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The Portrait of a Lady [Volume 2] by Henry James

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radical newspaper or a Unitarian preacher. The real offence, as
she ultimately perceived, was her having a mind of her own at
all. Her mind was to be his--attached to his own like a small
garden-plot to a deer-park. He would rake the soil gently and
water the flowers; he would weed the beds and gather an
occasional nosegay. It would be a pretty piece of property for a
proprietor already far-reaching. He didn't wish her to be stupid.
On the contrary, it was because she was clever that she had
pleased him. But he expected her intelligence to operate
altogether in his favour, and so far from desiring her mind to be
a blank he had flattered himself that it would be richly
receptive. He had expected his wife to feel with him and for him,
to enter into his opinions, his ambitions, his preferences; and
Isabel was obliged to confess that this was no great insolence on
the part of a man so accomplished and a husband originally at
least so tender. But there were certain things she could never
take in. To begin with, they were hideously unclean. She was not
a daughter of the Puritans, but for all that she believed in such
a thing as chastity and even as decency. It would appear that
Osmond was far from doing anything of the sort; some of his
traditions made her push back her skirts. Did all women have
lovers? Did they all lie and even the best have their price?
Were there only three or four that didn't deceive their husbands?
When Isabel heard such things she felt a greater scorn for them
than for the gossip of a village parlour--a scorn that kept its
freshness in a very tainted air. There was the taint of her
sister-in-law: did her husband judge only by the Countess Gemini?
This lady very often lied, and she had practised deceptions that
were not simply verbal. It was enough to find these facts assumed
among Osmond's traditions--it was enough without giving them such
a general extension. It was her scorn of his assumptions, it was
this that made him draw himself up. He had plenty of contempt,
and it was proper his wife should be as well furnished; but that
she should turn the hot light of her disdain upon his own
conception of things--this was a danger he had not allowed for.
He believed he should have regulated her emotions before she came
to it; and Isabel could easily imagine how his ears had scorched
on his discovering he had been too confident. When one had a wife
who gave one that sensation there was nothing left but to hate

She was morally certain now that this feeling of hatred, which at
first had been a refuge and a refreshment, had become the
occupation and comfort of his life. The feeling was deep, because
it was sincere; he had had the revelation that she could after all
dispense with him. If to herself the idea was startling, if it
presented itself at first as a kind of infidelity, a capacity for
pollution, what infinite effect might it not be expected to have
had upon HIM? It was very simple; he despised her; she had no
traditions and the moral horizon of a Unitarian minister. Poor
Isabel, who had never been able to understand Unitarianism! This
was the certitude she had been living with now for a time that she
had ceased to measure. What was coming--what was before them? That
was her constant question. What would he do--what ought SHE to do?
When a man hated his wife what did it lead to? She didn't hate
him, that she was sure of, for every little while she felt a
passionate wish to give him a pleasant surprise. Very often,
however, she felt afraid, and it used to come over her, as I have
intimated, that she had deceived him at the very first. They were
strangely married, at all events, and it was a horrible life.
Until that morning he had scarcely spoken to her for a week; his
manner was as dry as a burned-out fire. She knew there was a
special reason; he was displeased at Ralph Touchett's staying on
in Rome. He thought she saw too much of her cousin--he had told
her a week before it was indecent she should go to him at his
hotel. He would have said more than this if Ralph's invalid state
had not appeared to make it brutal to denounce him; but having had
to contain himself had only deepened his disgust. Isabel read all
this as she would have read the hour on the clock-face; she was as
perfectly aware that the sight of her interest in her cousin
stirred her husband's rage as if Osmond had locked her into her
room--which she was sure was what he wanted to do. It was her
honest belief that on the whole she was not defiant, but she
certainly couldn't pretend to be indifferent to Ralph. She
believed he was dying at last and that she should never see him
again, and this gave her a tenderness for him that she had never
known before. Nothing was a pleasure to her now; how could
anything be a pleasure to a woman who knew that she had thrown
away her life? There was an everlasting weight on her heart--
there was a livid light on everything. But Ralph's little visit
was a lamp in the darkness; for the hour that she sat with him
her ache for herself became somehow her ache for HIM. She felt
to-day as if he had been her brother. She had never had a
brother, but if she had and she were in trouble and he were
dying, he would be dear to her as Ralph was. Ah yes, if Gilbert
was jealous of her there was perhaps some reason; it didn't make
Gilbert look better to sit for half an hour with Ralph. It was
not that they talked of him--it was not that she complained. His
name was never uttered between them. It was simply that Ralph was
generous and that her husband was not. There was something in
Ralph's talk, in his smile, in the mere fact of his being in
Rome, that made the blasted circle round which she walked more
spacious. He made her feel the good of the world; he made her
feel what might have been. He was after all as intelligent as
Osmond--quite apart from his being better. And thus it seemed to
her an act of devotion to conceal her misery from him. She
concealed it elaborately; she was perpetually, in their talk,
hanging out curtains and before her again--it lived before her
again,--it had never had time to die--that morning in the garden
at Florence when he had warned her against Osmond. She had only
to close her eyes to see the place, to hear his voice, to feel
the warm, sweet air. How could he have known? What a mystery,
what a wonder of wisdom! As intelligent as Gilbert? He was much
more intelligent--to arrive at such a judgement as that. Gilbert
had never been so deep, so just. She had told him then that from
her at least he should never know if he was right; and this was
what she was taking care of now. It gave her plenty to do; there
was passion, exaltation, religion in it. Women find their religion
sometimes in strange exercises, and Isabel at present, in playing
a part before her cousin, had an idea that she was doing him a
kindness. It would have been a kindness perhaps if he had been for
a single instant a dupe. As it was, the kindness consisted mainly
in trying to make him believe that he had once wounded her greatly
and that the event had put him to shame, but that, as she was very
generous and he was so ill, she bore him no grudge and even
considerately forbore to flaunt her happiness in his face. Ralph
smiled to himself, as he lay on his sofa, at this extraordinary
form of consideration; but he forgave her for having forgiven him.
She didn't wish him to have the pain of knowing she was unhappy:
that was the great thing, and it didn't matter that such knowledge
would rather have righted him.

For herself, she lingered in the soundless saloon long after the
fire had gone out. There was no danger of her feeling the cold;
she was in a fever. She heard the small hours strike, and then the
great ones, but her vigil took no heed of time. Her mind, assailed
by visions, was in a state of extraordinary activity, and her
visions might as well come to her there, where she sat up to meet
them, as on her pillow, to make a mockery of rest. As I have
said, she believed she was not defiant, and what could be a
better proof of it than that she should linger there half the
night, trying to persuade herself that there was no reason why
Pansy shouldn't be married as you would put a letter in the
post-office? When the clock struck four she got up; she was
going to bed at last, for the lamp had long since gone out and
the candles burned down to their sockets. But even then she
stopped again in the middle of the room and stood there gazing at
a remembered vision--that of her husband and Madame Merle
unconsciously and familiarly associated.


Three nights after this she took Pansy to a great party, to which
Osmond, who never went to dances, did not accompany them. Pansy
was as ready for a dance as ever; she was not of a generalising
turn and had not extended to other pleasures the interdict she
had seen placed on those of love. If she was biding her time or
hoping to circumvent her father she must have had a prevision of
success. Isabel thought this unlikely; it was much more likely
that Pansy had simply determined to be a good girl. She had never
had such a chance, and she had a proper esteem for chances. She
carried herself no less attentively than usual and kept no less
anxious an eye upon her vaporous skirts; she held her bouquet
very tight and counted over the flowers for the twentieth time.
She made Isabel feel old; it seemed so long since she had been in
a flutter about a ball. Pansy, who was greatly admired, was never
in want of partners, and very soon after their arrival she gave
Isabel, who was not dancing, her bouquet to hold. Isabel had
rendered her this service for some minutes when she became aware
of the near presence of Edward Rosier. He stood before her; he
had lost his affable smile and wore a look of almost military
resolution. The change in his appearance would have made Isabel
smile if she had not felt his case to be at bottom a hard one: he
had always smelt so much more of heliotrope than of gunpowder. He
looked at her a moment somewhat fiercely, as if to notify her he
was dangerous, and then dropped his eyes on her bouquet. After he
had inspected it his glance softened and he said quickly: "It's
all pansies; it must be hers!"

Isabel smiled kindly. "Yes, it's hers; she gave it to me to

"May I hold it a little, Mrs. Osmond?" the poor young man asked.

"No, I can't trust you; I'm afraid you wouldn't give it back."

"I'm not sure that I should; I should leave the house with it
instantly. But may I not at least have a single flower?"

Isabel hesitated a moment, and then, smiling still, held out the
bouquet. "Choose one yourself. It's frightful what I'm doing for

"Ah, if you do no more than this, Mrs. Osmond!" Rosier exclaimed
with his glass in one eye, carefully choosing his flower.

"Don't put it into your button-hole," she said. "Don't for the

"I should like her to see it. She has refused to dance with me,
but I wish to show her that I believe in her still."

"It's very well to show it to her, but it's out of place to show
it to others. Her father has told her not to dance with you."

"And is that all YOU can do for me? I expected more from you,
Mrs. Osmond," said the young man in a tone of fine general
reference. "You know our acquaintance goes back very far--quite
into the days of our innocent childhood."

