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29 CHAPTER VI. The dancing girl on a benefit night: I introduce the reader to the valuable acquaintance of J. Fitzmore Smytthe. upon the stage she looked really fascinating, and her pale silk dress, with those great folds which the dog spoiled, had given place to the short gauzy costume of a dancing girl. Her legs and feet were beautiful, and her gestures and attitudes easy and graceful, to a degree hardly ever seen among the mechanical performers of the ballet. When this fine looking girl—this Inez—came forward in her part, I heard a specially clattering applause, over in a corner of the house, where, upon examination, I discovered Master Nathaniel, and his friends, each armed with big sticks, which they plied vigorously upon all the wooden work in their neighborhood. New York is a progressive city, of vast resources; but in nothing is its energy more perceptible than in its juvenile population proper—their culture and their beginning early. From Nathaniel and his friends, my attention was now attracted nearer by. 30 “Um—m—m; devilish lovely girl. Um—m—m. Ah?” Such was the remark of a fashionably attired gentleman by my side, who nodded approvingly toward me. I had a slight acquaintance with him, and had fallen foul of him, that evening, just on entering the theatre, where we happened to take seats together. He was clerk in a bank not far from Covert’s office, and the name on his very genteel little enamelled card, was “J. Fitzmore Smytthe.” Really I beg pardon all round for not introducing, with specific description, long before, this same Fitzmore Smytthe. Our acquaintance was, in fact, one that dated back some seasons beforehand. He was only four or five years my elder; and I first knew him as the assistant of a small dry-goods store, in the neighborhood of our house. Young Mr. Smytthe even then, although but a boy, was very, very genteel. Conversational powers he had acquired only on a solitary theme, that of selling dry-goods to the ladies—he on one side of the counter, they on the other. These powers were, however, somewhat brilliant in that way. They might be illustrated or summed up in the following phrases, varied to suit any difference of the rank, age, or temperament, of purchasers. “Shall I show you anything else to-day, ma’am?” “No ma’am, we haven’t any of that article; it’s not worn at all, now.” “Where will you have these things sent, ladies?” “This is real French goods, ma’am, and is very much worn.—I will put it to you low.” 31 “Ah, that would be lower than cost price, ma’am.” “Indeed, I am sure you will be pleased with it.—I warrant it to wash like a rock.” “This will be somewhat dearer, ma’am; it is the very best material, and one-and-threepence is positively the lowest I could afford it.” &c, &c, &c, &c. Take Fitzmore on any other tack, and he floundered like a whale in the shallows.—He retreated to a dull muttering, interspersed with an occasional spasm of meaning.—This muttering, or mumble, had the great advantage of leaving the hearer to make out of it any sort of sentiment, which said hearer chose to infer.—This was often very convenient. “Um—m—;” “Ah, I believe so;” and phrases of that sort, made up most of my friend’s stock, now that he was out of the dry-goods line. In response to his praise of the dancing girl, I asked him if he had seen her before. “Um—m—m—Should think so—Devilish intimate with Inez—Visit her.” I knew that Smytthe had an ambition to be on familiar terms with all sorts of notabilities; and, as the dance was over we walked out, and into a neighboring refreshment saloon, where he told me what he knew of Inez. She was Spanish by birth, but must have been, from early life in England; at any rate, she talked the language without any foreign tone. She was very independent, had the reputation of possessing some money, well invested; 32 and although much talked about, Smytthe averred that she was as good as other people; and only to a few, of which he broadly hinted that he was one, deigned the favor of her smiles and her friendship. He announced to me quite confidentially, that he often visited her, and that they were on...


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