**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


The Esquimaux Maiden’s Romance
by [?]

‘I thought it must have surprised you,’ she said. ‘And another thing; it is bedded far deeper in furs than is usual; all kinds of furs–seal, sea-otter, silver-grey fox, bear, marten, sable–every kind of fur in profusion; and the same with the ice-block sleeping-benches along the walls which you call “beds.” Are your platforms and sleeping-benches better provided at home?’

‘Indeed, they are not, Lasca–they do not begin to be.’ That pleased her again. All she was thinking of was the number of furs her aesthetic father took the trouble to keep on hand, not their value. I could have told her that those masses of rich furs constituted wealth–or would in my country–but she would not have understood that; those were not the kind of things that ranked as riches with her people. I could have told her that the clothes she had on, or the every-day clothes of the commonest person about her, were worth twelve or fifteen hundred dollars, and that I was not acquainted with anybody at home who wore twelve-hundred dollar toilets to go fishing in; but she would not have understood it, so I said nothing. She resumed:

‘And then the slop-tubs. We have two in the parlour, and two in the rest of the house. It is very seldom that one has two in the parlour. Have you two in the parlour at home?’

The memory of those tubs made me gasp, but I recovered myself before she noticed, and said with effusion:

‘Why, Lasca, it is a shame of me to expose my country, and you must not let it go further, for I am speaking to you in confidence; but I give you my word of honour that not even the richest man in the city of New York has two slop-tubs in his drawing-room.’

She clapped her fur-clad hands in innocent delight, and exclaimed:

‘Oh, but you cannot mean it, you cannot mean it!’

‘Indeed, I am in earnest, dear. There is Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt is almost the richest man in the whole world. Now, if I were on my dying bed, I could say to you that not even he has two in his drawing-room. Why, he hasn’t even one–I wish I may die in my tracks if it isn’t true.’

Her lovely eyes stood wide with amazement, and she said, slowly, and with a sort of awe in her voice:

‘How strange–how incredible–one is not able to realise it. Is he penurious?’

‘No–it isn’t that. It isn’t the expense he minds, but–er–well, you know, it would look like showing off. Yes, that is it, that is the idea; he is a plain man in his way, and shrinks from display.’

‘Why, that humility is right enough,’ said Lasca, ‘if one does not carry it too far–but what does the place look like?’

‘Well, necessarily it looks pretty barren and unfinished, but–‘

‘I should think so! I never heard anything like it. Is it a fine house– that is, otherwise?’

‘Pretty fine, yes. It is very well thought of.’

The girl was silent awhile, and sat dreamily gnawing a candle-end, apparently trying to think the thing out. At last she gave her head a little toss and spoke out her opinion with decision:

‘Well, to my mind there’s a breed of humility which is itself a species of showing off when you get down to the marrow of it; and when a man is able to afford two slop-tubs in his parlour, and doesn’t do it, it may be that he is truly humble-minded, but it’s a hundred times more likely that he is just trying to strike the public eye. In my judgment, your Mr. Vanderbilt knows what he is about.’

I tried to modify this verdict, feeling that a double slop-tub standard was not a fair one to try everybody by, although a sound enough one in its own habitat; but the girl’s head was set, and she was not to be persuaded. Presently she said: