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A Hazard of New Fortunes — Complete by Howells

Mela was transported by the cruel ingratitude


she would, if she needed. Such

people as the Dryfooses are the raw material of good society. It isn't made up of refined or meritorious people--professors and litterateurs, ministers and musicians, and their families. All the fashionable people there to-night were like the Dryfooses a generation or two ago. I dare say the material works up faster now, and in a season or two you won't know the Dryfooses from the other plutocrats. THEY will--a little better than they do now; they'll see a difference, but nothing radical, nothing painful. People who get up in the world by service to others--through letters, or art, or science--may have their modest little misgivings as to their social value, but people that rise by money--especially if their gains are sudden--never have. And that's the kind of people that form our nobility; there's no use pretending that we haven't a nobility; we might as well pretend we haven't first-class cars in the presence of a vestibuled Pullman. Those girls had no more doubt of their right to be there than if they had been duchesses: we thought it was very nice of Miss Vance to come and ask us, but they didn't; they weren't afraid, or the least embarrassed; they were perfectly natural--like born aristocrats. And you may be sure that if the plutocracy that now owns the country ever sees fit to take on the outward signs of an aristocracy--titles, and arms, and ancestors--it won't falter from any inherent question of its worth. Money prizes and honors itself, and if there is anything it hasn't
got, it believes it can buy it."

"Well, Basil," said his wife, "I hope you won't get infected with Lindau's ideas of rich people. Some of them are very good and kind."

"Who denies that? Not even Lindau himself. It's all right. And the great thing is that the evening's enjoyment is over. I've got my society smile off, and I'm radiantly happy. Go on with your little pessimistic diatribes, Isabel; you can't spoil my pleasure."

"I could see," said Mela, as she and Christine drove home together, "that she was as jealous as she could be, all the time you was talkun' to Mr. Beaton. She pretended to be talkun' to Conrad, but she kep' her eye on you pretty close, I can tell you. I bet she just got us there to see how him and you would act together. And I reckon she was satisfied. He's dead gone on you, Chris."

Christine listened with a dreamy pleasure to the flatteries with which Mela plied her in the hope of some return in kind, and not at all because she felt spitefully toward Miss Vance, or in anywise wished her ill. "Who was that fellow with you so long?" asked Christine. "I suppose you turned yourself inside out to him, like you always do."

Mela was transported by the cruel ingratitude. "It's a lie! I didn't tell him a single thing."

Conrad walked home, choosing to do so because he did not wish to hear his sisters' talk of the evening, and because there was a tumult in his spirit which he wished to let have its way.


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