Vandover and the Brute
Everybody in San Francisco knew of the Ravises and always made it a point to speak of
them as one of the best families of the city. They were not new and they were not
particularly rich. They had lived in the same house on California Street for nearly twenty
years and had always been comfortably well off. As things go in San Francisco, they
were old-fashioned. They had family traditions and usages and time-worn customs. Their
library had been in process of collection for the past half century and the pictures on the
walls were oil paintings of steel engravings and genuine old-fashioned chromos, beyond
Their furniture and ornaments were of the preceding generation, solid, conservative. They
were not chosen with reference to any one style, nor all bought at the same time. Each
separate piece had an individuality of its own. The Ravises kept their old things, long
after the fashion had gone out, preferring them to the smarter "art" objects on account of
There were six in the family, Mr. and Mrs. Ravis, Turner, and her older brother, Stanley,
Yale '88, a very serious young gentleman of twenty-seven, continually professing an
interest in economics and finance. Besides these were the two children, Howard, nine
years old, and his sister, aged fourteen, who had been christened Virginia.
They were a home-loving race. Mr. Ravis, senior, belonged to the Bohemian Club, but
was seldom seen there. Stanley was absorbed in his law business, and Turner went out
but little. They much preferred each other's society to that of three fourths of their
acquaintances, most of their friends being "friends of the family," who came to dinner
three or four times a year.
It was a custom of theirs to spend the evenings in the big dining-room at the back of the
house, after the table had been cleared away, Mr. Ravis and Stanley reading the papers,
the one smoking his cigar, the other his pipe; Mrs. Ravis, with the magazines and Turner
with the Chautauquan. Howard and Virginia appropriated the table to themselves where
they played with their soldiers and backgammon board.
The family kept two servants, June the "China boy," who had been with them since the
beginning of things, and Delphine the cook, a more recent acquisition. June was, in a
way, butler and second boy combined; he did all the downstairs work and the heavy
sweeping, but it was another time-worn custom for Mrs. Ravis and Turner to spend part
of every morning in putting the bedrooms to rights, dusting and making up the beds.
Besides this, Turner exercised a sort of supervision over Howard and Virginia, who were
too old for a nurse but too young to take care of themselves. She had them to bed at nine,
mended some of their clothes, made them take their baths regularly, reëstablished peace
between them in their hourly quarrels, and, most arduous task of all, saw that Howard
properly washed himself every morning, and on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons that
he was suitably dressed in time for dancing school.