to find her 
modest almost to shyness. Yet one felt a forceful per¬ 
sonality underneath her quiet, gentle reserve; and j ust as 
soon as she found herself in vital touch with me, that re¬ 
serve dissolved in a spontaneous giving of her best that 

319 


320 


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made for both of us an exciting spiritual adventure. 

She was girlish looking, tall and slim, with a creamy, 
colorless skin, soft dark eyes and very black hair ar¬ 
ranged with a severe simplicity that only such exquisitely 
regular features as hers could have borne. The expres¬ 
sion of her face was meditative, detached, yet warm and 
human. 

“I don’t know how you have managed, Nancy, to give 
my relatives, here, the impression that you are a plain, 
simple girl from a village, not quite up to Leitersville 
standards!” 

“But that is what I am.” 

“Yes?” she mocked me, her eyes resting thoughtfully 
on the Sheffield plate and Doulton china on the tea table. 

“I am plain and simple, I did come from a village, and 
Leitersville standards are utterly beyond me.” 

“I’m beginning to scent a mystery about you!” she 
said, her glance moving to my mother’s portrait over 
my desk. 

I was surprised to find that I did not quail before the 
menace in this suggestion as a few months ago I would 
have done. Did that mean that my spirit was escaping 
from its bondage to fear?—fear of a shame that was not 
mine, but another’s. 

“Of course,” Edith continued smiling, “as soon as Dr. 
Appleton told me that you and he had become quite close 
friends, I knew you were not what the Renzheimers re¬ 
ported 3 ^ou to be.” 

“I didn’t dream the Renzheimers were enough interested 
in me to ‘report’ on me. Here’s the second volume of 
The Growth of the Soil , you can take it, I’ve finished it. 
There never was another novel that could be so utterly 
absorbing about nothing!” 


THE SNOB 


321 


“I assure you, my dear, you are almost the sole topic 
of conversation at the Renzheimers’.” 

“But they barely know me. More chocolate?” 

“Yes, thank you. Of course I knew before I met you 
that a girl that could win two such men as Dr. Curry 
and Dr. Herrick Appleton was some one to be reckoned 
with! And sure enough, I find you the only very in¬ 
teresting and lovely thing I have ever discovered in 
Leitersville, except Dr. Appleton.” 

I noticed she did not also except Eugene. 

“Herrick is ‘interesting’ of course—but ‘a lovely 
thing’?” I questioned. 

“Well, isn’t he?” 

“Well—yes,” I admitted. 

“He says he is coming to your dinner party next 
Thursday.” 

“Yes.” 

“You do have a pull with him, Nancy, when you can 
get him to a Leitersville dinner party!” 

“I hope he’ll behave himself and keep within bounds. 
I wouldn’t care, only Eugene seems so concerned—” 

“Eor fear Dr. Appleton won’t behave?” 

“He doesn’t know I have invited Dr. Appleton. It 
will rather upset him when he finds him among the guests! 
I mean that Eugene is anxious for this party to go 
smoothly without friction—” 

I stumbled a bit in my effort to elude the vulgar truth 
as to what Eugene was anxious about. 

“If he doesn’t know that Dr. Appleton is coming, 
where else does he fear friction?” Edith persisted. “Not 
between you and your guests?” 

“He’s never quite sure of me, poor man! He thinks 
I’m rather undiplomatic. And as for his sister, Mrs. 


322 


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Elam,” I added to divert the talk from Eugene, “she’s 
simply cold with apprehension when she finds herself 
and me in the same group!” 

Edith laughed, showing her dazzling white, even teeth. 
“But this is a new phase of Dr. Curry I’m learning 
about! I know him only as the well-beloved teacher and 
Head Master, the eloquent lecturer, the spiritually- 
minded thinker. But a man so concerned about a 
Leitersville dinner going smoothly that his wife conceals 
from him the fact that she has invited the only other 
worth-while man in the town except Charles! Why 
don’t you invite us> Nancy?” 

“You wouldn’t come, would you?” 

“Not unless we were invited. We’re like my colored 
cook who says she wouldn’t go to a party she wasn’t in¬ 
vited to if she never got anywhere.” 

“But I’m told you and Charles don’t go to Leitersville 
parties. I’m sure I don’t see why any one would if they 
didn’t have to.” 

“No party could be dull where you and Dr. Curry and 
Dr. Appleton and Charles and I were! Yes, thank you, 
we accept with pleasure. Put me beside Dr. Appleton, 
will you?” 

“Yes. He made me swear a solemn oath I would put 
him beside me, but he didn’t know you’d be there.” 

“You can put him between us.” 

“My dear, Leitersville will expect me to give you the 
place of honor on my husband’s right.” 

“That’s just why I wouldn’t do it if I were you.” 

“Eugene would think me ignorant and stupid if I 
didn’t.” 

“He is not so ignorant and stupid himself as to think 
you could ever be so and he is not in the least interested 
in me.” 


THE SNOB 


323 


I said to myself, “Oh, isn’t he! Much you know!” 

Aloud I answered, “Of course Eugene is interested in 
a woman like you 1” 

“That was my own high opinion of him, my dear, until 
I learned, last winter, of his interest in Charles’ niece, 
Dorothy Renzheimer, and I knew no man could be in¬ 
terested in me who found her even tolerable! It gave 
me quite a new angle on Dr. Curry. What puzzles me is 
how a man capable of loving you could ever have even 
imagined himself in love with Dorothy!” 

“Did he ever imagine himself in love with Dorothy?” 

“Well, didn’t he? Oh!” she exclaimed in alarm, “I’m 
not giving anything away, am I? You surely know all 
about that ancient history?” 

“Did it go so far,” I asked in a steady, even tone, “as 
an engagement?” 

“Yes, dear, it did—though I wouldn’t blame any man 
for jilting Dorothy to marry you. But, Nancy, didn’t 
you know? I should not have dreamed of mentioning it 
if I had not supposed you knew! I don’t crave the role 
of home-wrecker!” 

“Did I know that Eugene jilted Dorothy Renzheimer 
to marry me? But, Edith, he couldn’t have, for he and 
I were engaged before he ever met Miss Renzheimer. I 
remember his telling me of his first meeting her when 
she came home from boarding school and made her 
debut.” 

My heart was thumping alarmingly and the life in my 
womb stirred. I must control my agitation, or harm 
would come to my baby! 

“Naturally you know the truth about it all,” said 
Edith, looking distressed, “and no doubt Dorothy exag¬ 
gerated her side of it. One reason why I’ve invited my¬ 
self to your dinner, my dear, is that my relatives-in-law 


324 


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won’t be there! My chief reason for dodging Leiters- 
ville parties is my omnipresent and very embarrassing 
relatives by marriage.” 

While she chatted about her husband’s people and I 
answered her vaguely, the thought kept beating like a 
hammer in my brain that I had forced Eugene to marry 
me when probably he would not otherwise have done so. 
I suddenly realized that I had been dodging that convic¬ 
tion ever since my marriage. What had held me back 
from admitting it had been, in the first place, my high 
ideal of my husband which had made that suspicion seem 
impossible; and, in the second place, my pride which 
shrank from facing such a humiliating truth. If it really 
were the truth, didn’t I owe him every reparation pos¬ 
sible? But at the time of our marriage we had been 
betrothed a year and eight months—how, then, could 
I owe him any reparation? On the contrary, had he 
not broken faith with me in his relations with Dorothy 
Renzheimer? No wonder the Renzheimers did not call 
to see me! But if Eugene had jilted Dorothy, why were 
the Renzheimers friendly to him and not to me? 

“If Miss Renzheimer says Eugene jilted her,” I sud¬ 
denly broke into Edith’s monologue, “why is she so 
friendly with him?” 

“But she thinks—well, I believe the family exonerates 
him from any blame. So of course he wasn’t blame¬ 
worthy and you need not be disturbed. If I have upset 
you, Nancy, I shall never forgive myself!” 

“I knew that there had been something between Eugene 
and your niece—but an engagement!” 

And then quite suddenly I knew that this ugly rev¬ 
elation did not really matter to me at all. A blank 
indifference followed my agitation. I felt the color steal 


T H E S N O B 325 

back into my face and my heart subside to its normal 
beat. 

“I just couldn’t work up a tragic romance about a 
girl like Dorothy Renzheimer,” I said. 

“Romance and avoirdupois are rather incompatible— 
though some types of men do find Dorothy irresistible,” 
said Edith. 

A momentary silence fell between us. It was broken 
by a little rippling laugh from Edith. “If Dorothy and 
her mother could know how entirely unimpressed you are, 
Nancy, by their not taking you up, as they put it, when 
they imagine that you are eating your heart out over it!” 

“Why should they imagine that?” I asked rather ab¬ 
sently. 

“Because they have a monstrous idea of their own 
importance in Leitersville. You know, Nancy, what 
makes you so interesting, not to say exciting,” she said, 
looking me over appraisingly, “is that you are not per¬ 
fectly transparent. You mystify me! You look as 
though you’d lived a lot more than one usually has at 
your age. As if you’d had a story in your life. Al¬ 
ways after a visit with you, I feel as if I had been pulled 
up short at an exciting point in a serial! There are doz¬ 
ens of questions I’d like to ask you that I don’t dare to. 
I was so curious about you after two or three visits with 
you that I tried to sound Dr. Appleton; I asked him what 
he knew about you and he answered, ‘Whatsoever things 
are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report.’ ” 

I felt my cheeks suddenly aglow. “He is the dearest 
friend to me!” I said fervently, tears starting to my 
eyes, a reaction, I suppose, from the shock I had just had. 

“So staunch a friend that he quite evaded my prying 
curiosity. Oh, yes, Nancy, I pried! Asked him the 


326 


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most personal questions! And all he would say was that 
he, too, had often wondered those very same things about 
you. Of course I knew he was bluffing. I think he does 
know all about your Dark Past! Have you a Dark 
Past?” 

“Do I look as if I had? What a feverish imagination 
you have, Edith!” 

“Look here, Nancy, if you go and tell your husband 
that I said he jilted Charles’ niece and then I have to 
sit next to him at your dinner—” 

“I shall not tell him. At least—not yet.” 

“You are wise to consider it unimportant. Charles 
was awfully in love with his stepsister before he met me. 
It can’t matter to you now." 

“No—not now.” 


CHAPTER XVI 


A S the day for our dinner party drew near, Eu¬ 
gene’s nervous apprehension was reflected in an 
irritability which vented itself upon me in a way 
that was another revelation to me of his chameleon-like 
character. Several times he was actually rough and al¬ 
most abusive. Because our household, unlike Lottie’s for 
days before she gave a party, was not in a turmoil of prep¬ 
aration ; because our domestic routine went on as usual up 
to the very afternoon of the day and Eugene never found 
me disheveled and worn out, but placid and apparently 
doing nothing towards the great event, he was sure our 
party was going to be the worst fiasco the town had ever 
known; he was going to be horribly mortified; I was lazy 
and selfish, indifferent to his success— 

When I asked him, in some bewilderment, why he made 
such a fuss about a simple little dinner, he became vio¬ 
lent. He didn’t want a “simple little dinner!” He 
wanted “a first class dinner!” If I thought there was 
nothing to maks a fuss about, it was because I knew noth¬ 
ing about “getting up a dinner,” in spite of all the very 
elaborate ones I had attended since he had brought me to 
Leitersville. I had not attended one “simple little din¬ 
ner.” Gorgeous and sumptuous, every one of them. Yet 
I talked about giving his friends “a simple little dinner!” 
He angrily insisted that I must stir myself and attend to 
this thing. He was sorry, indeed, that he had ever been so 
rash as to think of asking one “so socially inexperienced” 
as I was, to try to entertain his friends. He should have 
known better. But since we were in for it, since invita- 

327 


328 THE SNOB 

tions had already been given, I simply must pull myself 
together. 

Just once I tried to reassure him—as one might humor 
the vagaries of a sick child—telling him there was nothing 
to worry about; that Addie and I would do all that was 
necessary and that the dinner was going to be very nice. 

“ ‘Nice’! ‘Nice’!” he fairly choked over the word. 
“I don’t want a ‘nice’ meal! I want it to be rich and ele¬ 
gant ! And it can’t even be nice, if you won’t exert your¬ 
self and get to work!” 

In that week before the dinner, I grew to dread the 
sound of his step coming into the house. 

Lottie was scarcely less trying to me with her freely 
offered advice, her prying curiosity as to the guest list, 
the menu, what linens, china and silver I would use, what 
I would wear, what “extra help,” if any, I would employ. 
She became as agitated as Eugene at my apparent indif¬ 
ference and lethargy. 

The fact was, my part in the preparations occupied 
me about two hours. It consisted in writing out a menu, 
ordering the food and flowers, telling Addie, in a twenty 
minutes talk, just what I wanted, engaging the two Acad¬ 
emy men servants whom Addie contracted to put through 
their paces (“Gimme them two boobs fur just a couple of 
hours the day before the dinner and I’ll have ’em trained 
to serve you like sich old family retainers or whatever!” 
she assured me), doling out the silver, linens and china, 
helping to set the table and arrange the flowers. 

