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Mrs. Radigan : her biography, with that of Miss Pearl Veal, and the memoirs of J. Madison Mudison / by Nelson Lloyd

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Mrs. Radigan

Nelson Lloyd

.

MRS. RADIGAN

CHAPTER I

The First Chapter and the Last

When I was in college, in that brief interval between the foot-ball and the rowing season in which my mind was turned to books, I had dreams, very faint and illusive, but still dreams, that some day, when the four-year eligibility rule barred me from further struggles on the gridiron and the river, I should fall to work and win fame. Even at that time I was famous. My picture was almost a daily feature of the metropolitan journals, and my weight, height, and chest-measure were solemnly recorded at regular intervals for the information and instruction of the hundreds of thousands of students of that greatest of modern educators—the newspaper.[Pg 2] It cannot be frankly said that I looked for anything finer than this, but I did want something more lasting. Young as I was, I realized that the great half-back of to-day is the coach of to-morrow, and the day after the clerk in a country store, or the garrulous bore who sits about the club and talks of games long since forgotten. So I cast about for fields where new laurels could be gathered. But how quickly laurels wither! How fine they are to the eye, yet as food how unsatisfying! So I opened a real-estate office.

I went into business after much deliberation. Had I been born rich, secure in the possession of a home with a full larder, a full wardrobe, and a full stable, I should have preferred to take up brain-work and to occupy myself in one of the learned professions, but I simply could not afford it, and lacked that spirit of self-sacrifice and family sacrifice which causes men to give up all for art and science, and to go down to their graves full of honors and degrees, but empty of all else. To use a metaphor, mixed, like[Pg 3] all expressive metaphors, the pen called to me, but when I thought of Homer, of Cervantes, of Goldsmith, of Johnson, of Poe, of scores of others, gentlemen all and men of art and learning, but frayed and shabby, the roll-top desk and the revolving chair seemed safer though less glorious. Fame is won easily with the pen, but to win money you must give more than words, however fraught with wisdom and beauty—you must give yards of cotton, boxes of buttons, and tons of pig-iron and pork. Occasionally a learned scientist discovers something that brings him riches, but, if he is a true scientist, that wealth is quickly dissipated in journeys to that murky, unreal bourne where the world's genius wanders, groping, while the rest of mankind is eating grass with the animals. I wanted to wander, but was afraid. The thought of short rations held me back. Two roads were open, and I chose the easier, but the longing for the other way has never left me. Still, there is consolation, as there is consolation for everyone in this world, even to the Chris[Pg 4]tian Scientist with gout. In life it is a comfort to know that when you are gone your name is still to live, that your bust will adorn some hall of fame, and that women's clubs will haggle over the meaning of what you have written. But to live in starvation and in ignorance of your own importance, to have the laurels placed upon a marble brow—that is different. To be in bronze in a public square is well enough, but it is better by far to have yourself in the flesh in one of the broad windows of the Ticktock Club. Fifty years of terrapin and champagne are better than two thousand of honored memory. Real estate offered me the fifty years. I chose it, and the wisdom of that choice becomes more apparent daily. I know now that it profits one more to have his name signed to a thirty-foot front on Fifth Avenue than to an idyllic poem or a masterpiece of prose.

Giving up all hope of fame and setting out to woo fortune, I elected to deal in lots and buildings because of the tremendous social opportunities that offered there. Fortune is[Pg 5] better than poverty, but fortune without fashion is little so. Fashion is ephemeral fame, and those thus famous treat the poor more kindly than they do the merely wealthy. So with fortune I demanded fashion, for I was ambitious and not given to half-way measures or rewards.