"Don't make me out too old," Isabel patiently answered. "You come
back to that very often, and I've never denied it. But I must
tell you that, old friends as we are, if you had done me the
honour to ask me to marry you I should have refused you on the

"Ah, you don't esteem me then. Say at once that you think me a
mere Parisian trifler!"

"I esteem you very much, but I'm not in love with you. What I
mean by that, of course, is that I'm not in love with you for

"Very good; I see. You pity me--that's all." And Edward Rosier
looked all round, inconsequently, with his single glass. It was a
revelation to him that people shouldn't be more pleased; but he
was at least too proud to show that the deficiency struck him as

Isabel for a moment said nothing. His manner and appearance had
not the dignity of the deepest tragedy; his little glass, among
other things, was against that. But she suddenly felt touched;
her own unhappiness, after all, had something in common with his,
and it came over her, more than before, that here, in
recognisable, if not in romantic form, was the most affecting
thing in the world--young love struggling with adversity. "Would
you really be very kind to her?" she finally asked in a low tone.

He dropped his eyes devoutly and raised the little flower that he
held in his fingers to his lips. Then he looked at her. "You pity
me; but don't you pity HER a little?"

"I don't know; I'm not sure. She'll always enjoy life."

"It will depend on what you call life!" Mr. Rosier effectively
said. "She won't enjoy being tortured."

"There'll be nothing of that."

"I'm glad to hear it. She knows what she's about. You'll see."

"I think she does, and she'll never disobey her father. But she's
coming back to me," Isabel added, "and I must beg you to go

Rosier lingered a moment till Pansy came in sight on the arm of
her cavalier; he stood just long enough to look her in the face.
Then he walked away, holding up his head; and the manner in which
he achieved this sacrifice to expediency convinced Isabel he was
very much in love.

Pansy, who seldom got disarranged in dancing, looking perfectly
fresh and cool after this exercise, waited a moment and then took
back her bouquet. Isabel watched her and saw she was counting the
flowers; whereupon she said to herself that decidedly there were
deeper forces at play than she had recognised. Pansy had seen
Rosier turn away, but she said nothing to Isabel about him; she
talked only of her partner, after he had made his bow and
retired; of the music, the floor, the rare misfortune of having
already torn her dress. Isabel was sure, however, she had
discovered her lover to have abstracted a flower; though this
knowledge was not needed to account for the dutiful grace with
which she responded to the appeal of her next partner. That
perfect amenity under acute constraint was part of a larger
system. She was again led forth by a flushed young man, this time
carrying her bouquet; and she had not been absent many minutes
when Isabel saw Lord Warburton advancing through the crowd. He
presently drew near and bade her good-evening; she had not seen
him since the day before. He looked about him, and then "Where's
the little maid?" he asked. It was in this manner that he had
formed the harmless habit of alluding to Miss Osmond.

"She's dancing," said Isabel. "You'll see her somewhere."

He looked among the dancers and at last caught Pansy's eye. "She
sees me, but she won't notice me," he then remarked. "Are you not

"As you see, I'm a wall-flower."

"Won't you dance with me?"

"Thank you; I'd rather you should dance with the little maid."

"One needn't prevent the other--especially as she's engaged."

"She's not engaged for everything, and you can reserve yourself.
She dances very hard, and you'll be the fresher."

"She dances beautifully," said Lord Warburton, following her with
his eyes. "Ah, at last," he added, "she has given me a smile." He
stood there with his handsome, easy, important physiognomy; and
as Isabel observed him it came over her, as it had done before,
that it was strange a man of his mettle should take an interest
in a little maid. It struck her as a great incongruity; neither
Pansy's small fascinations, nor his own kindness, his good-nature,
not even his need for amusement, which was extreme and constant,
were sufficient to account for it. "I should like to dance with
you," he went on in a moment, turning back to Isabel; "but I
think I like even better to talk with you."

"Yes, it's better, and it's more worthy of your dignity. Great
statesmen oughtn't to waltz."

"Don't be cruel. Why did you recommend me then to dance with Miss

"Ah, that's different. If you danced with her it would look
simply like a piece of kindness--as if you were doing it for her
amusement. If you dance with me you'll look as if you were doing
it for your own."

"And pray haven't I a right to amuse myself?"

"No, not with the affairs of the British Empire on your hands."

"The British Empire be hanged! You're always laughing at it."

"Amuse yourself with talking to me," said Isabel.

"I'm not sure it's really a recreation. You're too pointed; I've
always to be defending myself. And you strike me as more than
usually dangerous to-night. Will you absolutely not dance?"

"I can't leave my place. Pansy must find me here."

He was silent a little. "You're wonderfully good to her," he said

Isabel stared a little and smiled. "Can you imagine one's not

"No indeed. I know how one is charmed with her. But you must have
done a great deal for her."

"I've taken her out with me," said Isabel, smiling still. "And
I've seen that she has proper clothes."

"Your society must have been a great benefit to her. You've
talked to her, advised her, helped her to develop."

"Ah yes, if she isn't the rose she has lived near it."

She laughed, and her companion did as much; but there was a
certain visible preoccupation in his face which interfered with
complete hilarity. "We all try to live as near it as we can," he
said after a moment's hesitation.

Isabel turned away; Pansy was about to be restored to her, and
she welcomed the diversion. We know how much she liked Lord
Warburton; she thought him pleasanter even than the sum of his
merits warranted; there was something in his friendship that
appeared a kind of resource in case of indefinite need; it was
like having a large balance at the bank. She felt happier when he
was in the room; there was something reassuring in his approach;
the sound of his voice reminded her of the beneficence of nature.
Yet for all that it didn't suit her that he should be too near
her, that he should take too much of her good-will for granted.
She was afraid of that; she averted herself from it; she wished
he wouldn't. She felt that if he should come too near, as it
were, it might be in her to flash out and bid him keep his
distance. Pansy came back to Isabel with another rent in her
skirt, which was the inevitable consequence of the first and
which she displayed to Isabel with serious eyes. There were too
many gentlemen in uniform; they wore those dreadful spurs, which
were fatal to the dresses of little maids. It hereupon became
apparent that the resources of women are innumerable. Isabel
devoted herself to Pansy's desecrated drapery; she fumbled for a
pin and repaired the injury; she smiled and listened to her
account of her adventures. Her attention, her sympathy were
immediate and active; and they were in direct proportion to a
sentiment with which they were in no way connected--a lively
conjecture as to whether Lord Warburton might be trying to make
love to her. It was not simply his words just then; it was others
as well; it was the reference and the continuity. This was what
she thought about while she pinned up Pansy's dress. If it were
so, as she feared, he was of course unwitting; he himself had not
taken account of his intention. But this made it none the more
auspicious, made the situation none less impossible. The sooner
he should get back into right relations with things the better.
He immediately began to talk to Pansy--on whom it was certainly
mystifying to see that he dropped a smile of chastened devotion.
Pansy replied, as usual, with a little air of conscientious
aspiration; he had to bend toward her a good deal in conversation,
and her eyes, as usual, wandered up and down his robust person as
if he had offered it to her for exhibition. She always seemed a
little frightened; yet her fright was not of the painful
character that suggests dislike; on the contrary, she looked as
if she knew that he knew she liked him. Isabel left them together
a little and wandered toward a friend whom she saw near and with
whom she talked till the music of the following dance began, for
which she knew Pansy to be also engaged. The girl joined her
presently, with a little fluttered flush, and Isabel, who
scrupulously took Osmond's view of his daughter's complete
dependence, consigned her, as a precious and momentary loan, to
her appointed partner. About all this matter she had her own
imaginations, her own reserves; there were moments when Pansy's
extreme adhesiveness made each of them, to her sense, look
foolish. But Osmond had given her a sort of tableau of her
position as his daughter's duenna, which consisted of gracious
alternations of concession and contraction; and there were
directions of his which she liked to think she obeyed to the
letter. Perhaps, as regards some of them, it was because her
doing so appeared to reduce them to the absurd.

After Pansy had been led away, she found Lord Warburton drawing
near her again. She rested her eyes on him steadily; she wished
she could sound his thoughts. But he had no appearance of
confusion. "She has promised to dance with me later," he said.

"I'm glad of that. I suppose you've engaged her for the cotillion."

At this he looked a little awkward. "No, I didn't ask her for
that. It's a quadrille."

"Ah, you're not clever!" said Isabel almost angrily. "I told her
to keep the cotillion in case you should ask for it."

"Poor little maid, fancy that!" And Lord Warburton laughed
frankly. "Of course I will if you like."

"If I like? Oh, if you dance with her only because I like it--!"

"I'm afraid I bore her. She seems to have a lot of young fellows
on her book."

Isabel dropped her eyes, reflecting rapidly; Lord Warburton stood
there looking at her and she felt his eyes on her face. She felt
much inclined to ask him to remove them. She didn't do so,
however; she only said to him, after a minute, with her own
raised: "Please let me understand."

"Understand what?"

"You told me ten days ago that you'd like to marry my
stepdaughter. You've not forgotten it!"

"Forgotten it? I wrote to Mr. Osmond about it this morning."

"Ah," said Isabel, "he didn't mention to me that he had heard
from you."

Lord Warburton stammered a little. "I--I didn't send my letter."

"Perhaps you forgot THAT."

"No, I wasn't satisfied with it. It's an awkward sort of letter
to write, you know. But I shall send it to-night."

"At three o'clock in the morning?"

"I mean later, in the course of the day."

