by Henry James
It has long been the custom of the North German Lloyd steamers,
which convey passengers from Bremen to New York, to anchor for
several hours in the pleasant port of Southampton, where their human
cargo receives many additions. An intelligent young German, Count
Otto Vogelstein, hardly knew a few years ago whether to condemn this
custom or approve it. He leaned over the bulwarks of the Donau as
the American passengers crossed the plank--the travellers who embark
at Southampton are mainly of that nationality--and curiously,
indifferently, vaguely, through the smoke of his cigar, saw them
absorbed in the huge capacity of the ship, where he had the agreeable
consciousness that his own nest was comfortably made. To watch from
such a point of vantage the struggles of those less fortunate than
ourselves--of the uninformed, the unprovided, the belated, the
bewildered--is an occupation not devoid of sweetness, and there was
nothing to mitigate the complacency with which our young friend gave
himself up to it; nothing, that is, save a natural benevolence which
had not yet been extinguished by the consciousness of official
greatness. For Count Vogelstein was official, as I think you would
have seen from the straightness of his back, the lustre of his light
elegant spectacles, and something discreet and diplomatic in the curve
of his moustache, which looked as if it might well contribute to the
principal function, as cynics say, of the lips--the active concealment
of thought. He had been appointed to the secretaryship of the German
legation at Washington and in these first days of the autumn was about
to take possession of his post. He was a model character for such a
purpose--serious civil ceremonious curious stiff, stuffed with
knowledge and convinced that, as lately rearranged, the German Empire
places in the most striking light the highest of all the possibilities
of the greatest of all the peoples. He was quite aware, however, of
the claims to economic and other consideration of the United States,
and that this quarter of the globe offered a vast field for study.
The process of inquiry had already begun for him, in spite of his
having as yet spoken to none of his fellow-passengers; the case being
that Vogelstein inquired not only with his tongue, but with his
eyes--that is with his spectacles--with his ears, with his nose, with
his palate, with all his senses and organs. He was a highly upright
young man, whose only fault was that his sense of comedy, or of the
humour of things, had never been specifically disengaged from his
several other senses. He vaguely felt that something should be done
about this, and in a general manner proposed to do it, for he was on
his way to explore a society abounding in comic aspects. This
consciousness of a missing measure gave him a certain mistrust of what
might be said of him; and if circumspection is the essence of
diplomacy our young aspirant promised well. His mind contained
several millions of facts, packed too closely together for the light
breeze of the imagination to draw through the mass. He was impatient
to report himself to his superior in Washington, and the loss of time
in an English port could only incommode him, inasmuch as the study of
English institutions was no part of his mission. On the other hand
the day was charming; the blue sea, in Southampton Water, pricked all
over with light, had no movement but that of its infinite shimmer.
Moreover he was by no means sure that he should be happy in the
United States, where doubtless he should find himself soon enough
disembarked. He knew that this was not an important question and that
happiness was an unscientific term, such as a man of his education
should be ashamed to use even in the silence of his thoughts. Lost
none the less in the inconsiderate crowd and feeling himself neither
in his own country nor in that to which he was in a manner accredited,
he was reduced to his mere personality; so that during the hour, to
save his importance, he cultivated such ground as lay in sight for a
judgement of this delay to which the German steamer was subjected in
English waters. Mightn't it be proved, facts, figures and
documents--or at least watch--in hand, considerably greater than the
Count Vogelstein was still young enough in diplomacy to think it
necessary to have opinions. He had a good many indeed which had been
formed without difficulty; they had been received ready-made from a
line of ancestors who knew what they liked. This was of course--and
under pressure, being candid, he would have admitted it --an
unscientific way of furnishing one's mind. Our young man was a stiff
conservative, a Junker of Junkers; he thought modern democracy a
temporary phase and expected to find many arguments against it in the
great Republic. In regard to these things it was a pleasure to him to
feel that, with his complete training, he had been taught thoroughly
to appreciate the nature of evidence. The ship was heavily laden with
German emigrants, whose mission in the United States differed
considerably from Count Otto's. They hung over the bulwarks, densely
grouped; they leaned forward on their elbows for hours, their
shoulders kept on a level with their ears; the men in furred caps,
smoking long-bowled pipes, the women with babies hidden in remarkably
ugly shawls. Some were yellow Germans and some were black, and all
looked greasy and matted with the sea-damp. They were destined to
swell still further the huge current of the Western democracy; and
Count Vogelstein doubtless said to himself that they wouldn't improve
its quality. Their numbers, however, were striking, and I know not
what he thought of the nature of this particular evidence.
The passengers who came on board at Southampton were not of the
greasy class; they were for the most part American families who had
been spending the summer, or a longer period, in Europe. They had a
great deal of luggage, innumerable bags and rugs and hampers and
sea-chairs, and were composed largely of ladies of various ages, a
little pale with anticipation, wrapped also in striped shawls, though
in prettier ones than the nursing mothers of the steerage, and crowned
with very high hats and feathers. They darted to and fro across the
gangway, looking for each other and for their scattered parcels; they
separated and reunited, they exclaimed and declared, they eyed with
dismay the occupants of the forward quarter, who seemed numerous
enough to sink the vessel, and their voices sounded faint and far as
they rose to Vogelstein's ear over the latter's great tarred sides.
He noticed that in the new contingent there were many young girls,
and he remembered what a lady in Dresden had once said to him--that
America was the country of the Madchen. He wondered whether he should
like that, and reflected that it would be an aspect to study, like
everything else. He had known in Dresden an American family in which
there were three daughters who used to skate with the officers, and
some of the ladies now coming on board struck him as of that same
habit, except that in the Dresden days feathers weren't worn quite so
At last the ship began to creak and slowly bridge, and the delay at
Southampton came to an end. The gangway was removed and the vessel
indulged in the awkward evolutions that were to detach her from the
land. Count Vogelstein had finished his cigar, and he spent a long
time in walking up and down the upper deck. The charming English
coast passed before him, and he felt this to be the last of the old
world. The American coast also might be pretty--he hardly knew what
one would expect of an American coast; but he was sure it would be
different. Differences, however, were notoriously half the charm of
travel, and perhaps even most when they couldn't be expressed in
figures, numbers, diagrams or the other merely useful symbols. As
yet indeed there were very few among the objects presented to sight
on the steamer. Most of his fellow-passengers appeared of one and
the same persuasion, and that persuasion the least to be mistaken.
They were Jews and commercial to a man. And by this time they had
lighted their cigars and put on all manner of seafaring caps, some of
them with big ear-lappets which somehow had the effect of bringing out
their peculiar facial type. At last the new voyagers began to emerge
from below and to look about them, vaguely, with that suspicious
expression of face always to be noted in the newly embarked and which,
as directed to the receding land, resembles that of a person who
begins to perceive himself the victim of a trick. Earth and ocean, in
such glances, are made the subject of a sweeping objection, and many
travellers, in the general plight, have an air at once duped and
superior, which seems to say that they could easily go ashore if they
It still wanted two hours of dinner, and by the time Vogelstein's
long legs had measured three or four miles on the deck he was ready
to settle himself in his sea-chair and draw from his pocket a
Tauchnitz novel by an American author whose pages, he had been
assured, would help to prepare him for some of the oddities. On the
back of his chair his name was painted in rather large letters, this
being a precaution taken at the recommendation of a friend who had
told him that on the American steamers the passengers--especially the
ladies--thought nothing of pilfering one's little comforts. His
friend had even hinted at the correct reproduction of his coronet.
This marked man of the world had added that the Americans are greatly
impressed by a coronet. I know not whether it was scepticism or
modesty, but Count Vogelstein had omitted every pictured plea for his
rank; there were others of which he might have made use. The precious
piece of furniture which on the Atlantic voyage is trusted never to
flinch among universal concussions was emblazoned simply with his
title and name. It happened, however, that the blazonry was huge; the
back of the chair was covered with enormous German characters. This
time there can be no doubt: it was modesty that caused the secretary
of legation, in placing himself, to turn this portion of his seat
outward, away from the eyes of his companions--to present it to the
balustrade of the deck. The ship was passing the Needles--the
beautiful uttermost point of the Isle of Wight. Certain tall white
cones of rock rose out of the purple sea; they flushed in the
afternoon light and their vague rosiness gave them a human expression
in face of the cold expanse toward which the prow was turned; they
seemed to say farewell, to be the last note of a peopled world.
Vogelstein saw them very comfortably from his place and after a while
turned his eyes to the other quarter, where the elements of air and
water managed to make between them so comparatively poor an
opposition. Even his American novelist was more amusing than that,
and he prepared to return to this author. In the great curve which it
described, however, his glance was arrested by the figure of a young
lady who had just ascended to the deck and who paused at the mouth of
This was not in itself an extraordinary phenomenon; but what
attracted Vogelstein's attention was the fact that the young person
appeared to have fixed her eyes on him. She was slim, brightly
dressed, rather pretty; Vogelstein remembered in a moment that he had
noticed her among the people on the wharf at Southampton. She was
soon aware he had observed her; whereupon she began to move along the
deck with a step that seemed to indicate a purpose of approaching him.
Vogelstein had time to wonder whether she could be one of the girls
he had known at Dresden; but he presently reflected that they would
now be much older than that. It was true they were apt to advance,
like this one, straight upon their victim. Yet the present specimen
was no longer looking at him, and though she passed near him it was
now tolerably clear she had come above but to take a general survey.
She was a quick handsome competent girl, and she simply wanted to see
what one could think of the ship, of the weather, of the appearance of
England, from such a position as that; possibly even of one's
fellow-passengers. She satisfied herself promptly on these points,
and then she looked about, while she walked, as if in keen search of a
missing object; so that Vogelstein finally arrived at a conviction of
her real motive. She passed near him again and this time almost
stopped, her eyes bent upon him attentively. He thought her conduct
remarkable even after he had gathered that it was not at his face,
with its yellow moustache, she was looking, but at the chair on which
he was seated. Then those words of his friend came back to him--the
speech about the tendency of the people, especially of the ladies, on
the American steamers to take to themselves one's little belongings.
Especially the ladies, he might well say; for here was one who
apparently wished to pull from under him the very chair he was sitting
on. He was afraid she would ask him for it, so he pretended to read,
systematically avoiding her eye. He was conscious she hovered near
him, and was moreover curious to see what she would do. It seemed to
him strange that such a nice-looking girl--for her appearance was
really charming--should endeavour by arts so flagrant to work upon the
quiet dignity of a secretary of legation. At last it stood out that
she was trying to look round a corner, as it were--trying to see what
was written on the back of his chair. "She wants to find out my name;
she wants to see who I am!" This reflexion passed through his mind
and caused him to raise his eyes. They rested on her own-- which for
an appreciable moment she didn't withdraw. The latter were brilliant
and expressive, and surmounted a delicate aquiline nose, which, though
pretty, was perhaps just a trifle too hawk-like. It was the oddest
coincidence in the world; the story Vogelstein had taken up treated of
a flighty forward little American girl who plants herself in front of
a young man in the garden of an hotel. Wasn't the conduct of this
young lady a testimony to the truthfulness of the tale, and wasn't
Vogelstein himself in the position of the young man in the garden?
That young man--though with more, in such connexions in general, to
go upon--ended by addressing himself to his aggressor, as she might be
called, and after a very short hesitation Vogelstein followed his
example. "If she wants to know who I am she's welcome," he said to
himself; and he got out of the chair, seized it by the back and,
turning it round, exhibited the superscription to the girl. She
coloured slightly, but smiled and read his name, while Vogelstein
raised his hat.
