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When handsome young Richard Field--he was very handsome and very young--
announced to our assembled company that if his turn should really come to tell us a story,
the story should be no invention of his fancy, but a page of truth, a chapter from his own
life, in which himself was the hero and a lovely, innocent girl was the heroine, his wife at
once looked extremely uncomfortable. She changed the reclining position in which she
had been leaning back in her chair, and she sat erect, with a hand closed upon each arm of
the chair.
"Richard," she said. "do you think that it is right of you to tell any one, even friends,
anything that you have never yet confessed to me?"
"Ethel," replied Richard, "although I cannot promise that you will be entirely proud of my
conduct when you have heard this episode of my past, I do say that there is nothing in it
to hurt the trust you have placed in me since I have been your husband. Only," he added,
"I hope that I shall not have to tell any story at all."
"Oh, yes you will!" we all exclaimed together; and the men looked eager while the
women sighed.
The rest of us were much older than Richard, we were middle-aged, in fact; and human
nature is so constructed, that when it is at the age when making love keeps it busy, it does
not care so much to listen to tales of others' love-making; but the more it recedes from
that period of exuberance, and ceases to have love adventures of its own, the greater
become its hunger and thirst to hear about this delicious business which it can no longer
personally practice with the fluency of yore. It was for this reason that we all yearned in
our middle-aged way for the tale of love which we expected from young Richard. He, on
his part, repeated the hope that by the time his turn to tell a story was reached we should
be tired of stories and prefer to spend the evening at the card tables or in the music room.
We were a house party, no brief "week-end" affair, but a gathering whose period for most
of the guests covered a generous and leisurely ten days, with enough departures and
arrivals to give that variety which is necessary among even the most entertaining and
agreeable people. Our skilful hostess had assembled us in the country, beneath a roof of
New York luxury, a luxury which has come in these later days to be so much more than
princely. By day, the grounds afforded us both golf and tennis, the stables provided motor
cars and horses to ride or drive over admirable roads, through beautiful scenery that was
embellished by a magnificent autumn season. At nightfall, the great house itself received
us in the arms of supreme comfort, fed us sumptuously, and after dinner ministered to our
middle-aged bodies with chairs and sofas of the highest development.