that day the Doctor's peace was
gone. Never was a quiet and orderly
household transformed so suddenly
into a bear garden, or a happy
man turned into such a completely
miserable one. He had never realized
before how entirely his daughters
had shielded him from all the
friction of life. Now that they
had not only ceased to protect
him, but had themselves become
a source of trouble to him, he
began to understand how great
the blessing was which he had
enjoyed, and to sigh for the
happy days before his girls had
come under the influence of his
"You don't look happy," Mrs.
Westmacott had remarked to him
one morning. "You are pale and
a little off color. You should
come with me for a ten mile spin
upon the tandem."
"I am troubled about my girls." They
were walking up and down in the
garden. From time to time there
sounded from the house behind
them the long, sad wail of a
"That is Ida," said he. "She
has taken to practicing on that
dreadful instrument in the intervals
of her chemistry. And Clara is
quite as bad. I declare it is
getting quite unendurable."
"Ah, Doctor, Doctor!" she cried,
shaking her forefinger, with
a gleam of her white teeth. "You
must live up to your principles--you
must give your daughters the
same liberty as you advocate
for other women."
But this approaches to license."
"The same law for all, my friend." She
tapped him reprovingly on the
arm with her sunshade. "When
you were twenty your father did
not, I presume, object to your
learning chemistry or playing
a musical instrument. You would
have thought it tyranny if he
there is such
a sudden change
in them both."
I have noticed
that they have
been very enthusiastic
in the cause of liberty. Of all
my disciples I think that they
promise to be the most devoted
and consistent, which is the
more natural since their father
is one of our most trusted champions."
a twitch of
impatience. "I seem to have lost
all authority," he cried.
no, my dear
are a little exuberant at having
broken the trammels of custom.
That is all."
what I have
had to put up with, madam. It
has been a dreadful experience.
Last night, after I had extinguished
the candle in my bedroom, I placed
my foot upon something smooth
and hard, which scuttled from
under me. Imagine my horror!
I lit the gas, and came upon
a well-grown tortoise which Clara
has thought fit to introduce
into the house. I call it a filthy
custom to have such pets."
a little courtesy. "Thank you,
sir," said she. "That is a nice
little side hit at my poor Eliza."
"I give you my word that I
had forgotten about her," cried
the Doctor, flushing. "One such
pet may no doubt be endured,
but two are more than I can bear.
Ida has a monkey which lives
on the curtain rod. It is a most
dreadful creature. It will remain
absolutely motionless until it
sees that you have forgotten
its presence, and then it will
suddenly bound from picture to
picture all round the walls,
and end by swinging down on the
bell-rope and jumping on to the
top of your head. At breakfast
it stole a poached egg and daubed
it all over the door handle.
Ida calls these outrages amusing
"Oh, all will come right," said
the widow reassuringly.
Clara is as
who used to
be so good
the very image of her poor mother.
She insists upon this preposterous
scheme of being a pilot, and
will talk of nothing but revolving
lights and hidden rocks, and
codes of signals, and nonsense
of the kind."
"But why preposterous?" asked
his companion. "What nobler occupation
can there be than that of stimulating
commerce, and aiding the mariner
to steer safely into port? I
should think your daughter admirably
adapted for such duties."
I must beg
to differ from
you are inconsistent."
I do not see
in the same
And I should be obliged to you
if you would use your influence
with my daughter to dissuade
wish to make
am afraid that
I cannot interfere."
very angry. "Very
well, madam," said he. "In that
case I can only say that I have
the honor to wish you a very
good morning." He raised his
broad straw hat and strode away
up the gravel path, while the
widow looked after him with twinkling
eyes. She was surprised herself
to find that she liked the Doctor
better the more masculine and
aggressive he became. It was
unreasonable and against all
principle, and yet so it was
and no argument could mend the
Very hot and angry, the Doctor
retired into his room and sat
down to read his paper. Ida had
retired, and the distant wails
of the bugle showed that she
was upstairs in her boudoir.
Clara sat opposite to him with
her exasperating charts and her
blue book. The Doctor glanced
at her and his eyes remained
fixed in astonishment upon the
front of her skirt.
"My dear Clara," he cried, "you
have torn your skirt!"
out her frock. To his horror
he saw the red plush of the chair
where the dress ought to have
been. "It is all torn!" he cried. "What
have you done?"
"My dear papa!" said she, "what
do you know about the mysteries
of ladies' dress? This is a divided
Then he saw that it was indeed
so arranged, and that his daughter
was clad in a sort of loose,
extremely long knickerbockers.