"I'm much obliged to you. That's all right," she remarked as if
the discovery had made her very happy.
It affected him indeed as all right that he should be Count Otto
Vogelstein; this appeared even rather a flippant mode of disposing of
the fact. By way of rejoinder he asked her if she desired of him the
surrender of his seat.
"I'm much obliged to you; of course not. I thought you had one of
our chairs, and I didn't like to ask you. It looks exactly like one
of ours; not so much now as when you sit in it. Please sit down
again. I don't want to trouble you. We've lost one of ours, and
I've been looking for it everywhere. They look so much alike; you
can't tell till you see the back. Of course I see there will be no
mistake about yours," the young lady went on with a smile of which
the serenity matched her other abundance. "But we've got such a
small name--you can scarcely see it," she added with the same
friendly intention. "Our name's just Day--you mightn't think it WAS
a name, might you? if we didn't make the most of it. If you see that
on anything, I'd be so obliged if you'd tell me. It isn't for myself,
it's for my mother; she's so dependent on her chair, and that one I'm
looking for pulls out so beautifully. Now that you sit down again and
hide the lower part it does look just like ours. Well, it must be
somewhere. You must excuse me; I wouldn't disturb you."
This was a long and even confidential speech for a young woman,
presumably unmarried, to make to a perfect stranger; but Miss Day
acquitted herself of it with perfect simplicity and self-possession.
She held up her head and stepped away, and Vogelstein could see that
the foot she pressed upon the clean smooth deck was slender and
shapely. He watched her disappear through the trap by which she had
ascended, and he felt more than ever like the young man in his
American tale. The girl in the present case was older and not so
pretty, as he could easily judge, for the image of her smiling eyes
and speaking lips still hovered before him. He went back to his book
with the feeling that it would give him some information about her.
This was rather illogical, but it indicated a certain amount of
curiosity on the part of Count Vogelstein. The girl in the book had a
mother, it appeared, and so had this young lady; the former had also a
brother, and he now remembered that he had noticed a young man on the
wharf--a young man in a high hat and a white overcoat--who seemed
united to Miss Day by this natural tie. And there was some one else
too, as he gradually recollected, an older man, also in a high hat,
but in a black overcoat--in black altogether--who completed the group
and who was presumably the head of the family. These reflexions would
indicate that Count Vogelstein read his volume of Tauchnitz rather
interruptedly. Moreover they represented but the loosest economy of
consciousness; for wasn't he to be afloat in an oblong box for ten
days with such people, and could it be doubted he should see at least
enough of them?
It may as well be written without delay that he saw a great deal of
them. I have sketched in some detail the conditions in which he made
the acquaintance of Miss Day, because the event had a certain
importance for this fair square Teuton; but I must pass briefly over
the incidents that immediately followed it. He wondered what it was
open to him, after such an introduction, to do in relation to her,
and he determined he would push through his American tale and
discover what the hero did. But he satisfied himself in a very short
time that Miss Day had nothing in common with the heroine of that work
save certain signs of habitat and climate--and save, further, the fact
that the male sex wasn't terrible to her. The local stamp sharply, as
he gathered, impressed upon her he estimated indeed rather in a
borrowed than in a natural light, for if she was native to a small
town in the interior of the American continent one of their
fellow-passengers, a lady from New York with whom he had a good deal
of conversation, pronounced her "atrociously" provincial. How the lady
arrived at this certitude didn't appear, for Vogelstein observed that
she held no communication with the girl. It was true she gave it the
support of her laying down that certain Americans could tell
immediately who other Americans were, leaving him to judge whether or
no she herself belonged to the critical or only to the criticised half
of the nation. Mrs. Dangerfield was a handsome confidential
insinuating woman, with whom Vogelstein felt his talk take a very wide
range indeed. She convinced him rather effectually that even in a
great democracy there are human differences, and that American life
was full of social distinctions, of delicate shades, which foreigners
often lack the intelligence to perceive. Did he suppose every one
knew every one else in the biggest country in the world, and that one
wasn't as free to choose one's company there as in the most
monarchical and most exclusive societies? She laughed such delusions
to scorn as Vogelstein tucked her beautiful furred coverlet--they
reclined together a great deal in their elongated chairs--well over
her feet. How free an American lady was to choose her company she
abundantly proved by not knowing any one on the steamer but Count
He could see for himself that Mr. and Mrs. Day had not at all her
grand air. They were fat plain serious people who sat side by side
on the deck for hours and looked straight before them. Mrs. Day had
a white face, large cheeks and small eyes: her forehead was
surrounded with a multitude of little tight black curls; her lips
moved as if she had always a lozenge in her mouth. She wore entwined
about her head an article which Mrs. Dangerfield spoke of as a "nuby,"
a knitted pink scarf concealing her hair, encircling her neck and
having among its convolutions a hole for her perfectly expressionless
face. Her hands were folded on her stomach, and in her still, swathed
figure her little bead-like eyes, which occasionally changed their
direction, alone represented life. Her husband had a stiff grey beard
on his chin and a bare spacious upper lip, to which constant shaving
had imparted a hard glaze. His eyebrows were thick and his nostrils
wide, and when he was uncovered, in the saloon, it was visible that
his grizzled hair was dense and perpendicular. He might have looked
rather grim and truculent hadn't it been for the mild familiar
accommodating gaze with which his large light-coloured pupils--the
leisurely eyes of a silent man--appeared to consider surrounding
objects. He was evidently more friendly than fierce, but he was more
diffident than friendly. He liked to have you in sight, but wouldn't
have pretended to understand you much or to classify you, and would
have been sorry it should put you under an obligation. He and his
wife spoke sometimes, but seldom talked, and there was something vague
and patient in them, as if they had become victims of a wrought
spell. The spell however was of no sinister cast; it was the
fascination of prosperity, the confidence of security, which
sometimes makes people arrogant, but which had had such a different
effect on this simple satisfied pair, in whom further development of
every kind appeared to have been happily arrested.
Mrs. Dangerfield made it known to Count Otto that every morning
after breakfast, the hour at which he wrote his journal in his cabin,
the old couple were guided upstairs and installed in their customary
corner by Pandora. This she had learned to be the name of their elder
daughter, and she was immensely amused by her discovery.
"Pandora"--that was in the highest degree typical; it placed them in
the social scale if other evidence had been wanting; you could tell
that a girl was from the interior, the mysterious interior about
which Vogelstein's imagination was now quite excited, when she had
such a name as that. This young lady managed the whole family, even
a little the small beflounced sister, who, with bold pretty innocent
eyes, a torrent of fair silky hair, a crimson fez, such as is worn by
male Turks, very much askew on top of it, and a way of galloping and
straddling about the ship in any company she could pick up--she had
long thin legs, very short skirts and stockings of every tint-- was
going home, in elegant French clothes, to resume an interrupted
education. Pandora overlooked and directed her relatives; Vogelstein
could see this for himself, could see she was very active and decided,
that she had in a high degree the sentiment of responsibility,
settling on the spot most of the questions that could come up for a
family from the interior.
The voyage was remarkably fine, and day after day it was possible
to sit there under the salt sky and feel one's self rounding the great
curves of the globe. The long deck made a white spot in the sharp
black circle of the ocean and in the intense sea-light, while the
shadow of the smoke-streamers trembled on the familiar floor, the
shoes of fellow-passengers, distinctive now, and in some cases
irritating, passed and repassed, accompanied, in the air so
tremendously "open," that rendered all voices weak and most remarks
rather flat, by fragments of opinion on the run of the ship.
Vogelstein by this time had finished his little American story and
now definitely judged that Pandora Day was not at all like the
heroine. She was of quite another type; much more serious and
strenuous, and not at all keen, as he had supposed, about making the
acquaintance of gentlemen. Her speaking to him that first afternoon
had been, he was bound to believe, an incident without importance for
herself; in spite of her having followed it up the next day by the
remark, thrown at him as she passed, with a smile that was almost
fraternal: "It's all right, sir! I've found that old chair." After
this she hadn't spoken to him again and had scarcely looked at him.
She read a great deal, and almost always French books, in fresh
yellow paper; not the lighter forms of that literature, but a volume
of Sainte-Beuve, of Renan or at the most, in the way of dissipation,
of Alfred de Musset. She took frequent exercise and almost always
walked alone, apparently not having made many friends on the ship and
being without the resource of her parents, who, as has been related,
never budged out of the cosy corner in which she planted them for the
Her brother was always in the smoking-room, where Vogelstein
observed him, in very tight clothes, his neck encircled with a collar
like a palisade. He had a sharp little face, which was not
disagreeable; he smoked enormous cigars and began his drinking early
in the day: but his appearance gave no sign of these excesses. As
regards euchre and poker and the other distractions of the place he
was guilty of none. He evidently understood such games in
perfection, for he used to watch the players, and even at moments
impartially advise them; but Vogelstein never saw the cards in his
hand. He was referred to as regards disputed points, and his opinion
carried the day. He took little part in the conversation, usually
much relaxed, that prevailed in the smoking-room, but from time to
time he made, in his soft flat youthful voice, a remark which every
one paused to listen to and which was greeted with roars of laughter.
Vogelstein, well as he knew English, could rarely catch the joke; but
he could see at least that these must be choice specimens of that
American humour admired and practised by a whole continent and yet to
be rendered accessible to a trained diplomatist, clearly, but by some
special and incalculable revelation. The young man, in his way, was
very remarkable, for, as Vogelstein heard some one say once after the
laughter had subsided, he was only nineteen. If his sister didn't
resemble the dreadful little girl in the tale already mentioned, there
was for Vogelstein at least an analogy between young Mr. Day and a
certain small brother--a candy-loving Madison, Hamilton or
Jefferson--who was, in the Tauchnitz volume, attributed to that
unfortunate maid. This was what the little Madison would have grown
up to at nineteen, and the improvement was greater than might have
The days were long, but the voyage was short, and it had almost
come to an end before Count Otto yielded to an attraction peculiar in
its nature and finally irresistible, and, in spite of Mrs.
Dangerfield's emphatic warning, sought occasion for a little
continuous talk with Miss Pandora. To mention that this impulse took
effect without mentioning sundry other of his current impressions with
which it had nothing to do is perhaps to violate proportion and give a
false idea; but to pass it by would be still more unjust. The
Germans, as we know, are a transcendental people, and there was at
last an irresistible appeal for Vogelstein in this quick bright silent
girl who could smile and turn vocal in an instant, who imparted a rare
originality to the filial character, and whose profile was delicate
as she bent it over a volume which she cut as she read, or presented
it in musing attitudes, at the side of the ship, to the horizon they
had left behind. But he felt it to be a pity, as regards a possible
acquaintance with her, that her parents should be heavy little
burghers, that her brother should not correspond to his conception of
a young man of the upper class, and that her sister should be a Daisy
Miller en herbe. Repeatedly admonished by Mrs. Dangerfield, the young
diplomatist was doubly careful as to the relations he might form at
the beginning of his sojourn in the United States. That lady reminded
him, and he had himself made the observation in other capitals, that
the first year, and even the second, is the time for prudence. One
was ignorant of proportions and values; one was exposed to mistakes
and thankful for attention, and one might give one's self away to
people who would afterwards be as a millstone round one's neck: Mrs.