You see I am frank. When I saw what would be the cost of a life of usefulness, I boldly set out to be smart. Perhaps my friend, Mr. Mudison, puts it more tersely when he places the proposition in the reverse way: If you cannot be smart, be famous. I knew that I could be smart. From my little office with its map-covered wall, from my revolving chair by the roll-top desk, I viewed the charmed circle, still very far off. But I viewed it with calm confidence that some day I should be of it. For me it had no terrors, for its history was written in the history of the country's industry, in the history of its railroads, of its mines, of its patent devices to make life worth living, and its patent medicines to make the living longer. Of[Pg 6] illusions I had none. I knew that life in the palace and life in the slum were of equal interest to him who observed, that they showed him the same humor and pathos, the same vices and virtues. Snobbery exists as much in Harlem, in Brooklyn, in Jamaica, on Grand Street or Houston as on Fifth Avenue. But if you are going to climb, it is well to reach that dizzy pinnacle where none can snub you. I climbed. Now I can drive a public coach, give a monkey dinner or a costume dance, and while the town jeers it envies, and those rail loudest on whom my door is tightest closed.

You will notice that this chapter is entitled "The First and the Last." It is the last, because it was written after I had recorded the adventures that follow, for when I had reached the climax of the story of my life and that of my friends, I found that it seemed to have no beginning. And there was a good reason for this slight omission. Setting out on my own career, I believed that there was a story in every man's life, that the Italian[Pg 7] digging in the subway had as many hair-raising adventures as the hero of a historical novel; that the clubman who walked the avenue had as much romance in him as the sprightly fellows who step through Balzac's pages. The idea grew. The future might be unfolding my own story. So one day, when wearied of rentals and repairs, of sales and loans, daily duties that seemed dull, commonplace, and futile, I turned to my pen for relief and began to set before me in black and white the history of the week. The result was not satisfactory, but I had not seen my friend Mrs. Radigan for months, and my days had been given to business and my evenings to economy. I persevered. Time passed. My weekly records offered little but dull accounts of real-estate transactions and the cynical reflections of discouraged youth. Then she came again, and with her an adventure. Dinners and dances, week-ends and weddings began to crowd themselves upon the pages that I scribbled off in this desultory fashion. I was right. A story did unfold.[Pg 8] And now I am putting first the chapter I have written last, partly to explain the rambling manner of the telling, partly to provide the missing beginning.

The beginning of the story was really that day when Mrs. Radigan entered my office, but I did not know it then, and made no full record of the event. My books tell me that it was in June, and my memory that the day was piping hot, a Friday, I think, for my partner had gone to Easthampton for a Sunday with the Van Rundouns, and I was left alone with the office-boy, cursing the fate that held me in town in such weather. I envied my partner then. Since, I have blessed the day, for it brought me Mrs. Radigan and life. He still visits the Van Rundouns.

She came in a hansom. Standing at the window, smoking a cigarette, I was listlessly watching the almost deserted street, when a two-wheeler bowled up to the curb, and the scene offering nothing better—only a few delivery wagons and antiquated traps full of families parkward bound—I noted every[Pg 9] movement of the horse, the vehicle, the cabby, and the fare. The horse went down on one leg, forward, resting easily and drooping his head to dodge the sun. As Mr. Howells or Mr. James would say in describing such an event, his right eyelid closed and his skin shivered as he shook from him an insistent fly. The jehu opened the roof-window and bawled something. A parasol, a white, filmy thing, shot out in front, opened, and came toward me with a woman appended. I could not see her face for the sunshade. I saw only her figure, a large figure clad in summery things, gauzy, fluffy, in colors bright and cheery, yet subdued and blending with the day, a paradox of some Parisian modiste. The clothes, the carriage, the delicate parasol spoke of means, and instinctively I tossed aside my cigarette and, to be frank, posed in my revolving chair, for I knew that this could not be for the tailor overhead or the music-college still a story higher.

The door creaked behind me, but I was absorbed in papers. Then the office-boy[Pg 10] spoke, and I wheeled to find her towering over me.

"Scorching, isn't it?" she said, when I had fetched a chair, and she sat fanning herself with a tiny handkerchief.

