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The hotel they were finally sent to by the official, goaded at last by Mr. Twist's want of a made-up mind into independent instructions to the cabman, was the Ritz. He thought this very suitable for the evolver of Twist's Non-Trickler, and it was only when they were being rushed along at what the twins, used to the behaviour of London taxis and not altogether unacquainted with the prudent and police-supervised deliberation of the taxis of Berlin, regarded as a skid-collision-and-mutilation-provoking speed, that a protest from Anna-Rose conveyed to Mr. Twist where they were heading for.
"An hotel called Ritz sounds very expensive," she said. "I've heard Uncle Arthur talk of one there is in London and one there is in Paris, and he said that only damned American millionaires could afford to stay in them. Anna-Felicitas and me aren't American millionaires--"
"Or damned," put in Anna-Felicitas.
"--but quite the contrary," said Anna-Rose, "hadn't you better take us somewhere else?"
"Somewhere like where the Brontes stayed in London," said Anna-Felicitas harping on this idea. "Where cheapness is combined with historical associations."
"Oh Lord, it don't matter," said Mr. Twist, who for the first time in their friendship seemed ruffled.
"Indeed it does," said Anna-Rose anxiously.
"You forget we've got to husband our resources," said Anna-Felicitas.
"You mustn't run away with the idea that because we've got £200 we're the same as millionaires," said Anna-Rose.
"Uncle Arthur," said Anna-Felicitas, "frequently told us that £200 is a very vast sum; but he equally frequently told us that it isn't."
"It was when he was talking about having given to us that he said it was such a lot," said Anna-Rose.
"He said that as long as we had it we would be rich," said Anna-Felicitas, "but directly we hadn't it we would be poor."
"So we'd rather not go to the Ritz, please," said Anna-Rose, "if you don't mind."
The taxi was stopped, and Mr. Twist got out and consulted the driver. The thought of his Uncle Charles as a temporary refuge for the twins floated across his brain, but was rejected because Uncle Charles would speak to no woman under fifty except from his pulpit, and approached those he did speak to with caution till they were sixty. He regarded them as one of the chief causes of modern unrest. He liked them so much that he hated them. He could practise abstinence, but not temperance. Uncle Charles was no good as a refuge.
"Well now, see here," said the driver at last, after Mr. Twist had rejected such varied suggestions of something small and quiet as the Waldorf-Astoria, the Plaza and the Biltmore, "you tell me where you want to go to and I'll take you there."
"I want to go to the place your mother would stay in if she came up for a day or two from the country," said Mr. Twist helplessly.
"Get right in then, and I'll take you back to the Ritz," said the driver.
But finally, when his contempt for Mr. Twist, of whose identity he was unaware, had grown too great even for him to bandy pleasantries with him, he did land his party at an obscure hotel in a street off the less desirable end of Fifth Avenue, and got rid of him.
It was one of those quiet and cheap New York hotels that yet are both noisy and expensive. It was full of foreigners,--real foreigners, the twins perceived, not the merely technical sort like themselves, but people with yellow faces and black eyes. They looked very seedy and shabby, and smoked very much, and talked volubly in unknown tongues. The entrance hall, a place of mottled marble, with clerks behind a counter all of whose faces looked as if they were masks, was thick with them; and it was when they turned to stare and whisper as Anna-Felicitas passed and Anna-Rose was thinking proudly, "Yes, you don't see anything like that every day, do you," and herself looked fondly at her Columbus, that she saw that it wasn't Columbus's beauty at all but the sulphur on the back of her skirt.
This spoilt Anna-Rose's arrival in New York. All the way up in the lift to the remote floor on which their bedroom was she was trying to brush it off, for the dress was Anna-F.'s very best one.
"That's all your grips, ain't it?" said the youth in buttons who had come up with them, dumping their bags down on the bedroom floor.
"Our what?" said Anna-Rose, to whom the expression was new. "Do you mean our bags?"
"No. Grips. These here," said the youth.