Dangerfield struck and sustained that note, which resounded in the
young man's imagination. She assured him that if he didn't "look out"
he would be committing himself to some American girl with an
impossible family. In America, when one committed one's self, there
was nothing to do but march to the altar, and what should he say for
instance to finding himself a near relation of Mr. and Mrs. P. W.
Day?--since such were the initials inscribed on the back of the two
chairs of that couple. Count Otto felt the peril, for he could
immediately think of a dozen men he knew who had married American
girls. There appeared now to be a constant danger of marrying the
American girl; it was something one had to reckon with, like the
railway, the telegraph, the discovery of dynamite, the Chassepot
rifle, the Socialistic spirit: it was one of the complications of
It would doubtless be too much to say that he feared being carried
away by a passion for a young woman who was not strikingly beautiful
and with whom he had talked, in all, but ten minutes. But, as we
recognise, he went so far as to wish that the human belongings of a
person whose high spirit appeared to have no taint either of
fastness, as they said in England, or of subversive opinion, and
whose mouth had charming lines, should not be a little more
distinguished. There was an effect of drollery in her behaviour to
these subjects of her zeal, whom she seemed to regard as a care, but
not as an interest; it was as if they had been entrusted to her
honour and she had engaged to convey them safe to a certain point;
she was detached and inadvertent, and then suddenly remembered,
repented and came back to tuck them into their blankets, to alter the
position of her mother's umbrella, to tell them something about the
run of the ship. These little offices were usually performed deftly,
rapidly, with the minimum of words, and when their daughter drew near
them Mr. and Mrs. Day closed their eyes after the fashion of a pair of
household dogs who expect to be scratched.
One morning she brought up the Captain of the ship to present to
them; she appeared to have a private and independent acquaintance
with this officer, and the introduction to her parents had the air of
a sudden happy thought. It wasn't so much an introduction as an
exhibition, as if she were saying to him: "This is what they look
like; see how comfortable I make them. Aren't they rather queer and
rather dear little people? But they leave me perfectly free. Oh I
can assure you of that. Besides, you must see it for yourself." Mr.
and Mrs. Day looked up at the high functionary who thus unbent to them
with very little change of countenance; then looked at each other in
the same way. He saluted, he inclined himself a moment; but Pandora
shook her head, she seemed to be answering for them; she made little
gestures as if in explanation to the good Captain of some of their
peculiarities, as for instance that he needn't expect them to speak.
They closed their eyes at last; she appeared to have a kind of
mesmeric influence on them, and Miss Day walked away with the
important friend, who treated her with evident consideration, bowing
very low, for all his importance, when the two presently after
separated. Vogelstein could see she was capable of making an
impression; and the moral of our little matter is that in spite of
Mrs. Dangerfield, in spite of the resolutions of his prudence, in
spite of the limits of such acquaintance as he had momentarily made
with her, in spite of Mr. and Mrs. Day and the young man in the
smoking-room, she had fixed his attention.
It was in the course of the evening after the scene with the
Captain that he joined her, awkwardly, abruptly, irresistibly, on the
deck, where she was pacing to and fro alone, the hour being
auspiciously mild and the stars remarkably fine. There were scattered
talkers and smokers and couples, unrecognisable, that moved quickly
through the gloom. The vessel dipped with long regular pulsations;
vague and spectral under the low stars, its swaying pinnacles spotted
here and there with lights, it seemed to rush through the darkness
faster than by day. Count Otto had come up to walk, and as the girl
brushed past him he distinguished Pandora's face--with Mrs.
Dangerfield he always spoke of her as Pandora--under the veil worn to
protect it from the sea-damp. He stopped, turned, hurried after her,
threw away his cigar--then asked her if she would do him the honour to
accept his arm. She declined his arm but accepted his company, and he
allowed her to enjoy it for an hour. They had a great deal of talk,
and he was to remember afterwards some of the things she had said.
There was now a certainty of the ship's getting into dock the next
morning but one, and this prospect afforded an obvious topic. Some of
Miss Day's expressions struck him as singular, but of course, as he
was aware, his knowledge of English was not nice enough to give him a
"I'm not in a hurry to arrive; I'm very happy here," she said.
"I'm afraid I shall have such a time putting my people through."
"Putting them through?"
"Through the Custom-House. We've made so many purchases. Well,
I've written to a friend to come down, and perhaps he can help us.
He's very well acquainted with the head. Once I'm chalked I don't
care. I feel like a kind of blackboard by this time anyway. We
found them awful in Germany."
Count Otto wondered if the friend she had written to were her lover
and if they had plighted their troth, especially when she alluded to
him again as "that gentleman who's coming down." He asked her about
her travels, her impressions, whether she had been long in Europe and
what she liked best, and she put it to him that they had gone abroad,
she and her family, for a little fresh experience. Though he found
her very intelligent he suspected she gave this as a reason because he
was a German and she had heard the Germans were rich in culture. He
wondered what form of culture Mr. and Mrs. Day had brought back from
Italy, Greece and Palestine--they had travelled for two years and been
everywhere--especially when their daughter said: "I wanted father and
mother to see the best things. I kept them three hours on the
Acropolis. I guess they won't forget that!" Perhaps it was of Phidias
and Pericles they were thinking, Vogelstein reflected, as they sat
ruminating in their rugs. Pandora remarked also that she wanted to
show her little sister everything while she was comparatively unformed
("comparatively!" he mutely gasped); remarkable sights made so much
more impression when the mind was fresh: she had read something of
that sort somewhere in Goethe. She had wanted to come herself when
she was her sister's age; but her father was in business then and they
couldn't leave Utica. The young man thought of the little sister
frisking over the Parthenon and the Mount of Olives and sharing for
two years, the years of the school-room, this extraordinary pilgrimage
of her parents; he wondered whether Goethe's dictum had been justified
in this case. He asked Pandora if Utica were the seat of her family,
if it were an important or typical place, if it would be an
interesting city for him, as a stranger, to see. His companion
replied frankly that this was a big question, but added that all the
same she would ask him to "come and visit us at our home" if it
weren't that they should probably soon leave it.
"Ah, you're going to live elsewhere?" Vogelstein asked, as if that
fact too would be typical.
"Well, I'm working for New York. I flatter myself I've loosened
them while we've been away," the girl went on. "They won't find in
Utica the same charm; that was my idea. I want a big place, and of
course Utica--!" She broke off as before a complex statement.
"I suppose Utica is inferior--?" Vogelstein seemed to see his way
"Well no, I guess I can't have you call Utica inferior. It isn't
supreme--that's what's the matter with it, and I hate anything
middling," said Pandora Day. She gave a light dry laugh, tossing
back her head a little as she made this declaration. And looking at
her askance in the dusk, as she trod the deck that vaguely swayed, he
recognised something in her air and port that matched such a
"What's her social position?" he inquired of Mrs. Dangerfield the
next day. "I can't make it out at all--it's so contradictory. She
strikes me as having much cultivation and much spirit. Her
appearance, too, is very neat. Yet her parents are complete little
burghers. That's easily seen."
"Oh, social position," and Mrs. Dangerfield nodded two or three
times portentously. "What big expressions you use! Do you think
everybody in the world has a social position? That's reserved for an
infinitely small majority of mankind. You can't have a social
position at Utica any more than you can have an opera-box. Pandora
hasn't got one; where, if you please, should she have got it? Poor
girl, it isn't fair of you to make her the subject of such questions
"Well," said Vogelstein, "if she's of the lower class it seems to
me very--very--" And he paused a moment, as he often paused in
speaking English, looking for his word.
"Very what, dear Count?"
"Very significant, very representative."
"Oh dear, she isn't of the lower class," Mrs. Dangerfield returned
with an irritated sense of wasted wisdom. She liked to explain her
country, but that somehow always required two persons.
"What is she then?"
"Well, I'm bound to admit that since I was at home last she's a
novelty. A girl like that with such people--it IS a new type."
"I like novelties"--and Count Otto smiled with an air of
considerable resolution. He couldn't however be satisfied with a
demonstration that only begged the question; and when they
disembarked in New York he felt, even amid the confusion of the wharf
and the heaps of disembowelled baggage, a certain acuteness of regret
at the idea that Pandora and her family were about to vanish into the
unknown. He had a consolation however: it was apparent that for some
reason or other--illness or absence from town--the gentleman to whom
she had written had not, as she said, come down. Vogelstein was
glad--he couldn't have told you why--that this sympathetic person had
failed her; even though without him Pandora had to engage
single-handed with the United States Custom-House. Our young man's
first impression of the Western world was received on the
landing-place of the German steamers at Jersey City--a huge wooden
shed covering a wooden wharf which resounded under the feet, an
expanse palisaded with rough-hewn piles that leaned this way and that,
and bestrewn with masses of heterogeneous luggage. At one end; toward
the town, was a row of tall painted palings, behind which he could
distinguish a press of hackney-coachmen, who brandished their whips
and awaited their victims, while their voices rose, incessant, with a
sharp strange sound, a challenge at once fierce and familiar. The
whole place, behind the fence, appeared to bristle and resound. Out
there was America, Count Otto said to himself, and he looked toward it
with a sense that he should have to muster resolution. On the wharf
people were rushing about amid their trunks, pulling their things
together, trying to unite their scattered parcels. They were heated
and angry, or else quite bewildered and discouraged. The few that had
succeeded in collecting their battered boxes had an air of flushed
indifference to the efforts of their neighbours, not even looking at
people with whom they had been fondly intimate on the steamer. A
detachment of the officers of the Customs was in attendance, and
energetic passengers were engaged in attempts to drag them toward
their luggage or to drag heavy pieces toward them. These
functionaries were good-natured and taciturn, except when occasionally
they remarked to a passenger whose open trunk stared up at them,
eloquent, imploring, that they were afraid the voyage had been
"rather glassy." They had a friendly leisurely speculative way of
discharging their duty, and if they perceived a victim's name written
on the portmanteau they addressed him by it in a tone of old
acquaintance. Vogelstein found however that if they were familiar
they weren't indiscreet. He had heard that in America all public
functionaries were the same, that there wasn't a different tenue, as
they said in France, for different positions, and he wondered whether
at Washington the President and ministers, whom he expected to see--to
HAVE to see--a good deal of, would be like that.
He was diverted from these speculations by the sight of Mr. and
Mrs. Day seated side by side upon a trunk and encompassed apparently
by the accumulations of their tour. Their faces expressed more
consciousness of surrounding objects than he had hitherto recognised,
and there was an air of placid expansion in the mysterious couple
which suggested that this consciousness was agreeable. Mr. and Mrs.
Day were, as they would have said, real glad to get back. At a little
distance, on the edge of the dock, our observer remarked their son,
who had found a place where, between the sides of two big ships, he
could see the ferry-boats pass; the large pyramidal low-laden
ferry-boats of American waters. He stood there, patient and
considering, with his small neat foot on a coil of rope, his back to
everything that had been disembarked, his neck elongated in its
polished cylinder, while the fragrance of his big cigar mingled with
the odour of the rotting piles, and his little sister, beside him,
hugged a huge post and tried to see how far she could crane over the
water without falling in. Vogelstein's servant was off in search of
an examiner; Count Otto himself had got his things together and was
waiting to be released, fully expecting that for a person of his
importance the ceremony would be brief.
Before it began he said a word to young Mr. Day, raising his hat at
the same time to the little girl, whom he had not yet greeted and who
dodged his salute by swinging herself boldly outward to the dangerous
side of the pier. She was indeed still unformed, but was evidently as
light as a feather.