"It will be so convenient for
my sea-boots," she explained.
his head sadly. "Your
dear mother would not have liked
it, Clara," said he.
For a moment the conspiracy
was upon the point of collapsing.
There was something in the gentleness
of his rebuke, and in his appeal
to her mother, which brought
the tears to her eyes, and in
another instant she would have
been kneeling beside him with
everything confessed, when the
door flew open and her sister
Ida came bounding into the room.
She wore a short grey skirt,
like that of Mrs. Westmacott,
and she held it up in each hand
and danced about among the furniture.
"I feel quite the Gaiety girl!" she
cried. "How delicious it must
be to be upon the stage! You
can't think how nice this dress
is, papa. One feels so free in
it. And isn't Clara charming?"
"Go to your room this instant
and take it off!" thundered the
Doctor. "I call it highly improper,
and no daughter of mine shall
it is the exact
model of Mrs.
"I say it is improper. And
yours also, Clara! Your conduct
is really outrageous. You drive
me out of the house. I am going
to my club in town. I have no
comfort or peace of mind in my
own house. I will stand it no
longer. I may be late to-night--I
shall go to the British Medical
meeting. But when I return I
shall hope to find that you have
reconsidered your conduct, and
that you have shaken yourself
clear of the pernicious influences
which have recently made such
an alteration in your conduct." He
seized his hat, slammed the dining-room
door, and a few minutes later
they heard the crash of the big
"Victory, Clara, victory!" cried
Ida, still pirouetting around
the furniture. "Did you hear
what he said? Pernicious influences!
Don't you understand, Clara?
Why do you sit there so pale
and glum? Why don't you get up
I shall be
so glad when
it is over, Ida. I do hate to
give him pain. Surely he has
learned now that it is very unpleasant
to spend one's life with reformers."
Clara. Just one more little lesson.
We must not risk all at this
would you do,
Ida? Oh, don't
I feel that we have gone too
we can do it
You see we are both engaged and
that makes it very easy. Harold
will do what you ask him, especially
as you have told him the reason
why, and my Charles will do it
without even wanting to know
the reason. Now you know what
Mrs. Westmacott thinks about
the reserve of young ladies.
Mere prudery, affectation, and
a relic of the dark ages of the
Zenana. Those were her words,
were they not?"
now we must
put it in practice.
We are reducing
her other views to practice,
and we must not shirk this one.
you do? Oh,
don't look so wicked, Ida! You
look like some evil little fairy,
with your golden hair and dancing,
mischievous eyes. I know that
you are going to propose something
must give a
suppers. Why not young ladies?"
and Mrs. Hay
no. That would
be very old-fashioned.
We must keep
with the times, Clara."
what can we
give them for
a nice, fast,
of flavor to it. Let me see!
Champagne, of course--and oysters.
Oysters will do. In the novels,
all the naughty people take champagne
and oysters. Besides, they won't
need any cooking. How is your
I have one.
I have no idea how much champagne
costs. Have you?"
does a man
write and ask
I won't. I'll
ask Jane. Ring
for her, Clara. She has been
a cook, and is sure to know.
Jane, on being cross-questioned,
refused to commit herself beyond
the statement that it depended
upon the gentleman, and also
upon the oysters. The united
experience of the kitchen, however,
testified that three dozen was
a fair provision.
"Then we shall have eight dozen
altogether, said Ida, jotting
down all her requirements upon
a sheet of paper. "And two pints
of champagne. And some brown
bread, and vinegar, and pepper.
That's all, I think. It is not
so very difficult to give a supper
after all, is it, Clara?"
it, Ida. It
seems to me
to be so very
it is needed
to clinch the
no, there is
no drawing back now, Clara, or
we shall ruin everything. Papa
is sure to come back by the 9:45.
He will reach the door at 10.
We must have everything ready
for him. Now, just sit down at
once, and ask Harold to come
at nine o'clock, and I shall
do the same to Charles."
The two invitations were dispatched,
received and accepted. Harold
was already a confidant, and
he understood that this was some
further development of the plot.
As to Charles, he was so accustomed
to feminine eccentricity, in
the person of his aunt, that
the only thing which could surprise
him would be a rigid observance
of etiquette. At nine o'clock
they entered the dining-room
of Number 2, to find the master
of the house absent, a red-shaded
lamp, a snowy cloth, a pleasant
little feast, and the two whom
they would have chosen, as their
companions. A merrier party never
met, and the house rang with
their laughter and their chatter.