On the day of the dinner it happened that a meeting of 
the Academy trustees detained Eugene at his office until 
six o’clock, so that when he reached home, he had only 
time to bathe and dress before our guests began to arrive. 

The Klams were the first to come, entering as they al¬ 
ways did, by the back door, “so as to save walking over 


THE SNOB 


329 


your hard wood floors in the front hall,” Lottie fre¬ 
quently pointed out to me. “I never leave Florence or 
El come in our front way. I keep my front porch that 
clean, you could eat off of it.” # 

She explained, just now, the reason for her early ar¬ 
rival. “We ran over a little ahead of time to help Eugene 
receive the folks whilst you help Addie dish up.” 

Thank you, but that won’t be necessary,” I smiled. 

“But you can’t trust that young thing to do it all by 
herself, Nancy!” 

“She has the two Academy men to help her.” 

“Good gracious ! Two men! That’s awfully extrava¬ 
gant! Does Eugene know you’ve hired two men? What 
do you have to pay them?” 

I turned away without answering her, for at that mo¬ 
ment Eugene appeared. 

“Did you know, Brother,” Lottie instantly greeted him, 
“that Nancy’s hired two men as extra help?” 

“Sh—sh !” I whispered, “some people are coming!” 

Lottie’s eyes bulged as she now saw one of the “extra 
help,” a Negro in a hired livery, at the parlor door an¬ 
nouncing, “Mr. and Mrs. Boldosser.” This was Addie’s 
doing. I myself would not have attempted to “put over” 
upon Leitersville anything so ceremonious. Eugene, I no¬ 
ticed as I greeted the Boldossers, was scarcely less sur¬ 
prised than his sister at sight of this improvised butler. 
The fact was, I was a little surprised myself. I had not 
known just what Addie would be up to, when she said, 
“Leave them two boobs to me,” but I had known that I 
could trust her experience to do nothing ridiculous. 

Among our guests were several influential trustees of 
the Academy and their wives who, according to Eugene’s 
standards, lived on such a grand scale that his responsi¬ 
bility in being their host made him rather self-conscious 


330 


THE SNOB 


and flurried. I caught him, once or twice, regarding with 
some wonder my unperturbed ease in receiving these peo¬ 
ple. However surprisingly unembarrassed I might be at 
other people’s parties, it was incredible that my heavy 
responsibilities as hostess to such guests as these whose 
style of entertaining I could never hope to rival, should 
find me calm. 

But the butler announcing our guests at the parlor 
door did much to give Eugene a sense of assurance and 
composure. I was relieved to see that he approved of Ad- 
die’s idea of a butler. 

To avoid friction I had not told him that Herrick was 
coming; and to avoid explanations and an increase of his 
nervous apprehensions, I had also kept it to myself that 
Mr. and Mrs. Charles Leiter would be among our guests. 

When Herrick appeared Eugene scarcely concealed his 
annoyance. He knew that the trustees who were with us 
would almost as soon have dined with Eugene Debs or 
Emma Goldman. 

When at nearly seven o’clock Lottie thought that every 
one had come she whispered to me, “I’ll go out now and 
tell your hired girl to dish up.” 

“ No, no, Addie knows what she has to do,” I checked 
her. 

“You hadn’t ought to trust her that far. I’d better go 
out and see she does it right.” 

“If you do, Addie will walk out of the house!” 

“You’ve got her spoilt. A person that is not used to 
hired help don’t know how to keep them in their place. 
You leave her take advantage.” 

I turned away from her to speak to Mrs. Diener’s so¬ 
cial secretary whom, against Eugene’s advice, I had in¬ 
sisted upon inviting with the Diener’s because I had found 
her much more worth knowing than they were. 


THE SNOB 


331 


But in a moment Lottie was at me again. “I’ll get 
the folks started to the dining-room for you. I know how 
to do it—” 

“Don’t you see, Lottie, we’re playing we keep a butler? 
Let him announce dinner.” 

She looked at me as who should say, “For such as you 
to presume to have a butler is mocking at Divine Prov¬ 
idence !” 

When at that moment our theatric lackey announced 
“Mr. and Mrs. Charles Leiter,” I felt the electric tremor 
that went over the company, saw the startled curiosity 
of the women, saw Lottie and Elmer quickly seek each oth¬ 
er’s eyes in bewilderment, and met, with no change of 
expression in my own face, Eugene’s glance turned upon 
me in mingled uncertainty and excitement. The uncer¬ 
tainty was of my sanity, I was sure; he thought, for the 
moment, that I had invited them without having ever met 
them. But he was reassured on this point when Edith, 
taking my hand, laid it against her cheek, then kissed it 
before she dropped it to shake hands perfunctorily with 
Eugene, scarcely looking at him. 

“Go and talk to Dr. Appleton, Edith,” I said, giving 
her a little push, that was half a caress, towards Her¬ 
rick who, alone in a corner, was looking rather more than 
unusually satirical as he surveyed us all. 

Eugene’s astonishment and Lottie’s awed wonder in 
witnessing these little familiar interchanges afforded me a 
passing amusement. 

The rented butler now announced dinner “like an old 
family retainer,” or like Addie’s idea of such a func¬ 
tionary. I led the way with Mr. Charles Leiter, hav¬ 
ing surreptitiously directed Eugene to take out Mrs. 
Leiter. 

I had not attempted, in planning this dinner, to com- 


332 


THE SNOB 


pete with the skill of Leitersville hostesses in devising all 
sorts oif fancy frills culled from household magazines. 
But as we entered the dining-room, I seemed to see with 
the eyes of my guests that the candle-lit table gleaming 
with the silver, damask, china and glass from my old 
home, was yet so exquisitely simple as compared with 
Leitersville elaborateness that its distinction was im¬ 
pressive. 

When I saw how it caught Eugene quite unprepared, 
astonished and confused him, so that he was momentarily 
embarrassed, I regretted that I had not let him have a 
look at it beforehand. 

However, he quickly recovered and got himself in hand, 
disguising to every one but me his pride and delight in this 
daintily appointed feast where he sat as host. 

In his assiduous attentions to Mrs. Leiter at his side, 
he was in danger of forgetting that he was the host, and 
for a time he scarcely noticed his other guests, somewhat 
to my mortification; for it was worse than tactless; it 
was raw. Indeed, the table talk seemed at first to be 
quite monopolized by the Leiters, Herrick and Eugene, 
while the others merely listened, the women rendered a 
little stiff and self-conscious by the impressive presence 
of simple, modest Mrs. Leiter, and the men unequal to the 
“high-brow” conversation tossed about by the Ph.D’s 
and the traveled, well-read Leiters. 

They discussed world politics, Charles Leiter mildly 
opposing Herrick’s radicalism, Eugene being safely neu¬ 
tral, and Edith remarking, “I’ve lived in so many coun¬ 
tries that I am quite too internationally-minded to be very 
patriotic. I would give allegiance to causes and ideals 
rather than to a nation.” 

“If you had said that a few years ago, you would now 
be in Leavenworth Prison instead of at this festive 


THE SNOB 


333 


board,” said Herrick. “Twenty years’ sentences in the 
United States of America for being internationally- 
minded !” 

“Yes,” spoke in Mr. Finch, one of the trustees, with 'a 
sinister glance at Herrick, “we did it thoroughly here; as 
we are going to do it, too, with our peace-time traitors, 
our preachers of sedition against our government!” 

“Sedition, for instance, against our national institu¬ 
tion of Prohibition?” smiled Herrick; “the traitors of our 
class—not Reds! Well,” he added, “seeing that it’s the 
people who think as you do who have gotten the world 
into its present mess of universal strife and hatred and 
want, why, in God’s name, do you consider that your way 
of managing affairs ought to be preserved—preserved 
even at the cost of imprisoning and lynching all who ob¬ 
ject to it?” 

“Whatever the faults of the present order,” maintained 
the trustee, “it is better than the red-rag insanity of 
Bolshevism! Our American Legion and our Ku Klux 
Klan will take care of you Bolshevists!” 

“If your class were wise, you would see that conces¬ 
sion, not opposition, is your only chance of escape,” re¬ 
plied Herrick without emotion. 

“Escape from what?” 

“From the growing world-consciousness of the absurd¬ 
ity of our social order.” 

“Do you mean to say, Dr. Appleton, that you don’t 
consider our American Ideal the highest ideal in the 
world?” demanded the trustee aggressively. 

“But what is it—‘the American Ideal’? Please tell 
me.” 

The trustee stared, grew red, stammered, and finally 
broke out, “Now you’ve got me stumped! I don’t know!” 

“This talk about social justice,” said Charles Leiter 


334 


THE SNOB 


cynically, “there’s no such thing as justice in nature or 
in man!” 

“Oh, but surely there is, my friend,” Eugene’s smooth 
voice here spoke in placatingly, “else we’d not have the 
high ideal of justice in our souls that most of us do have. 
Our ideals are the shadows of the great Reality.” 

There was an instant’s impressive silence at this. Her¬ 
rick looked at me and I quickly averted my eyes in terror 
lest he should wink, he looked so much as if he were going 
to! 

“There’s our ideal of marriage,” added Eugene with a 
dramatically conjugal glance across the table at me. “It 
is so rarely realized, yet some of us know, from our own 
blessed experiences, that it can be; that marriage is indeed 
ordained of God.” 

“It is love, not marriage, that is ordained of God,” 
spoke Edith’s shy, gentle voice. 

“Marriage,” said the trustee who was a lawyer, “is a 
mere civil contract ordained of man.” 

“Ordained of the devil!” Herrick corrected him; and 
Lottie started and gasped. 

Edith was too sensitive not to feel, presently, how the 
other women at the table were held in a thraldom of si¬ 
lence by the little dominating group that centered about 
her. Very tactfully, almost imperceptibly, she swung the 
talk to include them; I abetting her as well as I could from 
my end of the room. It did not take her long to break 
down their stillness, she was so entirely genuine and un¬ 
pretentious. I think they were surprised to find them¬ 
selves perfectly at ease and quite self-forgetful with 
her as they talked of their clubs, their dressmakers, their 
servants, their churches. 

Only Lottie and Elmer, among them all, found her 
“snobby,” as Elmer told me next day. When Lottie 


THE SNOB 


335 


bragged about her model rearing of her child and her ex¬ 
emplary housekeeping, Edith quietly, but quite ruthlessly 
changed the subject. And when Elmer related his fa¬ 
vorite story of how he had asserted his American free- 
and-equalism by refusing to make way for the President 
of the United States, she was frankly unimpressed and in¬ 
attentive. 

“To be sure, I would not have you think,” Elmer 
pleaded for at least her approval, if not her admiration, 
“that Pm not patter-otic. There’s none more so! It’s 
only that I never did and never will step aside for any 
one, be he whom he may!” 

“Yes, El always was like that,” said Lottie as usuah 
“He always did say right out what he thinks to any one, 
be he whom he may. He never would stand back for any 
one or any—” 

Eugene glanced at me desperately. 

“Oh, Lottie,” I broke in, “what have you done with 
Florence to-night?” 

“She is spending the night with Mary Kellog at the 
Manse and I am so anxious for fear Mary will lead her 
into some naughtiness! But I did not know what else 
to do with her.” 

“You certainly ran a risk, turning her loose in Mary’s 
hands!” 

“Is ‘Mary’ the proverbial scapegrace of the minister’s 
family?” asked Edith. 

“You must know Mary, Edith! She’s a desperate 
character. One of those dear delightful children that 
simply can’t be standardized l” 

“How interesting! I always did prefer the company 
of criminals and bums to that of ‘standardized’ people!” 

“I didn’t know you were in the habit of consorting with 
criminals and bums, my dear!” her husband grinned. 


386 


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“Not so much as I’d like to.” 

The blank faces about the table indicated how unin¬ 
telligible were these astonishing sentiments. 

“Mary tells Florence such awful untruths!” com¬ 
plained Lottie. “Long stories made up out of her head 
and not a word of truth in them, about things that she 
says happened to her that couldn't happen, they would 
be impossible! I am so afraid it will teach Florence to 
be untruthful!” 

“No danger, Florence hasn’t enough imagination,” I 
consoled her. 

“Thank you, Nancy, for the compliment to my little 
Florence. I am sure I am glad you think so. Imagina¬ 
tion like Mary’s is certainly a dreadful fault! It’s really 
immaur’l!” 

“Nancy, when will you bring this dangerous child to 
see me?” asked Edith. 

“I’ll bring her up to lunch with you to-morrow, shall 

IP” 

“Oh, do!” 

At every sign like this of the easy footing on which 
Edith and I stood to each other, Lottie, Elmer and 
Eugene looked more and more puzzled and curious. But 
Lottie, just now, looked also very resentfully jealous at 
my choosing another than her child for the distinction of 
lunching at Leiter’s Hill; this was a slight which I saw 
she would not soon forgive. 

