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The Vanity Girl by Compton MacKenzie

THE VANITY GIRL

_BY THE SAME AUTHOR_

THE VANITY GIRL POOR RELATIONS SYLVIA & MICHAEL PLASHERS MEAD SYLVIA SCARLETT

Harper & Brothers _Publishers_

THE VANITY GIRL

_By COMPTON MACKENZIE_

_Author of_ "POOR RELATIONS" "SYLVIA SCARLETT" "SYLVIA & MICHAEL"

[Illustration: colophon]

HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS NEW YORK AND LONDON

THE VANITY GIRL

Copyright, 1920, by Harper & Brothers Printed in the United States of America Published September, 1920

_TO FAY COMPTON_

_My dear Fay._

_For several reasons I am anxious to inscribe this book to you. Unless somehow or other I safeguard you publicly, you are liable to be accused by gossip of having written it, an accusation that both you and I might be justified in resenting. Many people suppose that you wrote an earlier novel of mine called_ Carnival, _which, were it true, would make you out to be considerably older than you are, since I take it that even your precocity, though it did run to marriage at the age of seventeen (or was it sixteen?), would hardly have allowed you to write_ Carnival _at the same age. One day, if Mr. Matheson Lang will allow me to use my own title--at present he is using it for a play that he and somebody else have adapted from an Italian original--you may act the part of Jenny Pearl; but that is as near as you will ever get to her creation. Then lately a young gentleman wrote to ask me if I would inform him whether the generally accepted theory that you had written the first two chapters of_ Sinister Street _had any existence in fact. So you see, I do not exaggerate when I say that you are liable to be credited with_ The Vanity Girl. _Equally I should not like gossip to pretend that the heroine if not drawn by you was certainly drawn from you; and though any friend of yours or mine would laugh at such a suggestion, it is just as well to kill the cacklers before they lay their eggs. But the chief reason for inscribing this book to you is my desire to record, however inadequately, what pleasure and pride, dear Fay, your charm, your talents, your beauty, and success have given to_

_Your affectionate brother,_

_Compton Mackenzie._

_Capri_, August 4, 1919.

THE VANITY GIRL

_The Vanity Girl_

CHAPTER I

I

West Kensington relies for romance more upon the eccentricities of individual residents than upon any variety or suggestiveness in the scenery of its streets, which indeed are mostly mere lines of uniform gray or red houses drearily elongated by constriction. Yet the suburb is too near to London for some relics of a former rusticity not to have survived; and it is refreshing for the casual observer of a city's growth to find here and there a row of old cottages, here and there a Georgian house rising from sooty flower-gardens and shadowed by rusty cedars, occasionally even an open space of building land, among the weeds of which ragged hedgerows and patches of degenerate oats still endure.


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