While she fanned, I observed. She was a large woman, not fat nor merely heavy, but strong and well-knit—masterful, I said at once when I saw her face and could consider all. There was health in that face, color and life, but not beauty as we judge it. The nose was too broad and tilted up, the mouth was too large, the chin inclined to corpulence; the eyes were small, but there was in them a twinkle of good-humor. Altogether I liked her immensely.

"Well," she went on after a minute, "now that I have my breath again, I shall explain. I am Mrs. John Radigan."

Instinctively I glanced across the street to a great plate-glass window bearing in golden letters the legend that within was the uptown office of Radigan & Co., Bankers and Brokers, of New York, London, Paris, and Chicago.[Pg 11] The name of Radigan was synonymous with wealth the world over. It had become so with the last bulge in the stock-market, and now hardly a Sunday passed without some paper covering a page with the story of this newest of our great fortunes, of its marvellous growth and its present lucky owner. From this I knew the story well. The elder Radigan went West in the early eighties with a tidy sum which he had accumulated as a book-maker. He had multiplied this a hundredfold by speculating in worthless mining properties, and had quadrupled that in real estate and wrecked railroads. At his death, a few years before, he had left an estate estimated by the popular writers at two hundred million dollars. Dividing this figure by four, as is necessary to get at the truth in such cases, we see that his only son inherited about fifty. But as well be on a desert island with such a sum as in Kansas City. The Radigans were wise as well as wealthy. Charming as was their home, they saw that it was no place for persons with millions.

[Pg 12]

Now you can come from Kansas City to New York to stay at a hotel or to exist. To come here to live, the way lies by London and Paris, Long Island and Newport. The dust of the plain is swept away by the Riviera breezes; London's gloom reduces the fever of life; Paris beats down the rough edges of the voice and the manner, giving finish and form. The Radigans followed the rule, but they hurried. They toured abroad, did not live there, and the dust still clung.

"You see, we have just got back, from Paris," said my visitor, impressively. "We had a villa at Cannes in April, you know, and met some very recherche people there. Our apartment in Paris was most delightful, and we should have liked to stay on, but we intend to make New York our permanent home, and thought it would be well to come over and get settled."

"So you are looking for a house," said I, pulling a bundle of papers from my desk.

"A temporary house," said Mrs. Radigan. "I don't see anything here that I should care[Pg 13] to live in continuously. We will have to build—positively have to—and Mr. Radigan is negotiating now for a block on Fifth Avenue. He managed to rent a little box on the hills near Westbury for the summer, but I am looking for something to exist in next winter while the new house is going up."

"Here is just the thing you want." The plans were unfolded before her. "It is situated on Seventy——"

"I know," she interrupted. "That is why I came to you, seeing your name on the sign. A rather decent house on the north side, three doors from the avenue, with an American basement and——"

"French windows," said I.

"And a Dutch roof—exactly," she cried. "It is stunning."

"One of the best in town," I declared with emphasis. "Thirty feet front, six stories high. It was built last January by Mr. Bull when he had wheat cornered. Subsequently the receiver sold it to my client, who took it on speculation."

[Pg 14]

"It is stunning, but small," said Mrs. Radigan. "I should not care to live in it right along, but we can all squeeze into it for a few months, till the new one is done."

"You have a large family?" I asked.

"Three," she replied. "My husband, my sister Pearl, and myself. We shall keep our boy Jack in the country."

"Why, you can have a floor apiece," I declared cheerfully. "Just look at the elevation."

Mrs. Radigan raised her lorgnette and looked, but seemed to see nothing, though her gaze was intense and her brow knitted.

"The entire fourth floor, you see, could be used by Miss Radigan," I ventured softly, to arouse her from her mood of abstraction.

"Miss Ve-al," said she, suddenly abandoning the lorgnette and getting down under bare eyes to solve the mystery of the blueprint. "Is that funny white line the design of the wall-paper?"

"It's the stairs," I explained. "As I suggested, Miss Veal——"

[Pg 15]

"Ve-al," she corrected, looking up sharply. "V-e, ve—a-l, al—Ve-al. It's French."

