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1918_08_17--005_SP [The Vulgar Dollar]

THE SATURDAY EVENING POST 5 LL E37 W2 EDC:2 77171100.1f .Pgrig..03C3EM (6711i3c1 w© OC2700)50011i1 TILLUSTRATED B Y M. L. B L U M E N T H A L HE more impossible one's relations are the more impossible becomes the task of making them possible, yet the greater is the impossibility of abandoning the attempt to—to, well, make them possible, if you know what I mean! And generous hearts such as dear Mrs. DeWynt's, when coupled with a strong clan feeling, find it extremely hard to allow any branch of the family to go, as I may say, to seed. Unless of course they happen to be very remote connections who are in so impecunious a condition as to render their keeping up with the right sort of people quite out of the question. Such relations as these she would naturally leave well enough alone. But in the case of Esmeralda, the vexing problem of whether to receive her or not arose, as it were, automatically. Being ex-social secretary to dear Mrs. DeWynt I have not unnaturally remained more or less in her confidence regarding such delicate matters, and when she made her gallant but little understood attempt at reinstating her niece in our set it so happened that I was with my dear patroness. Pending my transfer from the Yeomanry—for I had left my post with the wife of our leading Republican senator only to serve my country—pending my transfer from the Yeomanry to the Y. M. C. A., where we all felt my peculiar qualities would be of more real service to our dear country than on the actual firing line, I was on leave, and of course only too eager to comply with Mrs. DeWynt's request that I assist her with a bridge drive which she had long been contemplating giving for the benefit of the Red Cross. It was most fortunate that I was free at the moment. The episode came, I do assure you, as a most welcome break in the, as I must say, somewhat monotonous routine of the work I had been doing. And so it came about that while I was on leave and all that, and the senator was arranging for my transfer, I went to the Longhampton cottage with dear Mrs. DeWynt, and it was there that the question came up whether our young Western relative and her new husband should or should not be included among the house guests who were to be asked down to make the semipublic bridge drive endurable to Mrs. DeWynt, if you know what I mean. Our conversation regarding the matter took place in the little oval boudoir my dear patroness had copied from Versailles, and impressed itself on my mind—the conversation did—because I distinctly recall my protest against having them. "Let well enough alone!" was the sum and substance of my advice on the matter—though of course my terms were more erudite and the advice given indirectly. Dear Mrs. DeWynt does not relish direct advice. "Of course the girl is uncouth," said my dear lady, "but she is so interested in war work; and Red Cross is war work, isn't it, Aggie?" My dear lady always abbreviated Aloysius, my given name, in this playful manner. "I assure you that it is war work!" I replied earnestly, "and that we are, as I may say, practically in the trenches ourselves in doing it!" Mrs. DeWynt brushed this aside and came directly to more important matters—to wit, our immediate affairs. "Well," said she, " of course Esmeralda did a terrible thing in eloping without my permission. But after all she is my own niece, though she has been brought up so differently from our Eastern girls. And her husband is Lord Castlewing's cousin!" Dear Mrs. DeWynt is always so kind and forgiving. Perceiving that she had already decided before asking my opinion, I of course changed my tactics at once and confirmed her judgment. "And it isn't as if they were poor," I remarked. "His competence is considerable, I understand." "I think you had better drop them a line, Aggie," said my dear lady; "I understand Captain Tugwell is next in line for the title and that his cousin is not strong. In case of a bereavement it would hardly look well if there were any estrangement between us!" ' Considering that I am of an extraordinarily sensitive nature and that Mrs. DeWynt must have realized how uneasy Miss or rather Mrs. Esmeralda's presence in the house always made me, I think this command was a trifle unkind. Of course I am a confirmed bachelor, and all that. Living so long in any household as I did at the DeWynts' is apt to make a man that. And I am not jealous by nature. But even so, our prospective visitor always, as I may say, disturbed me—profoundly. And so it was with a melancholy trend of thought that I wrote as I was bidden, and when the Captain and Mrs. Tugwell- Lord Castlewing's cousin, he is, did I tell you?