Mrs. Ussher was having a small house party in the country over New Year's Day. This is equivalent to saying that the half dozen most fashionable people in New York were out of town. Certain human beings are admitted to have a genius for discrimination in such matters as objects of art, pigs or stocks. Mrs. Ussher had this same instinct in regard to fashion, especially where fashions in people were concerned. She turned toward hidden social availability very much as the douser's hazel wand turns toward the hidden spring. When she crossed the room to speak to some woman after dinner, whatever that woman's social position might formerly have been, you could be sure that at present she was on the upward wing.