"Is that what they're called in America?" asked Anna-Felicitas, with the intelligent interest of a traveller determined to understand and appreciate everything, while Anna-Rose, still greatly upset by the condition of the best skirt but unwilling to expatiate upon it before the youth, continued to brush her down as best she could with her handkerchief.
"I don't call them. It's what they are," said the youth. "What I want to know is, are they all here?"
"How interesting that you don't drop your h's," said Anna-Felicitas, gazing at him. "The rest of you is so like no h's."
The youth said nothing to that, the line of thought being one he didn't follow.
"Those are all our--grips, I think," said Anna-Rose counting them round the corner of Anna-Felicitas's skirt. "Thank you very much," she added after a pause, as he still lingered.
But this didn't cause him to disappear as it would have in England. Instead, he picked up a metal bottle with a stopper off the table, and shook it and announced that their ice-water bottle was empty. "Want some ice water?" he inquired.
"What for?" asked Anna-Felicitas.
"What for?" echoed the youth.
"Thank you," said Anna-Rose, who didn't care about the youth's manner which seemed to her familiar, "we don't want ice water, but we should be glad of a little hot water."
"You'll get all you want of that in there," said the youth, jerking his head towards a door that led into a bathroom. "It's ice water and ink that you get out of me."
"Really?" said Anna-Felicitas, gazing at him with even more intelligent interest, almost as if she were prepared, it being America, a country, she had heard, of considerable mechanical ingenuity, to find his person bristling with taps which only needed turning.
"We don't want either, thank you," said Anna-Rose.
The youth lingered. Anna-Rose's brushing began to grow vehement. Why didn't he go? She didn't want to have to be rude to him and hurt his feelings by asking him to go, but why didn't he? Anna-Felicitas, who was much too pleasantly detached, thought Anna-Rose, for such a situation, the door being wide open to the passage and the ungetridable youth standing there staring, was leisurely taking off her hat and smoothing her hair.
"Suppose you're new to this country," said the youth after a pause.
"Brand," said Anna-Felicitas pleasantly.
"Then p'raps," said the youth, "you don't know that the feller who brings up your grips gets a tip."
"Of course we know that," said Anna-Rose, standing up straight and trying to look stately.
"Then if you know why don't you do it?"
"Do it?" she repeated, endeavouring to chill him into respectfulness by haughtily throwing back her head. "Of course we shall do it. At the proper time and place."
"Which is, as you must have noticed," added Anna-Felicitas gently, "departure and the front door."
"That's all right," said the youth, "but that's only one of the times and places. That's the last one. Where we've got to now is the first one."
"Do I understand," said Anna-Rose, trying to be very dignified, while her heart shrank within her, for what sort of sum did one offer people like this?--"that to America one tips at the beginning as well?"
"Yep," said the youth. "And in the middle too. Right along through. Never miss an opportunity, is as good a slogan as you'll get when it comes to tipping."
"I believe you'd have liked Kipps," said Anna-Felicitas meditatively, shaking some dust off her hat and remembering the orgy of tipping that immortal young man went in for at the seaside hotel.
"What I like now," said the youth, growing more easy before their manifest youth and ignorance, "is tips. Guess you can call it Kipps if it pleases you."
Anna-Rose began to fumble nervously in her purse "It's horrid, I think, to ask for presents," she said to the youth in deep humiliation, more on his account than hers.
"Presents? I'm not asking for presents. I'm telling you what's done," said the youth. And he had spots on his face. And he was repugnant to her.
Anna-Rose gave him what looked like a shilling. He took it, and remarking that he had had a lot of trouble over it, went away; and Anna-Rose was still flushed by this encounter when Mr. Twist knocked and asked if they were ready to be taken down to tea.
"He might have said thank you," she said indignantly to Anna-Felicitas, giving a final desperate brushing to the sulphur.
"I expect he'll come to a bad end," said Anna-Felicitas soothingly.
