Page:The Lesson of the Master, The Marriages, The Pupil, Brooksmith, The Solution, Sir Edmund Orme (New York & London, Macmillan & Co., 1892).djvu/225

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THE SOLUTION.

of women it was in a very different manner from poor Wilmerding. I don't think he respected them much, but he would have insisted that he sometimes spared them. I wondered often how Wilmerding had ever come to be a secretary of legation, as at that period, in America (I don't know how much they have changed it), such posts were obtained by being begged for and "worked" for in various crooked ways. It was impossible to go in less for haughtiness; yet with all Wilmerding's mildness, and his being the model of the nice young man, I couldn't have imagined his asking a favour.

He went to Mrs. Goldie's as much as the rest of us, but really no more, I think—no more, certainly, until the summer we all spent at Frascati. During that happy September we were constantly in and out of her house, and it is possible that when the others were out he was sometimes in. I mean that he played backgammon in the loggia of the villa with Rosy and Gussie, and even strolled, or sat, in the dear old Roman garden with them, looking over Veronica's shoulder while her pencil vainly attempted a perspective or a perpendicular. It was a charming, sociable, promiscuous time, and these poor girls were more or less gilded, for all of us, by it. The long, hot Roman summer had driven the strangers away, and the native society had gone into villeggiatura. My chief had crossed the Alps, on his annual leave, and the affairs of our house—they were very simple matters, no great international questions—were in the hands of a responsible underling. I forget what had become of Montaut's people; he himself, at any rate, was not to have his holiday till later. We were in the same situation, he and I, save that I had been able to take several bare rooms, for a couple of months, in a rambling old