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JULY 7, 1900.
READINGS FROM NEW BOOKS.
"You have come here to-day on pur- her daughter know about architecture? pose to tell me this?” said Selma. Every body is laughing at them. You
"I thought you would be interested know I consider your husband a friend to hear that my cousins had recognized of mine, Selma." me at last. I remember, you thought “And we are friends, too, I believe?" it strange that they should take so little Selma exclaimed, after a moment of notice of me.” Flossy's festive manner stern silence. Lad disappeared before the tart recep- "Naturally,” responded Flossy, with tion of her confidences, and her keen a slightly sardonic air, prompted by the wits, baffled in their search for flattery, acerbity with which the question was recalled the suspicions which were only put. slumbering. She realized that Selma “Then, if
were friends-are was seriously offended with her, and friends-why have you ceased to assothough she did not choose to acknowl. ciate with us, simply because you live edge to herself that she knew the in another street and a finer house ?" cause, she had already guessed it. An Flossy gave a gasp. encounter at repartee had no terrors for "Oh,” she said to herself, “it's true. her, if necessary, and the occasion She is jealous. Why didn't I appreseemed to her opportune for probing ciate it before ?" the accumulating mysteries of Selma's “Am I not associating with you now hostile demeanor. Yet, without wait- by calling on you, Selma ?” she said ing for a response to her last remark, aloud. "I don't understand what you she changed the subject and said, volu
mean." bly, “I hear your husband has refused "You are calling on me, and you to build the new Parsons house because
asked us to dinner to meet-to meet Mrs. Parsons insisted on drawing the just the people we knew already, and plans."
didn't care to meet; but you have never Selma's pale, tense face flushed. She
asked me to meet your new friends, thought for a moment that she was and you left us out when you gave being taunted.
your dancing party." "That was Mr. Littleton's decision, "You do not dance." not mine."
“How do you know?” “I admire his independence. He was
"I have never associated you with quite right. What do Mrs. Parsons or dancing. I assumed that you did not
dance." •Unleavened Bread. By Robert Grant. Copy. "What grounds had you for such an right, 1900, by Charles Scribner's Sons. Price,
assumption ?" $1.60.
"Really, Selma, your catechism is "So it appears that you were envious of most extraordinary. Excuse my smil- me all the time—that while you were ing. And I don't know how to answer preaching to me that fashionable soci. your questions—your fierce questions- ety was hollow and un-American, you any better.
I didn't ask you to my were secretly unhappy because you party because I supposed you and your couldn't do what I was doing-because husband were not interested in that you weren't invited, too. Oh, I see it sort of thing, and would not know any all now; it's clear as daylight. I've of the people. You have often told me suspected the truth for some time, but that you thought they were frivolous.” I've refused to credit it. Now every. “I consider them so still."
thing is explained. I took you at your "Then why do you complain ?”
word; I believed in you and your hus"Because because you have not acted band and looked up to you as literary like a friend. Your idea of a friend. people-people who were interested in ship has been to pour into my ears, fine and ennobling things. I admired day after day, how you had been asked you for the very reason that I thought to dinner by this person and taken up you didn't care, and that you didn't by that person, until I was weary of need to care, about society and fashionthe very sound of your voice, but it able position. I kept saying to you that seems not to have occurred to you, as I envied you your tastes, and let you a friend of mine, and a friend and ad- say that I considered myself your real mirer of my husband, to introduce us inferior in my determination to attract to people whom you were
attention and oblige society to notice know, and who might have helped him us. I was guileless, and simpleton in his profession. And now, after enough to tell you of my progressturning the cold shoulder on us, and things I would have blushed to tell an. omitting us from your party, because other woman like myself-because I you assumed I didn't dance, you have considered you the embodiment of high come here this morning, in the name of aims and spiritual ideas, as far supefriendship, to tell me that your cousins, rior to mine as the poetic star is supeat last, have invited you to dinner. And rior to the garish electric light. I yet you think it strange that I'm not thought it might amuse you to listen to interested. That's the only reason you
Instead, it seems you came—to let me know that you are were masquerading and were eating a somebody now; and you expected me, your heart out with envy of me-poor as a friend and a nobody, to tell you
You were ambitious to be like how glad I am.”
