"So then I overdid it?" Because as usual, the problem here is not Dan's basic ingratitude or inability to let a moment go by without making things awkward and useless, but Serena's inability to...what, exactly? I do not know. Be less rich or less comfortable with her life, and more willing to pretend that money matters and tells you who and what you are, like in Dan's life. The reason class warfare only rarely comes to much is that the only people interested in engaging in it are people like Dan, with no money and even less clout. "I think even your underdoing it would be overdoing it," says Dan, just in case you thought you were supposed to root for him this time, or any time. Serena tries desperately to be sweet about this, because it's not a dialectical argument: he is caught in a rich/poor binary and can't deconstruct his way out of it, so it's his way or the highway, and the highways are ruining our delicate environment and green spaces, so it's his way. She asks him to set the rules, since this is all his game and apparently buying gifts for the people that you love is evil: just tell me upfront how much I'm supposed to spend, where I'm supposed to buy it, and how to barter my wares for it at the Farmer's Market. The deadline, they decide, is tomorrow morning (also known as Christmas, which is when they should be doing this anyway), and the spending limit is a paltry fifty dollars. Which isn't a lot to me, and I'm poor as hell, but is probably a lot for Dan and his stupid family in the DUMBO loft. She's disappointed, but making it work. If it were me, I would set aside the rest of his gift money and buy Blair something awesome, and then prod Blair into showing it off to hurt Dan, which wouldn't take much, and then let him do the math. And then I jet off to Aspen with Blair and Nate and if Dan got weird about it I would just say, "Don't worry about it, you're just poor. Right?" Vanessa stops her at the door and offers to show her Dan's favorite used book shop, and Serena rightly tells her to get a firmer grip on her horses and let Serena be the girlfriend for like five minutes. To Vanessa's credit, she takes this sweetly in stride, but not so much to Vanessa's credit, honestly either way she wins: either Dan's intractability regarding reality will cause this errand to destroy Serena, or her gift -- which already won the grand prize -- will win by that much more.
Rufus enters a publick house, as mentioned in the troublesome correspondence of A.B., and sees a very cute Ralph Fiennes-type sitting at the bar with his garters crossed as in the fashions of the day. "Sir, might you be 'Alex'?" he asks this worthy gentleman, and with a flourish the gentleman gives assent. Yes, he is the selfsame Alexander Bancroft of the letter. "And prithee," asks this worthy fellow, "Who might you be?" Forsooth, he is Rufus Humphrey. "Zounds!" exclaims the fellow. "Unless your wish is to be carried out of here like a blackguard, I surmise the best course of action might be to absent yourself from my wife, and leave off your attentions." Alexander Bancroft, heretofore known as A.B. in these proceedings, begs the angry artist and merchant to settle himself. "Sent you a letter unto my home? To my wife, at the DUMBO loft where we make our primary residence? Where my children do even now bend and tremble with the extent of their mother's whoredom? Whatever it is that you two have shared and tendered, it has now ended. Acquaint yourself with the facts!" Alexander Bancroft begs, worriedly, for the intemperate Rufus to sit himself down and share a cup of ale, but the Humphrey Man will not be assuaged! "She asked of you to let her alone, and to take your leave!" With compassion, the altogether appealing and seemingly blameless Bancroft shakes his head and considers the Humphrey Man kindly. "I do beg your pardon and clemency, good sir, but that is not what your good wife said when last we spoke." Rufus begins to shake like the very timbers under a gale: "Excuse me. You spoke to her?" They gaze, each upon the other, and realize Alison's whoredom has outplayed them both, in capacity for endurance and in base mendacity. Methinks Rufus will be swiftly forgiving, for, what has Alexander Bancroft vouchsafed him but the answer to a prayer, on the wings of a dove as white as the Lily?