"I see you're kept waiting like me. It's very tiresome," Count
The young American answered without looking behind him. "As soon
as we're started we'll go all right. My sister has written to a
gentleman to come down."
"I've looked for Miss Day to bid her good-bye," Vogelstein went on;
"but I don't see her."
"I guess she has gone to meet that gentleman; he's a great friend
"I guess he's her lover!" the little girl broke out. "She was
always writing to him in Europe."
Her brother puffed his cigar in silence a moment. "That was only
for this. I'll tell on you, sis," he presently added.
But the younger Miss Day gave no heed to his menace; she addressed
herself only, though with all freedom, to Vogelstein. "This is New
York; I like it better than Utica."
He had no time to reply, for his servant had arrived with one of
the dispensers of fortune; but as he turned away he wondered, in the
light of the child's preference, about the towns of the interior. He
was naturally exempt from the common doom. The officer who took him
in hand, and who had a large straw hat and a diamond breastpin, was
quite a man of the world, and in reply to the Count's formal
declarations only said, "Well, I guess it's all right; I guess I'll
just pass you," distributing chalk-marks as if they had been so many
love-pats. The servant had done some superfluous unlocking and
unbuckling, and while he closed the pieces the officer stood there
wiping his forehead and conversing with Vogelstein. "First visit to
our country, sir?--quite alone--no ladies? Of course the ladies are
what we're most after." It was in this manner he expressed himself,
while the young diplomatist wondered what he was waiting for and
whether he ought to slip something into his palm. But this
representative of order left our friend only a moment in suspense; he
presently turned away with the remark quite paternally uttered, that
he hoped the Count would make quite a stay; upon which the young man
saw how wrong he should have been to offer a tip. It was simply the
American manner, which had a finish of its own after all. Vogelstein's
servant had secured a porter with a truck, and he was about to leave
the place when he saw Pandora Day dart out of the crowd and address
herself with much eagerness to the functionary who had just liberated
him. She had an open letter in her hand which she gave him to read
and over which he cast his eyes, thoughtfully stroking his beard.
Then she led him away to where her parents sat on their luggage.
Count Otto sent off his servant with the porter and followed Pandora,
to whom he really wished to address a word of farewell. The last
thing they had said to each other on the ship was that they should
meet again on shore. It seemed improbable however that the meeting
would occur anywhere but just here on the dock; inasmuch as Pandora
was decidedly not in society, where Vogelstein would be of course, and
as, if Utica--he had her sharp little sister's word for it--was worse
than what was about him there, he'd be hanged if he'd go to Utica. He
overtook Pandora quickly; she was in the act of introducing the
representative of order to her parents, quite in the same manner in
which she had introduced the Captain of the ship. Mr. and Mrs. Day
got up and shook hands with him and they evidently all prepared to
have a little talk. "I should like to introduce you to my brother and
sister," he heard the girl say, and he saw her look about for these
appendages. He caught her eye as she did so, and advanced with his
hand outstretched, reflecting the while that evidently the Americans,
whom he had always heard described as silent and practical, rejoiced
to extravagance in the social graces. They dawdled and chattered like
so many Neapolitans.
"Good-bye, Count Vogelstein," said Pandora, who was a little
flushed with her various exertions but didn't look the worse for it.
"I hope you'll have a splendid time and appreciate our country."
"I hope you'll get through all right," Vogelstein answered, smiling
and feeling himself already more idiomatic.
"That gentleman's sick that I wrote to," she rejoined; "isn't it
too bad? But he sent me down a letter to a friend of his--one of the
examiners--and I guess we won't have any trouble. Mr. Lansing, let
me make you acquainted with Count Vogelstein," she went on,
presenting to her fellow-passenger the wearer of the straw hat and
the breastpin, who shook hands with the young German as if he had
never seen him before. Vogelstein's heart rose for an instant to his
throat; he thanked his stars he hadn't offered a tip to the friend of
a gentleman who had often been mentioned to him and who had also been
described by a member of Pandora's family as Pandora's lover.
"It's a case of ladies this time," Mr. Lansing remarked to him with
a smile which seemed to confess surreptitiously, and as if neither
party could be eager, to recognition.
"Well, Mr. Bellamy says you'll do anything for HIM," Pandora said,
smiling very sweetly at Mr. Lansing. "We haven't got much; we've
been gone only two years."
Mr. Lansing scratched his head a little behind, with a movement
that sent his straw hat forward in the direction of his nose. "I
don't know as I'd do anything for him that I wouldn't do for you," he
responded with an equal geniality. "I guess you'd better open that
one"--and he gave a little affectionate kick to one of the trunks.
"Oh mother, isn't he lovely? It's only your sea-things," Pandora
cried, stooping over the coffer with the key in her hand.
"I don't know as I like showing them," Mrs. Day modestly murmured.
Vogelstein made his German salutation to the company in general,
and to Pandora he offered an audible good-bye, which she returned in a
bright friendly voice, but without looking round as she fumbled at
the lock of her trunk.
"We'll try another, if you like," said Mr. Lansing good-humouredly.
"Oh no it has got to be this one! Good-bye, Count Vogelstein. I
hope you'll judge us correctly!"
The young man went his way and passed the barrier of the dock.
Here he was met by his English valet with a face of consternation
which led him to ask if a cab weren't forthcoming.
"They call 'em 'acks 'ere, sir," said the man, "and they're beyond
everything. He wants thirty shillings to take you to the inn."
Vogelstein hesitated a moment. "Couldn't you find a German?"
"By the way he talks he IS a German said the man; and in a moment
Count Otto began his career in America by discussing the tariff of
hackney-coaches in the language of the fatherland.
He went wherever he was asked, on principle, partly to study
American society and partly because in Washington pastimes seemed to
him not so numerous that one could afford to neglect occasions. At
the end of two winters he had naturally had a good many of various
kinds--his study of American society had yielded considerable fruit.
When, however, in April, during the second year of his residence, he
presented himself at a large party given by Mrs. Bonnycastle and of
which it was believed that it would be the last serious affair of the
season, his being there (and still more his looking very fresh and
talkative) was not the consequence of a rule of conduct. He went to
Mrs. Bonnycastle's simply because he liked the lady, whose receptions
were the pleasantest in Washington, and because if he didn't go there
he didn't know what he should do; that absence of alternatives having
become familiar to him by the waters of the Potomac. There were a
great many things he did because if he didn't do them he didn't know
what he should do. It must be added that in this case even if there
had been an alternative he would still have decided to go to Mrs.
Bonnycastle's. If her house wasn't the pleasantest there it was at
least difficult to say which was pleasanter; and the complaint
sometimes made of it that it was too limited, that it left out, on the
whole, more people than it took in, applied with much less force when
it was thrown open for a general party. Toward the end of the social
year, in those soft scented days of the Washington spring when the air
began to show a southern glow and the Squares and Circles (to which
the wide empty avenues converged according to a plan so ingenious, yet
so bewildering) to flush with pink blossom and to make one wish to sit
on benches--under this magic of expansion and condonation Mrs.
Bonnycastle, who during the winter had been a good deal on the
defensive, relaxed her vigilance a little, became whimsically wilful,
vernally reckless, as it were, and ceased to calculate the
consequences of an hospitality which a reference to the back files or
even to the morning's issue of the newspapers might easily prove a
mistake. But Washington life, to Count Otto's apprehension, was paved
with mistakes; he felt himself in a society founded on fundamental
fallacies and triumphant blunders. Little addicted as he was to the
sportive view of existence, he had said to himself at an early stage
of his sojourn that the only way to enjoy the great Republic would be
to burn one's standards and warm one's self at the blaze. Such were
the reflexions of a theoretic Teuton who now walked for the most part
amid the ashes of his prejudices.
Mrs. Bonnycastle had endeavoured more than once to explain to him
the principles on which she received certain people and ignored
certain others; but it was with difficulty that he entered into her
discriminations. American promiscuity, goodness knew, had been
strange to him, but it was nothing to the queerness of American
criticism. This lady would discourse to him a perte de vue on
differences where he only saw resemblances, and both the merits and
the defects of a good many members of Washington society, as this
society was interpreted to him by Mrs. Bonnycastle, he was often at a
loss to understand. Fortunately she had a fund of good humour which,
as I have intimated, was apt to come uppermost with the April blossoms
and which made the people she didn't invite to her house almost as
amusing to her as those she did. Her husband was not in politics,
though politics were much in him; but the couple had taken upon
themselves the responsibilities of an active patriotism; they thought
it right to live in America, differing therein from many of their
acquaintances who only, with some grimness, thought it inevitable.
They had that burdensome heritage of foreign reminiscence with which
so many Americans were saddled; but they carried it more easily than
most of their country-people, and one knew they had lived in Europe
only by their present exultation, never in the least by their regrets.
Their regrets, that is, were only for their ever having lived there,
as Mrs. Bonnycastle once told the wife of a foreign minister. They
solved all their problems successfully, including those of knowing
none of the people they didn't wish to, and of finding plenty of
occupation in a society supposed to be meagrely provided with
resources for that body which Vogelstein was to hear invoked, again
and again, with the mixture of desire and of deprecation that might
have attended the mention of a secret vice, under the name of a
leisure-class. When as the warm weather approached they opened both
the wings of their house-door, it was because they thought it would
entertain them and not because they were conscious of a pressure.
Alfred Bonnycastle all winter indeed chafed a little at the
definiteness of some of his wife's reserves; it struck him that for
Washington their society was really a little too good. Vogelstein
still remembered the puzzled feeling- -it had cleared up somewhat
now--with which, more than a year before, he had heard Mr. Bonnycastle
exclaim one evening, after a dinner in his own house, when every guest
but the German secretary (who often sat late with the pair) had
departed Hang it, there's only a month left; let us be vulgar and have
some fun--let us invite the President."
This was Mrs. Bonnycastle's carnival, and on the occasion to which
I began my chapter by referring the President had not only been
invited but had signified his intention of being present. I hasten
to add that this was not the same august ruler to whom Alfred
Bonnycastle's irreverent allusion had been made. The White House had
received a new tenant--the old one was then just leaving it--and Count
Otto had had the advantage, during the first eighteen months of his
stay in America, of seeing an electoral campaign, a presidential
inauguration and a distribution of spoils. He had been bewildered
during those first weeks by finding that at the national capital in
the houses he supposed to be the best, the head of the State was not a
coveted guest; for this could be the only explanation of Mr.
Bonnycastle's whimsical suggestion of their inviting him, as it were,
in carnival. His successor went out a good deal for a President.
The legislative session was over, but this made little difference
in the aspect of Mrs. Bonnycastle's rooms, which even at the height of
the congressional season could scarce be said to overflow with the
representatives of the people. They were garnished with an
occasional Senator, whose movements and utterances often appeared to
be regarded with a mixture of alarm and indulgence, as if they would
be disappointing if they weren't rather odd and yet might be
dangerous if not carefully watched. Our young man had come to
entertain a kindness for these conscript fathers of invisible
families, who had something of the toga in the voluminous folds of
their conversation, but were otherwise rather bare and bald, with
stony wrinkles in their faces, like busts and statues of ancient
law-givers. There seemed to him something chill and exposed in their
being at once so exalted and so naked; there were frequent lonesome
glances in their eyes, as if in the social world their legislative
consciousness longed for the warmth of a few comfortable laws
ready-made. Members of the House were very rare, and when Washington
was new to the inquiring secretary he used sometimes to mistake them,
in the halls and on the staircases where he met them, for the
functionaries engaged, under stress, to usher in guests and wait at
supper. It was only a little later that he perceived these latter
public characters almost always to be impressive and of that rich
racial hue which of itself served as a livery. At present, however,
such confounding figures were much less to be met than during the
months of winter, and indeed they were never frequent at Mrs.
