THE GOLDEN SLIPPER
THE GOLDEN SLIPPER
ANNA KATHARINE GREEN
"She's here! I thought she would be. She's one of the three
young ladies you see in the right-hand box near the proscenium."
The gentleman thus addressed--a man of middle age and a member
of the most exclusive clubs--turned his opera glass toward the
spot designated and in some astonishment retorted:
"She? Why those are the Misses Pratt and--"
"Miss Violet Strange; no other."
"And do you mean to say--"
"That yon silly little chit whose father I know whose fortune
I know who is seen everywhere and who is called one of the
season's belles is an agent of yours; a--a--"
"No names here please. You want a mystery solved. It is not a
matter for the police--that is as yet--and so you come to me
and when I ask for the facts I find that women and only women
are involved and that these women are not only young but one
and all of the highest society. Is it a man's work to go to the
bottom of a combination like this? No. Sex against sex and if
possible youth against youth. Happily I know such a person--a
girl of gifts and extraordinarily well placed for the purpose.
Why she uses her talents in this direction--why with means
enough to play the part natural to her as a successful
debutante she consents to occupy herself with social and other
mysteries you must ask her not me. Enough that I promise you
her aid if you want it. That is if you can interest her. She
will not work otherwise."
Mr. Driscoll again raised his opera glass.
"But it's a comedy face" he commented. "It's hard to associate
intellectuality with such quaintness of expression. Are you sure
of her discretion?"
"Whom is she with?"
"Abner Pratt his wife and daughters."
"Is he a man to entrust his affairs unadvisedly?"
"Abner Pratt! Do you mean to say that she is anything more to
him than his daughters' guest?"
"Judge. You see how merry they are. They were in deep trouble
yesterday. You are witness to a celebration."
"Don't you observe how they are loading her with attentions?
She's too young to rouse such interest in a family of notably
unsympathetic temperament for any other reason than that of
"It's hard to believe. But if what you hint is true secure me
an opportunity at once of talking to this youthful marvel. My
affair is serious. The dinner I have mentioned comes off in
three days and--"
"I know. I recognize your need; but I think you had better enter
Mr. Pratt's box without my intervention. Miss Strange's value to
us will be impaired the moment her connection with us is
"Ah there's Ruthven! He will take me to Mr. Pratt's box"
remarked Driscoll as the curtain fell on the second act. "Any
suggestions before I go?"
"Yes and an important one. When you make your bow touch your
left shoulder with your right hand. It is a signal. She may
respond to it; but if she does not do not be discouraged. One of
her idiosyncrasies is a theoretical dislike of her work. But once
she gets interested nothing will hold her back. That's all
except this. In no event give away her secret. That's part of the
compact you remember."
Driscoll nodded and left his seat for Ruthven's box. When the
curtain rose for the third time he could be seen sitting with
the Misses Pratt and their vivacious young friend. A widower and
still on the right side of fifty his presence there did not
pass unnoted and curiosity was rife among certain onlookers as
to which of the twin belles was responsible for this change in
his well-known habits. Unfortunately no opportunity was given
him for showing. Other and younger men had followed his lead
into the box and they saw him forced upon the good graces of
the fascinating but inconsequent Miss Strange whose rapid fire
of talk he was hardly of a temperament to appreciate.
Did he appear dissatisfied? Yes; but only one person in the
opera house knew why. Miss Strange had shown no comprehension of
or sympathy with his errand. Though she chatted amiably enough
between duets and trios she gave him no opportunity to express
his wishes though she knew them well enough owing to the signal
he had given her.
This might be in character but it hardly suited his views; and
being a man of resolution he took advantage of an absorbing
minute on the stage to lean forward and whisper in her ear:
"It's my daughter for whom I request your services; as fine a
girl as any in this house. Give me a hearing. You certainly can
She was a small slight woman whose naturally quaint appearance
was accentuated by the extreme simplicity of her attire. In the
tier upon tier of boxes rising before his eyes no other
personality could vie with hers in strangeness or in the