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Harcourt all men are not acknowledged or rejected lovers. There were safe and pleasant middle grounds upon which men walked with her, knowing themselves better for her friendship, to lose which they would not risk a hopeless love. The barrier was invisible, but it was tangible, and the wise passed not beyond it, while the foolish regretted in vain their useless temerity.
Dorothy Harcourt valued Bradley's self-poise and independence with regard to herself in proportion as he had relinquished his hold upon those imaginary supports of family and society by this final surrender. He would return in the spring. He was not impatient. That was one of the bulwarks of his nature.
In the mean time there was New York. A letter lay on her table, which urged her going at once:
"MY DEAR DUCHESS: You have immured yourself in that old stone dungeon long enough. The vicious might say that you thought to dazzle us with your renewed brightness. The rest of us have been wearing out our machinery with social wear and tear, and you, indolent creature, have swung in a hammock or slept the sleep of the enchanted princess all these months. How high
are the trees now? Is the prince cutting his way through? Well, to talk sense. You are to come at once. My dinner is arranged for the first. A round table. Two of the English legation; the last sensation in poets; a judge; and the cleverest man on the 'Daily.' Of the women: Myself, No. 1. That pretty Miss Cryder, the belle of Newport last summer. Between you and me, not a hair-breadth of brains. Little Derby, as piquant as ever, in spite of four seasons. The blonde Miss Chisholm, a fierce rebel to match swords with the woman I love in the duel of wits.
"If my dinner is not worth your presence, there's that classic English poet, scholar, essayist to be feted all next week, and Irving and Terry for tragedy. While you? Still at landscape gardening!
"I count on you for my dinner, and the man of the 'Daily's' your fate, though the judge, who is named for the next justice, shall sit at your left. Be, my duchess, most gracious. Make my best bow to his Excellency, your father, and wish him all the honors he deserves.
"Yours, the most worldly and affectionate
It was an easy picture to conjure, one with which she was more familiar than that where Bradley was the central figure. The round table with its circle of wits and its spread of all that wealth could offer the senses. The freemasonry of kindred spirits, the flashes of repartee, the sustained thread of argument, the unspoken admiration of a coterie. Was that the life this letter called her back to? The idyll was passed. She took up the pen and wrote:
"DEAR CORINNE: I am yours for the first, though the sin be on your head of recalling me from Arcadie to Mayfair. The man of the Daily is well, though the heavy judicial claims my interest. I have read many books, dreamed many dreams, rowed and walked many miles. I have lived. But one owes something to one's world. Till the first. Yours,
WOMEN OF THE WORLD.
Ir is customary to denounce the world, the flesh, and the devil, with all their accompanying legions of pomps and vanities, as hollow shams, in which the truly virtuous have no temptation to indulge; and some of us, who lay no special claim to superlative virtue settle ourselves pharisaically in our ultra world-corner and thank the Withholder of all material things that, with a pipe and a book of Martin Tupper's "Philosophy," we have all we wish to bring us to a positive answer of that circulating question: Is life worth living?
As a matter of fact, the grapes on the world's vines seem very sour to those respectable corner people; they are easily persuaded that to be of the great world of fashion is to carry an aching heart under fine clothes-to be hypocrites wearing mantles woven of cloth of gold, larger than charity, covering a multitude of sins.
Corinne Beaumonde's parents had been of these respectable corner people, and she had been eduIcated to the belief that those coveted riches were but sour grapes; but, the dowerless bride of a millionaire, she now sat high on the vines and ate of them freely, finding them sweet.
She had brought to the ranks of the "upper ten" a genius for society, a passion for costume, and a talent for leadership. Her heart she kept well in hand.
"To keep your heart from breaking, you must hold it in your hand."
Rumor said that the fair wife of Beaumonde had once a lover whose millions were not as many as her lord's. By the help of that valuable maxim she had married the millions, and the lover turned fanatic, espoused the cause of the Indians, and lived upon a ranch. Corinne never spoke of him, and it was not easy to know whether in her busy life she ever thought of him; for she was a busy woman and Beaumonde was a busy man, since it takes time to guard millions well, and to see that the income is judiciously spent. Corinne felt the responsibilities of her position, the moral obligations entailed by a princely income, and the so