Bonnycastle's. At present the social vistas of Washington, like the
vast fresh flatness of the lettered and numbered streets, which at
this season seemed to Vogelstein more spacious and vague than ever,
suggested but a paucity of political phenomena. Count Otto that
evening knew every one or almost every one. There were often
inquiring strangers, expecting great things, from New York and Boston,
and to them, in the friendly Washington way, the young German was
promptly introduced. It was a society in which familiarity reigned
and in which people were liable to meet three times a day, so that
their ultimate essence really became a matter of importance.
"I've got three new girls," Mrs. Bonnycastle said. "You must talk
to them all."
"All at once?" Vogelstein asked, reversing in fancy a position not
at all unknown to him. He had so repeatedly heard himself addressed
in even more than triple simultaneity.
"Oh no; you must have something different for each; you can't get
off that way. Haven't you discovered that the American girl expects
something especially adapted to herself? It's very well for Europe
to have a few phrases that will do for any girl. The American girl
isn't ANY girl; she's a remarkable specimen in a remarkable species.
But you must keep the best this evening for Miss Day."
"For Miss Day!"--and Vogelstein had a stare of intelligence. "Do
you mean for Pandora?"
Mrs. Bonnycastle broke on her side into free amusement. "One would
think you had been looking for her over the globe! So you know her
already--and you call her by her pet name?"
"Oh no, I don't know her; that is I haven't seen her or thought of
her from that day to this. We came to America in the same ship."
"Isn't she an American then?"
"Oh yes; she lives at Utica--in the interior."
"In the interior of Utica? You can't mean my young woman then, who
lives in New York, where she's a great beauty and a great belle and
has been immensely admired this winter."
"After all," said Count Otto, considering and a little
disappointed, "the name's not so uncommon; it's perhaps another. But
has she rather strange eyes, a little yellow, but very pretty, and a
nose a little arched?"
"I can't tell you all that; I haven't seen her. She's staying with
Mrs. Steuben. She only came a day or two ago, and Mrs. Steuben's to
bring her. When she wrote to me to ask leave she told me what I tell
you. They haven't come yet."
Vogelstein felt a quick hope that the subject of this
correspondence might indeed be the young lady he had parted from on
the dock at New York, but the indications seemed to point another way,
and he had no wish to cherish an illusion. It didn't seem to him
probable that the energetic girl who had introduced him to Mr. Lansing
would have the entree of the best house in Washington; besides, Mrs.
Bonnycastle's guest was described as a beauty and belonging to the
"What's the social position of Mrs. Steuben?" it occurred to him to
ask while he meditated. He had an earnest artless literal way of
putting such a question as that; you could see from it that he was
Mrs. Bonnycastle met it, however, but, with mocking laughter. "I'm
sure I don't know! What's your own?"--and she left him to turn to
her other guests, to several of whom she repeated his question. Could
they tell her what was the social position of Mrs. Steuben? There was
Count Vogelstein who wanted to know. He instantly became aware of
course that he oughtn't so to have expressed himself. Wasn't the
lady's place in the scale sufficiently indicated by Mrs. Bonnycastle's
acquaintance with her? Still there were fine degrees, and he felt a
little unduly snubbed. It was perfectly true, as he told his hostess,
that with the quick wave of new impressions that had rolled over him
after his arrival in America the image of Pandora was almost
completely effaced; he had seen innumerable things that were quite as
remarkable in their way as the heroine of the Donau, but at the touch
of the idea that he might see her and hear her again at any moment she
became as vivid in his mind as if they had parted the day before: he
remembered the exact shade of the eyes he had described to Mrs.
Bonnycastle as yellow, the tone of her voice when at the last she
expressed the hope he might judge America correctly. HAD he judged
America correctly? If he were to meet her again she doubtless would
try to ascertain. It would be going much too far to say that the idea
of such an ordeal was terrible to Count Otto; but it may at least be
said that the thought of meeting Pandora Day made him nervous. The
fact is certainly singular, but I shall not take on myself to explain
it; there are some things that even the most philosophic historian
isn't bound to account for.
He wandered into another room, and there, at the end of five
minutes, he was introduced by Mrs. Bonnycastle to one of the young
ladies of whom she had spoken. This was a very intelligent girl who
came from Boston and showed much acquaintance with Spielhagen's
novels. "Do you like them?" Vogelstein asked rather vaguely, not
taking much interest in the matter, as he read works of fiction only
in case of a sea-voyage. The young lady from Boston looked pensive
and concentrated; then she answered that she liked SOME of them VERY
much, but that there were others she didn't like--and she enumerated
the works that came under each of these heads. Spielhagen is a
voluminous writer, and such a catalogue took some time; at the end of
it moreover Vogelstein's question was not answered, for he couldn't
have told us whether she liked Spielhagen or not.
On the next topic, however, there was no doubt about her feelings.
They talked about Washington as people talk only in the place itself,
revolving about the subject in widening and narrowing circles,
perching successively on its many branches, considering it from every
point of view. Our young man had been long enough in America to
discover that after half a century of social neglect Washington had
become the fashion and enjoyed the great advantage of being a new
resource in conversation. This was especially the case in the months
of spring, when the inhabitants of the commercial cities came so far
southward to escape, after the long winter, that final affront. They
were all agreed that Washington was fascinating, and none of them were
better prepared to talk it over than the Bostonians. Vogelstein
originally had been rather out of step with them; he hadn't seized
their point of view, hadn't known with what they compared this object
of their infatuation. But now he knew everything; he had settled down
to the pace; there wasn't a possible phase of the discussion that
could find him at a loss. There was a kind of Hegelian element in it;
in the light of these considerations the American capital took on the
semblance of a monstrous mystical infinite Werden. But they fatigued
Vogelstein a little, and it was his preference, as a general thing,
not to engage the same evening with more than one newcomer, one
visitor in the freshness of initiation. This was why Mrs.
Bonnycastle's expression of a wish to introduce him to three young
ladies had startled him a little; he saw a certain process, in which
he flattered himself that he had become proficient, but which was
after all tolerably exhausting, repeated for each of the damsels.
After separating from his judicious Bostonian he rather evaded Mrs.
Bonnycastle, contenting himself with the conversation of old friends,
pitched for the most part in a lower and easier key.
At last he heard it mentioned that the President had arrived, had
been some half-hour in the house, and he went in search of the
illustrious guest, whose whereabouts at Washington parties was never
indicated by a cluster of courtiers. He made it a point, whenever he
found himself in company with the President, to pay him his respects,
and he had not been discouraged by the fact that there was no
association of ideas in the eye of the great man as he put out his
hand presidentially and said, "Happy to meet you, sir." Count Otto
felt himself taken for a mere loyal subject, possibly for an
office-seeker; and he used to reflect at such moments that the
monarchical form had its merits it provided a line of heredity for
the faculty of quick recognition. He had now some difficulty in
finding the chief magistrate, and ended by learning that he was in
the tea-room, a small apartment devoted to light refection near the
entrance of the house. Here our young man presently perceived him
seated on a sofa and in conversation with a lady. There were a
number of people about the table, eating, drinking, talking; and the
couple on the sofa, which was not near it but against the wall, in a
shallow recess, looked a little withdrawn, as if they had sought
seclusion and were disposed to profit by the diverted attention of
the others. The President leaned back; his gloved hands, resting on
either knee, made large white spots. He looked eminent, but he
looked relaxed, and the lady beside him ministered freely and without
scruple, it was clear, to this effect of his comfortably unbending.
Vogelstein caught her voice as he approached. He heard her say "Well
now, remember; I consider it a promise." She was beautifully dressed,
in rose-colour; her hands were clasped in her lap and her eyes
attached to the presidential profile.
"Well, madam, in that case it's about the fiftieth promise I've
It was just as he heard these words, uttered by her companion in
reply, that Count Otto checked himself, turned away and pretended to
be looking for a cup of tea. It wasn't usual to disturb the
President, even simply to shake hands, when he was sitting on a sofa
with a lady, and the young secretary felt it in this case less
possible than ever to break the rule, for the lady on the sofa was
none other than Pandora Day. He had recognised her without her
appearing to see him, and even with half an eye, as they said, had
taken in that she was now a person to be reckoned with. She had an
air of elation, of success; she shone, to intensity, in her rose-
coloured dress; she was extracting promises from the ruler of fifty
millions of people. What an odd place to meet her, her old shipmate
thought, and how little one could tell, after all, in America, who
people were! He didn't want to speak to her yet; he wanted to wait a
little and learn more; but meanwhile there was something attractive in
the fact that she was just behind him, a few yards off, that if he
should turn he might see her again. It was she Mrs. Bonnycastle had
meant, it was she who was so much admired in New York. Her face was
the same, yet he had made out in a moment that she was vaguely
prettier; he had recognised the arch of her nose, which suggested a
fine ambition. He took some tea, which he hadn't desired, in order
not to go away. He remembered her entourage on the steamer; her
father and mother, the silent senseless burghers, so little "of the
world," her infant sister, so much of it, her humorous brother with
his tall hat and his influence in the smoking- room. He remembered
Mrs. Dangerfield's warnings--yet her perplexities too--and the letter
from Mr. Bellamy, and the introduction to Mr. Lansing, and the way
Pandora had stooped down on the dirty dock, laughing and talking,
mistress of the situation, to open her trunk for the Customs. He was
pretty sure she had paid no duties that day; this would naturally have
been the purpose of Mr. Bellamy's letter. Was she still in
correspondence with that gentleman, and had he got over the sickness
interfering with their reunion? These images and these questions
coursed through Count Otto's mind, and he saw it must be quite in
Pandora's line to be mistress of the situation, for there was
evidently nothing on the present occasion that could call itself her
master. He drank his tea and as; he put down his cup heard the
President, behind him, say: "Well, I guess my wife will wonder why I
don't come home."
"Why didn't you bring her with you?" Pandora benevolently asked.
"Well, she doesn't go out much. Then she has got her sister
staying with her--Mrs. Runkle, from Natchez. She's a good deal of an
invalid, and my wife doesn't like to leave her."
"She must be a very kind woman"--and there was a high mature
competence in the way the girl sounded the note of approval.
"Well, I guess she isn't spoiled--yet."
"I should like very much to come and see her," said Pandora.
"Do come round. Couldn't you come some night?" the great man
"Well, I'll come some time. And I shall remind you of your
"All right. There's nothing like keeping it up. Well," said the
President, "I must bid good-bye to these bright folks."
Vogelstein heard him rise from the sofa with his companion; after
which he gave the pair time to pass out of the room before him. They
did it with a certain impressive deliberation, people making way for
the ruler of fifty millions and looking with a certain curiosity at
the striking pink person at his side. When a little later he followed
them across the hall, into one of the other rooms, he saw the host and
hostess accompany the President to the door and two foreign ministers
and a judge of the Supreme Court address themselves to Pandora Day.
He resisted the impulse to join this circle: if he should speak to
her at all he would somehow wish it to be in more privacy. She
continued nevertheless to occupy him, and when Mrs. Bonnycastle came
back from the hall he immediately approached her with an appeal. "I
wish you'd tell me something more about that girl--that one opposite
and in pink."
"The lovely Day--that's what they call her, I believe? I wanted
you to talk with her."
