BLTC Press Titles

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Shakti and Shakta

John Woodroffe

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde

The Secret Doctrine, Volume I Cosmogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky

The Worm Ouroboros

E. R. Eddison

Horace Chase

by Constance Fenimore Woolson


" It is intelligent of Mrs. Jared to be thinking of that already," said Etheridge, softening a little. " Perhaps if I owned land here, I should take another view of the subject myself! You too, Dora—you might make something ?"

" No; we have no land save the garden, and the house is dreadfully dilapidated. Personally, I may as well confess that I should be glad to see the railroad arrive; I am mortally tired of that long jolting stage-drive from Old Fort; it nearly kills me each time I take it. And I am afraid I don't care for nature undraped so much as you do, commodore; I think I like draperies."

" Of course you do ! But when you—and by you I mean the nation at large—when you perceive that your last acre of primitive forest is forever gone, then you will repent. And you will begin to cultivate wildness as they do abroad, poor creatures—plant forests and guard 'em with stone walls and keepers, by Jove ! Horace Chase appears here as the pioneer of spoliation. He may not mean it; he does not come with an axe on his shoulder exactly; he comes, in fact,

with baking-powder; but that's how it will end. Haven't you heard that it was baking-powder? At least you have heard of the powder itself—the Bubble ? I thought so. Well, that's where he made his first money—the Bubble Baking-Powder; and he made a lot of it, too! Now he is in no end of other things. One of them is steamships; some of the Willoughbys of New York have gone in with him, and together they have set up a new company, with steamers running south—the Columbian Line."

" Yes, Genevieve explained it to us. But as he does not travel with his steamers round his neck, there remains for us, inland people as we are, only what he happens to be himself. And that is nothing interesting."

" Not interesting, eh ?" said Etheridge, rather gratified.

" To my mind he is not. He is ordinary in appearance and manners; he says ' yes, ma'am,' and ' no, ma'am,' to me, as though I were a great-grandmother! In short, I don't care for him, and it is solely on Genevieve's account that I have invited him. For she keeps urging me to do it; she is very anxious to have him like Asheville. He has already dined with us twice, to meet her. But to-day he comes informally —a chance invitation given only this morning (and again given solely to please her), when I happened to meet him at the Cottage."

" How old is the wretch ?"

" I don't know. Forty-four or forty-five."

" Quite impossible, then, that Mrs. Jared should have known him when he was a boy ; she was not born at that time," commented Etheridge. " What she means, of course, is that she, as a child herself, called him ' Home.' "

Mrs. Franklin did not answer, and at this moment Dolly came in.

" Yes, I am well," she said, in reply to the visitor's greeting ; " we are all well, and lazy. The world at large will never be helped much by us, I fear ; we are too contented. Have you ever noticed, commodore, that the women who sacrifice their lives so nobly to help humanity seldom sacrifice one small thing, and that is a happy home ? Either they do not possess such an article, or else they have spoiled it by quarrelling with every individual member of their families."

" Now, Dolly, no more of your sarcasms. Tell me rather about this new acquaintance of yours, this bubbling capitalist whom you have invented and set up in your midst during my unsuspecting absence," said Etheridge.

" You need not think, commodore, that you can make me say one word about him," answered Dolly, solemnly ; " for I read in a book only the other day that a tendency to talk about other persons, instead of one's self, was a sure sign of advancing age. Young people, the book goes on to say, are at heart interested in nothing on earth but themselves and their own affairs; they have not the least curiosity about character or traits in general. As I wish to be considered young, I have made a vow to talk of nothing but myself hereafter. Anything you may wish to hear about me I am ready to tell you." Dolly was now attired in a velvet dress of dark russet hue, like the color of autumn oak leaves ; this tint took the eye away somewhat from the worn look of her plain thin face. The dress, however, was eight years old, and the fashion in which it had been made originally had never been altered.

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