As the dinner progressed, I realized that Addie, a 
natural genius at cooking, was surpassing herself to¬ 
night and I guessed that she was on her mettle to show 
Eugene how groundless had been his fears of the past 
week; for of course she had frequently overheard him 
railing at me about this dinner, and she had been per¬ 
fectly aware of his apprehension of a “fiasco.” Prob- 


THE SNOB 


337 


ably she realized that, from her ten years’ experience in 
luxurious city homes, she knew far more about serving 
a dinner than Dr. Curry knew. 

Eugene looked aglow with satisfaction; his glances 
across the table at me seemed gratefully to embrace me 
and humbly to apologize to me—even while they doubted, 
suspected and puzzled over me. 

The only bitter dregs in his full cup of contentment 
were the persistent efforts of Elmer to take the center of 
the stage. I think that never until to-night when, for 
the first time, Eugene saw his brother-in-law through 
others’ eyes, had he realized him to be the funny little 
cocky rooster that he was, with his strutting self- 
importance, his ignorance, his twisted English—“It reads 
in the paper that Mr. Frey’s house burned down by un¬ 
known origin.” “Ex-President Taft ain’t built nice and 
neat for a big man; he’s built awful sloppy.” “My little 
Florence is so nice-complected, but she got tanned so un¬ 
merciful at Atlantic City last summer, I’m not taking her 
there again.” “I don’t care if a woman don’t dress just 
to say so stylish, but very neat.” 

When some one recommended to Lottie, Lamb’s Tales , 
for Florence, Elmer said, eager to show off his familiar¬ 
ity’ with literature, “‘Lamb’s Tales’ for Florence? Oh 
yes, Little Bo-Peep. You mean Sheep’s Tails. There’s 
another nice book about an animal—a horse —Black 
Beauty. A very nice, clean story.” 

Paris was mentioned and Elmer was ready with his 
opinion of that great city, which he pronounced, “Parse.” 
“It’s a very immaurl city—so considered. I am satisfied 
the world could do without Parse!” 

Some one asked Herrick about his new book, and when 
he had briefly replied, Elmer spoke up with bravado. 
“7 could write a book, I know I could if I half tried; for 


338 


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I’m a very good penman and a good spellar; and I’ve 
a good command over language. And ideas? I’ve more 
ideas than I know what to do with! Full of ’em. And 
I’m free to say that there’s no one, the round globe over, 
that understands humanity the way I do!” 

Eugene suffered. 

In the parlor after dinner, Edith’s gentle efforts to 
extricate herself from Lottie’s unyielding determination 
to keep close to her, both amused and troubled me. I 
could see that Lottie thought that if I had found Mrs. 
Leiter such easy game, it would be downhill grade for 
her to ingratiate herself at Leiter’s Hill. When I hov¬ 
ered near them to rescue Edith if I could, I found that 
Lottie was using her daughter as an opening wedge. 

“If you are fond of children, Mrs. Leiter, you will 
find my little Florence so much better behaved and trained 
than poor little Mary Kellog that’s been so unfortunate 
as to be motherless and has grown up so wild and ungov¬ 
ernable that it is really very sa-ad! Reverend Kellog 
might do more with her than he does, it seems to me; he 
hardly ever corrects her when she behaves improperly. 
Why, Mrs. Leiter, he leaves her run in and out of those 
common homes in the alley behind the Manse and the 
things she picks up in those places! She told Florence 
the other day how she said to Jake Snyder, a tough that 
lives in one of those poor, dirty houses, that if he swore 
he’d go to hell, and that Jake Snyder had answered, 
‘But I own hell, kiddo; my wife gave it to me last night!’ 
Now, just imagine, Mrs. Leiter, as clean-minded a child 
as my little Florence hearing such language as that! I 
punished her severely when she repeated it to me! And 
I made her wrench her mouth out with soap!” 

“‘Wrench her mouth out’!” repeated Edith, aghast. 


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339 


“Oh, you mean rinse it out? But soap taken internally is 
so unsanitary, Mrs. Klam!” 

“Well, to be sure, I didn’t put much in the wrench 
water. Just enough to teach her, you understand.” 

“To teach her to hide from you things Mary tells 
her? Isn’t it safer that you should know them?” 

“But I’ve got to teach her not to listen to Mary and 
not to repeat such language. I’m a mother this way, 
Mrs. Leiter—” 

At this point I broke in and bore Edith across the 
room to Mrs. Diener’s secretary, whom I knew she would 
like. 

It was not long, however, before Lottie was again hov¬ 
ering near her and I overheard her saying, “If Nancy 
does take Mary up to your place to lunch, Mrs. Leiter, 
I don’t think you’ll like it for your hired girls to hear 
the way that child talks! But you’d never need have any 
fear of my little Florence before your girls. She’s been 
too well raised! Well, I guess!” 

“But you know, Mrs. Klam, really I’m not sure which 
I think worse for a child—too much rearing or too little. 
Overtraining makes a child so artificial. And surely 
what makes children fascinating to us is their genuine¬ 
ness and unself-consciousness. We are never so honest, 
you know, after we are grown. If we curb all the natural 
impulses of a child—especially its dear, delightful bad 
impulses—” 

“Oh, but my little girl hasn’t any bad impulses, the way 
Mary Kellog has, that’s been left run so wild! I guard 
and train Florence too carefully to leave any bad impulses 
come into her little mind, though I admit she has now and 
then been led to follow Mary Kellog’s bad impulses. 
However,” smiled Lottie confidently, “you only have to 


340 


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see those two children, Mary and Florence, together, 
Mrs. Leiter, and compare their manners, to know which 
one is the nicest and better behaved child! If you would 
like me to bring Florence up to see you some time, I’d 
be only too glad to.” 

“Why, that would be very nice. But I am afraid my 
influence on her would interfere with all that complete 
and thorough training you give her. I am sure it would 
not be at all what you would approve.” 

“I shan’t be afraid, Mrs. Leiter, to have Florence copy 
your manners—as genteel as what you are!” 

“But I understand you don’t like her Aunt Nancy’s 
influence over her and mine would be, oh, much worse!” 

“Did Nancy tell you that? Nancy!” Lottie turned 
to me, “if }mu want to talk about me, I wish you’d do it 
to my face and not behind my back! Of course I don’t 
think, Mrs. Leiter, that Nancy’s influence on Florence is 
for the best. She certainly does not teach her to honor 
her father and her mother—” 

“r—that her days may be long upon the land,” I broke 
in. “Mary Kellog told me one day that she intended 
always to ‘dishonor’ her father on Sundays, so that the 
day would not be so awfully ‘long upon the land’! You 
see, her father thinks he is making her remember the 
Sabbath Day to keep it holy, when he is only making her 
blaspheme it.” 

“Nancy!” breathed my scandalized sister-in-law. 
“Now you see for yourself, Mrs. Leiter,” she added sadly, 
“why I darsent leave Florence be around her Aunt 
Nancy!” 

“Then I am afraid you would not dare trust her to me, 
Mrs. Klam!” 

“Oh, but you must not be so modest, my dear!” smiled 
Lottie, patting Edith’s hand. “You are not a bit like 


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341 


Nancy. Why, one day Nancy ak-shally swore in my 
child’s presence! You need not deny it, Nancy, my dear. 
You know you swore! I’m sure, Mrs. Leiter you would 
not swear before a little, pure, innocent child! Oh, I 
guess you don’t half know our Nancy! She just does 
what she pleases, regardless! Even my brother” in a 
tone of awe, “can’t stop her. You know you don’t stop 
for what Eugene says, Nancy!” 

“Stop what?” 

“Anything you want to do! I’ll be awfully glad, Mrs. 
Leiter, to have you know my little daughter. It would 
be such an advantage to her to see your kind of a home 
and to learn whilst she’s young what’s what and how 
folks live that are somebody, so’s she’ll know what’s what 
and won’t feel awkward when she meets up with other 
folks that have more than what she’s always had. It 
isn’t, any way, what you have, I always say; it’s what 
you are; don’t you think so, Mrs. Leiter?” 

“I find it is largely what you have, Mrs. Klam. If I 
lived in the alley back of the Manse, you know, I should 
not be permitted the pleasure of visits from your care¬ 
fully guarded little daughter. My dear,” added Edith, 
turning to me, “what a lovely girl Miss Burr is! She 
seems rather an exotic in Leitersville. I would like to 
know her better. Will you take me to call on her?” 

“Love to!” ■& 

“Oh, but, Nancy, you can’t!” interposed Lottie. 
“That’s just like you!—not explaining to Mrs. Leiter 
who Miss Burr is! Imagine your taking Mrs. Leiter 
to call on her! Why, Mrs. Leiter, Miss Burr is little 
more than a servant! Mrs. Diener don’t treat her much 
different any way. She’s just Mrs. Diener’s hired com¬ 
panion—and Nancy would sooner make a friend of her 
than she would of Mrs. Deiner herself! Leave any one 


342 


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take Nancy’s fancy and she never stops to ask who or 
what they are or to consider my brother’s position here 
in Leitersville which really makes it necessary that she 
should be a little particular who she makes her friends; 
don’t you think so, Mrs. Leiter?” 

“But since she has been so gracious as to make me 
her friend, I can’t find it in my heart to criticise her 
methods.” 

“Well, you , that’s another matter! But it’s a good 
thing I was by just now to tell you who Miss Burr is —for 
Nancy would never have told you. She would just have 
taken you to call on her like you asked her to and you 
would never have known till you got there. I must say, 
Nancy, I think if you want to make yourself cheap with 
folks like Miss Burr, you needn’t drag in others!” 

“But I shall gladly be ‘dragged’ to see Miss Burr!” 
smiled Edith, laying her hand on my arm and starting 
to lead me away. Lottie, however, detaining her by sud¬ 
denly assuming a kittenishly playful air, that in one of 
her portly build was distressing, said, “Oh, well, then, I 
hope, Mrs. Leiter, Nancy will ‘drag’ you to see me some 
time. Will you, Nancy?” 

Edith murmured a perfunctory reply for us both. 

“Excuse me for not asking you sooner,” Lottie con¬ 
tinued, “but I understood you didn’t make calls in Leiters¬ 
ville, or go to parties. That is what folks here say 
about you and it just goes to show how you can’t be¬ 
lieve what you hear, don’t it?” 

“But it’s quite true. I come to Leitersville for rest 
and quiet, to get away from people a bit and from the 
rush of the city.” 

“Then how on earth did Nancy manage to coax you 
here to-night? We didn’t have an idea you were to be 
here! We didn’t even know Nancy had made your ac- 


quaintance. She never told us! Did Eugene know, 
Nancy? He didn’t tell us!” 

“Tell you what?” 

“That you had met Mrs. Leiter and had invited her 
to your party?” 

“But I didn’t invite her. You see, Lottie, it was like 
this—she heard that I was giving a dinner and that I had 
an awfully good cook, so she hinted around to be asked; 
didn’t you, Edith?—I discouraged her all I could; but 
she kept on hinting, so what could I do?” 

Lottie, looking bewildered and embarrassed at such 
coarse joking about a thing so sacred as Mrs. Leiter’s 
presence here, stared at me incredulously. 

“I’m glad I did fish for an invitation, Nancy. Your 
chef is a prize. Also, seeing you in the bosom of your 
family makes you more than ever a fascinatingly baf¬ 
fling enigma!” 

Here Edith resolutely drew me away with a suddenly 
assumed air of dignity that halted even Lottie’s brazen 
determination. 


CHAPTER XVII 


L OTTIE would have lingered after the guests had 
departed, to satisfy her curiosity about my ac¬ 
quaintance with Edith and to call me to account 
for haying planned to take Mary Kellog, rather than 
Florence to lunch at Leiter’s Hill. But I eluded her by 
fleeing at once to m}^ bed-room and locking the door. 

Having a very determined character, however, she was 
not to be so easity balked. She followed me up to my 
room and knocked firmly upon the locked door. 

“What is it?” I called. 

“I want to speak with you, Nancy—please—may I?” 
I detected a new note in her maner of addressing me; 
a shade less of arrogance; a bit of uncertainty. 

“But I’m undressing. Dead tired, Lottie! Must get 
right to bed.” 

“I can talk whilst you undress^—” 

“No—please—I’m just getting into bed. I must be 
careful for the baby, you know—” 

“Hsh—sh! Eugene’s coming up !” she modestly whis¬ 
pered through the key hole. 

“I assure you it’s his baby, Lottie! Good-night.” 
“Can’t you open your door for just a minute?” 

“Not for a second. Good-night.” 

I switched off the light and continued my undressing 
in the dark until I heard her go slowly away. 

I was sitting up in bed reading when Eugene presently 
came to me. Knowing he surely would come, I had un¬ 
locked the door upon Lottie’s departure. 

“Well!” he exclaimed, putting his arm about my shoul- 
344 


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345 


ders and pressing me to him, “I think we may congrat¬ 
ulate ourselves! Even the Leiters could not criticise that 
dinner, my dear! How you ever did it! Where on earth 
did you learn so much? For it was better in every way 
than any Leitersville dinner I’ve ever seen! You sly 
child!” pinching my ear, “you must have been spending 
all your spare time reading up in the home magazines 
how to do it. It really was most creditable. Now, 
then,” he demanded, seating himself, facing me, on the side 
of the bed, “how did you come to know Mrs. Charles 
Leiter so well? And why didn’t you tell me she and her 
husband were coming this evening? It nearly bowled 
me over!—so that I just escaped making an ass of 
myself!” 