"Very good. You still wish then to marry her?"

"Very much indeed."

"Aren't you afraid that you'll bore her?" And as her companion
stared at this enquiry Isabel added: "If she can't dance with you
for half an hour how will she be able to dance with you for

"Ah," said Lord Warburton readily, "I'll let her dance with other
people! About the cotillion, the fact is I thought that you--
that you--"

"That I would do it with you? I told you I'd do nothing."

"Exactly; so that while it's going on I might find some quiet
corner where we may sit down and talk."

"Oh," said Isabel gravely, "you're much too considerate of me."

When the cotillion came Pansy was found to have engaged herself,
thinking, in perfect humility, that Lord Warburton had no
intentions. Isabel recommended him to seek another partner, but
he assured her that he would dance with no one but herself. As,
however, she had, in spite of the remonstrances of her hostess,
declined other invitations on the ground that she was not dancing
at all, it was not possible for her to make an exception in Lord
Warburton's favour.

"After all I don't care to dance," he said; "it's a barbarous
amusement: I'd much rather talk." And he intimated that he had
discovered exactly the corner he had been looking for--a quiet
nook in one of the smaller rooms, where the music would come to
them faintly and not interfere with conversation. Isabel had
decided to let him carry out his idea; she wished to be
satisfied. She wandered away from the ball-room with him, though
she knew her husband desired she should not lose sight of his
daughter. It was with his daughter's pretendant, however; that
would make it right for Osmond. On her way out of the ball-room
she came upon Edward Rosier, who was standing in a doorway, with
folded arms, looking at the dance in the attitude of a young man
without illusions. She stopped a moment and asked him if he were
not dancing.

"Certainly not, if I can't dance with HER!" he answered.

"You had better go away then," said Isabel with the manner of
good counsel.

"I shall not go till she does!" And he let Lord Warburton pass
without giving him a look.

This nobleman, however, had noticed the melancholy youth, and he
asked Isabel who her dismal friend was, remarking that he had
seen him somewhere before.

"It's the young man I've told you about, who's in love with

"Ah yes, I remember. He looks rather bad."

"He has reason. My husband won't listen to him."

"What's the matter with him?" Lord Warburton enquired. "He seems
very harmless."

"He hasn't money enough, and he isn't very clever."

Lord Warburton listened with interest; he seemed struck with this
account of Edward Rosier. "Dear me; he looked a well-set-up young

"So he is, but my husband's very particular."

"Oh, I see." And Lord Warburton paused a moment. "How much money
has he got?" he then ventured to ask.

"Some forty thousand francs a year."

"Sixteen hundred pounds? Ah, but that's very good, you know."

"So I think. My husband, however, has larger ideas."

"Yes; I've noticed that your husband has very large ideas. Is he
really an idiot, the young man?"

"An idiot? Not in the least; he's charming. When he was twelve
years old I myself was in love with him."

"He doesn't look much more than twelve to-day," Lord Warburton
rejoined vaguely, looking about him. Then with more point, "Don't
you think we might sit here?" he asked.

"Wherever you please." The room was a sort of boudoir, pervaded
by a subdued, rose-coloured light; a lady and gentleman moved out
of it as our friends came in. "It's very kind of you to take such
an interest in Mr. Rosier," Isabel said.

"He seems to me rather ill-treated. He had a face a yard long. I
wondered what ailed him."

"You're a just man," said Isabel. "You've a kind thought even for
a rival."

Lord Warburton suddenly turned with a stare. "A rival! Do you
call him my rival?"

"Surely--if you both wish to marry the same person."

"Yes--but since he has no chance!"

"I like you, however that may be, for putting your self in his
place. It shows imagination."

"You like me for it?" And Lord Warburton looked at her with an
uncertain eye. "I think you mean you're laughing at me for it."

"Yes, I'm laughing at you a little. But I like you as somebody to
laugh at."

"Ah well, then, let me enter into his situation a little more.
What do you suppose one could do for him?"

"Since I have been praising your imagination I'll leave you to
imagine that yourself," Isabel said. "Pansy too would like you
for that."

"Miss Osmond? Ah, she, I flatter myself, likes me already."

"Very much, I think."

He waited a little; he was still questioning her face. "Well
then, I don't understand you. You don't mean that she cares for

A quick blush sprang to his brow. "You told me she would have no
wish apart from her father's, and as I've gathered that he would
favour me--!" He paused a little and then suggested "Don't you
see?" through his blush.

"Yes, I told you she has an immense wish to please her father,
and that it would probably take her very far."

"That seems to me a very proper feeling," said Lord Warburton.

"Certainly; it's a very proper feeling." Isabel remained silent
for some moments; the room continued empty; the sound of the
music reached them with its richness softened by the interposing
apartments. Then at last she said: "But it hardly strikes me as
the sort of feeling to which a man would wish to be indebted for
a wife."

"I don't know; if the wife's a good one and he thinks she does

"Yes, of course you must think that."

"I do; I can't help it. You call that very British, of course."

"No, I don't. I think Pansy would do wonderfully well to marry
you, and I don't know who should know it better than you. But
you're not in love."

"Ah, yes I am, Mrs. Osmond!"

Isabel shook her head. "You like to think you are while you sit
here with me. But that's not how you strike me."

"I'm not like the young man in the doorway. I admit that. But
what makes it so unnatural? Could any one in the world be more
loveable than Miss Osmond?"

"No one, possibly. But love has nothing to do with good reasons."

"I don't agree with you. I'm delighted to have good reasons."

"Of course you are. If you were really in love you wouldn't care
a straw for them."

"Ah, really in love--really in love!" Lord Warburton exclaimed,
folding his arms, leaning back his head and stretching himself a
little. "You must remember that I'm forty-two years old. I won't
pretend I'm as I once was."

"Well, if you're sure," said Isabel, "it's all right."

He answered nothing; he sat there, with his head back, looking
before him. Abruptly, however, he changed his position; he turned
quickly to his friend. "Why are you so unwilling, so sceptical?"
She met his eyes, and for a moment they looked straight at each
other. If she wished to be satisfied she saw something that
satisfied her; she saw in his expression the gleam of an idea
that she was uneasy on her own account--that she was perhaps even
in fear. It showed a suspicion, not a hope, but such as it was it
told her what she wanted to know. Not for an instant should he
suspect her of detecting in his proposal of marrying her
step-daughter an implication of increased nearness to herself, or
of thinking it, on such a betrayal, ominous. In that brief,
extremely personal gaze, however, deeper meanings passed between
them than they were conscious of at the moment.

"My dear Lord Warburton," she said, smiling, "you may do, so far
as I'm concerned, whatever comes into your head."

And with this she got up and wandered into the adjoining room,
where, within her companion's view, she was immediately addressed
by a pair of gentlemen, high personages in the Roman world, who
met her as if they had been looking for her. While she talked
with them she found herself regretting she had moved; it looked a
little like running away--all the more as Lord Warburton didn't
follow her. She was glad of this, however, and at any rate she
was satisfied. She was so well satisfied that when, in passing
back into the ball-room, she found Edward Rosier still planted in
the doorway, she stopped and spoke to him again. "You did right
not to go away. I've some comfort for you."

"I need it," the young man softly wailed, "when I see you so
awfully thick with him!"

"Don't speak of him; I'll do what I can for you. I'm afraid it
won't be much, but what I can I'll do."

He looked at her with gloomy obliqueness. "What has suddenly
brought you round?"

"The sense that you are an inconvenience in doorways!" she
answered, smiling as she passed him. Half an hour later she took
leave, with Pansy, and at the foot of the staircase the two
ladies, with many other departing guests, waited a while for
their carriage. Just as it approached Lord Warburton came out of
the house and assisted them to reach their vehicle. He stood a
moment at the door, asking Pansy if she had amused herself; and
she, having answered him, fell back with a little air of fatigue.
Then Isabel, at the window, detaining him by a movement of her
finger, murmured gently: "Don't forget to send your letter to her


