Moran of the Lady Letty
This is to be a story of a battle, at least one murder, and several sudden deaths. For
that reason it begins with a pink tea and among the mingled odors of many delicate
perfumes and the hale, frank smell of Caroline Testout roses.
There had been a great number of debutantes "coming out" that season in San
Francisco by means of afternoon teas, pink, lavender, and otherwise. This particular tea
was intended to celebrate the fact that Josie Herrick had arrived at that time of her life
when she was to wear her hair high and her gowns long, and to have a "day" of her own
quite distinct from that of her mother.
Ross Wilbur presented himself at the Herrick house on Pacific Avenue much too early
upon the afternoon of Miss Herrick's tea. As he made, his way up the canvased stairs
he was aware of a terrifying array of millinery and a disquieting staccato chatter of
feminine voices in the parlors and reception-rooms on either side of the hallway. A
single high hat in the room that had been set apart for the men's use confirmed him in
"Might have known it would be a hen party till six, anyhow," he muttered, swinging out of
his overcoat. "Bet I don't know one girl in twenty down there now--all mamma's friends
at this hour, and papa's maiden sisters, and Jo's school-teachers and governesses and
music-teachers, and I don't know what all."
When he went down he found it precisely as he expected. He went up to Miss Herrick,
where she stood receiving with her mother and two of the other girls, and allowed them
to chaff him on his forlornness.
"Maybe I seem at my ease," said Ross Wilbur to them, "but really I am very much
frightened. I'm going to run away as soon as it is decently possible, even before, unless
you feed me."
"I believe you had luncheon not two hours ago," said Miss Herrick. "Come along,
though, and I'll give you some chocolate, and perhaps, if you're good, a stuffed olive. I
got them just because I knew you liked them. I ought to stay here and receive, so I can't
look after you for long."
The two fought their way through the crowded rooms to the luncheon-table, and Miss
Herrick got Wilbur his chocolate and his stuffed olives. They sat down and talked in a
window recess for a moment, Wilbur toeing-in in absurd fashion as he tried to make a
lap for his plate.