“So I noticed!” 

“Indeed?” he returned with an ironic lift of his brows, 
though he eyed me guardedly. “Well? Tell me.” 

“Dr. Appleton introduced us.” 

“Where?” 

“At his home.” 

“Is he in the habit of receiving visits at his bachelor 
quarters from young married ladies?” 

“From Mrs. Leiter and me, yes.” 

“I don’t approve of it. However, if you met Mrs. 
Leiter at Appleton’s house, I suppose that’s why you had 
to invite him for to-night when you asked them. It would 
have looked funny not to. I was awfully annoyed when I 
found you had asked him, but that makes it excusable, 
of course. I’m surprised they came! And yet, in a way 
I understand, for I must hand it to you, Nancy, that you 
do have a way of holding your head up and keeping cool 
with any class of people—so that Mrs. Leiter might eas¬ 
ily mistake you for the real thing, by Jove! One would 
never suspect, meeting you in society, that the reason 


346 


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you’re so at your ease is just because you’re so unsophis¬ 
ticated! It makes me laugh!” 

“Does it?” 

“Never mind,” he patted my hand lying on the counter¬ 
pane, “I was really proud of you to-night! You were 
quite stunning! And I must admit you’re quite a clever 
little manipulator after all! You’ve put it all over some 
of those people that haven’t called on you. For all 
Leitersville will know to-morrow what a spiffy dinner we 
gave and that the Charles Leiters were here!” 

“Yes, I suppose the Gazette will feature it! But I’m 
afraid, Eugene, I had no such clever, sly designs as you 
are attributing to me. And I had invited Dr. Appleton 
before I met Mrs. Leiter.” 

“Oh, you had!” he frowned. “When you knew I didn’t 
want him! Unless,” his frown relaxed, “you did it to 
get him to bring you and Mrs. Leiter together—did 
you?” 

“Oh, Eugene,” I turned my head away from him on 
the pillow, “how ridiculously you don’t know the wife of 
your bosom!” 

“The wife of my bosom!” he repeated, bending over 
me suddenly and kissing me passionately. But I drew 
away in alarm. 

“I’m so tired, Eugene! Please let me go to sleep now. 
It’s bad for the baby, you know, for me to get so tired!” 

“Confound the baby! A perfect nuisance!” he 
grumbled. 

“Don’t! How can you?” 

He muttered something about enduring all the discom¬ 
forts of a bachelor while bearing all the expenses of a 
married man. 

“Good-night,” I said firmty. 

“Oh, don’t worry! I’ve got my instructions from the 


THE SNOB 


347 


doctor—I know what I’m up against! How long have 
you known Mrs. Leiter?” 

“Two weeks.” 

“But why did you make such a secret of it?” he asked 
irritably. 

“It was my own personal affair—” 

“But for two weeks while I’ve been sitting at meals 
with you talking of that woman, you have never once 
mentioned that you knew her! And you must have been 
seeing her pretty often to have gotten to the point of 
calling her by her Christian name! How often have you 
been seeing her?” 

“Every day or two.” 

“At Appleton’s? Or have you called on each other?” 

“We’ve never been so formal as that. We motor and 
walk together now and then.” 

“Upon my word! Have you been to Leiter’s Hill?” 

“Yes.” 

“More than once?” 

“Yes.” 

“Well, how often?” 

“Oh, Eugene, don’t be so absurd!” I groaned. 

“Absurd? I see nothing absurd in my objecting to 
your acting secretly and shutting me out—unless,” he 
again suddenly softened, “you were saving up a pleasant 
little surprise for your beau? Was that it, my dear?” 

“Can’t you see, Eugene, that Mrs. Leiter is a very sim¬ 
ple person—not at all different from me?” 

“Not different from you?” He smiled indulgently. 

“ You are ‘a very simple person,’ certainly, not to see how 
different from you she is! Why, my dear, she has a sis¬ 
ter married to an English nobleman; she is constantly 
traveling all over the world, going with an entree into 
the best society everywhere. She and her husband both 


348 


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have millions. They have a great palace on the Hudson 
where they entertain wonderfully. Different from you!” 

“Well, please let me go to sleep now,” I said wearily, 
“won’t you? I’m awfully tired!” 

“In a minute. First tell me—what are the damages 
going to be for all that dinner?” he asked, looking wor¬ 
ried. “It was much more elaborate than I expected it 
to be.” 

“It was not so bountiful as Leitersville dinners usually 
are. It was the way it was served that made it seem 
‘more elaborate.’ I’ll give you the bills to-morrow.” 

“We really ought to give Addie a bit of a tip,” he sur¬ 
prisingly suggested. “She’s a little marvel for such a 
child! She did all that cooking alone, didn’t she?—for 
Johnson and Gardner can’t cook and I didn’t see you on 
the job.” 

“She did all the cooking, yes.” 

“Then she deserves a bit extra. Let me see—” 

I looked at him in some alarm. If he should hand 
Addie a quarter, perhaps, to-morrow morning, what would 
happen ? 

“She has such big notions,” he continued, considering 
earnestly the size of the fee, “that I don’t know just 
what I dare to*—look here, Nancy, do you know some¬ 
times I suspect she’s older than she looks, she’s so capable! 
Well,” he magnanimously concluded, “I’ll offer her fifty 
cents.” 

“Better let me give it to her,” I said—but at the look 
of doubt he gave me, I knew he suspected me of a design 
to defraud Addie and keep the fifty cents. 

“What do we have to pay the men?” he inquired un¬ 
easily. 

“Three dollars apiece.” 

“Six dollars! Whew! Oh, well, it won’t have to be 


THE SNOB 349 

done again for a year and I am glad it was so successful. 
I’m very pleased, my dear!” 

He rose from the bed, bent over me and kissed me ten¬ 
derly ; then once more he clasped me passionately. But 
when he felt me rigid and unresponsive in his arms, he as 
suddenly released me and almost flung himself out of the 
room. 


CHAPTER XVIII 


W HAT I went through in the days that followed, 
trying to elude not only Lottie’s curiosity 
but her determination to share my friend¬ 
ship with the Leiters, it would be tedious to record. She 
knew it every time Mrs. Leiter’s car drove into the Acad¬ 
emy grounds and every time Edith and I went together 
for a walk; she constantly intruded upon us in my 
sitting-room; she invited herself to join us in our walks or 
drives. We both steadily, though gently, withstood all 
her advances; so gently, indeed, that at first she did not 
realize she was being eluded and thus the agony was pro¬ 
longed. 

“I’ve never known any one,” Edith once remarked of 
Lottie, “say so many flat things without feeling embar¬ 
rassed at herself!” 

When it finally did dawn upon Lottie that Edith and 
I, unless we could be alone together, did not care to be 
together at all, she attributed it to a sinister influence on 
my part because of my jealous fear lest she should sup¬ 
plant me in Mrs. Leiter’s regard. She complained to 
Eugene that I was deliberately preventing Mrs. Leiter 
from being “neighborly and friendly” with her. 

“She and Nancy are that chummy, they’re together 
every blessed day and yet not once has Nancy brought 
Mrs. Leiter to call on me or taken me to call at Leiter’s 
Hill! I wish you’d speak to her!” 

Eugene did speak to me, but not to urge me to thrust 
Lottie and Elmer upon the Leiters. He was learning, to 
his discomfort, that he had erred in judgment in bringing 

350 


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351 


Elmer, whom he always had considered much less present¬ 
able than Lottie, to the Leitersville Academy. He did, 
however, take me to task for continuing to be so “secre¬ 
tive” about my intimacy with Edith. He seemed to think 
it a matter that should be reported to him in every detail. 

I soon became aware of the fact that Lottie’s failure to 
ingratiate herself with Mrs. Leiter where I had “suc¬ 
ceeded,” gave her a very surprised new idea of me. There 
began to appear in her attitude towards me a considera¬ 
tion, even a respect, that almost embarrassed me. 

Indeed, it seemed to me that not only Lottie and Elmer, 
but all Leitersville was reflecting the ’effect upon it of 
the honor it felt I enjoyed. 

Eugene continued to manifest his surprise and pleasure 
over what he evidently considered on my part a clever 
achievement. 

“Not such a little green horn as I had supposed!” he 
would playfully tell me. fi6 Eor Mrs. Charles Leiter to 
take you up so unreservedly—” 

“No one ever Takes me up,’ Eugene.” 

“Nonsense, my dear ! Recognize facts ! We can’t pre¬ 
tend to have had her advantages of wealth and travel 
and social experiences. I think she is very kind indeed 
to a simple little girl like you, to overlook all your de¬ 
ficiencies as she must feel them, and make you her constant 
companion. Perhaps,” he said hopefully, “she will even 
invite us sometime to her New York home or her house 
on the Hudson—though of course that is quite another 
proposition from her taking you up here!” 

With the exception of the Renzheimers, I found myself 
now sought by those who supposed they had been snubbing 
me. However, they were a bit too late with their atten¬ 
tions, for I was coming to the stage in my pregnancy 
at which I was, to my satisfaction, excusable for declining 


352 


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all invitations. Edith and Mrs. Diener’s social secretary 
were almost the only people I now saw. 

It seemed that Eugene’s capacity for astonishing and 
deeply shocking me was not yet exhausted, for I per¬ 
ceived that my daily increasing helplessness, far from 
calling forth his compassion, annoyed him. Once when 
I asked him to execute some shopping commission for me 
to which, in my condition, I could not attend, he acted 
as though I had grossly insulted him; it was an indignity 
to be asked to be my “errand boy.” 

Right before his eyes, I went to the telephone and asked 
Herrick to be my errand boy—to which, of course Her¬ 
rick eagerly consented and I elaborately thanked him. 
Eugene was so chagrined at this performance that he 
scarcely spoke to me for two days. 

As Leitersville propriety required that I should not be 
seen by the Academy boys, my enforced imprisonment 
indoors during the lovely days of May, tried my nerves 
so sorely, that one evening, feeling desperately restless, 
I suddenly asked Eugene, “Can’t you take me out for a 
little walk? I must have a breath of outdoors! It’s 
quite dark, no one will see me distinctly.” 

“Where on earth do you want to go?” 

“Just for a walk.” 

“Just walk about? Well, there’s the piazza.” 

“Will you walk with me about the grounds a bit?” 

“Why can’t you go by yourself?” 

“It tires me so! I’d like to hang on your arm.” 

“You want me to make a fool of myself!” he said in a 
deep, angry voice that was almost violent. 

“How make a fool of yourself?” I asked wonderingly. 

“Walking aimlessly around the place! Of course I 
won’t! Ridiculous!” 

To this day I have never been able to understand the 


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353 


psychology of that angry, indignant refusal. Was it 
the Pennsylvania Dutchman’s rebellion against the least 
subjection to a woman? Or was it a cowardly fear, which 
he would not admit, lest we meet some of .the Academy 
boys? Whatever it was, his denying me anything I might 
ask, however “ridiculous,” when I was possibly on the 
brink, if not of death, at least of the great agony that 
was, for me, the price of our love, has always seemed to 
me quite amazing. 

It was just on the eve of my confinement that I came 
upon a discovery, quite accidentally, which greatly 
startled me; how greatly, I did not at the time fully real¬ 
ize ; but afterwards, when I looked back, I felt that I must 
have known (even while frantically shutting my eyes to 
the knowledge) that from the hour of that startling dis¬ 
covery, the babe in my womb did not stir. 

Eugene was subject, at long intervals, to attacks of 
headache and nausea that would come upon him without 
warning. One afternoon, about an hour after his return 
from the Academy, while he was as usual locked into his 
study until he should be called to dinner, he was seized 
with one of these attacks and came staggering out into 
the hall to the foot of the stairs just as I happened to be 
coming down. His face was deathly white and drawn 
with pain as he reeled past me on the stairs to go to his 
bed-room. I quickly followed with the usual remedies and 
conveniences. And when I had made him as comfortable 
as was possible under the circumstances and had come 
down to have my dinner alone, I found that he had left 
the window in his study wide open and that the wind had 
blown some of his papers into the hall. Having closed 
the window, I started to pick up the scattered sheets of 
paper. It was the engraved paper which he used only for 
his private, personal correspondence and I vaguely won- 


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dered to whom he could be writing such a long personal 
letter as this, which closely covered four sheets. As I 
laid them on his desk and was about to turn away, my 
eye was caught by some arresting words—“Dorothy 
darling”—“a little more patience”—“fate release me”— 
“trapped me”— 

My head reeled. I sank into the nearest chair, the let¬ 
ter in my shaking hand. Mechanically I arranged the 
sheets as they were numbered, trying to keep my eyes 
from seeing another word until I should get myself in 
hand—for my baby’s sake—for I was trembling all over. 