The Countess Gemini was often extremely bored--bored, in her own
phrase, to extinction. She had not been extinguished, however,
and she struggled bravely enough with her destiny, which had been
to marry an unaccommodating Florentine who insisted upon living
in his native town, where he enjoyed such consideration as might
attach to a gentleman whose talent for losing at cards had not
the merit of being incidental to an obliging disposition. The
Count Gemini was not liked even by those who won from him; and he
bore a name which, having a measurable value in Florence, was,
like the local coin of the old Italian states, without currency
in other parts of the peninsula. In Rome he was simply a very
dull Florentine, and it is not remarkable that he should not have
cared to pay frequent visits to a place where, to carry it off,
his dulness needed more explanation than was convenient. The
Countess lived with her eyes upon Rome, and it was the constant
grievance of her life that she had not an habitation there. She
was ashamed to say how seldom she had been allowed to visit that
city; it scarcely made the matter better that there were other
members of the Florentine nobility who never had been there at
all. She went whenever she could; that was all she could say. Or
rather not all, but all she said she could say. In fact she had
much more to say about it, and had often set forth the reasons
why she hated Florence and wished to end her days in the shadow
of Saint Peter's. They are reasons, however, that do not closely
concern us, and were usually summed up in the declaration that
Rome, in short, was the Eternal City and that Florence was simply
a pretty little place like any other. The Countess apparently
needed to connect the idea of eternity with her amusements. She
was convinced that society was infinitely more interesting in
Rome, where you met celebrities all winter at evening parties. At
Florence there were no celebrities; none at least that one had
heard of. Since her brother's marriage her impatience had greatly
increased; she was so sure his wife had a more brilliant life
than herself. She was not so intellectual as Isabel, but she was
intellectual enough to do justice to Rome--not to the ruins and
the catacombs, not even perhaps to the monuments and museums, the
church ceremonies and the scenery; but certainly to all the rest.
She heard a great deal about her sister-in-law and knew perfectly
that Isabel was having a beautiful time. She had indeed seen it
for herself on the only occasion on which she had enjoyed the
hospitality of Palazzo Roccanera. She had spent a week there
during the first winter of her brother's marriage, but she had
not been encouraged to renew this satisfaction. Osmond didn't
want her--that she was perfectly aware of; but she would have
gone all the same, for after all she didn't care two straws about
Osmond. It was her husband who wouldn't let her, and the money
question was always a trouble. Isabel had been very nice; the
Countess, who had liked her sister-in-law from the first, had not
been blinded by envy to Isabel's personal merits. She had always
observed that she got on better with clever women than with silly
ones like herself; the silly ones could never understand her
wisdom, whereas the clever ones--the really clever ones--always
understood her silliness. It appeared to her that, different as
they were in appearance and general style, Isabel and she had
somewhere a patch of common ground that they would set their feet
upon at last. It was not very large, but it was firm, and they
should both know it when once they had really touched it. And
then she lived, with Mrs. Osmond, under the influence of a
pleasant surprise; she was constantly expecting that Isabel would
"look down" on her, and she as constantly saw this operation
postponed. She asked herself when it would begin, like
fire-works, or Lent, or the opera season; not that she cared
much, but she wondered what kept it in abeyance. Her
sister-in-law regarded her with none but level glances and
expressed for the poor Countess as little contempt as admiration.
In reality Isabel would as soon have thought of despising her as
of passing a moral judgement on a grasshopper. She was not
indifferent to her husband's sister, however; she was rather a
little afraid of her. She wondered at her; she thought her very
extraordinary. The Countess seemed to her to have no soul; she
was like a bright rare shell, with a polished surface and a
remarkably pink lip, in which something would rattle when you
shook it. This rattle was apparently the Countess's spiritual
principle, a little loose nut that tumbled about inside of her.
She was too odd for disdain, too anomalous for comparisons.
Isabel would have invited her again (there was no question of
inviting the Count); but Osmond, after his marriage, had not
scrupled to say frankly that Amy was a fool of the worst species
--a fool whose folly had the irrepressibility of genius. He said
at another time that she had no heart; and he added in a moment
that she had given it all away--in small pieces, like a frosted
wedding-cake. The fact of not having been asked was of course
another obstacle to the Countess's going again to Rome; but at
the period with which this history has now to deal she was in
receipt of an invitation to spend several weeks at Palazzo
Roccanera. The proposal had come from Osmond himself, who wrote
to his sister that she must be prepared to be very quiet. Whether
or no she found in this phrase all the meaning he had put into it
I am unable to say; but she accepted the invitation on any terms.
She was curious, moreover; for one of the impressions of her
former visit had been that her brother had found his match.
Before the marriage she had been sorry for Isabel, so sorry as to
have had serious thoughts--if any of the Countess's thoughts were
serious--of putting her on her guard. But she had let that pass,
and after a little she was reassured. Osmond was as lofty as
ever, but his wife would not be an easy victim. The Countess was
not very exact at measurements, but it seemed to her that if
Isabel should draw herself up she would be the taller spirit of
the two. What she wanted to learn now was whether Isabel had
drawn herself up; it would give her immense pleasure to see
Osmond overtopped.

Several days before she was to start for Rome a servant brought
her the card of a visitor--a card with the simple superscription
"Henrietta C. Stackpole." The Countess pressed her finger-tips to
her forehead; she didn't remember to have known any such
Henrietta as that. The servant then remarked that the lady had
requested him to say that if the Countess should not recognise
her name she would know her well enough on seeing her. By the
time she appeared before her visitor she had in fact reminded
herself that there was once a literary lady at Mrs. Touchett's;
the only woman of letters she had ever encountered--that is the
only modern one, since she was the daughter of a defunct poetess.
She recognised Miss Stackpole immediately, the more so that Miss
Stackpole seemed perfectly unchanged; and the Countess, who was
thoroughly good-natured, thought it rather fine to be called on
by a person of that sort of distinction. She wondered if Miss
Stackpole had come on account of her mother--whether she had
heard of the American Corinne. Her mother was not at all like
Isabel's friend; the Countess could see at a glance that this
lady was much more contemporary; and she received an impression
of the improvements that were taking place--chiefly in distant
countries--in the character (the professional character) of
literary ladies. Her mother had been used to wear a Roman scarf
thrown over a pair of shoulders timorously bared of their tight
black velvet (oh the old clothes!) and a gold laurel-wreath set
upon a multitude of glossy ringlets. She had spoken softly and
vaguely, with the accent of her "Creole" ancestors, as she always
confessed; she sighed a great deal and was not at all
enterprising. But Henrietta, the Countess could see, was always
closely buttoned and compactly braided; there was something brisk
and business-like in her appearance; her manner was almost
conscientiously familiar. It was as impossible to imagine her
ever vaguely sighing as to imagine a letter posted without its
address. The Countess could not but feel that the correspondent
of the Interviewer was much more in the movement than the
American Corinne. She explained that she had called on the
Countess because she was the only person she knew in Florence,
and that when she visited a foreign city she liked to see
something more than superficial travellers. She knew Mrs.
Touchett, but Mrs. Touchett was in America, and even if she had
been in Florence Henrietta would not have put herself out for
her, since Mrs. Touchett was not one of her admirations.

"Do you mean by that that I am?" the Countess graciously asked.

"Well, I like you better than I do her," said Miss Stackpole. "I
seem to remember that when I saw you before you were very
interesting. I don't know whether it was an accident or whether
it's your usual style. At any rate I was a good deal struck with
what you said. I made use of it afterwards in print."

"Dear me!" cried the Countess, staring and half-alarmed; "I had
no idea I ever said anything remarkable! I wish I had known it at
the time."

"It was about the position of woman in this city," Miss Stackpole
remarked. "You threw a good deal of light upon it."

"The position of woman's very uncomfortable. Is that what you
mean? And you wrote it down and published it?" the Countess went
on. "Ah, do let me see it!"

"I'll write to them to send you the paper if you like," Henrietta
said. "I didn't mention your name; I only said a lady of high
rank. And then I quoted your views."

The Countess threw herself hastily backward, tossing up her
clasped hands. "Do you know I'm rather sorry you didn't mention
my name? I should have rather liked to see my name in the papers.
I forget what my views were; I have so many! But I'm not ashamed
of them. I'm not at all like my brother--I suppose you know my
brother? He thinks it a kind of scandal to be put in the papers;
if you were to quote him he'd never forgive you."

"He needn't be afraid; I shall never refer to him," said Miss
Stackpole with bland dryness. "That's another reason," she added,
"why I wanted to come to see you. You know Mr. Osmond married my
dearest friend."

"Ah, yes; you were a friend of Isabel's. I was trying to think
what I knew about you."

"I'm quite willing to be known by that," Henrietta declared. "But
that isn't what your brother likes to know me by. He has tried to
break up my relations with Isabel."

"Don't permit it," said the Countess.

"That's what I want to talk about. I'm going to Rome."

"So am I!" the Countess cried. "We'll go together."

"With great pleasure. And when I write about my journey I'll
mention you by name as my companion."

The Countess sprang from her chair and came and sat on the sofa
beside her visitor. "Ah, you must send me the paper! My husband
won't like it, but he need never see it. Besides, he doesn't know
how to read."

Henrietta's large eyes became immense. "Doesn't know how to read?
May I put that into my letter?"

"Into your letter?"

"In the Interviewer. That's my paper."

"Oh yes, if you like; with his name. Are you going to stay with

Henrietta held up her head, gazing a little in silence at her
hostess. "She has not asked me. I wrote to her I was coming, and
she answered that she would engage a room for me at a pension.
She gave no reason."

The Countess listened with extreme interest. "The reason's Osmond,"
she pregnantly remarked.

"Isabel ought to make a stand," said Miss Stackpole. "I'm afraid
she has changed a great deal. I told her she would."

"I'm sorry to hear it; I hoped she would have her own way. Why
doesn't my brother like you?" the Countess ingenuously added.

"I don't know and I don't care. He's perfectly welcome not to
like me; I don't want every one to like me; I should think less
of myself if some people did. A journalist can't hope to do much
good unless he gets a good deal hated; that's the way he knows
how his work goes on. And it's just the same for a lady. But I
didn't expect it of Isabel."

"Do you mean that she hates you?" the Countess enquired.

"I don't know; I want to see. That's what I'm going to Rome for."

"Dear me, what a tiresome errand!" the Countess exclaimed.

"She doesn't write to me in the same way; it's easy to see
there's a difference. If you know anything," Miss Stackpole went
on, "I should like to hear it beforehand, so as to decide on the
line I shall take."

The Countess thrust out her under lip and gave a gradual shrug.
"I know very little; I see and hear very little of Osmond. He
doesn't like me any better than he appears to like you."

"Yet you're not a lady correspondent," said Henrietta pensively.

