Moran of the Lady Letty HTML version
XII. New Conditions
The winter season at the Hotel del Coronado had been unusually gay that year, and the
young lady who wrote the society news in diary form for one of the San Francisco
weekly papers had held forth at much length upon the hotel's "unbroken succession of
festivities." She had also noted that "prominent among the newest arrivals" had been
Mr. Nat Ridgeway, of San Francisco, who had brought down from the city, aboard his
elegant and sumptuously fitted yacht "Petrel," a jolly party, composed largely of the
season's debutantes. To be mentioned in the latter category was Miss Josie Herrick,
whose lavender coming-out tea at the beginning of the season was still a subject of
comment among the gossips--and all the rest of it.
The "Petrel" had been in the harbor but a few days, and on this evening a dance was
given at the hotel in honor of her arrival. It was to be a cotillon, and Nat Ridgeway was
going to lead with Josie Herrick. There had been a coaching party to Tia Juana that day,
and Miss Herrick had returned to the hotel only in time to dress. By 9:30 she emerged
from the process--which had involved her mother, her younger sister, her maid, and one
of the hotel chambermaids--a dainty, firm-corseted little body, all tulle, white satin, and
high-piled hair. She carried Marechal Niel roses, ordered by wire from Monterey; and
about an hour later, when Ridgeway gave the nod to the waiting musicians, and swung
her off to the beat of a two-step, there was not a more graceful little figure upon the floor
of the incomparable round ballroom of the Coronado Hotel.
The cotillon was a great success. The ensigns and younger officers of the monitor--at
that time anchored off the hotel-- attended in uniform; and enough of the members of
what was known in San Francisco as the "dancing set" were present to give the affair
the necessary entrain. Even Jerry Haight, who belonged more distinctly to the "country-
club set," and who had spent the early part of that winter shooting elk in Oregon, was
among the ranks of the "rovers," who grouped themselves about the draughty
doorways, and endeavored to appear unconscious each time Ridgeway gave the signal
for a "break."
The figures had gone round the hall once. The "first set" was out again, and as
Ridgeway guided Miss Herrick by the "rovers" she looked over the array of shirt-fronts,
searching for Jerry Haight.
"Do you see Mr. Haight?" she asked of Ridgeway. "I wanted to favor him this break. I
owe him two already, and he'll never forgive me if I overlook him now."
Jerry Haight had gone to the hotel office for a few moments' rest and a cigarette, and
was nowhere in sight. But when the set broke, and Miss Herrick, despairing of Jerry,
had started out to favor one of the younger ensigns, she suddenly jostled against him,
pushing his way eagerly across the floor in the direction of the musicians' platform.