17. Chapter XVII.
"Ah, ah--so you kicked over the traces, did you?
And I suppose Augusta and Welland pulled long faces,
and behaved as if the end of the world had come? But
little May--she knew better, I'll be bound?"
"I hoped she did; but after all she wouldn't agree to
what I'd gone down to ask for."
"Wouldn't she indeed? And what was that?"
"I wanted to get her to promise that we should be
married in April. What's the use of our wasting another year?"
Mrs. Manson Mingott screwed up her little mouth
into a grimace of mimic prudery and twinkled at him
through malicious lids. "`Ask Mamma,' I suppose--
the usual story. Ah, these Mingotts--all alike! Born in
a rut, and you can't root 'em out of it. When I built
this house you'd have thought I was moving to California!
Nobody ever HAD built above Fortieth Street--no,
says I, nor above the Battery either, before Christopher
Columbus discovered America. No, no; not one of
them wants to be different; they're as scared of it as the
small-pox. Ah, my dear Mr. Archer, I thank my stars
I'm nothing but a vulgar Spicer; but there's not one of
my own children that takes after me but my little
Ellen." She broke off, still twinkling at him, and asked,
with the casual irrelevance of old age: "Now, why in
the world didn't you marry my little Ellen?"
Archer laughed. "For one thing, she wasn't there to
"No--to be sure; more's the pity. And now it's too
late; her life is finished." She spoke with the cold-blooded complacency of the aged throwing earth into
the grave of young hopes. The young man's heart grew
chill, and he said hurriedly: "Can't I persuade you to
use your influence with the Wellands, Mrs. Mingott? I
wasn't made for long engagements."