They had tea in the restaurant and were the only people doing such a thing, a solitary cluster in a wilderness of empty tables laid for dinner. It wasn't the custom much in America, explained Mr. Twist, to have tea, and no preparations were made for it in hotels of that sort. The very waiters, feeling it was a meal to be discouraged, were showing their detachment from it by sitting in a corner of the room playing dominoes. It was a big room, all looking-glasses and windows, and the street outside was badly paved and a great noise of passing motor-vans came in and drowned most of what Mr. Twist was saying. It was an unlovely place, a place in which one might easily feel homesick and that the world was empty of affection, if one let oneself go that way. The twins wouldn't. They stoutly refused, in their inward recesses, to be daunted by these externals. For there was Mr. Twist, their friend and stand-by, still with them, and hadn't they got each other? But they felt uneasy all the same; for Mr. Twist, though he plied them with buttered toast and macaroons and was as attentive as usual, had a somnambulatory quality in his attention. He looked like a man who is doing things in a dream. He looked like one who is absorbed in something else. His forehead still was puckered, and what could it be puckered about, seeing that he had got home, and was going back to his mother, and had a clear and uncomplicated future ahead of him, and anyhow was a man?
"Have you got something on your mind?" asked Anna-Rose at last, when he hadn't even heard a question she asked,--he, the polite, the interested, the sympathetic friend of the journey across.
Mr. Twist, sitting tilted back in his chair, his hands deep in his pockets, looked up from the macaroons he had been staring at and said, "Yes."
"Tell us what it is," suggested Anna-Felicitas.
"You," said Mr. Twist.
"Both of you. You both of you go together. You're in one lump in my mind. And on it too," finished Mr. Twist ruefully.
"That's only because," explained Anna-Felicitas, "you've got the idea we want such a lot of taking care of. Get rid of that, and you'll feel quite comfortable again. Why not regard us merely as pleasant friends?"
Mr. Twist looked at her in silence.
"Not as objects to be protected," continued Anna Felicitas, "but as co-equals. Of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting."
Mr. Twist continued to look at her in silence.
"We didn't come to America to be on anybody's mind," said Anna-Rose, supporting Anna-Felicitas.
"We had a good deal of that in England," said Anna-Felicitas. "For instance, we're quite familiar with Uncle Arthur's mind, we were on it so heavily and so long."
"It's our fixed determination," said Anna-Rose, "now that we're starting a new life, to get off any mind we find ourselves on instantly."
"We wish to carve out our own destinies," said Anna-Felicitas.
"We more than wish to," corrected Anna-Rose, "we intend to. What were we made in God's image for if it wasn't to stand upright on our own feet?"
"Anna-Rose and I had given this a good deal of thought," said Anna-Felicitas, "first and last, and we're prepared to be friends with everybody, but only as co-equals and of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting."
"I don't know exactly," said Mr. Twist, "what that means, but it seems to give you a lot of satisfaction."
"It does. It's out of the Athanasian Creed, and suggests such perfect equality. If you'll regard us as co-equals instead of as objects to be looked after, you'll see how happy we shall all be."
"Not," said Anna-Rose, growing tender, for indeed in her heart she loved and clung to Mr. Twist, "that we haven't very much liked all you've done for us and the way you were so kind to us on the boat,--we've been most obliged to you, and we shall miss you very much indeed, I know."
"But we'll get over that of course in time," put in Anna-Felicitas, "and we've got to start life now in earnest."
"Well then," said Mr. Twist, "will you two Annas kindly tell me what it is you propose to do next?"
"Next? After tea? Go and look at the sights."
"I mean to-morrow," said Mr. Twist.
"To-morrow," said Anna-Rose, "we proceed to Boston."
"To track the Clouston Sacks to their lair," said Anna-Felicitas.
"Ah. You've made up your minds to do that. They've behaved abominably," said Mr. Twist.
"Perhaps they missed the train," said Anna-Felicitas mildly.
"It's the proper course to pursue," said Anna-Rose. "To proceed to Boston."
"I suppose it is," said Mr. Twist, again thinking that the really proper and natural course was for him to have been able to take them to his mother. Pity one's mother wasn't--
He pulled himself up on the brink of an unfiliality. He was on the verge of thinking it a pity one's mother wasn't a different one.
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