"Oh, he has plenty of reasons. Nevertheless they've invited me--
I'm to stay in the house!" And the Countess smiled almost
fiercely; her exultation, for the moment, took little account of
Miss Stackpole's disappointment.

This lady, however, regarded it very placidly. "I shouldn't have
gone if she HAD asked me. That is I think I shouldn't; and I'm
glad I hadn't to make up my mind. It would have been a very
difficult question. I shouldn't have liked to turn away from her,
and yet I shouldn't have been happy under her roof. A pension
will suit me very well. But that's not all."

"Rome's very good just now," said the Countess; "there are all
sorts of brilliant people. Did you ever hear of Lord Warburton?"

"Hear of him? I know him very well. Do you consider him very
brilliant?" Henrietta enquired.

"I don't know him, but I'm told he's extremely grand seigneur.
He's making love to Isabel."

"Making love to her?"

"So I'm told; I don't know the details," said the Countess lightly.
"But Isabel's pretty safe."

Henrietta gazed earnestly at her companion; for a moment she said
nothing. "When do you go to Rome?" she enquired abruptly.

"Not for a week, I'm afraid."

"I shall go to-morrow," Henrietta said. "I think I had better not

"Dear me, I'm sorry; I'm having some dresses made. I'm told
Isabel receives immensely. But I shall see you there; I shall
call on you at your pension." Henrietta sat still--she was lost
in thought; and suddenly the Countess cried: "Ah, but if you
don't go with me you can't describe our journey!"

Miss Stackpole seemed unmoved by this consideration; she was
thinking of something else and presently expressed it. "I'm not
sure that I understand you about Lord Warburton."

"Understand me? I mean he's very nice, that's all."

"Do you consider it nice to make love to married women?"
Henrietta enquired with unprecedented distinctness.

The Countess stared, and then with a little violent laugh: "It's
certain all the nice men do it. Get married and you'll see!" she

"That idea would be enough to prevent me," said Miss Stackpole.
"I should want my own husband; I shouldn't want any one else's.
Do you mean that Isabel's guilty--guilty--?" And she paused a
little, choosing her expression.

"Do I mean she's guilty? Oh dear no, not yet, I hope. I only mean
that Osmond's very tiresome and that Lord Warburton, as I hear,
is a great deal at the house. I'm afraid you're scandalised."

"No, I'm just anxious," Henrietta said.

"Ah, you're not very complimentary to Isabel! You should have
more confidence. I'll tell you," the Countess added quickly: "if
it will be a comfort to you I engage to draw him off."

Miss Stackpole answered at first only with the deeper solemnity
of her gaze. "You don't understand me," she said after a while.
"I haven't the idea you seem to suppose. I'm not afraid for
Isabel--in that way. I'm only afraid she's unhappy--that's what I
want to get at."

The Countess gave a dozen turns of the head; she looked impatient
and sarcastic. "That may very well be; for my part I should like
to know whether Osmond is." Miss Stackpole had begun a little to
bore her.

"If she's really changed that must be at the bottom of it,"
Henrietta went on.

"You'll see; she'll tell you," said the Countess.

"Ah, she may NOT tell me--that's what I'm afraid of!"

"Well, if Osmond isn't amusing himself--in his own old way--I
flatter myself I shall discover it," the Countess rejoined.

"I don't care for that," said Henrietta.

"I do immensely! If Isabel's unhappy I'm very sorry for her, but
I can't help it. I might tell her something that would make her
worse, but I can't tell her anything that would console her. What
did she go and marry him for? If she had listened to me she'd
have got rid of him. I'll forgive her, however, if I find she has
made things hot for him! If she has simply allowed him to trample
upon her I don't know that I shall even pity her. But I don't
think that's very likely. I count upon finding that if she's
miserable she has at least made HIM so."

Henrietta got up; these seemed to her, naturally, very dreadful
expectations. She honestly believed she had no desire to see Mr.
Osmond unhappy; and indeed he could not be for her the subject of
a flight of fancy. She was on the whole rather disappointed in
the Countess, whose mind moved in a narrower circle than she had
imagined, though with a capacity for coarseness even there. "It
will be better if they love each other," she said for

"They can't. He can't love any one."

"I presumed that was the case. But it only aggravates my fear for
Isabel. I shall positively start to-morrow."

"Isabel certainly has devotees," said the Countess, smiling very
vividly. "I declare I don't pity her."

"It may be I can't assist her," Miss Stackpole pursued, as if it
were well not to have illusions.

"You can have wanted to, at any rate; that's something. I
believe that's what you came from America for," the Countess
suddenly added.

"Yes, I wanted to look after her," Henrietta said serenely.

Her hostess stood there smiling at her with small bright eyes and
an eager-looking nose; with cheeks into each of which a flush had
come. "Ah, that's very pretty c'est bien gentil! Isn't it what
they call friendship?"

"I don't know what they call it. I thought I had better come."

"She's very happy--she's very fortunate," the Countess went on.
"She has others besides." And then she broke out passionately.
"She's more fortunate than I! I'm as unhappy as she--I've a very
bad husband; he's a great deal worse than Osmond. And I've no
friends. I thought I had, but they're gone. No one, man or woman,
would do for me what you've done for her."

Henrietta was touched; there was nature in this bitter effusion.
She gazed at her companion a moment, and then: "Look here,
Countess, I'll do anything for you that you like. I'll wait over
and travel with you."

"Never mind," the Countess answered with a quick change of tone:
"only describe me in the newspaper!"

Henrietta, before leaving her, however, was obliged to make her
understand that she could give no fictitious representation of
her journey to Rome. Miss Stackpole was a strictly veracious
reporter. On quitting her she took the way to the Lung' Arno,
the sunny quay beside the yellow river where the bright-faced
inns familiar to tourists stand all in a row. She had learned her
way before this through the streets of Florence (she was very
quick in such matters), and was therefore able to turn with great
decision of step out of the little square which forms the
approach to the bridge of the Holy Trinity. She proceeded to the
left, toward the Ponte Vecchio, and stopped in front of one of
the hotels which overlook that delightful structure. Here she
drew forth a small pocket-book, took from it a card and a pencil
and, after meditating a moment, wrote a few words. It is our
privilege to look over her shoulder, and if we exercise it we may
read the brief query: "Could I see you this evening for a few
moments on a very important matter?" Henrietta added that she
should start on the morrow for Rome. Armed with this little
document she approached the porter, who now had taken up his
station in the doorway, and asked if Mr. Goodwood were at home.
The porter replied, as porters always reply, that he had gone out
about twenty minutes before; whereupon Henrietta presented her
card and begged it might be handed him on his return. She left
the inn and pursued her course along the quay to the severe
portico of the Uffizi, through which she presently reached the
entrance of the famous gallery of paintings. Making her way in,
she ascended the high staircase which leads to the upper
chambers. The long corridor, glazed on one side and decorated
with antique busts, which gives admission to these apartments,
presented an empty vista in which the bright winter light
twinkled upon the marble floor. The gallery is very cold and
during the midwinter weeks but scantily visited. Miss Stackpole
may appear more ardent in her quest of artistic beauty than she
has hitherto struck us as being, but she had after all her
preferences and admirations. One of the latter was the little
Correggio of the Tribune--the Virgin kneeling down before the
sacred infant, who lies in a litter of straw, and clapping her
hands to him while he delightedly laughs and crows. Henrietta had
a special devotion to this intimate scene--she thought it the
most beautiful picture in the world. On her way, at present, from
New York to Rome, she was spending but three days in Florence,
and yet reminded herself that they must not elapse without her
paying another visit to her favourite work of art. She had a
great sense of beauty in all ways, and it involved a good many
intellectual obligations. She was about to turn into the Tribune
when a gentleman came out of it; whereupon she gave a little
exclamation and stood before Caspar Goodwood.

"I've just been at your hotel," she said. "I left a card for

"I'm very much honoured," Caspar Goodwood answered as if he
really meant it.

"It was not to honour you I did it; I've called on you before and
I know you don't like it. It was to talk to you a little about

He looked for a moment at the buckle in her hat. "I shall be very
glad to hear what you wish to say."

"You don't like to talk with me," said Henrietta. "But I don't
care for that; I don't talk for your amusement. I wrote a word to
ask you to come and see me; but since I've met you here this will
do as well."

"I was just going away," Goodwood stated; "but of course I'll
stop." He was civil, but not enthusiastic.

Henrietta, however, never looked for great professions, and she
was so much in earnest that she was thankful he would listen to
her on any terms. She asked him first, none the less, if he had
seen all the pictures.

"All I want to. I've been here an hour."

"I wonder if you've seen my Correggio," said Henrietta. "I came
up on purpose to have a look at it." She went into the Tribune
and he slowly accompanied her.

"I suppose I've seen it, but I didn't know it was yours. I don't
remember pictures--especially that sort." She had pointed out her
favourite work, and he asked her if it was about Correggio she
wished to talk with him.

"No," said Henrietta, "it's about something less harmonious!"
They had the small, brilliant room, a splendid cabinet of
treasures, to themselves; there was only a custode hovering
about the Medicean Venus. "I want you to do me a favour," Miss
Stackpole went on.

Caspar Goodwood frowned a little, but he expressed no
embarrassment at the sense of not looking eager. His face was
that of a much older man than our earlier friend. "I'm sure it's
something I shan't like," he said rather loudly.