I had seen enough to know that I must read this letter; 
that it was my right to know— 

After a moment, as my heart grew quieter, I did read 
it from beginning to end. It was manifestly a reply to 
an impassioned appeal from Dorothy Renzheimer, for he 
counseled patience; advised against any rash act which 
might ruin all their chances for future happiness; sug¬ 
gested that his release from the “trap” into which he had 
been “tricked” might now be very imminent— 

Could he mean because of “the perils of childbirth” 
in which I now stood? It was the first intimation I had 
had that he was conscious of my “peril”! 

He wrote of his utter devotion to her, the only woman 
he had “ever really thought of marrying”; of his wife’s 
failure to “meet” him on his “own plane”; of his longing 
and impatience for the completer union he might have 
with her who so perfectly understood him— 

It all rang so false that I found myself actually bored 
with reading it, even while feeling intensely shocked and 
agitated. But I had an intuitive conviction that as a 
woman (I might almost say as a female) I appealed to 
Eugene far more than Dorothy Renzheimer did; so much 
more that I could hardly believe he was very anxious to be 


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355 


rid of me. Of course I knew by this time that, having 
had the chance to marry the granddaughter of old Jacob 
Leiter, he never would have married me if, as he said, he 
had not been “trapped.” But I was sure he never would 
have ceased to desire and regret me. In short I knew 
that, in his way, he had been passionately enamored of 
me—and was yet. Otherwise, he would never have con¬ 
summated our sick-bed marriage after my recovery, but 
would have asked me to release him, knowing that I would 
have done it without protest; that I only had to be told 
he desired it. His way out at that time would have been 
so easy compared to the difficulty and publicity it would 
now involve. 

Did this letter mean that what happiness he did find 
in me he was ready to sacrifice for the greater good of 
the Renzheimer wealth? Was he actually hoping to es¬ 
cape the scandal of a divorce (which in his position was 
such a very precarious expedient) through my death in 
childbed ? His letter surely hinted that! 

Well, my disillusioning as to my husband had never 
gone so far as to imagine him capable of this l—counting 
on my death in his conspiracy with another woman! 

If I lived, what, I wondered, would he do with Dorothy 
Renzheimer ? 

That night, a little past midnight, I heard him going 
stealthily downstairs to his study. He had recovered 
enough to remember his letter and be anxious about it. 

All through the next day, whenever he came near me, 
his furtive and uneasy searching of my face revealed his 
fear that I might have seen the letter. But although 
my unchanged bearing told him nothing, he had learned 
from recent experiences that I had a way of keeping 
things to myself, and he was far from reassured. 

I realized, now, where he spent his evenings away from 


356 


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me; and where Herrick had probably found him the night 
they thought I might die. 

That week I wrote to my lawyer in New York, who was 
my cousin, directing him to draw up my will; I provided 
for Eugene’s mother and for my friend, Miss Burr, Mrs. 
Diener’s secretary. I left the bulk of my estate in the 
trust of Herrick and my cousin for my child if it lived. 
If it did not live, my estate passed to Herrick to be used 
in carrying on his work in social education, in aiding all 
liberal periodicals and in establishing, if possible, a college 
founded on the principle of free speech. 

The silver, china, linens, rugs and furniture that were 
now in our Academy home, I bequeathed to Mary Kellog. 

Of course my lawyer-cousin pointed out to me that a 
will in which my husband was not even mentioned, would 
not stand in law; that he could take half of all I had; or, 
if my child lived, a third. 

But I gave him a sealed letter to be opened in case 
of my death. “You will find here,” I wrote him, “a 
weapon that will force my husband’s submission to my 
will.” 

It was a copy of the letter to Dorothy Renzheimer 
which I had found. I did not believe Eugene would ever 
let that letter be read in a court; or, if his cupidity led 
him so far, I believed that the court that read that let¬ 
ter would sustain my will. 

This matter being concluded, I prepared to leave my 
husband’s house. 

Coming home from school one afternoon, Eugene 
learned from Addie that I had gone to the Leitersville 
Hospital to stay until after my confinement. 

It was not until eight o’clock that evening that he came 
to see me. His finding Edith with me softened somewhat 

i 




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357 


the cold displeasure which, at my first glance, I saw in 
his face. But when she left, which she did immediately, 
and he took in the several facts that I was not in bed, 
that I was not in pain, but blooming and serene, that I 
was alone in a comfortable, private, “single” room, which 
he knew to be very high-priced, his displeasure returned. 

“Why do you do things like this without consulting 
me?” he coldly demanded. “Coming to this hospital is 
a wholly unnecessary extravagance! Your confinement 
would not cost half so much at home. And any way, 
why are you here before your time? I expected of course 
to find you in labor—or that the picnic was all over by 
this time!” 

“Yet you waited three hours before coming to me? 
You didn’t even telephone,” I quietly reminded him. 

“I expected that you or the hospital would telephone 
to me” 

“After it was all over?” 

“Well, I wouldn’t be of any use, would I, in such a 
picnic? Look here, Nancy, a confinement costs enough 
at best, but to recklessly go ahead like this, regardless 
of expense ,—why didn’t you consult me before arranging 
to come here?” 

“Because I wanted to make sure of expert scientific 
care—since you objected, you know, to even a trained 
nurse! I was afraid to trust myself at home!” 

“Nonsense! Anyway, a trained nurse at home would 
not cost what this will! I consider this an outrageous 
presumption, your piling up expenses like this on me with¬ 
out ever consulting me! What are the rates?” 

“Thirty-five dollars a week. Nurse extra.” 

“And doctor’s bill extra!” he exclaimed in a voice 
husky with anger. “It’s perfectly ridiculous! You had 


358 


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no right to involve me in this! The idea of the birth of 
a baby, a perfectly natural function, costing several hun¬ 
dred dollars ! It’s wholly unnecessary!” 

“If you were going to have this baby, wouldn’t you 
want to be as comfortable and as safe as possible?” 

“Just as if you couldn’t be perfectly comfortable and 
safe in a home like ours ! A far better home than any you 
ever had before! Do you think you do right to do these 
things behind my back?” 

“Do you consult me about anything you do, Eugene?” 

“You don’t pay for my doings, remember! It’s your 
clear duty to consult me about what I’ve got to pay 
for!” 

“Why should I consult you about a matter that means 
life or death to me and to my baby, when I know that all 
you would consider would be, not what is best for me, 
but what would be cheapest for you! In all the past 
eight months when have you once shown the slightest 
interest or concern for my health or comfort? I wouldn’t 
have dreamed of consulting you!” 

This was a new tone for me to take! He stared at me 
for an instant as though he did not know me. I rose 
and began to take down my hair for the night. He sat 
frowning at the floor, morosely silent, chewing at his 
lip. 

“How long do you propose to stay here?” he presently 
asked in a sullen tone. 

“That depends upon whether I am removed in a coffin 
or a cab. If a coffin, the time will probably be shorter— 
but your expenses heavier—quite doubled. A funeral is 
quite as costly as a birth.” 

“Don’t talk nonsense, my dear!” 

“Well, I don’t really expect to die!” I said cheerfully. 
“I don’t want to, I’m sure! I’ve too much to live for. 


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359 


I’ve only lately realized how much! Life looked exceed¬ 
ingly drab to me until very, very recently. But now I 
realize that it can be free!—and rich and beautiful! 
Don’t you think it can?” 

He regarded me doubtfully, a green jealousy coming 
into his eyes, jealousy of whatever it was that made my 
life free and rich and beautiful, for he could not but 
know that he had not contributed to make it so. How¬ 
ever little he might value me, he could not hear it that 
I should not value him above everything else in my life. 
He could write hopefully to Dorothy Benzheimer of his 
possible release through my death, and at the same time 
be jealous of my love for our baby or of my friendship 
for Edith or for Herrick! 

“If you did have to come here, Nancy, why on earth 
are you here before you are in labor?” he fretted. 
“Every day adds to the expense. Is your labor over¬ 
due?” 

“Have you the least idea when it is due, Eugene?” 

His eyes did not meet mine. I saw that he was not 
wholly conscience-clear about his part during the past 
months. “Not exactly,” he said, actually embarrassed. 

But I did not enlighten him. 

“Well?” he inquired. “How soon do you expect it?” 

“Your tender anxiety, my love, about—your expenses 
here—touches me deeply!” 

“I can’t see why your having a baby should justify 
your running me into debt unnecessarily!” he worried. 

“Debt? We don’t spend half your salary.” 

“It is not your fault that we don’t! You ” 

“Oh, please, please!” I suddenly felt utterly weary and 
depressed, unable to endure another minute of such talk. 
“I must go to bed, now, Eugene. You’d better go home, 
please!” 


360 


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He suddenly rose and picked up his hat. “I’m awfully 
busy just now, so I may not be out here again until I am 
telephoned for. No use my running out until there’s 
something doing.” 

“No use whatever.” 

“Good-night, then. Take care of yourself. But,” he 
added grimly, “I don’t need to tell you to do that, do I?” 

He bent to kiss me; then, with one of his sudden im¬ 
pulses, drew me into his arms. 

“Don’t think I’m indifferent, dear! Of course I’m 
not! I’ll be as glad as you are when it’s all over! It’s 
an awful ordeal for a man! And I,” he added ruefully, 
“shan’t have your compensation—I don’t really want a 
baby.” 

When he was gone, and I lay in bed in the serene dark¬ 
ness and isolation of my room, I felt how strange it was 
that I could be glad of a thing like that:—glad that my 
husband did not want his child! 

“But it makes my course so much easier and simpler! 
I won’t have to make him suffer—” 

I turned away in shame from a fear I felt stirring in 
my heart—fear lest Eugene discover himself to be a bet¬ 
ter man than he thought himself; lest when he actually 
held his child in his arms, his sense of his fatherhood 
should beget tenderness, an unselfishness new to him. 
Then would I not be justified in carrying out the purpose 
that through these months had been slowly, steadily tak¬ 
ing shape in my mind. Then would I be doomed to live 
on in this wedlock that had become to me shameful; for 
I knew myself to be one who must have some stronger 
reason than merely my own selfish desire to justify my 
breaking away from a relation that had been the deep and 
vital thing which at first marriage had been to me. 

“But it has become unendurable!” my heart rebelled. 


THE SNOB 


361 


“If being a father changes him, his transformation will 
have come too late! Twice he has killed the love I gave 
him. Now nothing he might become could revive it!” 

But, if he did love the baby, could I be ruthless and take 
it from him? I had never in my life been ruthless to any¬ 
thing. But why be ruthless to myself and submit to the 
degradation of wedlock without love? 

“I cannot believe that parting with his child could 
ever, ever be to Eugene the cross that living with him has 
become to me! So if it is a choice between his suf¬ 
fering and mine—” 


CHAPTER XIX 


I TURNED my eyes away from the gay flowers that 
filled my room, their brightness seemed so cruelly 
to mock the black despair in my soul. For now, at 
the end of all those months of beatific expectation, no 
baby lay in my arms, my bursting breasts suckled no little 
mouth, my heart hungered in dull agony for the child of 
my womb that had been snatched from me at its birth. 
Oh, I suffered! I wanted my child so passionately! My 
life was so empty, I needed my baby! I could not be 
reconciled to this cruel thwarting of my love, this cheat¬ 
ing me of my motherhood. 

I did not want to get well, I did not want to live. It 
seemed to me I could never again feel interested in any¬ 
thing ; never love anything or any one; never again know 

joy- 

What emotion Eugene experienced over the death of 
the child he had always said he did not want, I could not 
read in the grim, almost austere silence in which he met 
it. He appeared to be shocked, rather than wounded. 
He would not talk about it. 

When two days after the birth, the doctor pronounced 
me safely past all danger, Eugene did not again come 
to the hospital to see me. The flowers that filled my 
room were from Edith, Herrick, two of the Academy 
masters, a few of my acquaintances. Eugene never even 
telephoned to inquire about me, deeming it, I suppose, un¬ 
necessary, since of course if anything went wrong, he 
would be notified. He overlooked one thing that would 
have annoyed him if he had been aware of it—the shocked 

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863 


astonishment of the hospital nurses at this open and fla¬ 
grant neglect through days and weeks. He did not once 
think of how his behavior must look to them, or he never 
would have created such a public impression. 

I thought, as I lay, listless and miserable, through 
long hours in my bed, how bitterly I would once have 
grieved over his staying away from me like this, day after 
day, in my sorrow and despair and loneliness. 

Was my experience, I wondered, that of many other 
wives?—discovering that the man you thought you had 
married had never really existed; to see him fade away 
like a dissolving screen picture, out of which emerges 
a deformity of the creature you had loved—a stranger 
to you. It was almost weird! Sometimes when this 
stranger, a man I had not known, had taken me into his 
arms, I had felt like a prostitute. 

“Maidens ! Why should you worry in choosing whom you 
should marry? 

Choose whom you may, you will find you have got some¬ 
body else.” 

Did Eugene perhaps feel equally disillusioned about 
me? For he had certainly once been very much in love 
with me! Even yet he ardently desired me— 

A shuddering chill shook me, and my watchful nurse 
came to me. While she intrenched me in hot water bot¬ 
tles, my reflections went on— 

It was something more, too, than mere desire that he 
felt for me even yet. I was conscious of the fact that, 
however little attention he might pay to me, he liked hav¬ 
ing me about; hated to come into the house and not find 
me there; even when he was for hours shut up in his study 
(writing love letters to Dorothy Renzheimer) my pres- 


364 


THE SNOB 


ence in the house gave him, in some subtle way, satisfac¬ 
tion and comfort. 