"Pardon me," said I abjectly. "Your sister, Miss Ve-al, could have——"

"Oh, don't bother about the old plans," she cried, gently pushing the paper from her. "It gives me a headache to try to make them out. I'm sure you had them upside down. But I'll take your word for it that there's plenty of room to live in. But how about entertaining? How can one entertain in a box like that?"

"There's a ballroom, as you see," said I, trying in vain to guide her eye to it. "Then, on the same floor, you see a large dining-room, a fair-size music-room, and a very fine salon."

"Well," she returned musingly, "as we don't know a soul in town as yet, I suppose it will hold all our friends for a while, but when we get in——"

"The new house will be done by the time you get in," I declared with considerable emphasis.

[Pg 16]

"Certainly," said she pleasantly, not comprehending the hidden meaning. "Tell me, is that old Mrs. Plumstone's house next door?"

"On the right," I replied. "The Hegerton Hummings are across the way, and the Jack Twitters have the French château on the corner."

"But some common people called Gallegher are on the other side," said she.

"My dear Mrs. Radigan," I argued, "some of the smartest people in town live on that block."

"But the Galleghers might call," she ventured after a moment of hesitation.

"Do not worry," was my retort. "This is not Kansas City. New Yorkers never call on their neighbors."

"Wouldn't old Mrs. Plumstone?" she demanded, a touch of disappointment being evident in her tone.

"Hardly."

"Well, that explains it," she said with a sigh.

[Pg 17]

"Explains what?" I asked.

"Not a soul around Westbury has been to see me," she answered. "Do tell me, how do people get to know you in New York?"

"They don't," said I. "The question is, how do you get to know them?"

"Well, how?"

"It's very simple," I explained. "When you are buying your property, see as many real-estate firms uptown as you can, for they have some very nice young men connected with them. All the cotillon leaders are in real estate or architecture, as dancing is a branch of their business. Then there are the brokers. Some of the smartest men in town are two-dollar brokers, and surely a great house like Radigan & Co. can make it worth their while to be polite. Why, there are dozens of ways you can collect acquaintances in New York. It is easy if you know how."

"But I did not," said Mrs. Radigan rather sadly. "It has worried me dreadfully, too. Sometimes, since we have been at Westbury,[Pg 18] it has seemed as though we must be dead. Of course, one or two people there have been very nice, but they were not the kind we care to know. Evidently, you have made a study of society."

"Not at all," I protested. "It just happens that I have had a number of clients from Pittsburg."

"Oh, I see!" she exclaimed, brightening, and, rising, she took my hand effusively. "You are certainly awfully kind, and I consider myself in luck to find you. You can count on us taking the house, and I hope we can count on your being there often."

It seemed as though she was wasting no time about taking my advice, but there was no necessity of my enlightening her as to my own humble place. It would be delightful, charming, splendid, I averred, as we moved toward the door together. Simply social hyperbole, I thought at that moment. Truth, real truth, I vowed to myself at the next, when I happened to glance to the street, and there in the cab, gazing up at the office-[Pg 19]window with a frown of impatience, saw a girl's face.

"I will see you to your hansom, Mrs. Radigan," I said gallantly.

"Oh, don't bother," said she.

"I insist."

So I seized my hat, and a moment later we stood together at the curb.

"To Thirty-fourth Street ferry," she called to the cabby.

"The Long Island Railroad," I shouted at the jehu, wanting to be of service of some kind, and give reason for my presence.

The girl leaned out of the cab.

"I thought you were never coming, Sally," she said petulantly.

"This is my sister, Miss Pearl Veal," said Mrs. Radigan, not heeding her, but turning to me.

I took the tips of the proffered fingers in mine, let them drop, and bowed. I stammered something—something inane, I suppose, but the girl gave me a lustrous smile just the same.

[Pg 20]

"Warmish day," I ventured, more courageously.

"Indeed," said she quietly, but still sweetly smiling.

