Vandover and the Brute
Just before Lent, and about three months after the death of Vandover's father, Henrietta
Vance gave a reception and dance at her house. The affair was one of a series that the
girls of the Cotillon had been giving to the men of the same club. Vandover had gone to
all but the last, which had occurred while he was at Coronado. He was sure of meeting
Geary, young Haight, Turner Ravis, and all the people of his set at these functions, and
had always managed to have a very jolly time. He had been very quiet since his father's
death and had hardly gone out at all; in fact, since Ida Wade's death and his trip down the
coast he had seen none of his acquaintances except the boys. But he determined now that
he would go to this dance and in so doing return once more to the world that he knew. By
this time he had become pretty well accustomed to his father's death and saw no reason
why he should not have a good time.
At first he thought he would ask Turner to go with him, but in the end made up his mind
to go alone, instead; one always had a better time when one went alone. Young Haight
would have liked to have asked Turner, but did not because he supposed, of course, that
Vandover would take her. In the end Turner had Delphine act as her escort.
Vandover arrived at Henrietta Vance's house at about half-past eight. A couple of
workmen were stretching the last guy ropes of the awning that reached over the sidewalk;
every window of the house was lighted. The front door was opened for the guest before
he could ring, and he passed up the stairs, catching a glimpse of the parlours through the
portières of the doors. As yet they were empty of guests, the floors were covered with
canvas, and the walls decorated with fern leaves. In a window recess one of the caterer's
men was setting out two punch bowls and a multitude of glass cups; three or four
musicians were gathered about the piano, tuning up, and one heard the subdued note of a
cornet; the air was heavy with the smell of pinks and of La France roses.
At the turn of the stairs the Vances' second girl in a white lawn cap directed him to the
gentlemen's dressing-room, which was the room of Henrietta Vance's older brother.
About a dozen men were here before him, some rolling up their overcoats into balls and
stowing them with their canes in the corners of the room; others laughing and smoking
together, and still others who were either brushing their hair before the mirrors or sitting
on the bed in their stocking feet, breathing upon their patent leathers, warming them
before putting them on. There were one or two who knew no one and who stood about
unhappily, twisting the tissue paper from the buttons of their new gloves, and looking
stupidly at the pictures on the walls of the room. Occasionally one of the gentlemen
would step to the door and look out into the hall to see if the ladies whom they were
escorting were yet come out of their dressing-room, ready to go down.
On the centre table stood three boxes of cigars and a great many packages of cigarettes,
while extra hairbrushes, whiskbrooms, and papers of pins had been placed about the