And yet, in spite of this—he loved money so much— 
hadn’t he perhaps cherished a hope that I would not pull 
through? And wasn’t he just now suffering a keen disap¬ 
pointment ? 

His remaining away from me like this might be an ex¬ 
pression of his displeasure at some discoveries he must 
be making at home during my long absence; discoveries 
I intended he should make; the fact, for instance, that 
Addie was a woman and not a half grown girl; that her 
wages were not two dollars a week; that she did not do 
the family washing and that a laundress had to be paid 
for. I should have to reckon with him for these things 
when I went home. 

But that did not trouble me. 

When after the fifth day I was allowed to receive vis¬ 
itors and Herrick began to call every day, while my hus¬ 
band continued to remain away, I saw that the nurse 
was beginning to view the situation askance. I actually 
became rather embarrassed under her suspicious eyes. 

I asked her one day, when I began to feel that I should 
go mad if I did not stop brooding, to telephone to my 
husband to bring me certain books from the shelves in 
my room at home. 

She reported Eugene’s reply; he was too busy to bring 
the books himself, but would send his sister with them. 

The nurse, in delivering this reply, regarded me 
curiously. 

I instructed her that on no account was she to allow 
Mrs. Klam to come into my room. I knew that in my 
present state I could not endure a visit from Lottie. 

It was not until three days later that some books ar¬ 
rived and they were not the ones I had asked for, but 


THE SNOB 


865 


three of Lottie’s selection, the nurse reporting that Mrs. 
Klam thought these would be better for me than any she 
could find in my room. They were The Harvester by 
Gene Stratton-Porter, something by Fanny Hurst, and 
Just David by the author of Polly anna. 

However, Herrick and Edith, both rejoicing that I was 
feeling even a desire to rouse myself to read, had, by this 
time, abundantly supplied me with books and period¬ 
icals. 

I noticed that Herrick, obviously to avoid encroaching 
upon Eugene’s visits to me, always came to see me during 
school hours. But one evening, his Chinaman having 
concocted a marvelous ice for his dessert, he, thinking 
that it might tempt my dead appetite, jumped into his 
car and ran out to the hospital with a bowl of it. Com¬ 
ing into my room with apologies on his tongue for in¬ 
truding when Eugene and I must wish to have each other 
to ourselves, he found me alone. 

I really did enjoy the ice—the first thing I had rel¬ 
ished since my illness; and Herrick sat by, much pleased 
to see me eat it. 

“I’ll fade away as soon as Eugene appears,” he as¬ 
sured me. “I thought he would be here by this time. 
When does he usually get here?” 

“He doesn’t get here.” 

“To-day, you mean?” 

“He never comes.” 

He looked at me without speaking for an instant, as¬ 
tonishment and questioning in his eyes. 

“Doesn’t come to see you?” he at last repeated. “But 
why not?” 

“I don’t know.” 

“Not a quarrel? No, impossible—at this time, with 
you ill and in grief—” 


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“We never seriously quarrel. It bores him to come 
and as he is not needed, he sees no use in coming.” 

“But to comfort and help you—to see that you have 
what you want and need—” 

It was amazement, rather than indignation, that moved 
him. 

“He knows I am well taken care of here; that if I need 
him I can send for him. As for comfort and help, I 
fancy he thinks he is the one that needs that!” 

“Why more than you, in God’s name?” 

“Herrick, it is not Eugene’s fault, you know, that he is 
a frugal Pennsylvania German. To have all this expense 
for no return, nothing gained—you see?” 

“My God, Nancy, you don’t mean to say he is taking 
it out of you?” 

“It does not endear me to him—in spite of the fact 
that he didn’t want a child. He probably thinks I’ve 
proved myself a dreary failure in woman’s natural 
function!” 

“And so he leaves you here alone day after day!— 
doesn’t even know, probably, how you suffer—” 

“You see, Herrick, Eugene’s rearing did not give him 
ideals of thoughtful consideration for others, of chivalry, 
and he is only acting up to his rearing.” 

“And you are tied to that!” Herrick burst forth—but 
quickly checked himself, alarmed lest, in my weakened 
state, he should excite me. He set his jaws grimly as he 
rose to relieve me of the bowl. 

“Now, Herrick, I see that you are firmly resolving to 
go to Eugene and give him a piece of your mind! Please 
don’t!” 

“I should think you’d want some one to!” 

“No! Give him rope—all the rope he’ll take—” 

“To hang himself with?” 


THE SNOB 


367 


I turned away my head without answering. 

“I think I get you,” said Herrick. “I hope I do. 
Very well. I shan’t interfere. Anything I can do for 
you, my dear?” 

“I had a letter to-day from Weesy that worries me; 
about Eugene’s mother. She’s ill, Weesy says—” 

“You want me to take it to Eugene?” 

“He wouldn’t do anything. He and Lottie are claim¬ 
ing, now, that since Weesy got the Curry farm, she owes 
it to their mother to support her. They have stopped 
sending the monthly payments they had agreed upon. 
Oh, Herrick! I don’t know anything in life more 
pathetic than helpless old people dependent upon children 
that are reluctant to take care of them!” 

“Eugene ought to be shown up!” 

“I’ve been sending the monthly payments and letting 
Weesy think they came from Eugene. But you see the 
amount they agreed to pay was quite too small. And 
now to-day this letter from Weesy—” 

I took it from the table by my bed and read:— 

“ ‘Here is sad news for yous home folks. Sabbath 
your Mom turned yellow and the whites of her eyes got 
yellow and her back pains her and she won’t eat her wit- 
ties. Mondays we had Doctor and he said yeller janders, 
Old Age and Worry. If get better will get worse again 
after whiles. And a question of six months or most 
eight unless not worry about money. He said should he 
tell her and we said not to. So he said try and jolly 
her up. He ordered calomel followed with castor oil 
and a prescription. So you see what it’s costing. And 
me I have still to go for my teeth and I’m miserable.’ 

“Now, Herrick, could you spare the time to go out 
there,” I asked as I laid the letter aside, “and do for 
Mrs. Curry whatever ought to be done? what you would 


368 


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do if you were Eugene!—and I’ll pay whatever is neces¬ 
sary. And whatever you do for her, let her think it 
comes from Eugene.” 

“If Weesy writes to him and gives it away?” 

“By that time I shall be ready to speak.” 

“Of what? Your money?” 

“Of that and everything.” 

“You’re going to tell Eugene who you are?” 

“Everything.” 

“It’s amazing he doesn’t suspect anything! Why, ever 
since your dinner and your intimacy with Edith Leiter, 
every one’s been feeling you couldn’t always have been a 
village teacher!—that you must have ‘seen better days’!” 

“Eugene’s too self-absorbed to see some things that 
are right under his nose.” 

“I’d like to be by, Nancy, when you break it to him!” 

“I wish I didn’t have to be by!” I sighed. 


CHAPTER XX 


I T began now, apparently, to penetrate Eugene’s 
consciousness that the silence between him and the 
hospital (which was probably not from deliberate, 
intentional neglect on his part, so much as just careless 
indifference) was becoming rather deep and prolonged, 
for one morning, nearly three weeks after the birth, he 
telephoned to me. I was able to go the telephone my¬ 
self by now, as it was in the hall just outside my room. 

“Well, how are you getting on?” he asked in a flat, 
uninterested tone. 

“Oh, don’t let your anxiety run away with you, my 
dear!” 

“But why haven’t you called me up Nancy? Or told 
the nurse to?” 

“Why haven’t you called us up?” 

“Intended to run out to see you—but have been very 
much tied up. Well, when are you coming home?” 

“As soon as I’m able.” 

“When is that likely to be?” 

“Oh, in about a week, I suppose. Isn’t Addie taking 
good care of you?” 

“She is not here. I’ve discharged her. Taking my 
meals at Lottie’s.” 

“You will have to get her back before I come home.” 
“Lottie says she'll help you out for a while.” 

“Lottie is very kind, but if Addie is not there, I shall 
have to stay here much longer—until I am strong enough 
to help myself.” 

“Lottie will help you out until you are able to help your- 
369 


370 T H E S N O B 

self !” he retorted irritably. “Surely you can come home 
soon now?” 

“Not very soon if Addie is not there.” 

“I’m afraid you’ll have to do without Addie—at least 
until I have paid off the hospital and doctor— Well, I’ll 
be up to see you soon—to-day or to-morrow perhaps.” 

I hung up the receiver. 

He neither came nor telephoned again during the next 
three days. So I decided that, without notifying him, 
I would accept Edith’s urgent invitation to visit her for 
a week before going home. The awkwardness of Eu¬ 
gene’s situation when he would at length present himself 
at the hospital and betray to the officials his ignorance 
of the fact that he did not know his wife had left nor 
where she was, did not trouble me. It would give him 
a much needed jolt as to his outrageous disregard of me. 
Not that I cared any longer how he disregarded me. But 
I did not object to his having a little salutary discipline. 

Although Edith asked no questions and I volunteered 
no information, she was of course aware of an unnatural 
relation between my husband and me. She herself had 
visited me at the hospital so constantly that she could not 
help realizing how seldom, if ever, Eugene was there. 

However, from the moment he learned that I was at 
Leiter’s Hill, he was not lacking in attentions to me. 
But the first time he came, a servant told him I was sleep¬ 
ing and could not be wakened; and Mrs. Leiter asked to 
be excused. The second time, we were out motoring. 
The third, a masseuse was treating me—and again Edith 
begged to be excused. The fourth, my hair was being 
washed and the fifth, I was again asleep. 

“I’m beginning to get myself in hand a bit—to come 
up out of that awful blackness,” I explained to Edith, 
“and it won’t help me at all to see Eugene just yet.” 


T H E S N O B 371 

She offered me no reason for her own refusal to see 
him. 

At last he prudently telephoned to ask when I could 
see him. He was, I heard in his voice, becoming ap¬ 
palled. It was five weeks since he had laid eyes on me, 
though he was but a mile away from me. 

I answered that it was unnecessary for him to come 
again, as Mrs. Leiter was about to take me home. 

The night before I left Edith, I told her everything— 
even to the plans I had formed for the immediate future. 


CHAPTER XXI 


N EVER, I am sure was there a more dreary home¬ 
coming; my arms empty of the precious burden 
I had expected to carry back with me; my 
heart heavy and sad; my immediate future a bitter strug¬ 
gle. 

No preparations had been made for my home-coming; 
the house was dusty and dirty; the kitchen fire was out, so 
there was no hot water; the rooms were chill. 

When Eugene came home that day at four o’clock he 
found me in the sitting-room (which I had dusted and 
put in order) lying on the couch before a crackling fire 
which I had built, for the day was raw; the tea-table 
was laid beside the couch and as soon as he appeared I 
sat up to brew some tea and make a bit of toast with an 
electric toaster. 

His face lit up at sight of this cozy picture after 
the repellant unhomelikeness of our house during the 
weeks of my absence. He kissed me and sat down beside 
me on the couch. 

There was no doubt about it that the resentment which, 
on many counts, he was cherishing against me, was 
greatly tempered by his approval of my intimacy with 
Edith, and that this intimacy gave him a respect for me 
that nothing in me had ever inspired. 

“Ah, this is living again!” he exclaimed involuntarily. 
“I didn’t realize what a comfortable housekeeper you were 
until you went away! You’ve got a knack somehow— 
Lottie’s menage seems a bit common to me after getting 
used to your way of doing things. But, Nancy,” he 
asked, his face darkening, a really hurt look in his eyes, 

372 


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373 


4t why would Mrs. Leiter not see me when I went up there 
everyday? I think she treated me strangely! Not very 
politely, I must say!” 

He did not inquire why 1 had not seen him. That was 
decidedly a minor matter. 

“She noticed that you never came to see me at the hos¬ 
pital,” I answered impersonally and quite pleasantly, 
“as she was there every day herself. She resented it— 
for me.” 

“Did she tell you that?” he curtly inquired. 

“People don’t always have to dot i’s and cross t’s!” 

“But didn’t you explain to her,” he anxiously asked, 
“that I was very busy?—and quite ready to come any 
moment I was needed. You should not have left her un¬ 
der the impression that I was lacking in my duty to 
you!” 

“But you were.” 

“If you felt that I was, why didn’t you ’phone for me?” 

“The one time that I did have the nurse ’phone and ask 
you for some books I wanted, it was three days before 
they came and then they were not what I had asked for, 
but what Lottie thought I’d like!” I spoke quietly and 
without resentment. 

“Now, Nancy, you could not expect me to neglect my 
school work to play errand hoy—or to be uselessly pay¬ 
ing formal calls on you at that hospital!” 

“You found time to go to Leiter’s Hill every day,” I 
suggested placidly. 

“You were well then and able to talk with me—and 
anyway that was quite different from going to that pub¬ 
lic hospital.” 

