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A Fountain Sealed   By: (1873-1935)

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(Mrs. Basil de Sélincourt)

Author of 'The Little French Girl,' 'Franklin Winslow Kane,' 'Tante,' etc.


Three people were sitting in a small drawing room, the windows of which looked out upon a wintry Boston street. It was a room rather empty and undecorated, but the idea of austerity was banished by a temperature so nearly tropical. There were rows of books on white shelves, a pale Donatello cast on the wall, and two fine bronze vases filled with roses on the mantelpiece. Over the roses hung a portrait in oils, very sleek and very accurate, of a commanding old gentleman in uniform, painted by a well known German painter, and all about the room were photographs of young women, most of them young mothers, with smooth heads and earnest faces, holding babies. Outside, the snow was heaped high along the pavements and thickly ridged the roofs and lintels. After the blizzard the sun was shining and all the white glittered. The national colors, to a patriotic imagination, were pleasingly represented by the red, white and blue of the brick houses, the snow, and the vivid sky above.

The three people who talked, with many intimate pauses of silence, were all Bostonians, though of widely different types. The hostess, sitting in an easy chair and engaged with some sewing, was a girl of about twenty six. She wore a brown skirt of an ugly cut and shade and a white silk shirt, adorned with a high linen collar, a brown tie and an old fashioned gold watch chain. Her forehead was too large, her nose too short; but her lips were full and pleasant and when she smiled she showed charming teeth. The black rimmed glasses she wore emphasized the clearness and candor of her eyes. Her thick, fair hair was firmly fastened in a group of knobs down the back of her head. There was an element of the grotesque in her appearance and in her careful, clumsy movements, yet, with it, a quality almost graceful, that suggested homely and wholesome analogies, freshly baked bread; fair, sweet linen; the safety and content of evening firesides. This was Mary Colton.

The girl who sat near the window, her furs thrown back from her shoulders, a huge muff dangling from her hand, was a few years younger and exceedingly pretty. Her skin was unusually white, her hair unusually black, her velvety eyes unusually large and dark. In. her attitude, lounging, graceful, indifferent, in her delicate face, the straight, sulky brows, the coldly closed lips, the coldly observant eyes, a sort of permanent discontent was expressed, as though she could find, neither in herself nor in the world, any adequate satisfaction. This was Rose Packer.

The other guest, sitting sidewise on a stiff chair, his hand hanging over the back, his long legs crossed, was a young man, graceful, lean and shabby. He was clean shaven, with brown skin and golden hair, an unruly lock lying athwart his forehead. His face, intent, alert, was veiled in an indolent nonchalance. He looked earnest, yet capricious, staunch, yet sensitive, and one felt that, conscious of these weaknesses, he tried to master or to hide them.

These three had known one another since childhood. Jack's family was old and rich; Mary's old and poor; Rose Packer's new and of fantastic wealth. Rose was a young woman of fashion and her whole aspect seemed to repudiate any closeness of tie between herself and Mary, who passed her time in caring for General Colton, her invalid father, attending committees, and, as a diversion, going to "sewing circles" and symphony concerts; but she was fonder of Mary than of any one else in the world. Rose, who had, as it were, been brought up all over the world, divided her time now between two continents and quaintly diversified her dancing, hunting, yachting existence by the arduous study of biology. Jack, in appearance more ambiguous than either, looked neither useful nor ornamental; but, in point of fact, he was a much occupied person... Continue reading book >>

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