me." Flossy's eyes opened wide. Free as “I wouldn't be like you for anything she was accustomed to be in her own in the world." utterances, this flow of bitter speech “You couldn't if you tried. That's delivered with seer-like intensity, was one of the things which this extraordi. a new experience to her. She did not nary interview has made plain beyond know whether to be angry or amused the shadow of a doubt. You by the indictment, which caused her to aching to be a social success. You are wince, notwithstanding that she not fit to be. I have found that out deemed it slander. Moreover the insin- for certain to-day.” uation that she had been a bore was "It is false," exclaimed Selma, with humiliating.
tragic intonation. “You do not under"I shall not weary you soon again stand. I have no wish to be a social with my confidences,” she answered. success. I should abhor to spend my
life after the manner of you and your genuine society queen-represents modassociates. What I object to, what I esty and sweetness and self-control, complain of, is, that in spite of your and gentle thoughts and feelings; that fine words and pretended admiration she is evolved by gradual processes of me, you have preferred these people from generation to generation, not who are exclusive without a shadow of ready made. Oh, you needn't look at right, to me who was your friend, and me like that. I'm quite aware that if that you have chosen to ignore me for I were the genuine article I shouldn't the sake of them, and behaved as if be talking to you in this fashion. But you thought I was not their equal or there's hope for me because I'm conyour equal. That is not friendship, it is scious of my shortcomings and am trysnobbishness-un-American snobbish. ing to correct them; whereas you are ness."
satisfied, and fail to see the difference She rose, and stood confronting her between yourself and the well-bred visitor as though to banish her from women whom you envy and sneer at. the house.
You're pretty and smart and super"I'm going,' said Flossy. “It's none ficial, and-er-common, and you don't of my concern, of course, and I'm know it. I'm rather dreadful, but I'm aware that I appear very rude. I'm learning. I don't believe you will ever anxious though, not to lose faith in learn. There! Now I'm going!" your husband, and now that I've begun “Go!" cried Selma, with a wave of to understand you my wits are being her arm. "Yes, I am one of those flooded with light. I was saying that
I am proud to be, and you you were not fit to be a social success, have insulted by your aspersions, not and I'm going to tell you why. No one only me, but the spirit of independent else is likely to, and I'm just mischiev- and aspiring American womanhood. ous and frank enough. You're one of You don't understand us; you have noththose American women-I've always ing in common with us. You think to keep been curious to meet one in all her us down by your barriers of caste borglory-who believe that they are born rowed from effete European courts, in the complete panoply of flawless but we-1-the American people, defy womanhood; that they are by birthright you. The time will come when we consummate housewives, leaders of the shall rise in our might and teach you world's thought and ethics, and peer- your place. Go! Envy you? I would less society queens. All this by in- not become one of your frivolous and stinct, by heritage and without educa- purposeless set if you were all on your tion. That's what you believe, isn't it? bended knees before me." And now you are offended because you "Oh, yes you would,” exclaimed Floshaven't been invited to become a leader sy, glancing back over her shoulder. of New York society. You don't un- "And it's because you've not been given derstand, and I don't suppose you ever
the chance that we have quarrelled will understand, that a true lady-a now."
IN THE COLUMBARIUM.
In the brickwork there was a rent of couple of men, cloaked and hatted, so no great magnitude, concealed by the bent upon their own doings that they branches, yet allowing a narrow never once looked up from the loculus glimpse into the interior of the ruin. I or sideboard, on which one was laying could look, without being detected, at out papers, and the other counting them the curious sight within.
carefully. My guide's hold became a I called the place a ruin. But though grip. He, too, could see and be astonits walls had lost many yards, here and ished. there, of brick or travertine, it still The cloaked person smoothing out, kept its lofty roof; there
with visible reluctance, his small thin staircase inside all but perfect, nearly papers on the funeral slab, I had never opposite us, and a stout column in the beheld. The other, as I expected, was centre supported the square edifice. Tiberio. They spoke hardly at all; the More than half of it was sunk in the operation went forward as by clock ground beneath the accumulated debris work, save only that the wheels of the of centuries. But as I viewed it, with clock seemed rusty, and gave an occathe moonlight making checkers on the sional creak or jerk, while the papers floor, and the grayish-white walls ex- mounted into heaps. I had plenty of hibiting tier upon tier of locullor leisure to scan the countenances, and pigeon-holes, many of which held dusty form my judgment of the character of patena somewhat resembling fruit- Sforza's vis-à-vis. There was little fear plates, I could have fancied myself in that we outside should be detected. a museum. Such, in truth, it was; but Certain friendly owls occupied the a museum of the dead, where literal topmost ledges of the columbarium, ashes, taken from the funeral pyre, and now, troubled by the moon or the had been stowed away in classic urns,
lamp, feeble as they were becoming, with epitaphs, often consisting of the they flew wildly about, making a wel. name only, and now for the most part come diversion. Carluccio, emboldeffaced, to indicate the noble Roman ened, put a hand before his mouth and family, whose slaves or freedmen these whispered in my ear, “Santa Fiora!” tenants of the shelves had been. It
I made the motion with my lips was an immense columbarium or dove- which would have articulated "Brig. cote, one of several which stood in and?" The answer was plain in his close neighborhood among the vines
eyes. and fig-trees skirting the road to the
Santa Fiora did not correspond to his Porta San Sebastiano.