“Wa3 it? I don’t see why. I was in both places. 
And quite able to talk with any one after the fifth 
day.” 


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“If you had let me know you wanted me to come to see 
you at the hospital—” 

“I didn’t want you. I didn’t care whether you came 
or not,” I said cheerfully, as I handed him a cup of tea 
and a plate of buttered toast. 

“Indeed! Then how do you make out that I was lack¬ 
ing in my duty,” he coldly inquired, “since you didn’t 
care to see me?” 

“But you didn’t even know whether I cared to see you; 
whether I was lonely; whether there was anything I might 
want; whether I was well taken care of—” 

“At fifty-five dollars a week! I had a right to as¬ 
sume, surely, that they’d at least not neglect you!” 

“Herrick did not assume it. He came every day with 
flowers and books and dainties—” 

“ ‘Herrick’? You mean Appleton? You call him 
‘Herrick’?” 

“As you call Miss Renzheimer ‘Dorothy.’ ” 

He flushed and averted his eyes as he retorted, “Well, 
naturally, since if I had not married you, I would have 
married her.” 

“Lucky girl!” 

“You're the lucky girl! But you don’t at all ap¬ 
preciate your luck!” 

“She certainly doesn’t appreciate hers!” 

“Oh come, now! If you think I neglected you, I think 
we’re quits, for I certainly have a few counts against 
you! Why, for instance, did you put me in a most em¬ 
barrassing position by not notifying me when you left 
the hospital?” 

“You deserved to be embarrassed, Eugene! To be 
shown up!” 

“Shown up?” 


T H E S N O B 375 

“Your utter unconcern for your wife in confinement— 
in bitter grief!” 

“If you want to call it unconcern when a man is pay¬ 
ing fifty-five dollars a week for the care of his wife in a 
private room of a first class private hospital—” 

“But it was not by your wish or your arrangement that 
I was in that room in that hospital!” 

“Any one would think,” he said petulantly, “that you 
had been a millionaire’s pampered daughter! That you 
had been used to what Mrs. Leiter has always had! Will 
you tell me,” he demanded, fixing me with a stern, ac¬ 
cusing eye, “why you deceived me so long about AddieP— 
where you got the money to pay her sixty dollars a 
month? Besides hiring the laundry work! And how on 
earth were you spending all your time while I was slav¬ 
ing all day at school-teaching?—under the impression, 
of course, that you were at home doing the housework 
with Addie. Much housework there was left for you to 
do, with a retinue of servants here for just two 
people!—Well?” he insisted as I said nothing. “Ex¬ 
plain it! Where did you get the money ? Look here, 
Nancy! Have you all along been concealing something 
from me? Did your parents leave you a little inherit¬ 
ance?” 

“No.” 

“Well, I know I didn’t give you any sixty dollars a 
month for Addie! And Lottie says she’s beginning to 
realize that the clothes you wear are quite expensive; 
some of them from very exclusive New York shops!” 

“So are yours.” 

“But I know where the money came from that paid 
for mine! It’s absurd to pretend that the savings from 
your teaching is paying for all this!” 


376 


THE SNOB 


“Yes, that would be very absurd!” 

“But that’s what you did pretend, as to your clothes 
anyway.” 

“No, you assumed it; I didn’t ‘pretend.’ You knew 
that I had to have clothes, yet you never offered me any 
money. Only once, during the whole year that we have 
been married did I ever ask you for any money for my¬ 
self—and then, you remember, you gave me two dollars!— 
and asked me what I wanted it for! How you could be 
so blind and dull as to suppose a woman could get along 
a whole year without money—” 

“I didn’t suppose that. I thought you must still have 
a bit of your own. You talk as though I had not sup¬ 
ported you! You’ve had your home here. I’ve paid 
the bills, haven’t I?” 

“You’ve not supported me. I have paid for all the 
housework, clothed myself and sent money to your 
mother.” 

“Sent money to Mother! What did you do that for?” 
he snapped. “My mother is my affair, not yours!” 

“You don’t make her your affair.” 

“And will you kindly tell me where all this money 
comes from?—since you say your parents left you 
nothing!” 

“I didn’t say that.” 

“But you certainly did—just a minute ago.” 

“You asked me whether they left me ‘a little inherit¬ 
ance’ and I said no. It is not what you would call a little 
inheritance.” 

He misunderstood me. “It can’t have been so very 
insignificant the way you have been spending! Have 
you spent all of it?” 

“No.” 

“How much have you?” 


T H E S N 0 B 377 

“How much have you?” I parried. “I mean how much 
of your salary have you saved this year?” 

“That’s my business!” 

I smiled as I poured myself a cup of tea. 

“I hope you have enough of yours left to pay that fancy 
hospital bill!” he suggested. 

He had known me for two years as an orphan and a 
teacher on a salary of forty dollars a month. There¬ 
fore, my inheritance, he knew, must have been very small. 

“I will pay the hospital bill,” I said. 

He looked highly pleased at that. “Of course, my 
dear, when you no longer have any money of your own, 
you must ask me for what you need.” 

“Must I?” 

“Well, naturally.” 

“Come and ask you for what I need? Has a wife no 
rights that she must beg for her necessities? Eugene, no 
modern woman that isn’t a worm, will accept matrimony 
on such terms!” 

“When a modern woman is dependent on her husband, 
it seems to me she’s got to ‘accept matrimony’ on his 
conditions. Of course if he’s a gentleman, he’ll be decent 
about it.” 

I stared at him incredulously—‘a gentleman’—‘decent’ 
—could people’s standards really be so different as Eu¬ 
gene’s and mine? 

“If you don’t like dependence,” he added, “why did 
you so recklessly squander your own money? You must 
be nearly at the end of it by now. Paying Addie more 
than your salary as a teacher! It was reckless ! I sup¬ 
pose that’s why you didn’t tell me you had this money— 
you were afraid I would object to your wasting it like 
that! Was that your idea?” 

“No.” 


378 


THE SNOB 


“Well, then, what was it?” 

“My idea was to make an experiment. To prove some¬ 
thing.” 

“Prove something? Prove what?” 

“Whether you cared more for me than for Dorothy 
Renzheimer’s money.” 

He considered this with a thoughtful frown as he sipped 
his tea, looking at me over the edge of his cup, a slow 
color rising in his face. “I don’t get that,” he said, 
shaking his head. 

“You see, you have always hinted to me (and your 
family have openly said it) that you sacrificed yourself 
in marrying me when you could have tied up with Miss 
Renzheimer’s fortune. So, because I did not want you 
to care more for my money than for me (because, Eu¬ 
gene, I feel that I have something better to give my hus¬ 
band than my money )—that was why I didn’t tell you 
I had any money.” 

He laughed. “That’s rating yourself rather cheap, 
isn’t it? Care more for your little bit of money than for 
you? Now, Dorothy’s fortune, that’s a different figure!” 

“I might well hesitate, you mean, to rate myself worth 
more than that?” 

“Well, if you’re modest, yes,” he replied, pinching my 
cheek. 

“You see, Eugene, it was because I did rate myself as 
of more value than any amount of money that I came 
to you as a penniless girl.” 

“Well, I assure you, my dear, that a few thousand 
dollars would not have greatly changed your value to 
me,” he said, looking amused, “though I do think,” he 
added with a frown, “that you had no right to conceal 
from me what you had, nor to squander so much of it 
as you have done.” 


THE SNOB 


379 


“I had another reason for keeping it from you. I 
didn’t want you to know who I really was. I have de¬ 
ceived you, Eugene. You think you married a village 
school teacher. Well, you didn’t. You married the 
daughter of a famous criminal.” 

He put his cup down with a clatter. “What do you 
mean? Good God!” 

“I am Sherwin Claxton’s daughter, Eugene.” 

He stared at me wildly. “Sherwin Claxton! You 
his daughter! Oh, you’re not! Come, you’re crazy, 
saying a thing like that! You can’t mean the famous 
architect that was murdered in a brothel?” 

I nodded. “Perhaps,” I said sadly, “you will thank 
God our child didn’t live, with that blood and that dis¬ 
grace !” 

“But—but Sherwin Claxton! You his daughter! 
You!” He gulped and stammered. “That notorious—” 
He gazed at me as though he had never seen me before. 
But I did not see in his bewildered, startled eyes the 
shock of horror I had expected to see when I should break 
it to him who I was. “I can’t take it in!” he said 
hoarsely, “though I do now see through a lot of things— 
Why, your father was an aristocrat f—of old famous 
lineage! It all came out at the trial of the murderer— 
Why, Nancy, you’re a blue blood! But why didn’t you 
tell me? Now I am beginning to understand some puz¬ 
zling things about you! By God! You the daughter 
of Sherwin Claxton! Yes, I remember the newspapers 
spoke of a seventeen-year old daughter! And you are 
she! My wife the daughter of Sherwin Claxton!” 

How I had once dreaded the hour when that fact would 
possibly have to be told to my husband! But now, a 
dawning delight in his excited eyes held my own in a 
wondering speculation. I remembered Herrick’s having 


380 


THE SNOB 


insisted months ago that Eugene would feel the disgrace 
of the connection far less than the honor— 

“Yes, I realize now,” he continued breathlessly, “that 
you’ve always shown yourself to be true blue! I suppose 
of course,” he suddenly surmised, “Mrs. Leiter knew you 
before you met her here?” 

“Never. I only told her last night who I am.” 

“And she was keen enough to recognize, from the 
moment she met you, that you were of her class all right, 
wasn’t she?” he said exultantly. “You look it and act 
it and always have! You—” 

“You didn’t always think so.” 

“Oh, yes, I did! I can see now that in my heart I al¬ 
ways did. No wonder your dinner party had such dis¬ 
tinction and was so impressive! You knew from expe¬ 
rience how— Why, Nancy!” he exclaimed, starting to 
take me into his arms—but I drew away to the farthest 
corner of the couch. “You know,” he went on almost 
hysterically, “I can’t get over it that I have married the 
daughter of the great Sherwin Claxton!” 

“You don’t mind my father’s shame?” 

“Is it that fear, my poor child, that is making you 
draw away from me? Well, of course I do mind, Nancy, 
naturally. But,” he added magnanimously, “I fully ap¬ 
preciate his ability and standing. Your father was a 
great man, a genius! Why have you kept all this a secret 
from me? It would have made such a dif—” 

He stopped short, a shade of confusion in his eyes. 

“That’s what I feared,” I said, “that it would make 
such a difference to you. I wanted to be—loved or de¬ 
spised—for myself alone and not for any—fortune or dis¬ 
grace—attached to me.” 

“ ‘Fortune’!” He seized upon the word with a startled 
exclamation. “But—but your father was enormously 


T H E S N O B 881 

rich! Good heavens! How much do you have, in God’s 
name ?” 

“A larger income than any one has a right to, that 
doesn’t work for it. So I am going to begin at once to 
earn the right to it. That’s not very ethical economics, 
I suppose. But at least I’m not going to be a parasite.” 

“We’ll have plenty of use for all we’ve got, never fear! 
To think that you have kept all this from me! What 
is your income, my dear?” 

“Quite disgracefully large.” 

I suddenly rose and picked up the tea-tray to carry 
it down to the kitchen. But to my mingled amusement 
and disgust, Eugene, with all the gallantry of his choicest 
society manner, jumped up to take it from me. Ev¬ 
idently I had suddenly become, in his eyes, quite another 
woman; one to be treated no longer as a chattel, but with 
homage. How could he be so lacking in subtlety as not 
to shade off this change in his manner to less abrupt 
transformation?—to break to me more gradually the 
fact that my family’s position and my fortune were in his 
eyes worthy of a respect and a consideration which I, as 
an individual, had never elicited from him. 

“If I had brought him that other rich gift—a baby— 
he would never have repaid me with such reverence and 
gratitude as he will give to my money and position!” 

When he returned from the kitchen, I had locked my¬ 
self into the guest room. 


CHAPTER XXII 


T HE hardest things I had to endure during the 
next few days were Eugene’s respect and con¬ 
sideration and the sycophantish behavior of the 
Klams, especially Lottie; for though I steadily eluded 
stating the extent of my means, Elmer, not to be balked 
of such a succulent morsel of knowledge, searched through 
some New York papers three years old and found a copy 
of my father’s will. The excitement of all of them over 
this was almost more pitiable than it was sickening. 

Lottie’s new solicitude for me lest I overtax myself; 
her constant offers of all kinds of favors and assistance 
<—propitiatory, not aggressive; her manner of mingled 
awe and tender affection; her sympathy for the loss of 
my baby in contrast with the critical remarks she had 
made to Edith about my having added to my other fail¬ 
ures in the capacity of wife to “Brother,” the failure to 
achieve motherhood; her frequently sending Florence over 
to see me with tributes of early spring flowers from their 
back yard (I was no longer dangerous to Florence) her 
seeking and deferring to my opinion on questions of 
“what’s the proper thing” to do or say or wear, instead 
of trying, as before, to force her opinions upon me—all 
this was wearisome almost beyond endurance. 