"Good-by," said Mrs. Radigan, holding out her hand. "You can count on me."

"You can count on me," said I firmly.

And the cab rattled away.

For months I did not see that splendid pair. They were often in my thoughts, but as a clerk from the banking office carried through the rental of the house, I seemed to be forgotten. My summer scribblings were no less dull, but more cynical than ever. A Sunday with the Van Rundouns and a two-days' stay in Morristown made the sum of my social successes. The future seemed to offer little better. But November came. The horse-show bugle called the Radigans to town, and with them brought me adventures, adventures in numbers and often strange. The records of these, made at the time when their impression on my mind was sharp and clear, are set forth in the succeeding chapters.

[Pg 21]

CHAPTER II

My First Great Social Adventure—The Horse-show with the Radigans

I picked up my paper at breakfast this morning to be informed in flaring headlines that "The Horse is King." One day in every year we must face that black-typed legend, just as at certain other times we must be instructed, as though we were ignorant of the fact, that it is a "Noisy Fourth," a "Bright Thanksgiving," or a "Merry Christmas." To further impress upon our sluggish brains the regal position of the horse we must be confronted with an impressionistic picture of a long-legged, bow-legged, knock-kneed animal, with a thin body, a neck arched like a giraffe's and a swelled head, being towed around a ring by a bandy-legged[Pg 22] groom. It seems to me that this figure bears about as close a relation to the great Madison Square Garden circus as the lion rampant, the crest of my dear friends the Van Rundouns, has to that ancient and anæmic family. Somebody told me the other day that a certain railroad in this country used as its trademark the identical Egg that the blind woman in Mr. Kipling's "They" traced upon the rug to the confusion of reading-circles and cultured sets all over the English-speaking world. The Egg is the Oriental symbol of Life and has no connection whatever with a dining-car service, which goes to demonstrate that the equine wonder that stares at us from the front page of our morning paper on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of the show is after all only a symbol handed down from the remote ages.

This county fair of ours has always had an element of mystery for me. The horse may be king, but his is a very limited monarchy indeed. I decided that as I sat last night in the Radigan box studying the endless proces[Pg 23]sion of men and women passing in review before me. Why do they come here? I found myself asking. More than eighty per cent. of them do not know a breeching from a fetlock, and is there anything more uninteresting than watching a half-dozen horses circle twice around a ring, line up in the centre, be inspected by three solemn judges, and run around and out with ribbons attached? Of course, if you own or deal in horses, it is different. Likewise if you are a multi-millionaire—inherited—and depend on horses to keep your mind working. But why thousands of well-balanced persons with moderate incomes waste time and money to yawn through an evening in a hard seat or be trampled on and crushed in that procession is a mystery. Yet they will do it. And they generally look bored—all of them.

Of course sitting in a box is different. It is like being on the stage in a thinking part. And we mediocre, humdrum folks, who cannot shine ourselves, do enjoy reflecting a little lime-light. So every minute of that long[Pg 24] three hours was a rare pleasure to me. A first night with the Radigans, though they did make their money in pool-rooms and will not get "in" for several years, is vastly superior to a Saturday evening in a cast-off box with old New Yorkers like the Van Rundouns. I went with them last year, and then for the first time realized the chasm that separated the man in the box from the poor crushed creatures who swept around and around the promenade. I know how I felt when the fellows from my old boarding-house came along and stopped square in front of our party and stared up at me. Of course they all had to take off their hats, because that very act gave them a certain distinction in the mob, and of course I had to return their greeting. The box was Bobby Q. Williegilt's own, but they did not know that he had lent it to some poor cousins of his who had sent the tickets to some friends of theirs, who had given them to the Van Rundouns, who asked me to join them, so the boys treated me with marked deference forever after.