"I find she is the one I've met. But she seems to be so different
here. I can't make it out," said Count Otto.
There was something in his expression that again moved Mrs.
Bonnycastle to mirth. "How we do puzzle you Europeans! You look
"I'm sorry I look so--I try to hide it. But of course we're very
simple. Let me ask then a simple earnest childlike question. Are
her parents also in society?"
"Parents in society? D'ou tombez-vous? Did you ever hear of the
parents of a triumphant girl in rose-colour, with a nose all her own,
"Is she then all alone?" he went on with a strain of melancholy in
Mrs. Bonnycastle launched at him all her laughter.
"You're too pathetic. Don't you know what she is? I supposed of
course you knew."
"It's exactly what I'm asking you."
"Why she's the new type. It has only come up lately. They have
had articles about it in the papers. That's the reason I told Mrs.
Steuben to bring her."
"The new type? WHAT new type, Mrs. Bonnycastle?" he returned
pleadingly--so conscious was he that all types in America were new.
Her laughter checked her reply a moment, and by the time she had
recovered herself the young lady from Boston, with whom Vogelstein
had been talking, stood there to take leave. This, for an American
type, was an old one, he was sure; and the process of parting between
the guest and her hostess had an ancient elaboration. Count Otto
waited a little; then he turned away and walked up to Pandora Day,
whose group of interlocutors had now been re-enforced by a gentleman
who had held an important place in the cabinet of the late occupant of
the presidential chair. He had asked Mrs. Bonnycastle if she were
"all alone"; but there was nothing in her present situation to show
her for solitary. She wasn't sufficiently alone for our friend's
taste; but he was impatient and he hoped she'd give him a few words to
himself. She recognised him without a moment's hesitation and with
the sweetest smile, a smile matching to a shade the tone in which she
said: "I was watching you. I wondered if you weren't going to speak
"Miss Day was watching him!" one of the foreign ministers
exclaimed; "and we flattered ourselves that her attention was all with
"I mean before," said the girl, "while I was talking with the
At which the gentlemen began to laugh, one of them remarking that
this was the way the absent were sacrificed, even the great; while
another put on record that he hoped Vogelstein was duly flattered.
"Oh I was watching the President too," said Pandora. "I've got to
watch HIM. He has promised me something."
"It must be the mission to England," the judge of the Supreme Court
suggested. "A good position for a lady; they've got a lady at the
head over there."
"I wish they would send you to my country," one of the foreign
ministers suggested. "I'd immediately get recalled."
"Why perhaps in your country I wouldn't speak to you! It's only
because you're here," the ex-heroine of the Donau returned with a gay
familiarity which evidently ranked with her but as one of the arts of
defence. "You'll see what mission it is when it comes out. But I'll
speak to Count Vogelstein anywhere," she went on. "He's an older
friend than any right here. I've known him in difficult days."
"Oh yes, on the great ocean," the young man smiled. "On the watery
waste, in the tempest!"
"Oh I don't mean that so much; we had a beautiful voyage and there
wasn't any tempest. I mean when I was living in Utica. That's a
watery waste if you like, and a tempest there would have been a
"Your parents seemed to me so peaceful!" her associate in the other
memories sighed with a vague wish to say something sympathetic.
"Oh you haven't seen them ashore! At Utica they were very lively.
But that's no longer our natural home. Don't you remember I told you
I was working for New York? Well, I worked--l had to work hard. But
Count Otto clung to his interest. "And I hope they're happy."
"My father and mother? Oh they will be, in time. I must give them
time. They're very young yet, they've years before them. And you've
been always in Washington?" Pandora continued. "I suppose you've
found out everything about everything."
"Oh no--there are some things I CAN'T find out."
"Come and see me and perhaps I can help you. I'm very different
from what I was in that phase. I've advanced a great deal since
"Oh how was Miss Day in that phase?" asked a cabinet minister of
the last administration.
"She was delightful of course," Count Otto said.
"He's very flattering; I didn't open my mouth!" Pandora cried.
"Here comes Mrs. Steuben to take me to some other place. I believe
it's a literary party near the Capitol. Everything seems so separate
in Washington. Mrs. Steuben's going to read a poem. I wish she'd
read it here; wouldn't it do as well?"
This lady, arriving, signified to her young friend the necessity of
their moving on. But Miss Day's companions had various things to say
to her before giving her up. She had a vivid answer for each, and it
was brought home to Vogelstein while he listened that this would be
indeed, in her development, as she said, another phase. Daughter of
small burghers as she might be she was really brilliant. He turned
away a little and while Mrs. Steuben waited put her a question. He
had made her half an hour before the subject of that inquiry to which
Mrs. Bonnycastle returned so ambiguous an answer; but this wasn't
because he failed of all direct acquaintance with the amiable woman or
of any general idea of the esteem in which she was held. He had met
her in various places and had been at her house. She was the widow of
a commodore, was a handsome mild soft swaying person, whom every one
liked, with glossy bands of black hair and a little ringlet depending
behind each ear. Some one had said that she looked like the vieux
jeu, idea of the queen in Hamlet. She had written verses which were
admired in the South, wore a full-length portrait of the commodore on
her bosom and spoke with the accent of Savannah. She had about her a
positive strong odour of Washington. It had certainly been very
superfluous in our young man to question Mrs. Bonnycastle about her
"Do kindly tell me," he said, lowering his voice, "what's the type
to which that young lady belongs? Mrs. Bonnycastle tells me it's a
Mrs. Steuben for a moment fixed her liquid eyes on the secretary of
legation. She always seemed to be translating the prose of your
speech into the finer rhythms with which her own mind was familiar.
"Do you think anything's really new?" she then began to flute. "I'm
very fond of the old; you know that's a weakness of we Southerners."
The poor lady, it will be observed, had another weakness as well.
"What we often take to be the new is simply the old under some novel
form. Were there not remarkable natures in the past? If you doubt
it you should visit the South, where the past still lingers."
Vogelstein had been struck before this with Mrs. Steuben's
pronunciation of the word by which her native latitudes were
designated; transcribing it from her lips you would have written it
(as the nearest approach) the Sooth. But at present he scarce heeded
this peculiarity; he was wondering rather how a woman could be at once
so copious and so uninforming. What did he care about the past or
even about the Sooth? He was afraid of starting her again. He looked
at her, discouraged and helpless, as bewildered almost as Mrs.
Bonnycastle had found him half an hour before; looked also at the
commodore, who, on her bosom, seemed to breathe again with his widow's
respirations. "Call it an old type then if you like," he said in a
moment. "All I want to know is what type it IS! It seems impossible,"
he gasped, "to find out."
"You can find out in the newspapers. They've had articles about
it. They write about everything now. But it isn't true about Miss
Day. It's one of the first families. Her great-grandfather was in the
Revolution." Pandora by this time had given her attention again to
Mrs. Steuben. She seemed to signify that she was ready to move on.
"Wasn't your great-grandfather in the Revolution?" the elder lady
asked. "I'm telling Count Vogelstein about him."
"Why are you asking about my ancestors?" the girl demanded of the
young German with untempered brightness. "Is that the thing you said
just now that you can't find out? Well, if Mrs. Steuben will only be
quiet you never will."
Mrs. Steuben shook her head rather dreamily. "Well, it's no
trouble for we of the Sooth to be quiet. There's a kind of languor in
our blood. Besides, we have to be to-day. But I've got to show some
energy to-night. I've got to get you to the end of Pennsylvania
Pandora gave her hand to Count Otto and asked him if he thought
they should meet again. He answered that in Washington people were
always meeting again and that at any rate he shouldn't fail to wait
upon her. Hereupon, just as the two ladies were detaching
themselves, Mrs. Steuben remarked that if the Count and Miss Day
wished to meet again the picnic would be a good chance--the picnic
she was getting up for the following Thursday. It was to consist of
about twenty bright people, and they'd go down the Potomac to Mount
Vernon. The Count answered that if Mrs. Steuben thought him bright
enough he should be delighted to join the party; and he was told the
hour for which the tryst was taken.
He remained at Mrs. Bonnycastle's after every one had gone, and
then he informed this lady of his reason for waiting. Would she have
mercy on him and let him know, in a single word, before he went to
rest--for without it rest would be impossible--what was this famous
type to which Pandora Day belonged?
"Gracious, you don't mean to say you've not found out that type
yet!" Mrs. Bonnycastle exclaimed with a return of her hilarity. "What
have you been doing all the evening? You Germans may be thorough, but
you certainly are not quick!"
It was Alfred Bonnycastle who at last took pity on him. "My dear
Vogelstein, she's the latest freshest fruit of our great American
evolution. She's the self-made girl!"
Count Otto gazed a moment. "The fruit of the great American
Revolution? Yes, Mrs. Steuben told me her great-grandfather--" but
the rest of his sentence was lost in a renewed explosion of Mrs.
Bonnycastle's sense of the ridiculous. He bravely pushed his
advantage, such as it was, however, and, desiring his host's
definition to be defined, inquired what the self-made girl might be.
"Sit down and we'll tell you all about it," Mrs. Bonnycastle said.
"I like talking this way, after a party's over. You can smoke if you
like, and Alfred will open another window. Well, to begin with, the
self-made girl's a new feature. That, however, you know. In the
second place she isn't self-made at all. We all help to make her--we
take such an interest in her."
"That's only after she's made!" Alfred Bonnycastle broke in. "But
it's Vogelstein that takes an interest. What on earth has started
you up so on the subject of Miss Day?"
The visitor explained as well as he could that it was merely the
accident of his having crossed the ocean in the steamer with her; but
he felt the inadequacy of this account of the matter, felt it more
than his hosts, who could know neither how little actual contact he
had had with her on the ship, how much he had been affected by Mrs.
Dangerfield's warnings, nor how much observation at the same time he
had lavished on her. He sat there half an hour, and the warm dead
stillness of the Washington night--nowhere are the nights so
silent--came in at the open window, mingled with a soft sweet earthy
smell, the smell of growing things and in particular, as he thought,
of Mrs. Steuben's Sooth. Before he went away he had heard all about
the self-made girl, and there was something in the picture that
strongly impressed him. She was possible doubtless only in America;
American life had smoothed the way for her. She was not fast, nor
emancipated, nor crude, nor loud, and there wasn't in her, of
necessity at least, a grain of the stuff of which the adventuress is
made. She was simply very successful, and her success was entirely
personal. She hadn't been born with the silver spoon of social
opportunity; she had grasped it by honest exertion. You knew her by
many different signs, but chiefly, infallibly, by the appearance of
her parents. It was her parents who told her story; you always saw
how little her parents could have made her. Her attitude with regard
to them might vary in different ways. As the great fact on her own
side was that she had lifted herself from a lower social plane, done
it all herself, and done it by the simple lever of her personality, it
was naturally to be expected that she would leave the authors of her
mere material being in the shade. Sometimes she had them in her wake,
lost in the bubbles and the foam that showed where she had passed;
sometimes, as Alfred Bonnycastle said, she let them slide altogether;
sometimes she kept them in close confinement, resorting to them under
cover of night and with every precaution; sometimes she exhibited them
to the public in discreet glimpses, in prearranged attitudes. But the
general characteristic of the self-made girl was that, though it was
frequently understood that she was privately devoted to her kindred,
she never attempted to impose them on society, and it was striking
that, though in some of her manifestations a bore, she was at her
worst less of a bore than they. They were almost always solemn and
portentous, and they were for the most part of a deathly
respectability. She wasn't necessarily snobbish, unless it was
snobbish to want the best. She didn't cringe, she didn't make
herself smaller than she was; she took on the contrary a stand of her
own and attracted things to herself. Naturally she was possible only
in America--only in a country where whole ranges of competition and
comparison were absent. The natural history of this interesting
creature was at last completely laid bare to the earnest stranger,
who, as he sat there in the animated stillness, with the fragrant
breath of the Western world in his nostrils, was convinced of what he
had already suspected, that conversation in the great Republic was
more yearningly, not to say gropingly, psychological than elsewhere.