sanctified name. If a flower at all, he All that I took in at a glance, the
was a flower of evil, wickedness stampmoon serving yet to enlighten this un. ing itself legibly on every one of his derground hall of burial. But into one
petals, as the hyacinth bore a lament corner I could peer more distinctly, for for beauty on its tender leaves. Thin, a rude lamp was burning there, of the wiry and willowy, the apparition would kind which abounds at Pompeii, and in
have served well instead of the painted the circle of its illumination stood a
snake which Romans set up to warn
intruders away from tombs and sacred *Arden Massitur. By William Barry.
enclosures. His long, lean jaws had a
Copy. right. 1900, by The Century Co.
venomous snap in them; his distorted
nose and a squinting eye gave one the caying heaps of which this putresimpression of some unsightly fowl that cence crawled and multiplied! had met with an accident; his forehead, My vision did not hinder me from reof which he had a good deal, went up marking that the action of the scene to a narrow crown, resembling a sugar- had paused abruptly. Santa Fiora loaf; and on neck and shoulders fell counted no more notes on the slab; Ti. ringletted black hair, which finished off berio pointed down as if requiring a the illusion of a human serpent. Over larger tribute. Their voices rose; they against him Tiberio was fascinating, in were in hot dispute over the business. spite of his fixed pallor. This malig- But they spat out at one another a jarnant weed struck one as unclean-a gon, brief and horrible, which to me toadstool, or other slimy fungus, that was an unknown tongue. The human dare not be touched, impregnable in its serpent hissed; the tiger answered with pollution. The thing did not speak formidable movements, and a low and much, but occasionally it winced or thunderous roar. From thieves' slang frowned, as smitten with sudden an- they broke into sentences of demand guish. Still it laid out of long fin- and refusal. gers the pile of notes; evidently money “Why no more to you?” whistled was changing hands. And still Tiberio Santa Fiora, in a cracked tenor. counted, cool and imperturbable.
pay down forty thousand lire out of the A scene like that which we were con- sixty we got, and your palm itches. Ma templating, if it excites the nerves, has barone"-which is, being interpreted, also in it a power to stir the imagina- “Look here, my lord!”—"you will leave tion; the spectator may be conscious of the boys without a baiocco. It cannot a vision within, while losing not be, I tell you." His hand clutched the movement of the actors before his eyes. remaining notes. To me, standing silent there, came the “Five thousand more, Santa Fiora," vivid reflection of a world all dust and said Tiberio, not heeding the argument, shadow-pulvis et umbra sumus-fallen "then I will take myself off. The boys so low from its golden glories. Rome are doing well. They know it is for Imperial, that built magnificently, even the cause they are laying up this money. for its dead slaves; built on the royal What do I spend on my own amuseAppian Way, nor spared its marble ment? Why, not enough to buy sweet entablatures, its delicate paintings, parsley." remnants of which I could trace under "Managgia!” whined the human serthe setting moon, its yearly returning pent, “Devil be good to me! A wise festivals and libations, with flowers man does not flay his own skin. Leave laid on tombs, and all the graceful hom- the bees a little honey. What would age which was paid to phantoms, you have got by tbe fat old borgese, feared, yet still beloved—was it come had our piciotti, our bravoni, not to this?
thrown a rope round his horns?". Here, in the place of the Manes, in- "Eh, blood of San Pantaleone!" anviolate and holy, did wretches steeped swered Tiberio, with his gay and facein murder balance their accounts, ex- tious accent, “and when would the changing blood-money, and only the piciotti have caught him, if some one owl shrieked, no shape arose from the else had not watched where he was under-world to scourge them hence feeding? Quick, the five thousand! with scorpions, or terrify them with Remember, it is the cause." apparitions into madness. An impotent "Oh, the cause, the cause, Liverno dead, forgotten universe, over the de- mio! What care I for la politica? I
LIVING AGE. VIII. 401