—arrived I hardly felt, as I may say, cheery about it. I always considered that man Tugwell to be an awful ass, and how it ever came about that the British Government sent him over here to purchase supplies I cannot imagine. Family simply must have had something to do with it! And why his wife ever chose him when at least one man of brains and of infinitely better form in the social, if not the, as I may say, physical sense was available, likewise remains a mystery to me. But I was right in supposing it best to leave these half way sort of relatives alone. So much was certainly proved. And that Mrs. DeWynt's act in at length dropping them will be vindicated when my statement as hereinafter set forth is read I am sure. Certainly to anyone in our own set, and after all they are the only ones who matter. Well, our first evening was a dull one and needs no recording here beyond the mere mention of the fact that the Tugwells were both extremely late for dinner on the flimsy excuse that their government work, which I understand they are doing together, had detained them. It was not until the next day that things—really distressing things—began to happen. Being accountable for the smooth, or as I may say impeccable running of a ménage such as the DeWynts' is never a light task—not even on those days when we are alone, or practically so, for one can never tell what emergency will arise in the matter of entertaining, can one? But the dawn—for it was barely nine-thirty when I arose— of the morning following was burdened with the shadow of the forthcoming bridge drive, which, though long expected by me, was none the less aweinspiring when I realized that its eventuation was imminent. My dear patroness had devised it as a means of replenishing the nearly always depleted coffers of our local branch of the Red Cross. Of course you will at once appreciate the fact that this condition in that admirable organization is not uncommon— at least in our part of the world, and indeed the national organization has at times criticized us for our lack of funds. To me it has always been a matter for annoyed conjecture as to why people at large cannot see that rich persons are constantly hampered by enormous personal expenses—indeed that the richer they are the greater become their obligations to themselves and the upkeep of their position; the proportion of what they have to give away actually diminishes in accordance with the size of what they are obliged to spend, if you know what I mean. Of course our local branch was poor—why not, when one considers the innumerable obligations of its members? And though when we were first organized I recalled that there were many generous donations toward furnishing the rooms in the village, which the local real-estate person, I think it was, had loaned rent free for this usage, which donations included two comfortable wicker armchairs that dear Mrs. DeWynt took from my sitting room, still, when the question of actual cash funds arose all the ladies were in perfect accord as to how the obtaining of them should be accomplished— namely, by the good conservative method of a benefit of some sort. And so we had had, as occasion demanded, amateur theatricals, an informal costume dance at the club, and now, the treasury being again at, as I may say, ebb tide, was to come the most important function of this sort which had so far occurred during the season—the bridge drive on Mrs. DeWynt's lawn. Let it be clearly understood that Mrs. DeWynt made no small sacrifice in allowing this piece of patriotic effort to be consummated upon her premises, involving as it did an enormous expense for caterers, hiring of public furniture for the seating of that selected public which would be admitted, and a considerable amount of my time and strength, which was of course somewhat diverted from my usual duties and focused upon the success of the afternoon. I had prepared lists of invitations, arranged with the newspapers and photographers, and in every way taken the greatest care that the affair should have the appearance of extreme exclusiveness. No one would pay five dollars admission to something which seemed in any manner lacking, as I may say, in cachet. And of course we expected a large crowd to be drawn by dear Mrs. DeWynt's name and wellknown Italian garden. This much having been clearly demonstrated, and the sacrifice that our household was making understood, surprise at the attitude that Esmeralda Tugwell is Wife Ever Chose Him took regarding the event will be e Remains a Mystery to Me the greater. "I Think You Had Better Drop Them a Line. Aggie," Said My Dear Lady: "I Understand Cap• fain Tatgavell is Next in Line for the Title and That His Cousin is Not Jtrong" Why H Liketvis


1918_08_17--005_SP [The Vulgar Dollar]
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