"It is three minutes to ten," cried
Clara, suddenly, glancing at
"Good gracious! So it is! Now
for our little tableau!" Ida
pushed the champagne bottles
obtrusively forward, in the direction
of the door, and scattered oyster
shells over the cloth.
you your pipe,
it. Now don't
it, but do
it, for you will ruin the effect
The large man drew out a red
case, and extracted a great yellow
meerschaum, out of which, a moment
later, he was puffing thick wreaths
of smoke. Harold had lit a cigar,
and both the girls had cigarettes.
"That looks very nice and emancipated," said
Ida, glancing round. "Now I shall
lie on this sofa. So! Now, Charles,
just sit here, and throw your
arm carelessly over the back
of the sofa. No, don't stop smoking.
I like it. Clara, dear, put your
feet upon the coal-scuttle, and
do try to look a little dissipated.
I wish we could crown ourselves
with flowers. There are some
lettuces on the sideboard. Oh
dear, here he is! I hear his
key." She began to sing in her
high, fresh voice a little snatch
from a French song, with a swinging
tra la-la chorus.
The Doctor had walked home
from the station in a peaceable
and relenting frame of mind,
feeling that, perhaps, he had
said too much in the morning,
that his daughters had for years
been models in every way, and
that, if there had been any change
of late, it was, as they said
themselves, on account of their
anxiety to follow his advice
and to imitate Mrs. Westmacott.
He could see clearly enough now
that that advice was unwise,
and that a world peopled with
Mrs. Westmacotts would not be
a happy or a soothing one. It
was he who was, himself, to blame,
and he was grieved by the thought
that perhaps his hot words had
troubled and saddened his two
This fear, however, was soon
dissipated. As he entered his
hall he heard the voice of Ida
uplifted in a rollicking ditty,
and a very strong smell of tobacco
was borne to his nostrils. He
threw open the dining-room door,
and stood aghast at the scene
which met his eyes.
The room was full of the blue
wreaths of smoke, and the lamp-light
shone through the thin haze upon
gold-topped bottles, plates,
napkins, and a litter of oyster
shells and cigarettes. Ida, flushed
and excited, was reclining upon
the settee, a wine-glass at her
elbow, and a cigarette between
her fingers, while Charles Westmacott
sat beside her, with his arm
thrown over the head of the sofa,
with the suggestion of a caress.
On the other side of the room,
Clara was lounging in an arm-chair,
with Harold beside her, both
smoking, and both with wine-glasses
beside them. The Doctor stood
speechless in the doorway, staring
at the Bacchanalian scene.
"Come in, papa! Do!" cried
Ida. "Won't you have a glass
"Pray excuse me," said her
father, coldly, "I feel that
I am intruding. I did not know
that you were entertaining. Perhaps
you will kindly let me know when
you have finished. You will find
me in my study." He ignored the
two young men completely, and,
closing the door, retired, deeply
hurt and mortified, to his room.
A quarter of an hour afterwards
he heard the door slam, and his
two daughters came to announce
that the guests were gone.
"Guests! Whose guests?" he
cried angrily. "What is the meaning
of this exhibition?"
have been giving
a little supper,
were our guests."
"Oh, indeed!" The Doctor laughed
sarcastically. "You think it
right, then, to entertain young
bachelors late at night, to,
smoke and drink with them, to----
Oh, that I should ever have lived
to blush for my own daughters!
I thank God that your dear mother
never saw the day."
"Dearest papa," cried Clara,
throwing her arms about him. "Do
not be angry with us. If you
understood all, you would see
that there is no harm in it."
Who is the
"Mrs. Westmacott," suggested
from his chair. "Confound Mrs. Westmacott!" he
cried, striking frenziedly into
the air with his hands. "Am I
to hear of nothing but this woman?
Is she to confront me at every
turn? I will endure it no longer."
it was your
I will tell
you now what
my second and wiser wish is,
and we shall see if you will
obey it as you have the first."
course we will,
my wish is,
that you should
which you have imbibed, that
you should dress and act as you
used to do, before ever you saw
this woman, and that, in future,
you confine your intercourse
with her to such civilities as
are necessary between neighbors."
are to give
up Mrs. Westmacott?"
give up me."
"Oh, dear dad, how can you
say anything so cruel?" cried
Ida, burrowing her towsy golden
hair into her father's shirt
front, while Clara pressed her
cheek against his whisker. "Of
course we shall give her up,
if you prefer it."
course we shall,
the two caressing
heads. "These are my own two
girls again," he cried. "It has
been my fault as much as yours.
I have been astray, and you have
followed me in my error. It was
only by seeing your mistake that
I have become conscious of my
own. Let us set it aside, and
neither say nor think anything
more about it."