What is the meaning of the text in bold in this passage from "The Compliments of the Season?"The lady entered a moment later. She was more beautiful and holy thanany picture that Fuzzy had seen....
What is the meaning of the text in bold in this passage from "The Compliments of the Season?"
The lady entered a moment later. She was more beautiful and holy thanany picture that Fuzzy had seen. She smiled, and said something about adoll. Fuzzy didn't understand that; he remembered nothing about a doll.A footman brought in two small glasses of sparkling wine on a stampedsterling-silver waiter. The Lady took one. The other was handed toFuzzy.As his fingers closed on the slender glass stem his disabilities droppedfrom him for one brief moment. He straightened himself; and Time, sodisobliging to most of us, turned backward to accommodate Fuzzy.Forgotten Christmas ghosts whiter than the false beards of the mostopulent Kris Kringle were rising in the fumes of Grogan's whisky. Whathad the Millionaire's mansion to do with a long, wainscoted Virginiahall, where the riders were grouped around a silver punch-bowl, drinkingthe ancient toast of the House? And why should the patter of the cabhorses' hoofs on the frozen street be in any wise related to the soundof the saddled hunters stamping under the shelter of the west veranda?And what had Fuzzy to do with any of it?The Lady, looking at him over her glass, let her condescending smilefade away like a false dawn. Her eyes turned serious. She saw somethingbeneath the rags and Scotch terrier whiskers that she did notunderstand. But it did not matter.
I think that the bold words that you call to our attention are very similar in meaning to the rest of this passage. They are all meant to reinforce the idea that Fuzzy's actions are recalling the way that things were done in the past. They are making the lady recall lost traditions that were observed by her ancestors.
In the time of the story, there was no reason for the lady to have anything to do with Fuzzy. But he invokes this ancient ritual of giving the lady the compliments of the season and that activates this memory in the old woman.
She is wondering why she feels compelled to join him in this toast. She is somehow feeling transported back to the days when her ancestors lived in these rural mansions instead of in the city. Fuzzy's actions are recalling these ancestral memories of hers. (They make the cab horses' hooves remind her in some way of the hooves of the hunters' horses outside those mansions.) She does not know really why, but there is something deep inside her that is responding to these actions.
This whole story is about Fuzzy's actions and how they recall the way things were in the past. This passage is one of the places where we see this theme most clearly.