Another thing, as he learned, that you knew the self- made girl by
was her culture, which was perhaps a little too restless and obvious.
She had usually got into society more or less by reading, and her
conversation was apt to be garnished with literary allusions, even
with familiar quotations. Vogelstein hadn't had time to observe this
element as a developed form in Pandora Day; but Alfred Bonnycastle
hinted that he wouldn't trust her to keep it under in a tete-a-tete.
It was needless to say that these young persons had always been to
Europe; that was usually the first place they got to. By such arts
they sometimes entered society on the other side before they did so at
home; it was to be added at the same time that this resource was less
and less valuable, for Europe, in the American world, had less and
less prestige and people in the Western hemisphere now kept a watch on
that roundabout road. All of which quite applied to Pandora Day--
the journey to Europe, the culture (as exemplified in the books she
read on the ship), the relegation, the effacement, of the family. The
only thing that was exceptional was the rapidity of her march; for the
jump she had taken since he left her in the hands of Mr. Lansing
struck Vogelstein, even after he had made all allowance for the
abnormal homogeneity of the American mass, as really considerable. It
took all her cleverness to account for such things. When she "moved"
from Utica--mobilised her commissariat-- the battle appeared virtually
to have been gained.
Count Otto called the next day, and Mrs. Steuben's blackamoor
informed him, in the communicative manner of his race, that the
ladies had gone out to pay some visits and look at the Capitol.
Pandora apparently had not hitherto examined this monument, and our
young man wished he had known, the evening before, of her omission,
so that he might have offered to be her initiator. There is too
obvious a connexion for us to fail of catching it between his regret
and the fact that in leaving Mrs. Steuben's door he reminded himself
that he wanted a good walk, and that he thereupon took his way along
Pennsylvania Avenue. His walk had become fairly good by the time he
reached the great white edifice that unfolds its repeated colonnades
and uplifts its isolated dome at the end of a long vista of saloons
and tobacco-shops. He slowly climbed the great steps, hesitating a
little, even wondering why he had come. The superficial reason was
obvious enough, but there was a real one behind it that struck him as
rather wanting in the solidity which should characterise the motives
of an emissary of Prince Bismarck. The superficial reason was a
belief that Mrs. Steuben would pay her visit first--it was probably
only a question of leaving cards--and bring her young friend to the
Capitol at the hour when the yellow afternoon light would give a tone
to the blankness of its marble walls. The Capitol was a splendid
building, but it was rather wanting in tone. Vogelstein's curiosity
about Pandora Day had been much more quickened than checked by the
revelations made to him in Mrs. Bonnycastle's drawing-room. It was a
relief to have the creature classified; but he had a desire, of which
he had not been conscious before, to see really to the end how well,
in other words how completely and artistically, a girl could make
herself. His calculations had been just, and he had wandered about
the rotunda for only ten minutes, looking again at the paintings,
commemorative of the national annals, which occupy its lower spaces,
and at the simulated sculptures, so touchingly characteristic of early
American taste, which adorn its upper reaches, when the charming women
he had been counting on presented themselves in charge of a licensed
guide. He went to meet them and didn't conceal from them that he had
marked them for his very own. The encounter was happy on both sides,
and he accompanied them through the queer and endless interior,
through labyrinths of bleak bare development, into legislative and
judicial halls. He thought it a hideous place; he had seen it all
before and asked himself what senseless game he was playing. In the
lower House were certain bedaubed walls, in the basest style of
imitation, which made him feel faintly sick, not to speak of a lobby
adorned with artless prints and photographs of eminent defunct
Congressmen that was all too serious for a joke and too comic for a
Valhalla. But Pandora was greatly interested; she thought the Capitol
very fine; it was easy to criticise the details, but as a whole it was
the most impressive building she had ever seen. She proved a
charming fellow tourist; she had constantly something to say, but
never said it too much; it was impossible to drag in the wake of a
cicerone less of a lengthening or an irritating chain. Vogelstein
could see too that she wished to improve her mind; she looked at the
historical pictures, at the uncanny statues of local worthies,
presented by the different States--they were of different sizes, as
if they had been "numbered," in a shop--she asked questions of the
guide and in the chamber of the Senate requested him to show her the
chairs of the gentlemen from New York. She sat down in one of them,
though Mrs. Steuben told her THAT Senator (she mistook the chair,
dropping into another State) was a horrid old thing.
Throughout the hour he spent with her Vogelstein seemed to see how
it was she had made herself. They walked about, afterwards on the
splendid terrace that surrounds the Capitol, the great marble floor
on which it stands, and made vague remarks--Pandora's were the most
definite--about the yellow sheen of the Potomac, the hazy hills of
Virginia, the far-gleaming pediment of Arlington, the raw confused-
looking country. Washington was beneath them, bristling and
geometrical; the long lines of its avenues seemed to stretch into
national futures. Pandora asked Count Otto if he had ever been to
Athens and, on his admitting so much, sought to know whether the
eminence on which they stood didn't give him an idea of the Acropolis
in its prime. Vogelstein deferred the satisfaction of this appeal to
their next meeting; he was glad--in spite of the appeal--to make
pretexts for seeing her again. He did so on the morrow; Mrs.
Steuben's picnic was still three days distant. He called on Pandora a
second time, also met her each evening in the Washington world. It
took very little of this to remind him that he was forgetting both
Mrs. Dangerfield's warnings and the admonitions- -long familiar to
him--of his own conscience. Was he in peril of love? Was he to be
sacrificed on the altar of the American girl, an altar at which those
other poor fellows had poured out some of the bluest blood in Germany
and he had himself taken oath he would never seriously worship? He
decided that he wasn't in real danger, that he had rather clinched his
precautions. It was true that a young person who had succeeded so
well for herself might be a great help to her husband; but this
diplomatic aspirant preferred on the whole that his success should be
his own: it wouldn't please him to have the air of being pushed by
his wife. Such a wife as that would wish to push him, and he could
hardly admit to himself that this was what fate had in reserve for
him--to be propelled in his career by a young lady who would perhaps
attempt to talk to the Kaiser as he had heard her the other night talk
to the President. Would she consent to discontinue relations with her
family, or would she wish still to borrow plastic relief from that
domestic background? That her family was so impossible was to a
certain extent an advantage; for if they had been a little better the
question of a rupture would be less easy. He turned over these
questions in spite of his security, or perhaps indeed because of it.
The security made them speculative and disinterested.
They haunted him during the excursion to Mount Vernon, which took
place according to traditions long established. Mrs. Steuben's
confederates assembled on the steamer and were set afloat on the big
brown stream which had already seemed to our special traveller to
have too much bosom and too little bank. Here and there, however, he
became conscious of a shore where there was something to look at, even
though conscious at the same time that he had of old lost great
opportunities of an idyllic cast in not having managed to be more
"thrown with" a certain young lady on the deck of the North German
Lloyd. The two turned round together to hang over Alexandria, which
for Pandora, as she declared, was a picture of Old Virginia. She
told Vogelstein that she was always hearing about it during the Civil
War, ages before. Little girl as she had been at the time she
remembered all the names that were on people's lips during those
years of reiteration. This historic spot had a touch of the romance
of rich decay, a reference to older things, to a dramatic past. The
past of Alexandria appeared in the vista of three or four short
streets sloping up a hill and lined with poor brick warehouses
erected for merchandise that had ceased to come or go. It looked hot
and blank and sleepy, down to the shabby waterside where tattered
darkies dangled their bare feet from the edge of rotting wharves.
Pandora was even more interested in Mount Vernon--when at last its
wooded bluff began to command the river--than she had been in the
Capitol, and after they had disembarked and ascended to the celebrated
mansion she insisted on going into every room it contained. She
"claimed for it," as she said--some of her turns were so
characteristic both of her nationality and her own style-- the finest
situation in the world, and was distinct as to the shame of their not
giving it to the President for his country-seat. Most of her
companions had seen the house often, and were now coupling themselves
in the grounds according to their sympathies, so that it was easy for
Vogelstein to offer the benefit of his own experience to the most
inquisitive member of the party. They were not to lunch for another
hour, and in the interval the young man roamed with his first and
fairest acquaintance. The breath of the Potomac, on the boat, had
been a little harsh, but on the softly-curving lawn, beneath the
clustered trees, with the river relegated to a mere shining presence
far below and in the distance, the day gave out nothing but its
mildness, the whole scene became noble and genial.
Count Otto could joke a little on great occasions, and the present
one was worthy of his humour. He maintained to his companion that
the shallow painted mansion resembled a false house, a "wing" or
structure of daubed canvas, on the stage; but she answered him so
well with certain economical palaces she had seen in Germany, where,
as she said, there was nothing but china stoves and stuffed birds,
that he was obliged to allow the home of Washington to be after all
really gemuthlich. What he found so in fact was the soft texture of
the day, his personal situation, the sweetness of his suspense. For
suspense had decidedly become his portion; he was under a charm that
made him feel he was watching his own life and that his
susceptibilities were beyond his control. It hung over him that
things might take a turn, from one hour to the other, which would
make them very different from what they had been yet; and his heart
certainly beat a little faster as he wondered what that turn might
be. Why did he come to picnics on fragrant April days with American
girls who might lead him too far? Wouldn't such girls be glad to
marry a Pomeranian count? And WOULD they, after all, talk that way
to the Kaiser? If he were to marry one of them he should have to
give her several thorough lessons.
In their little tour of the house our young friend and his
companion had had a great many fellow visitors, who had also arrived
by the steamer and who had hitherto not left them an ideal privacy.
But the others gradually dispersed; they circled about a kind of
showman who was the authorised guide, a big slow genial vulgar
heavily- bearded man, with a whimsical edifying patronising tone, a
tone that had immense success when he stopped here and there to make
his points--to pass his eyes over his listening flock, then fix them
quite above it with a meditative look and bring out some ancient
pleasantry as if it were a sudden inspiration. He made a cheerful
thing, an echo of the platform before the booth of a country fair,
even of a visit to the tomb of the pater patriae. It is enshrined in
a kind of grotto in the grounds, and Vogelstein remarked to Pandora
that he was a good man for the place, but was too familiar. "Oh he'd
have been familiar with Washington," said the girl with the bright
dryness with which she often uttered amusing things. Vogelstein looked
at her a moment, and it came over him, as he smiled, that she herself
probably wouldn't have been abashed even by the hero with whom history
has taken fewest liberties. "You look as if you could hardly believe
that," Pandora went on. "You Germans are always in such awe of great
people." And it occurred to her critic that perhaps after all
Washington would have liked her manner, which was wonderfully fresh
and natural. The man with the beard was an ideal minister to American
shrines; he played on the curiosity of his little band with the touch
of a master, drawing them at the right moment away to see the classic
ice-house where the old lady had been found weeping in the belief it
was Washington's grave. While this monument was under inspection our
interesting couple had the house to themselves, and they spent some
time on a pretty terrace where certain windows of the second floor
opened--a little rootless verandah which overhung, in a manner,
obliquely, all the magnificence of the view; the immense sweep of the
river, the artistic plantations, the last-century garden with its big
box hedges and remains of old espaliers. They lingered here for
nearly half an hour, and it was in this retirement that Vogelstein
enjoyed the only approach to intimate conversation appointed for him,
as was to appear, with a young woman in whom he had been unable to
persuade himself that he was not absorbed. It's not necessary, and
it's not possible, that I should reproduce this colloquy; but I may
mention that it began--as they leaned against the parapet of the
terrace and heard the cheerful voice of the showman wafted up to them
from a distance--with his saying to her rather abruptly that he
couldn't make out why they hadn't had more talk together when they
crossed the Atlantic.