"No, I don't think you'll like it. If you did it would be no

"Well, let's hear it," he went on in the tone of a man quite
conscious of his patience.

"You may say there's no particular reason why you should do me a
favour. Indeed I only know of one: the fact that if you'd let me
I'd gladly do you one." Her soft, exact tone, in which there was
no attempt at effect, had an extreme sincerity; and her
companion, though he presented rather a hard surface, couldn't help
being touched by it. When he was touched he rarely showed it,
however, by the usual signs; he neither blushed, nor looked away,
nor looked conscious. He only fixed his attention more directly;
he seemed to consider with added firmness. Henrietta continued
therefore disinterestedly, without the sense of an advantage. "I
may say now, indeed--it seems a good time--that if I've ever
annoyed you (and I think sometimes I have) it's because I knew I
was willing to suffer annoyance for you. I've troubled you--
doubtless. But Is'd TAKE trouble for you."

Goodwood hesitated. "You're taking trouble now."

"Yes, I am--some. I want you to consider whether it's better on
the whole that you should go to Rome."

"I thought you were going to say that!" he answered rather

"You HAVE considered it then?"

"Of course I have, very carefully. I've looked all round it.
Otherwise I shouldn't have come so far as this. That's what I
stayed in Paris two months for. I was thinking it over."

"I'm afraid you decided as you liked. You decided it was best
because you were so much attracted."

"Best for whom, do you mean?" Goodwood demanded.

"Well, for yourself first. For Mrs. Osmond next."

"Oh, it won't do HER any good! I don't flatter myself that."

"Won't it do her some harm?--that's the question."

"I don't see what it will matter to her. I'm nothing to Mrs.
Osmond. But if you want to know, I do want to see her myself."

"Yes, and that's why you go."

"Of course it is. Could there be a better reason?"

"How will it help you?--that's what I want to know," said Miss

"That's just what I can't tell you. It's just what I was thinking
about in Paris."

"It will make you more discontented."

"Why do you say 'more' so?" Goodwood asked rather sternly. "How
do you know I'm discontented?"

"Well," said Henrietta, hesitating a little, "you seem never to
have cared for another."

"How do you know what I care for?" he cried with a big blush.
"Just now I care to go to Rome."

Henrietta looked at him in silence, with a sad yet luminous
expression. "Well," she observed at last, "I only wanted to tell
you what I think; I had it on my mind. Of course you think it's
none of my business. But nothing is any one's business, on that

"It's very kind of you; I'm greatly obliged to you for your
interest," said Caspar Goodwood. "I shall go to Rome and I shan't
hurt Mrs. Osmond."

"You won't hurt her, perhaps. But will you help her?--that's the
real issue."

"Is she in need of help?" he asked slowly, with a penetrating

"Most women always are," said Henrietta, with conscientious
evasiveness and generalising less hopefully than usual. "If you
go to Rome," she added, "I hope you'll be a true friend--snot a
selfish one!" And she turned off and began to look at the

Caspar Goodwood let her go and stood watching her while she
wandered round the room; but after a moment he rejoined her.
"You've heard something about her here," he then resumed. "I
should like to know what you've heard."

Henrietta had never prevaricated in her life, and, though on this
occasion there might have been a fitness in doing so, she
decided, after thinking some minutes, to make no superficial
exception. "Yes, I've heard," she answered; "but as I don't want
you to go to Rome I won't tell you."

"Just as you please. I shall see for myself," he said. Then
inconsistently, for him, "You've heard she's unhappy!" he added.

"Oh, you won't see that!" Henrietta exclaimed.

"I hope not. When do you start?"

"To-morrow, by the evening train. And you?"

Goodwood hung back; he had no desire to make his journey to Rome
in Miss Stackpole's company. His indifference to this advantage
was not of the same character as Gilbert Osmond's, but it had at
this moment an equal distinctness. It was rather a tribute to
Miss Stackpole's virtues than a reference to her faults. He
thought her very remarkable, very brilliant, and he had, in
theory, no objection to the class to which she belonged. Lady
correspondents appeared to him a part of the natural scheme of
things in a progressive country, and though he never read their
letters he supposed that they ministered somehow to social
prosperity. But it was this very eminence of their position that
made him wish Miss Stackpole didn't take so much for granted. She
took for granted that he was always ready for some allusion to
Mrs. Osmond; she had done so when they met in Paris, six weeks
after his arrival in Europe, and she had repeated the assumption
with every successive opportunity. He had no wish whatever to
allude to Mrs. Osmond; he was NOT always thinking of her; he was
perfectly sure of that. He was the most reserved, the least
colloquial of men, and this enquiring authoress was constantly
flashing her lantern into the quiet darkness of his soul. He
wished she didn't care so much; he even wished, though it might
seem rather brutal of him, that she would leave him alone. In
spite of this, however, he just now made other reflections--which
show how widely different, in effect, his ill-humour was from
Gilbert Osmond's. He desired to go immediately to Rome; he would
have liked to go alone, in the night-train. He hated the European
railway-carriages, in which one sat for hours in a vise, knee to
knee and nose to nose with a foreigner to whom one presently
found one's self objecting with all the added vehemence of one's
wish to have the window open; and if they were worse at night
even than by day, at least at night one could sleep and dream of
an American saloon-car. But he couldn't take a night-train when
Miss Stackpole was starting in the morning; it struck him that
this would be an insult to an unprotected woman. Nor could he
wait until after she had gone unless he should wait longer than
he had patience for. It wouldn't do to start the next day. She
worried him; she oppressed him; the idea of spending the day in a
European railway-carriage with her offered a complication of
irritations. Still, she was a lady travelling alone; it was his
duty to put himself out for her. There could be no two questions
about that; it was a perfectly clear necessity. He looked
extremely grave for some moments and then said, wholly without
the flourish of gallantry but in a tone of extreme distinctness,
"Of course if you're going to-morrow I'll go too, as I may be of
assistance to you."

"Well, Mr. Goodwood, I should hope so!" Henrietta returned


I have already had reason to say that Isabel knew her husband to
be displeased by the continuance of Ralph's visit to Rome. That
knowledge was very present to her as she went to her cousin's
hotel the day after she had invited Lord Warburton to give a
tangible proof of his sincerity; and at this moment, as at
others, she had a sufficient perception of the sources of
Osmond's opposition. He wished her to have no freedom of mind,
and he knew perfectly well that Ralph was an apostle of freedom.
It was just because he was this, Isabel said to herself, that it
was a refreshment to go and see him. It will be perceived that
she partook of this refreshment in spite of her husband's
aversion to it, that is partook of it, as she flattered herself,
discreetly. She had not as yet undertaken to act in direct
opposition to his wishes; he was her appointed and inscribed
master; she gazed at moments with a sort of incredulous blankness
at this fact. It weighed upon her imagination, however;
constantly present to her mind were all the traditionary
decencies and sanctities of marriage. The idea of violating them
filled her with shame as well as with dread, for on giving
herself away she had lost sight of this contingency in the
perfect belief that her husband's intentions were as generous as
her own. She seemed to see, none the less, the rapid approach
of the day when she should have to take back something she had
solemnly bestown. Such a ceremony would be odious and monstrous;
she tried to shut her eyes to it meanwhile. Osmond would do
nothing to help it by beginning first; he would put that burden
upon her to the end. He had not yet formally forbidden her to
call upon Ralph; but she felt sure that unless Ralph should very
soon depart this prohibition would come. How could poor Ralph
depart? The weather as yet made it impossible. She could
perfectly understand her husband's wish for the event; she
didn't, to be just, see how he COULD like her to be with her
cousin. Ralph never said a word against him, but Osmond's sore,
mute protest was none the less founded. If he should positively
interpose, if he should put forth his authority, she would have
to decide, and that wouldn't be easy. The prospect made her heart
beat and her cheeks burn, as I say, in advance; there were
moments when, in her wish to avoid an open rupture, she found
herself wishing Ralph would start even at a risk. And it was of
no use that, when catching herself in this state of mind, she
called herself a feeble spirit, a coward. It was not that she
loved Ralph less, but that almost anything seemed preferable to
repudiating the most serious act--the single sacred act--of her
life. That appeared to make the whole future hideous. To break
with Osmond once would be to break for ever; any open
acknowledgement of irreconcilable needs would be an admission
that their whole attempt had proved a failure. For them there
could be no condonement, no compromise, no easy forgetfulness, no
formal readjustment. They had attempted only one thing, but that
one thing was to have been exquisite. Once they missed it nothing
else would do; there was no conceivable substitute for that
success. For the moment, Isabel went to the Hotel de Paris as
often as she thought well; the measure of propriety was in the
canon of taste, and there couldn't have been a better proof that
morality was, so to speak, a matter of earnest appreciation.
Isabel's application of that measure had been particularly free
to-day, for in addition to the general truth that she couldn't
leave Ralph to die alone she had something important to ask of
him. This indeed was Gilbert's business as well as her own.

She came very soon to what she wished to speak of. "I want you to
answer me a question. It's about Lord Warburton."

"I think I guess your question," Ralph answered from his
arm-chair, out of which his thin legs protruded at greater length
than ever.

"Very possibly you guess it. Please then answer it."

"Oh, I don't say I can do that."

"You're intimate with him," she said; "you've a great deal of
observation of him."

"Very true. But think how he must dissimulate!"

"Why should he dissimulate? That's not his nature."