[Pg 25]

Now when it comes to a choice it is a toss-up between the Radigans and the Van Rundouns. I had to make a choice and I ventured all. Radigan met me on Broadway last week and brought me uptown in his new 90 horse-power car. He told me that several well-known men from the Rollers Club had promised to sit in his box, and he invited me to join the party. I recalled what the Van Rundouns said about the Radigans and rather hesitated at first, but then I remembered that after all they would only have that left-over on Saturday night and possibly not at all. Like all else in this world, old families must die. It is the new family, cradled in the 90 horse-power imported French car, that in a few years will reach that maturity which we call "smartness." In that gilded circle, supported on rickety wooden chairs, that is the great feature of the horse-show, mature families are really surprisingly scarce. There are many Radigans, with a goodly sprinkling of Van Rundouns—besides the dealers. The mature do not have to go[Pg 26] any more. They can afford to look upon it as an "amusing show," where you can see "all kinds of people" if you drop in for, say, just one evening. The Radigans must go to prove that they are growing, and the Van Rundouns to show that they still live. The Radigan star is ascending, and I decided to grasp one of its points and go up with it.

Evidently the Radigans are willing to carry me along, for I notice that they have lost no time about taking my advice. Those Rollers Club fellows, it seems, are clerks in the office, rather decent chaps and exceedingly well groomed. Besides them, our party consisted of our host and hostess, Miss Pearl Veal, and myself. We had an excellent dinner at the St. Regis before starting, and I know positively that Radigan gave the waiters a ten-dollar tip, so you can see what the original cost must have been. There was no rare old wine on the list that was too expensive, and the club fellows made it disappear with great rapidity and relish. For myself, I kept to champagne, for, though it was cheaper, I[Pg 27] felt that I knew just what it would do. Mrs. Radigan's sister—I can never think of her by her name—drank nothing at all, explaining to me that it made her eyes water; but our hostess was not so abstemious, and when we left the table she was beaming. We ran down to the Garden in the new car, as Radigan was scheduled to drive his high-stepping pair, Samson and Delilah, in the opening class. Mrs. Radigan told me, by the way, that she named all their horses, and asked if I did not admire her taste in this case. She had taken the names from an historical novel.

Radigan drove splendidly and won the blue ribbon. He ran up to receive our congratulations, and then hurried away to put on his riding togs and come on again with his fine saddle mare Ulysses, which his wife had named after a play. The jam in the promenade was tremendous by this time and we attracted a great deal of attention. Mrs. Radigan had on a green velvety creation, with a hat that might have been modelled after an elevated railroad station, but she is a hand[Pg 28]some woman and looked stunning, though she did at times suggest to me the pin-cushion our Sunday-school gave the minister's wife many years ago. Her sister was playing the simple rôle in plain black, and really was lovely and attracted a vast amount of staring. What element is lacking in blue blood that it leaves most of its possessors so pale and ill-moulded? What a delight are these red-blooded beauties that Kansas and other remote places send us! And generally they have names that should be changed. Both the club fellows seemed to feel as I do and occupied themselves with the sister, and talked stocks to her. One of them had just caught a ten-point rise in two days on a thousand X.Y. & Z. preferred, and so was very interesting, for it is pleasant to hear how quickly and easily other people make money. The girl learned all about the way they did it, and murmured, "Indeed!" and "Really!" and smiled at everything they said about "Chickasaw common" and "Carbonic Acid Gas first preferred." I had hoped to get some points on polite conversa[Pg 29]tion from these club fellows, thinking they had been asked to be entertaining, but I realized soon that they were there for looks. And they did look well. There was a block in front of our box nearly all the evening.