"Well, I can if you can't," said Pandora. "I'd have talked quick
enough if you had spoken to me. I spoke to you first."
"Yes, I remember that"--and it affected him awkwardly.
"You listened too much to Mrs. Dangerfield."
He feigned a vagueness. "To Mrs. Dangerfield?"
"That woman you were always sitting with; she told you not to speak
to me. I've seen her in New York; she speaks to me now herself. She
recommended you to have nothing to do with me."
"Oh how can you say such dreadful things?" Count Otto cried with a
very becoming blush.
"You know you can't deny it. You weren't attracted by my family.
They're charming people when you know them. I don't have a better
time anywhere than I have at home," the girl went on loyally. "But
what does it matter? My family are very happy. They're getting
quite used to New York. Mrs. Dangerfield's a vulgar wretch--next
winter she'll call on me."
"You are unlike any Madchen I've ever seen--I don't understand
you," said poor Vogelstein with the colour still in his face.
"Well, you never WILL understand me--probably; but what difference
does it make?"
He attempted to tell her what difference, but I've no space to
follow him here. It's known that when the German mind attempts to
explain things it doesn't always reduce them to simplicity, and
Pandora was first mystified, then amused, by some of the Count's
revelations. At last I think she was a little frightened, for she
remarked irrelevantly, with some decision, that luncheon would be
ready and that they ought to join Mrs. Steuben. Her companion walked
slowly, on purpose, as they left the house together, for he knew the
pang of a vague sense that he was losing her.
"And shall you be in Washington many days yet?" he appealed as they
"It will all depend. I'm expecting important news. What I shall
do will be influenced by that."
The way she talked about expecting news--and important!--made him
feel somehow that she had a career, that she was active and
independent, so that he could scarcely hope to stop her as she
passed. It was certainly true that he had never seen any girl like
her. It would have occurred to him that the news she was expecting
might have reference to the favour she had begged of the President,
if he hadn't already made up his mind--in the calm of meditation
after that talk with the Bonnycastles--that this favour must be a
pleasantry. What she had said to him had a discouraging, a somewhat
chilling effect; nevertheless it was not without a certain ardour
that he inquired of her whether, so long as she stayed in Washington,
he mightn't pay her certain respectful attentions.
"As many as you like--and as respectful ones; but you won't keep
them up for ever!"
"You try to torment me," said Count Otto.
She waited to explain. "I mean that I may have some of my family."
"I shall be delighted to see them again."
Again she just hung fire. "There are some you've never seen."
In the afternoon, returning to Washington on the steamer,
Vogelstein received a warning. It came from Mrs. Bonnycastle and
constituted, oddly enough, the second juncture at which an officious
female friend had, while sociably afloat with him, advised him on the
subject of Pandora Day.
"There's one thing we forgot to tell you the other night about the
self-made girl," said the lady of infinite mirth. "It's never safe
to fix your affections on her, because she has almost always an
impediment somewhere in the background."
He looked at her askance, but smiled and said: "I should
understand your information--for which I'm so much obliged--a little
better if I knew what you mean by an impediment."
"Oh I mean she's always engaged to some young man who belongs to
her earlier phase."
"Her earlier phase?"
"The time before she had made herself--when she lived unconscious
of her powers. A young man from Utica, say. They usually have to
wait; he's probably in a store. It's a long engagement."
Count Otto somehow preferred to understand as little as possible.
"Do you mean a betrothal--to take effect?"
"I don't mean anything German and moonstruck. I mean that piece of
peculiarly American enterprise a premature engagement--to take
effect, but too complacently, at the end of time."
Vogelstein very properly reflected that it was no use his having
entered the diplomatic career if he weren't able to bear himself as
if this interesting generalisation had no particular message for him.
He did Mrs. Bonnycastle moreover the justice to believe that she
wouldn't have approached the question with such levity if she had
supposed she should make him wince. The whole thing was, like
everything else, but for her to laugh at, and the betrayal moreover
of a good intention. "I see, I see--the self-made girl has of course
always had a past. Yes, and the young man in the store--from
Utica--is part of her past."
"You express it perfectly," said Mrs. Bonnycastle. "I couldn't say
it better myself."
"But with her present, with her future, when they change like this
young lady's, I suppose everything else changes. How do you say it
in America? She lets him slide."
"We don't say it at all!" Mrs. Bonnycastle cried. "She does
nothing of the sort; for what do you take her? She sticks to him;
that at least is what we EXPECT her to do," she added with less
assurance. "As I tell you, the type's new and the case under
consideration. We haven't yet had time for complete study."
"Oh of course I hope she sticks to him," Vogelstein declared simply
and with his German accent more audible, as it always was when he was
For the rest of the trip he was rather restless. He wandered about
the boat, talking little with the returning picnickers. Toward the
last, as they drew near Washington and the white dome of the Capitol
hung aloft before them, looking as simple as a suspended snowball, he
found himself, on the deck, in proximity to Mrs. Steuben. He
reproached himself with having rather neglected her during an
entertainment for which he was indebted to her bounty, and he sought
to repair his omission by a proper deference. But the only act of
homage that occurred to him was to ask her as by chance whether Miss
Day were, to her knowledge, engaged.
Mrs. Steuben turned her Southern eyes upon him with a look of
almost romantic compassion. "To my knowledge? Why of course I'd
know! I should think you'd know too. Didn't you know she was
engaged? Why she has been engaged since she was sixteen."
Count Otto gazed at the dome of the Capitol. "To a gentleman from
"Yes, a native of her place. She's expecting him soon."
"I'm so very glad to hear it," said Vogelstein, who decidedly, for
his career, had promise. "And is she going to marry him?"
"Why what do people fall in love with each other FOR? I presume
they'll marry when she gets round to it. Ah if she had only been
from the Sooth--!"
At this he broke quickly in: "But why have they never brought it
off, as you say, in so many years?"
"Well, at first she was too young, and then she thought her family
ought to see Europe--of course they could see it better WITH her--
and they spent some time there. And then Mr. Bellamy had some
business difficulties that made him feel as if he didn't want to
marry just then. But he has given up business and I presume feels
more free. Of course it's rather long, but all the while they've
been engaged. It's a true, true love," said Mrs. Steuben, whose
sound of the adjective was that of a feeble flute.
"Is his name Mr. Bellamy?" the Count asked with his haunting
reminiscence. "D. F. Bellamy, so? And has he been in a store?"
"I don't know what kind of business it was: it was some kind of
business in Utica. I think he had a branch in New York. He's one of
the leading gentlemen of Utica and very highly educated. He's a good
deal older than Miss Day. He's a very fine man--I presume a college
man. He stands very high in Utica. I don't know why you look as if
you doubted it."
Vogelstein assured Mrs. Steuben that he doubted nothing, and indeed
what she told him was probably the more credible for seeming to him
eminently strange. Bellamy had been the name of the gentleman who, a
year and a half before, was to have met Pandora on the arrival of the
German steamer; it was in Bellamy's name that she had addressed
herself with such effusion to Bellamy's friend, the man in the straw
hat who was about to fumble in her mother's old clothes. This was a
fact that seemed to Count Otto to finish the picture of her
contradictions; it wanted at present no touch to be complete. Yet
even as it hung there before him it continued to fascinate him, and
he stared at it, detached from surrounding things and feeling a
little as if he had been pitched out of an overturned vehicle, till
the boat bumped against one of the outstanding piles of the wharf at
which Mrs. Steuben's party was to disembark. There was some delay in
getting the steamer adjusted to the dock, during which the passengers
watched the process over its side and extracted what entertainment
they might from the appearance of the various persons collected to
receive it. There were darkies and loafers and hackmen, and also
vague individuals, the loosest and blankest he had ever seen anywhere,
with tufts on their chins, toothpicks in their mouths, hands in their
pockets, rumination in their jaws and diamond pins in their
shirt-fronts, who looked as if they had sauntered over from
Pennsylvania Avenue to while away half an hour, forsaking for that
interval their various slanting postures in the porticoes of the
hotels and the doorways of the saloons.
"Oh I'm so glad! How sweet of you to come down!" It was a voice
close to Count Otto's shoulder that spoke these words, and he had no
need to turn to see from whom it proceeded. It had been in his ears
the greater part of the day, though, as he now perceived, without the
fullest richness of expression of which it was capable. Still less
was he obliged to turn to discover to whom it was addressed, for the
few simple words I have quoted had been flung across the narrowing
interval of water, and a gentleman who had stepped to the edge of the
dock without our young man's observing him tossed back an immediate
"I got here by the three o'clock train. They told me in K Street
where you were, and I thought I'd come down and meet you."
"Charming attention!" said Pandora Day with the laugh that seemed
always to invite the whole of any company to partake in it; though
for some moments after this she and her interlocutor appeared to
continue the conversation only with their eyes. Meanwhile
Vogelstein's also were not idle. He looked at her visitor from head
to foot, and he was aware that she was quite unconscious of his own
proximity. The gentleman before him was tall, good-looking, well-
dressed; evidently he would stand well not only at Utica, but,
judging from the way he had planted himself on the dock, in any
position that circumstances might compel him to take up. He was
about forty years old; he had a black moustache and he seemed to look
at the world over some counter-like expanse on which he invited it all
warily and pleasantly to put down first its idea of the terms of a
transaction. He waved a gloved hand at Pandora as if, when she
exclaimed "Gracious, ain't they long!" to urge her to be patient. She
was patient several seconds and then asked him if he had any news. He
looked at her briefly, in silence, smiling, after which he drew from
his pocket a large letter with an official-looking seal and shook it
jocosely above his head. This was discreetly, covertly done. No one
but our young man appeared aware of how much was taking place--and
poor Count Otto mainly felt it in the air. The boat was touching the
wharf and the space between the pair inconsiderable.
"Department of State?" Pandora very prettily and soundlessly
mouthed across at him.
"That's what they call it."
"Well, what country?"
"What's your opinion of the Dutch?" the gentleman asked for answer.
"Oh gracious!" cried Pandora.
"Well, are you going to wait for the return trip?" said the
Our silent sufferer turned away, and presently Mrs. Steuben and her
companion disembarked together. When this lady entered a carriage
with Miss Day the gentleman who had spoken to the girl followed them;
the others scattered, and Vogelstein, declining with thanks a "lift"
from Mrs. Bonnycastle, walked home alone and in some intensity of
meditation. Two days later he saw in a newspaper an announcement that
the President had offered the post of Minister to Holland to Mr. D. F.
Bellamy of Utica; and in the course of a month he heard from Mrs.
Steuben that Pandora, a thousand other duties performed, had finally
"got round" to the altar of her own nuptials. He communicated this
news to Mrs. Bonnycastle, who had not heard it but who, shrieking at
the queer face he showed her, met it with the remark that there was
now ground for a new induction as to the self- made girl.