“If you can’t get Addie back,” I had told Eugene the 
morning after my return home, “you will have to keep on 
taking your meals at Lottie’s, for I am not strong enough 
to cook three meals a day—and wouldn’t if I were—not 
while you have a salary of eight thousand dollars a 
year!” 


382 


THE SNOB 


383 


“And you nearly that much a month! Of course we 
shall have Addie back!” 

“If we can get her. Mrs. Charles Leiter has taken her 
over.” 

Edith was more willing to give Addie up temporarily 
than the girl was to come back to us. 

“But it will be for only a few days, Addie, to help me 
out,” I pleaded over the telephone. “I’ll give you a 
present—” 

So the old routine was, for the time being, restored— 
with one difference; Eugene no longer spent his evenings 
away from home. I frequently found it necessary, in or¬ 
der to escape his trying to make love to me, and his end¬ 
less talk, ad nauseam , about “our” wealth, to get Her¬ 
rick or Edith to join us, or to run away for an evening 
to Leiter’s Hill. 

He was very restive at my keeping to the guest room. 
“Surely you are strong enough now, dear, to come 
back—” 

My locked door was my answer. 

On the third day after my return, he alarmed me by 
saying, “Of course I shall resign from the Academy at 
the end of the term. With all we have, I need never toil 
again, thanks be! I shall return to lecturing.” 

“Don’t be in a hurry to resign,” I said hastily. 

“But why? I shan’t continue to be a school-master 
with such an income as ours! Why should I?” 

“ ‘Ours’? I never heard you call your salary ‘our 
income’!” 

“Oh, please, dear, don’t keep throwing things like that 
at me all the time! It’s largely your fault if I didn’t 
measure up to your expectations. If you hadn’t kept me 
in the dark as to who you were —” 

“Don’t resign your position,” I advised him. “I’m 


384 


THE SNOB 


not going to live as a social parasite myself, you know, 
and certainly shall not be responsible for making you 
one.” 

“You don’t expect me to drudge at school-teaching 
when we’ve got an income—” 

“You expected me to drudge at housework and farm 
work when we had an income of—oh, well!” I broke off, 
“I won’t remind you of those embarrassing things. Only 
'—hold on to your job a bit longer!” 

With which advice I escaped, as I was constantly do¬ 
ing these days, behind the locked door of the guest 
room. 

When Weesy wrote to thank Eugene with abjectly 
grateful effusion for the money his mother has received 
from him through Dr. Appleton, he was greatly upset. 

“Don’t fling money around like that, my dear! You 
should consult me before you spend such sums as that! 
Why, Mother has no need for so much as that—she could 
not use that much in years! What did you do it for?” 

“To give your mother some sense of security in these 
last years of her life, a few comforts for her old age, and 
to pay a doctor when she’s ill. Don’t you think she ought 
to have all this after such a life of hard work as she has 
had and all she did for you?” 

“But two thousand dollars! Why, twenty-five dollars 
would have been a handsome sum to send and would have 
put them into the seventh heaven of gratitude! Do con¬ 
sult me before you do anything like that again! You 
will have to give me power of attorney, or with such reck¬ 
less spending and giving, you will run through with all 
we have!” 

“I’ve taken care of all I have for three years—with 
the advice of my lawyer, who is my cousin.” 

“And I suppose he gets a big rake-off? Well, we can 




T H E S N O B 385 

save that expense when you turn over the management 
to me.” 

“My cousin has always refused to charge me for his 
services.” 

“You may be sure he makes something out of it, or 
why would he bother with it? Might as well keep it all 
in the family.” 

By the sixth day after my return home I had completed 
the preparations at which I had been working for a 
week. So that when Eugene came in from the Academy 
at five o’clock that day and, instead of shutting himself 
up in his study until dinner time, as had been his wont 
before my confinement, he came immediately upstairs to 
me in the sitting-room, I was ready for him. 

“Don’t you ever go to see Miss Dorothy Renzheimer 
any more?” I asked him as I handed him a cup of tea. 

“My dear,” he smiled on me kindly, “you have no need 
to be jealous of her! Put that out of your little heart!” 

“I can’t—because it isn’t there to be put out. I never 
was jealous of her—not even before I had seen her.” 

“Right you were. She’s your inferior in every way.” 

“I shan’t remind you (since you don’t like reminders) 
how hopelessly inferior I was to her and how positively 
amusing, if not presumptuous, it was for me to think her 
vulgar:—up to a week ago!” 

“Naturally I didn’t like to hear my friends who had 
been kind and hospitable to me called vulgar!—and 
sneered at!” 

“Miss Renzheimer sneered at me—to you!” I added 
on a guess. 

“Who told you anything like that?” he demanded, 
though his face flushed and his eyes fell. 

“What explanation are you giving her for not spend¬ 
ing your evenings with her any more?” 


386 


THE SNOB 


“Nancy, she simply would not let me alone! She was 
a perfect nuisance! I had behaved like a cad to her and 
I had to try to mollify her. But I tell you, my dear lit¬ 
tle puss, you need not be jealous of her any more! I’ve 
settled that matter—” 

“Don’t let her down too abruptly—you might want 
to take her on again; you can’t always be sure about 
those things—” 

“Don’t let us talk about her, my dear. I would rather 
talk about you. What a pretty new spring suit! Where 
did you get it?—and what did you pay for it?” 

“It’s a traveling suit. I’m going to New York this 
evening.” 

He started in surprise. “But I can’t very well go with 
you on such short notice. What do you want to do in 
New York?” 

“My answer is what yours always is—or used to be,” 
I smiled, “whenever I asked you that question on your 
announcing a trip to New York. Do you remember?” 

“Really, Nancy, it’s getting on my nerves, the way 
you answer everything I say with nasty remarks like 
that!” 

“Your answers used to get on my nerves too. I know 
just how you feel!” I said sympathetically. 

“Oh, come, come, dear! Look here,” he abruptly sug¬ 
gested, “wait until to-morrow, and I can go with you.” 

“I am going to-night—alone.” 

“Oh, indeed! Getting awfully independent, aren’t we! 
How long are you leaving me here alone?” 

“When I used to ask you that, you know, you’d tell 
me it was none of my business.” 

“Oh, Nancy, for God’s sake, cut that out!” 

“Well, I will. I won’t tease you any more!” 

“When are you coming home, dear?” 


THE SNOB 


387 


“I am never coming back.” 

He turned as white as death. I think he had not been 
wholly unprepared for this. In the light of his new 
knowledge of my past, he was not so entirely unconscious 
as he pretended to be of how our married life must have 
outraged and deeply disgusted me. Once during the 
past week, when, among the many harrowing reminders 
I offered him, was that of my summer on the farm, he 
looked almost ill, and for once had no excuse to make for 
himself. 

“What do you mean, Nancy?” he asked huskily. 

“You’ve been tried in the balance and found wanting, 
Eugene. I would have left you months ago but for the 
baby.” 

“I admit I have not been what I should have been. But 
you complained so little—you could have done anything 
with me, Nancy—anything you wanted to do!” 

“I never wanted to do anything ‘with’ you. I wanted 
to stand aside and watch you—to see what manner of 
man this was that I had married—who talked in public 
like a god and behaved in private like a cad! Was it 
the god or the cad that was the real man? Well, I found 
out!” 

To my horror he fell on his knees before me, seized my 
hands and buried his head in my lap, pleading with me 
not to “desert” him; not to “humiliate and disgrace” 
him. 

“Suppose, Eugene, I should tell you I’ve lost all but 
a little of my fortune—would you still beg me so hard to 
stay with you? Have you, since you believed me rich, 
spoiled your chances with Dorothy Renzheimer? Can 
you still take her up if I relieve you of the incumbrance 
of myself? You did think me an incumbrance, you know, 
a few months ago, even a few weeks ago!” 


388 


THE SNOB 


“I know you’ve not lost your money—and I never 
really thought you an incumbrance!” he passionately pro¬ 
tested. “Oh, Nancy, you have been the only woman—” 

I freed myself from his clasp and stood up. I thought 
I might shorten this painful scene by another “reminder.” 

“Eugene,” I said as he, too, stood up and, white and 
disheveled, his eyes bloodshot, faced me, “I read a letter 
you wrote to Miss Renzheimer.” 

“Ah, I thought as much! You took advantage of 
my having a headache one afternoon! Do you think that 
was a nice thing to do?” 

“No. But was it ‘nice’ for you to write that letter? 
I found it scattered about the hall and in gathering it 
up I saw what it was, so of course I read it all—how 
you had been ‘trapped’ into your marriage; your hope 
of ‘future happiness’ with Dorothy Renzheimer; your 
hope that your release from the ‘trap’ into which you 
had been ‘tricked’ might now be imminent (were you aw¬ 
fully disappointed, Eugene, that I didn’t die in child¬ 
bed?) ; your utter devotion to her, the only woman you 
had ever thought of marrying; of my failure to meet 
you on your own plane; of your longing and impatience 
for the ‘completer union’ you might have with her who so 
perfectly understood you— Well, you don’t have to wait 
any longer. You are free now to go to her.” 

“I don’t want her! I never wanted her! Her money, 
yes, that I did want. But you are the woman I love 
and want!” 

“You’re not worthy of her either!” I said, turning 
away. 

He took a quick step to my side and again seized my 
hands, beseeching, protesting, promising to treat me “as 
a lady should be treated.” 

“Don’t you see that your failure to recognize that I 


THE SNOB 


389 


was what you call ‘a lady,’ proves you incapable of treat¬ 
ing me or any woman ‘as a lady should be treated’?” 

“Give me a chance to prove to you that that is not 
true; that I can treat you as you deserve!” 

“It isn’t any longer a question of how you treat me, 
it’s what you are. I not only don’t love you any more— 
I despise you, Eugene!” 

He winced and his lips became ashy. “But I tell you, 
Nancy, Dorothy Renzheimer—” 

“She has nothing really to do with my leaving you. 
It was not your infidelity that killed my love, but living 
with you day after day—and night after night! Phys¬ 
ical infidelity is nothing to such a spiritual gulf as there 
is between you and me, Eugene!” 

So soft and yielding I had always seemed to him, it 
was hard for him to realize, now, as he continued to 
plead with me, the power of resistance that for many 
months had been growing in my soul. 

But when he did at last see that I was impregnable to 
anything he could say, his countenance seemed suddenly 
to go black and he turned to threats. 

“You shall not disgrace me like this! And ruin me! 
And make me lose my school! After trapping me into 
marrying you under false pretenses! There are insane 
asylums for women like you! And your father’s record 
won’t help you to prove your sanity! I can shut you up 
in an asylum and I will do it, too, if you don’t give up 
this mad idea of leaving me!” 

“My lawyer has a sealed copy of that letter of yours 
to Miss Renzheimer,” I quietly told him, “to be used in 
case of necessity.” 

His anger collapsed at that and he began again to 
importune me. 

“Won’t you give me some hope, Nancy, that some time 


390 


THE SNOB 


you’ll forgive me all you think you have against me— 
and come back to me?” he begged. 

“It isn’t a question of forgiveness. Time couldn’t 
change that inner quality that is you —and that I— 
loathe!” 

He humbled himself until it was I who winced. 

“At least don’t divorce me! Give me a chance to prove 
myself! Just let me see you now and then and—” 

I decided it would be kinder to leave him no shred of 
hope. 

“I am going to marry Herrick as soon as I can get a 
divorce.” 

He stared dumbly at me for an instant. Suddenly he 
sank upon the couch, looking ill. 

“Then,” I said, “you can marry Miss Renzheimer.” 

“You believe in promiscuous mating like that, do you?’* 
he sneered. 

“Promiscuous mating? No, indeed, I don’t. You and 
I were never mated, only yoked. Herrick is my mate!” 

“Good God! You and he are not proposing to set 
up housekeeping here in Leitersville, I hope—where I’ve 
got to live!” 

“Of course not. He is leaving here very soon.” 

“Dropping his great work for the masses to marry 
another man’s wife!” Eugene bitterly scoffed. 

“No, he is donating his house here to the labor or¬ 
ganization to carry on the educational work he has 
started.” 

*‘How do you know,” he fiercely demanded, “that he 
can satisfy you any better than I have?” 

“I’ve known him all my life. Our homes were two ad¬ 
joining places on the Hudson. It was a dreadful shock 
to me when he turned up on the farm last summer. And 
when he found me trying to work as I never had; saw me 




THE SNOB 


391 


neglected, treated contemptuously by you, and offen¬ 
sively by Lottie—I had a hard time to hold him down!— 
he wanted to tell you who I was—” 

“If you had only told me who you were, Nancy! 
Look what unhappiness it would have saved—” 

“I am very glad and thankful that I kept my secret— 
until I had proved you!” 

“But have you no belief in the sacredness of mar¬ 
riage?” he exclaimed. “Whom God hath joined—” 
“Your letter to Dorothy Renzheimer?” 

“If you could only know how little I meant what I was 
such a fool as to write to her! To me marriage is sacred! 
If it isn’t so to you, how can you hope for anything bet¬ 
ter or more enduring in marrying Appleton?” 

“It’s because I do believe in its sacredness that I can’t 
endure a desecration of it,” I said as I turned and left 
the room. 


THE END 


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