The fellows from my old boarding-house went by eight distinct times, close under me, on each occasion taking off their hats and bowing. The crowd must have soon thought that they knew everybody in the place worth knowing. I had not seen them since I moved into a bachelor apartment, into rooms with red paper, a telephone, and private refrigerator, so I had to lean over the front of the box once anyway to shake hands with them, which pleased them greatly. I should have presented them to Mrs. Radigan, but she had turned around to talk to the club fellows. I could not blame her for being so distant, for my friends were wonderfully dressed. There was young Hawkins, for instance, in a very shiny top hat, a dinner-coat, and a white ready-made-up tie, and Green, who has the fourth floor rear hall-room, in a derby and a[Pg 30] tail coat and a turn-down collar so large that he could have drawn in his head like a turtle. Robinson had a top hat and white gloves, but he kept his overcoat buttoned, so I could not see what was underneath. And all the time that these idiots were staring up at me, basking in the reflected social sunlight, a half-dozen women were looking up our box in the programme to find out who we were, and a newspaper artist was drawing me. Then Green got his courage up, seized opportunity by the bit, and began to talk volubly about the horses. Apparently he intended to stay there all evening, and there was nothing for me to do but to exclaim suddenly, "Rather smart-looking cob that!" So when he turned around to look at the animal, I turned, too, and lost myself in conversation with Miss Veal.

It would seem that I had done enough for those three climbers, but they were not satisfied. All the evening they kept circulating around that tan-bark ring—on the outside—and whenever they passed us they[Pg 31] all bowed most elaborately. Still, I suppose that is a starter on the upward way. Some year soon they may land in a fourth-hand box on a Saturday evening, but then I feel sure the newspapers will refer to me as that familiar figure So-and-so, "who, though he has no horses entered this year, is to be seen regularly with the Williegilts." They did have my picture in last year, only they got my name wrong. They showed me in a very flat-rimmed topper, with a half acre of white shirt-front, and I was sucking a cane. Why I should carry a cane in the evening I could not make out, but as I looked very Gibsonesque, I forgave them. It was a bit aggravating, though, to be presented as Bobbie Q. He must have been as much surprised as I, and possibly flattered.

I think my boarding-house friends rather annoyed Mrs. Radigan. She asked me who they were, and when I told her she raised her eyebrows. She said with a sigh that we should be just as nice to queer people as to anybody else. Then she gave a beaming[Pg 32] bow to one of her husband's customers, and got a beaming salute in return, with a cold glance from the customer's wife. Several other customers spoke to her. Altogether she is getting along swimmingly.

But the great event of the evening was after Radigan had won in the class for spike-teams, and he brought up Bobbie Q. Williegilt, and introduced him. You should have seen the stir in the surrounding boxes. It seemed that young Williegilt wanted to buy Samson and Delilah. Mrs. Radigan would not part with them for anything till Mr. Williegilt actually got into the box alongside of her. Then she sparred with him in smiling whispers for a half-hour, and in the end let him have the pair for a song. Meantime the sketch-artists were hovering around in multitudes, and after Williegilt left us, three other club fellows came of their own accord and talked stocks to Mrs. Radigan and her sister.

All our pictures were in the paper this morning.

[Pg 33]

CHAPTER III

A Week-end at Westbury

I am just back from the Radigans'. To-night I am going to dine at a dairy restaurant, and for some evenings to come, I fear, the performance must be repeated. But to move in society costs, everybody knows that, and the only reason everybody does not join the mad whirl is that there is a difference of opinion as to whether or not the income compensates for the output. For me it is a necessity, as I am in a business that widens with your circle of rich friends, and, like the champagne agent, I must have social position to be a real success. I do not think I should have gone to Westbury from pure love of adventure, but the Radigans are a good speculation. They are among the outside securities in the polite market and are likely to go away[Pg 34] over par and be admitted to the floor or to be quoted at one-eighth.

The very next day after I sat in their box at the horse-show I received a note from Mrs. Radigan. It was written on beautiful note-paper bearing the family crest, a tandem rampant. It struck me that it would be more appropriate to have a pool-room rampant, emblematic of Radigan père, but after all in New York time goes so fast that the performances of the first generation are quickly whirled out of the mind of the second. So under the tandem rampant came the summons to what the good woman termed a "weak-end house-party," a name strangely fitting to my case. The real-estate market has been so active of late that I could not go down on Friday but had to land myself at Westbury on Saturday afternoon, to be met at the station by my hostess with a coach and four and driven home in great state.