"Ah, you must remember that the circumstances are peculiar," said
Ralph with an air of private amusement.

"To a certain extent--yes. But is he really in love?"

"Very much, I think. I can make that out."

"Ah!" said Isabel with a certain dryness.

Ralph looked at her as if his mild hilarity had been touched with
mystification. "You say that as if you were disappointed."

Isabel got up, slowly smoothing her gloves and eyeing them
thoughtfully. "It's after all no business of mine."

"You're very philosophic," said her cousin. And then in a moment:
"May I enquire what you're talking about?"

Isabel stared. "I thought you knew. Lord Warburton tells me he
wants, of all things in the world, to marry Pansy. I've told you
that before, without eliciting a comment from you. You might risk
one this morning, I think. Is it your belief that he really cares
for her?"

"Ah, for Pansy, no!" cried Ralph very positively.

"But you said just now he did."

Ralph waited a moment. "That he cared for you, Mrs. Osmond."

Isabel shook her head gravely. "That's nonsense, you know."

"Of course it is. But the nonsense is Warburton's, not mine."

"That would be very tiresome." She spoke, as she flattered
herself, with much subtlety.

"I ought to tell you indeed," Ralph went on, "that to me he has
denied it."

"It's very good of you to talk about it together! Has he also
told you that he's in love with Pansy?"

"He has spoken very well of her--very properly. He has let me
know, of course, that he thinks she would do very well at

"Does he really think it?"

"Ah, what Warburton really thinks--!" said Ralph.

Isabel fell to smoothing her gloves again; they were long, loose
gloves on which she could freely expend herself. Soon, however,
she looked up, and then, "Ah, Ralph, you give me no help!" she
cried abruptly and passionately.

It was the first time she had alluded to the need for help, and
the words shook her cousin with their violence. He gave a long
murmur of relief, of pity, of tenderness; it seemed to him that
at last the gulf between them had been bridged. It was this that
made him exclaim in a moment: "How unhappy you must be!"

He had no sooner spoken than she recovered her self-possession,
and the first use she made of it was to pretend she had not heard
him. "When I talk of your helping me I talk great nonsense," she
said with a quick smile. "The idea of my troubling you with my
domestic embarrassments! The matter's very simple; Lord Warburton
must get on by himself. I can't undertake to see him through."

"He ought to succeed easily," said Ralph.

Isabel debated. "Yes--but he has not always succeeded."

"Very true. You know, however, how that always surprised me. Is
Miss Osmond capable of giving us a surprise?"

"It will come from him, rather. I seem to see that after all
he'll let the matter drop."

"He'll do nothing dishonourable," said Ralph.

"I'm very sure of that. Nothing can be more honourable than for
him to leave the poor child alone. She cares for another person,
and it's cruel to attempt to bribe her by magnificent offers to
give him up."

"Cruel to the other person perhaps--the one she cares for. But
Warburton isn't obliged to mind that."

"No, cruel to her," said Isabel. "She would be very unhappy if
she were to allow herself to be persuaded to desert poor Mr.
Rosier. That idea seems to amuse you; of course you're not in
love with him. He has the merit--for Pansy--of being in love with
Pansy. She can see at a glance that Lord Warburton isn't."

"He'd be very good to her," said Ralph.

"He has been good to her already. Fortunately, however, he has
not said a word to disturb her. He could come and bid her
good-bye to-morrow with perfect propriety."

"How would your husband like that?"

"Not at all; and he may be right in not liking it. Only he must
obtain satisfaction himself."

"Has he commissioned you to obtain it?" Ralph ventured to ask.

"It was natural that as an old friend of Lord Warburton's--an
older friend, that is, than Gilbert--I should take an interest in
his intentions."

"Take an interest in his renouncing them, you mean?"

Isabel hesitated, frowning a little. "Let me understand. Are you
pleading his cause?"

"Not in the least. I'm very glad he shouldn't become your
stepdaughter's husband. It makes such a very queer relation to
you!" said Ralph, smiling. "But I'm rather nervous lest your
husband should think you haven't pushed him enough."

Isabel found herself able to smile as well as he. "He knows me
well enough not to have expected me to push. He himself has no
intention of pushing, I presume. I'm not afraid I shall not be
able to justify myself!" she said lightly.

Her mask had dropped for an instant, but she had put it on again,
to Ralph's infinite disappointment. He had caught a glimpse of
her natural face and he wished immensely to look into it. He had
an almost savage desire to hear her complain of her husband--hear
her say that she should be held accountable for Lord Warburton's
defection. Ralph was certain that this was her situation; he knew
by instinct, in advance, the form that in such an event Osmond's
displeasure would take. It could only take the meanest and
cruellest. He would have liked to warn Isabel of it--to let her
see at least how he judged for her and how he knew. It little
mattered that Isabel would know much better; it was for his own
satisfaction more than for hers that he longed to show her he was
not deceived. He tried and tried again to make her betray Osmond;
he felt cold-blooded, cruel, dishonourable almost, in doing so.
But it scarcely mattered, for be only failed. What had she come
for then, and why did she seem almost to offer him a chance to
violate their tacit convention? Why did she ask him his advice if
she gave him no liberty to answer her? How could they talk of her
domestic embarrassments, as it pleased her humorously to
designate them, if the principal factor was not to be mentioned?
These contradictions were themselves but an indication of her
trouble, and her cry for help, just before, was the only thing he
was bound to consider. "You'll be decidedly at variance, all the
same," he said in a moment. And as she answered nothing, looking
as if she scarce understood, "You'll find yourselves thinking
very differently," he continued.

"That may easily happen, among the most united couples!" She took
up her parasol; he saw she was nervous, afraid of what he might
say. "It's a matter we can hardly quarrel about, however," she
added; "for almost all the interest is on his side. That's very
natural. Pansy's after all his daughter--not mine." And she put
out her hand to wish him goodbye.

Ralph took an inward resolution that she shouldn't leave him
without his letting her know that he knew everything: it seemed
too great an opportunity to lose. "Do you know what his interest
will make him say?" he asked as he took her hand. She shook her
head, rather dryly--not discouragingly--and he went on. "It will
make him say that your want of zeal is owing to jealousy." He
stopped a moment; her face made him afraid.

"To jealousy?"

"To jealousy of his daughter."

She blushed red and threw back her head. "You're not kind," she
said in a voice that he had never heard on her lips.

"Be frank with me and you'll see," he answered.

But she made no reply; she only pulled her hand out of his own,
which he tried still to hold, and rapidly withdrew from the room.
She made up her mind to speak to Pansy, and she took an occasion
on the same day, going to the girl's room before dinner. Pansy
was already dressed; she was always in advance of the time: it
seemed to illustrate her pretty patience and the graceful
stillness with which she could sit and wait. At present she was
seated, in her fresh array, before the bed-room fire; she had
blown out her candles on the completion of her toilet, in
accordance with the economical habits in which she had been brought
up sand which she was now more careful than ever to observe; so that
the room was lighted only by a couple of logs. The rooms in
Palazzo Roccanera were as spacious as they were numerous, and
Pansy's virginal bower was an immense chamber with a dark,
heavily-timbered ceiling. Its diminutive mistress, in the midst
of it, appeared but a speck of humanity, and as she got up, with
quick deference, to welcome Isabel, the latter was more than ever
struck with her shy sincerity. Isabel had a difficult task--the
only thing was to perform it as simply as possible. She felt
bitter and angry, but she warned herself against betraying this
heat. She was afraid even of looking too grave, or at least too
stern; she was afraid of causing alarm. Put Pansy seemed to have
guessed she had come more or less as a confessor; for after she
had moved the chair in which she had been sitting a little nearer
to the fire and Isabel had taken her place in it, she kneeled
down on a cushion in front of her, looking up and resting her
clasped hands on her stepmother's knees. What Isabel wished to do
was to hear from her own lips that her mind was not occupied with
Lord Warburton; but if she desired the assurance she felt herself
by no means at liberty to provoke it. The girl's father would
have qualified this as rank treachery; and indeed Isabel knew
that if Pansy should display the smallest germ of a disposition
to encourage Lord Warburton her own duty was to hold her tongue.
It was difficult to interrogate without appearing to suggest;
Pansy's supreme simplicity, an innocence even more complete than
Isabel had yet judged it, gave to the most tentative enquiry
something of the effect of an admonition. As she knelt there in
the vague firelight, with her pretty dress dimly shining, her
hands folded half in appeal and half in submission, her soft
eyes, raised and fixed, full of the seriousness of the situation,
she looked to Isabel like a childish martyr decked out for
sacrifice and scarcely presuming even to hope to avert it. When
Isabel said to her that she had never yet spoken to her of what
might have been going on in relation to her getting married, but
that her silence had not been indifference or ignorance, had only
been the desire to leave her at liberty, Pansy bent forward,
raised her face nearer and nearer, and with a little murmur which
evidently expressed a deep longing, answered that she had greatly
wished her to speak and that she begged her to advise her now.

"It's difficult for me to advise you," Isabel returned. "I don't
know how I can undertake that. That's for your father; you must
get his advice and, above all, you must act on it."

At this Pansy dropped her eyes; for a moment she said nothing. "I
think I should like your advice better than papa's," she
presently remarked.

"That's not as it should be," said Isabel coldly. "I love you
very much, but your father loves you better."

"It isn't because you love me--it's because you're a lady," Pansy
answered with the air of saying something very reasonable. "A
lady can advise a young girl better than a man."

