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Three girl waved a farewell, and made their way n orthward arm i n a rm . They were Margaret A lcott, E leanor Peck, and Joan Sumner. ( You have heard of these prominent fam i l ies, no doubt. Their names are known not only i n New York, but i n Paris, Vienna, and London. I n the old days of the Metropolitan Opera H ouse, when only the distingue could afford to attend, a l l eyes were promptly centered o n these elite as soon as they en­ tered their boxes. A low buzz would lift on the air and hover there until the rise of the c u rtain . ) And now the daughters of such families were making a peculiar move. They were asking a person from "below" t o one of their parties. Had social distinctions been erased, then ? Had classes of society moved u p o r down, according t o their positions, and merged into one ? No, that had n ot yet come to pass. These girls, children of the rich, had no altruistic purpose in m i n d . I n fact, they had always made it a point to snub all those whose stations in l ife were below their own ; but these girls had played together in the park as children. Grit had had an Italian n u rse who used to bid Toinette's mother the time of d ay, while the children overcame their fi rst shyness and became q uite friendly. As a youngster of five, Toinette was fascinated by these fortu nate children, who in t urn were attracted by her. B ut as they grew older, they realized that the park was not a m e lting pot ; it was a barrier between two classes. They realized that snubbing was n ecessary t o show their superiority. On the part of Grit and her friends, snubbing was requ ired t o put persons i n their proper places ; on the part of Toinette, snubbing was required to maintain some dignity. Living in adj acent neighborhoods, they met freq uently, and Toinette often received the condescension of a pert nod of the head in recognition ; she a lways returned the recogn ition as condescendingly as possible. N ow, they had actually stopped her on her way from high school and i nvited her to a party. It was almost unbelievable. Why, Toinette pon­ dered. Why ? While she washed the supper dishes, and attended to the fire i n the stove, while she prepared her studies for the n ext day, she asked herself this question. And then, woman-like, she knew. It came on her all at once, and she felt that its truth was unquestionable. How d o women know '? They j ust know,-that is all the answer one can give. I t was-it m ust be-Margaret A'lcot t 's brother, William. When Toinette was quite small, William, who was then called " B oy," had force­ fully tried to take from her a n old stick that served, with the help of a faded pink ribbon, as a doll. She had immediately raised the stick, to which only a moment before she had been crooning a l ullaby, and bro ught i t d ow n heavily on Boy's head. At once there were screams, tears, a m other apologizing profusely to an outraged n u rse-maid, and a public beat ing for T'o inette by her parent. S ince then Boy had held 'her somewhat i n awe ; fear was m ixed with admiration. E ven when, during the process of growing up, a n unwritten law pulled them in opposite directions, this incident was not forgotten. Toinette sensed William's glances of a pproval as she passed him, although she did n ot venture to look his way. That was it ! William wanted to see her ; to see of what stu ff she was made. Well, she would l et h i m see. The only difference b etween them, after all, was that their parents were rich while hers were poor. Their fine manners came from the private t utoring they got. The tutoring was a result of wealth. It a l l came from m oney-. She stormed and raged about wealth, and how poorly a pportioned wealth was. Two hundred n ine

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Oracle 1927  

Oracle 1927