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قراءة كتاب McClure's Magazine, Vol 31, No 2, June 1908

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‏اللغة: English
McClure's Magazine, Vol 31, No 2, June 1908

McClure's Magazine, Vol 31, No 2, June 1908

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 5

"Why I heard them singing it the other night!" And she hummed the tune.

"Oh, dat was 'Sweet Vio-letts,' Miss Olly!"

American Women

Washington was the first city I had seen in America where the people did not hurry, and where the social life did not seem entirely the work of women. The men asserted themselves here as something more than machines in the background, untiringly turning out the dollars while their wives and daughters give luncheons and teas at which only women are present.

Beautifully as the women dress, they talk very little about clothes. I was much struck by their culture—by the evidence that they had read far more and developed a more fastidious taste than most young Englishwomen. Yet it is all mixed up with extraordinary naïveté. Their vivacity, the appearance, at least, of reality, the animation, the energy of American women, delighted me. They are very sympathetic, too, in spite of a certain callousness which comes of regarding everything in life, even love, as "lots of fun." I did not think that they, or the men either, had much natural sense of beauty. They admire beauty in a curious way through their intellect. Nearly every American girl has a cast of the winged Victory of the Louvre in her room. She makes it a point of her education to admire it.

There! I am beginning to generalize—the very thing I was resolute to avoid. How silly to generalize about a country which embraces such extremes of climate as the sharp winters of Boston and New York, and the warm winds of Florida which blow through palms and orange groves!




James Tapster was eating his solitary, well-cooked dinner in his comfortable and handsome house, a house situated in one of the half-moon terraces which line and frame the more aristocratic side of Regent's Park, and which may, indeed, be said to have private grounds of their own, for each resident enjoys the use of a key to a portion of the Park entitled locally the "Inclosure."

Very early in his life Mr. Tapster had made up his mind that he would like to live in Cumberland Crescent, and now he was living there; very early in his life he had decided that no one could order a plain yet palatable meal as well as he could himself, and now for some months past Mr. Tapster had given his own orders, each morning, to the cook.

To-night Mr. Tapster had already eaten his fried sole, and was about to cut himself off a generous portion of the grilled undercut before him, when he heard the postman's steps hurrying around the Crescent. He rose with a certain quick deliberateness, and, going out into the hall, opened the front door just in time to avoid the rat-tat-tat. Then, the one letter he had expected duly in his hand, he waited till he had sat down again in front of his still empty plate before he broke the seal and glanced over the type-written sheet of note-paper:

Shorters Court,
Throgmorton St.
November 4, 190-.

Dear James:

In reply to your letter of yesterday's date, I have been to Bedford Row and seen Greenfield, and he thinks it probable that the Decree will be made Absolute to-day; in that case you will have received a wire before this letter reaches you.

Your affect' brother,
Wm. A. Tapster.

In the same handwriting as the signature were added two holograph lines: "Glad you have the children home again. Maud will be round to see them soon."

Mr. Tapster read over once again the body of the letter, and there came upon him an instinctive feeling of intense relief; then, with a not less instinctive feeling of impatience, his eyes traveled down again to the postscript: "Maud will be round to see them soon." Well, he would see about that! But he did not exclaim, even mentally, as most men feeling as he then felt would have done, "I'll be damned if she will!" knowing the while that Maud certainly would.

His brother's letter, though most satisfactory as regarded its main point, put Mr. Tapster out of conceit with the rest of his dinner; so he rang twice and had the table cleared, frowning at the parlor-maid as she hurried through her duties, and yet not daring to rebuke her for having neglected to answer the bell the first time he rang. After a pause, he rose and turned toward the door—but no, he could not face the large, cheerless drawing-room up-stairs; instead, he sat down by the fire, and set himself to consider his future and, in a more hazy sense, that of his now motherless children.

But very soon, as generally happens to those who devote any time to that least profitable of occupations, Mr. Tapster found that his thoughts drifted aimlessly, not to the future where he would have them be, but to the past—that past which he desired to forget, to obliterate from his memory.

Till rather more than a year ago few men of his age—he had then been sixty, he was now sixty-one—enjoyed a pleasanter and, from his own point of view, a better filled life than James Tapster. How he had scorned the gambler, the spendthrift, the adulterer—in a word, all those whose actions bring about their own inevitable punishment! He had always been self-respecting and conscientious—not a prig, mind you, but inclined rather to the serious than to the flippant side of life; and, so inclining, he had found contentment and great material prosperity.

Not even in those days to which he was now looking back so regretfully had Mr. Tapster always been perfectly content; but now the

poor man, sitting alone by his dining-room fire, remembered only what had been good and pleasant in his former state. He was aware that his brother William and William's wife, Maud, both thought that even now he had much to be thankful for. His line of business was brisk, scarcely touched by foreign competition, his income increasing at a steady rate of progression, and his children were exceptionally healthy. But, alas! now that, in place of there being a pretty little Mrs. Tapster on whom to spend easily earned money, his substance was being squandered by a crowd of unmanageable and yet indispensable thieves,—for so Mr. Tapster voicelessly described the five servants whose loud talk and laughter were even now floating up from the basement below,—he did not feel his financial stability so comfortable a thing as he had once done. His very children, who should now be, as he told himself complainingly, his greatest comfort, had degenerated from two sturdy, well-behaved little boys and a charming baby girl into three unruly, fretful imps, setting him at defiance, and terrorizing their two attendants, who, though carefully chosen by their Aunt Maud, did not seem to manage them as well as the old nurse who had been an ally of the ex-Mrs. Tapster.

Looking back at the whole horrible affair—for so, in his own mind, Mr. Tapster justly designated the divorce case in which he had figured as the successful petitioner—he wondered uneasily if he had done quite wisely—wisely, that is, for his own repute and comfort.

He knew very well that had it not been for William, or rather, for Maud, he would never have found out the dreadful truth. Nay, more, he was dimly aware that but for them, and for their insistence on it as the only proper course open to him, he would never have taken action. All would have been forgiven and forgotten, had not William, and more especially Maud, said he must divorce Flossy, if not for his own sake,—ah, what irony!—then for that of