The Debtor

Mary Wilkins Freeman
The Debtor

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Title: The Debtor A Novel
Author: Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
Illustrator: W. D. Stevens
Release Date: February 19, 2006 [EBook #17793]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ASCII

Produced by Jeff Kaylin and Andrew Sly

The Debtor
A Novel

Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
Author of "The Portion of Labor" "Jerome" "A New England Nun" Etc.
Illustrations by W. D. Stevens
New York and London Harper & Brothers Publishers 1905
To Annie Fields Alden and Harriet Alden
Chapter I
Banbridge lies near enough to the great City to perceive after nightfall,
along the southern horizon, the amalgamated glow of its multitudinous
eyes of electric fire. In the daytime the smoke of its mighty breathing,
in its race of progress and civilization, darkens the southern sky. The
trains of great railroad systems speed between Banbridge and the City.
Half the male population of Banbridge and a goodly proportion of the
female have for years wrestled for their daily bread in the City, which
the little village has long echoed, more or less feebly, though still quite
accurately, with its own particular little suburban note.
Banbridge had its own "season," beginning shortly after Thanksgiving,
and warming gradually until about two weeks before Lent, when it
reached its high-water mark. All winter long there were luncheons and
teas and dances. There was a whist club, and a flourishing woman's
club, of course. It was the women who were thrown with the most
entirety upon the provincial resources. But they were a resolved set,
and they kept up the gait of progress of their sex with a good deal of
success. They improved their minds and their bodies, having even a
physical-culture club and a teacher coming weekly from the City. That
there were links and a golf club goes without saying.
It was spring, and golf had recommenced for some little time. Mrs.
Henry Lee and Mrs. William Van Dorn passed the links that afternoon.
The two ladies were being driven about Banbridge by Samson Rawdy,
the best liveryman in Banbridge, in his best coach, with his two best

horses. The horses, indeed, two fat bays, were considered as rather
sacred to fashionable calls, as was the coach, quite a resplendent affair,
with very few worn places in the cloth lining.
Banbridge ladies never walked to make fashionable calls. They had a
coach even for calls within a radius of a quarter of a mile, where they
could easily have walked, and did walk on any other occasion. It would
have shocked the whole village if a Banbridge woman had gone out in
her best array, with her card-case, making calls on foot. Therefore, in
this respect the ladies who were better off in this world's goods often
displayed a friendly regard for those who could ill afford the necessary
expense of state calls. Often one would invite another to call with her,
defraying all the expenses of the trip, and Mrs. Van Dorn had so invited
Mrs. Lee to-day. Mrs. Lee, who was a small, elderly woman, was full
of deprecating gratitude and a sense of obligation which made it appear
incumbent upon her not to differ with her companion in any opinion
which she might advance, and, as a rule, to give her the initiative in
conversation during their calls, and the precedence in entry and retreat.
Mrs. Van Dorn was as small as her companion, but with a confidence
of manner which seemed to push her forward in the field of vision
farther than her size warranted.
She was also highly corseted, and much trimmed over her shoulders,
which gave an effect of superior size and weight; her face, too, was
very full and rosy, while the other's was narrow and pinched at the chin
and delicately transparent.
Mrs. Van Dorn sat quite erect on the very edge of the seat, and so did
Mrs. Lee. Each held her card-case in her two hands encased in nicely
cleaned, white kid gloves. Each wore her best gown and her best
bonnet. The coach was full of black velvet streamers, and lace frills and
silken lights over precise knees, and the nodding of flowers and
There was, moreover, in the carriage a strong odor of Russian violet,
which diffused itself around both the ladies. Russian violet was the
calling perfume in vogue in Banbridge. It nearly overcame the more

legitimate fragrance of the spring
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