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 Nearly twenty years later—that is to say, not long since—I had a glimpse of Mr. Alpha at a Saturday lunch. Do not imagine that Mr. Alpha’s Saturday lunch took place in a miserable1 garret, amid every circumstance of failure and shame. Success in life has very little to do with prudence2. It has a great deal to do with courage, initiative, and individual force, and also it is not unconnected with sheer luck.  
Mr. Alpha had succeeded in life, and the lunch at which I assisted took place in a remarkably4 spacious5 and comfortable house surrounded by gardens, greenhouses, garages, stables, and all the minions6 necessary to the upkeep thereof. Mr. Alpha was a jolly, a kind-hearted, an immensely clever, and a prolific7 man. I call him prolific because he had five children. There he was, with his wife and the five children; and they were all enjoying the lunch and themselves to an extraordinary degree. It was a delight to be with them.
It is necessarily a delight to be with people who are intelligent, sympathetic and lively, and who have ample money to satisfy their desires. Somehow you can hear the gold chinking, and the sound is good to the human ear. Even the youngest girl had money in her nice new purse, to do with it as she liked. For Mr. Alpha never stinted8. He was generous by instinct, and he wanted everybody to be happy. In fact, he had turned out quite an unusual father. At the same time he fell short of being an absolute angel of acquiescence9 and compliance10. For instance, his youngest child, a girl, broached11 the subject of music at that very lunch. She was fourteen, and had shown some of her father’s cleverness at a school musical examination. She was rather uplifted about her music.
“Can’t I take it up seriously, dad?” she said, with the extreme gravity of her years.
“Of course,” said he. “The better you play, the more we shall all be pleased. Don’t you think we deserve some reward for all we’ve suffered under your piano-practising?”
She blushed.
“But I mean seriously,” she insisted.
“Well, my pet,” said he, “you don’t reckon you could be a star pianist, do you? Fifteen hundred dollars a concert, and so on?” And, as she was sitting next to him, he affectionately pinched her delicious ear.
“No,” she admitted. “But I could teach. I should like to teach.”
“Teach!” He repeated the word in a changed tone. “Teach! What in Heaven’s name should you want to teach for? I don’t quite see a daughter of mine teaching.”
No more was said on the subject.
The young woman and I are on rather confidential12 terms.
“It is a shame, isn’t it?” she said to me afterwards, with feeling.
“Nothing to be done?” I inquired.
“Nothing,” said she. “I knew there wasn’t before I started. The dad would never hear of me earning my own living.”
The two elder girls—twins—had no leaning towards music, and no leaning towards anything save family affection and social engagements. They had a grand time, and the grander the time they had the keener was the delight of Mr. Alpha ............
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