“I suppose she heard gossip and believed it,” he added.

“But that is a shame!” exclaimed the girl. “Why don't you tell her the truth?”

“I tell her?” laughed Montague. “I have no reason for telling her. She doesn't care anything in particular about me.”

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He was silent for a moment or two. “I thought of it once or twice,” he said. “For it made me rather angry at first. I saw myself going up to her, and startling her with the statement, 'What you believe about me is not true!' Then again, I thought I might write her a letter and tell her. But of course it would be absurd; she would never acknowledge that she had believed anything, and she would think I was impertinent.”

“I don't believe she would do anything of the sort,” Alice answered. “At least, not if she meant what she said to me. She was talking about people one met in Society, and how tiresome and conventional it all was. 'No one ever speaks the truth or deals frankly with you,' she said. 'All the men spend their time in paying you compliments about your looks. They think that is all a woman cares about. The more I come to know them, the less I think of them.'”

“That's just it,” said Montague. “One cannot feel comfortable knowing a girl in her position. Her father is powerful, and some day she will be enormously rich herself; and the people who gather about her are seeking to make use of her. I was interested in her when I first met her. But when I learned more about the world in which she lives, I shrank from even talking to her.”

“But that is rather unfair to her,” said Alice. “Suppose all decent people felt that way. And she is really quite easy to know. She told me about some charities she is interested in. She goes down into the slums, on the East Side, and teaches poor children. It seemed to me a wonderfully daring sort of thing, but she laughed when I said so. She says those people are just the same as other people, when you come to know them; you get used to their ways, and then it does not seem so terrible and far off.”

“I imagine it would be so,” said Montague, with a smile.

“Her father came over to meet her,” Alice added. “She said that was the first time he had been out of the city in six months. Just fancy working so hard, and with all the money he has! What in the world do you suppose he wants more for?”

“I don't suppose it is the money,” said he. “It's the power. And when you have so much money, you have to work hard to keep other people from taking it away from you.”

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“He certainly looks as if he ought to be able to protect himself,” said the girl. “His face is so grim and forbidding. You would hardly think he could smile, to look at him.”

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“He is very pleasant, when you know him,” said Montague.

“He remembered you, and asked about you,” said she. “Wasn't it he who was going to buy Lucy Dupree's stock?”

“I spoke to him about it,” he answered, “but nothing came of it.”