"I advise you then to pay the greatest respect to your father's

"Ah yes," said the child eagerly, "I must do that."

"But if I speak to you now about your getting married it's not
for your own sake, it's for mine," Isabel went on. "If I try to
learn from you what you expect, what you desire, it's only that I
may act accordingly."

Pansy stared, and then very quickly, "Will you do everything I
want?" she asked.

"Before I say yes I must know what such things are."

Pansy presently told her that the only thing she wanted in life
was to marry Mr. Rosier. He had asked her and she had told him
she would do so if her papa would allow it. Now her papa
wouldn't allow it.

"Very well then, it's impossible," Isabel pronounced.

"Yes, it's impossible," said Pansy without a sigh and with the
same extreme attention in her clear little face.

"You must think of something else then," Isabel went on; but
Pansy, sighing at this, told her that she had attempted that feat
without the least success.

"You think of those who think of you," she said with a faint
smile. "I know Mr. Rosier thinks of me."

"He ought not to," said Isabel loftily. "Your father has
expressly requested he shouldn't."

"He can't help it, because he knows I think of HIM."

"You shouldn't think of him. There's some excuse for him,
perhaps; but there's none for you."

"I wish you would try to find one," the girl exclaimed as if she
were praying to the Madonna.

"I should be very sorry to attempt it," said the Madonna with
unusual frigidity. "If you knew some one else was thinking of
you, would you think of him?"

"No one can think of me as Mr. Rosier does; no one has the

"Ah, but I don't admit Mr. Rosier's right!" Isabel hypocritically

Pansy only gazed at her, evidently much puzzled; and Isabel,
taking advantage of it, began to represent to her the wretched
consequences of disobeying her father. At this Pansy stopped her
with the assurance that she would never disobey him, would never
marry without his consent. And she announced, in the serenest,
simplest tone, that, though she might never marry Mr. Rosier, she
would never cease to think of him. She appeared to have accepted
the idea of eternal singleness; but Isabel of course was free to
reflect that she had no conception of its meaning. She was
perfectly sincere; she was prepared to give up her lover. This
might seem an important step toward taking another, but for
Pansy, evidently, it failed to lead in that direction. She felt
no bitterness toward her father; there was no bitterness in her
heart; there was only the sweetness of fidelity to Edward Rosier,
and a strange, exquisite intimation that she could prove it
better by remaining single than even by marrying him.

"Your father would like you to make a better marriage," said
Isabel. "Mr. Rosier's fortune is not at all large."

"How do you mean better--if that would be good enough? And I have
myself so little money; why should I look for a fortune?"

"Your having so little is a reason for looking for more." With
which Isabel was grateful for the dimness of the room; she felt
as if her face were hideously insincere. It was what she was
doing for Osmond; it was what one had to do for Osmond! Pansy's
solemn eyes, fixed on her own, almost embarrassed her; she was
ashamed to think she had made so light of the girl's preference.

"What should you like me to do?" her companion softly demanded.

The question was a terrible one, and Isabel took refuge in
timorous vagueness. "To remember all the pleasure it's in your
power to give your father."

"To marry some one else, you mean--if he should ask me?"

For a moment Isabel's answer caused itself to be waited for; then
she heard herself utter it in the stillness that Pansy's
attention seemed to make. "Yes--to marry some one else."

The child's eyes grew more penetrating; Isabel believed she was
doubting her sincerity, and the impression took force from her
slowly getting up from her cushion. She stood there a moment with
her small hands unclasped and then quavered out: "Well, I hope no
one will ask me!"

"There has been a question of that. Some one else would have been
ready to ask you."

"I don't think he can have been ready," said Pansy.

"It would appear so if he had been sure he'd succeed."

"If he had been sure? Then he wasn't ready!"

Isabel thought this rather sharp; she also got up and stood a
moment looking into the fire. "Lord Warburton has shown you great
attention," she resumed; "of course you know it's of him I
speak." She found herself, against her expectation, almost placed
in the position of justifying herself; which led her to introduce
this nobleman more crudely than she had intended.

"He has been very kind to me, and I like him very much. But if
you mean that he'll propose for me I think you're mistaken."

"Perhaps I am. But your father would like it extremely."

Pansy shook her head with a little wise smile. "Lord Warburton
won't propose simply to please papa."

"Your father would like you to encourage him," Isabel went on

"How can I encourage him?"

"I don't know. Your father must tell you that."

Pansy said nothing for a moment; she only continued to smile as
if she were in possession of a bright assurance. "There's no
danger--no danger!" she declared at last.

There was a conviction in the way she said this, and a felicity
in her believing it, which conduced to Isabel's awkwardness. She
felt accused of dishonesty, and the idea was disgusting. To
repair her self-respect she was on the point of saying that Lord
Warburton had let her know that there was a danger. But she
didn't; she only said--in her embarrassment rather wide of the
mark--that he surely had been most kind, most friendly.

"Yes, he has been very kind," Pansy answered. "That's what I like
him for."

"Why then is the difficulty so great?"

"I've always felt sure of his knowing that I don't want--what did
you say I should do?--to encourage him. He knows I don't want to
marry, and he wants me to know that he therefore won't trouble
me. That's the meaning of his kindness. It's as if he said to me:
'I like you very much, but if it doesn't please you I'll never
say it again.' I think that's very kind, very noble," Pansy went
on with deepening positiveness. "That is all we've said to each
other. And he doesn't care for me either. Ah no, there's no

Isabel was touched with wonder at the depths of perception of
which this submissive little person was capable; she felt afraid
of Pansy's wisdom--began almost to retreat before it. "You must
tell your father that," she remarked reservedly.

"I think I'd rather not," Pansy unreservedly answered.

"You oughtn't to let him have false hopes."

"Perhaps not; but it will be good for me that he should. So long
as he believes that Lord Warburton intends anything of the kind
you say, papa won't propose any one else. And that will be an
advantage for me," said the child very lucidly.

There was something brilliant in her lucidity, and it made her
companion draw a long breath. It relieved this friend of a heavy
responsibility. Pansy had a sufficient illumination of her own,
and Isabel felt that she herself just now had no light to spare
from her small stock. Nevertheless it still clung to her that she
must be loyal to Osmond, that she was on her honour in dealing
with his daughter. Under the influence of this sentiment she
threw out another suggestion before she retired--a suggestion
with which it seemed to her that she should have done her utmost.

"Your father takes for granted at least that you would like to
marry a nobleman."

Pansy stood in the open doorway; she had drawn back the curtain
for Isabel to pass. "I think Mr. Rosier looks like one!" she
remarked very gravely.


Lord Warburton was not seen in Mrs. Osmond's drawing-room for
several days, and Isabel couldn't fail to observe that her
husband said nothing to her about having received a letter from
him. She couldn't fail to observe, either, that Osmond was in a
state of expectancy and that, though it was not agreeable to him
to betray it, he thought their distinguished friend kept him
waiting quite too long. At the end of four days he alluded to his

"What has become of Warburton? What does he mean by treating one
like a tradesman with a bill?"

"I know nothing about him," Isabel said. "I saw him last Friday
at the German ball. He told me then that he meant to write to

"He has never written to me."

"So I supposed, from your not having told me."

"He's an odd fish," said Osmond comprehensively. And on Isabel's
making no rejoinder he went on to enquire whether it took his
lordship five days to indite a letter. "Does he form his words
with such difficulty?"

"I don't know," Isabel was reduced to replying. "I've never had a
letter from him."

"Never had a letter? I had an idea that you were at one time in
intimate correspondence."

She answered that this had not been the case, and let the
conversation drop. On the morrow, however, coming into the
drawing-room late in the afternoon, her husband took it up again.

"When Lord Warburton told you of his intention of writing what
did you say to him?" he asked.

She just faltered. "I think I told him not to forget it.

"Did you believe there was a danger of that?"

"As you say, he's an odd fish."

"Apparently he has forgotten it," said Osmond. "Be so good as to
remind him."

"Should you like me to write to him?" she demanded.

"I've no objection whatever."

"You expect too much of me."

"Ah yes, I expect a great deal of you."

"I'm afraid I shall disappoint you," said Isabel.

"My expectations have survived a good deal of disappointment."

"Of course I know that. Think how I must have disappointed
myself! If you really wish hands laid on Lord Warburton you must
lay them yourself."

For a couple of minutes Osmond answered nothing; then he said:
"That won't be easy, with you working against me."

Isabel started; she felt herself beginning to tremble. He had a
way of looking at her through half-closed eyelids, as if he were
thinking of her but scarcely saw her, which seemed to her to have
a wonderfully cruel intention. It appeared to recognise her as a
disagreeable necessity of thought, but to ignore her for the time
as a presence. That effect had never been so marked as now. "I
think you accuse me of something very base," she returned.

"I accuse you of not being trustworthy. If he doesn't after all
come forward it will be because you've kept him off. I don't know
that it's base: it is the kind of thing a woman always thinks she
may do. I've no doubt you've the finest ideas about it."

"I told you I would do what I could," she went on.

"Yes, that gained you time."

It came over her, after he had said this, that she had once
thought him beautiful. "How much you must want to make sure of
him!" she exclaimed in a moment.

She had no sooner spoken than she perceived the full reach of her
words, of which she had not been conscious in uttering them. They
made a comparison between Osmond and herself, recalled the fact
that she had once held this coveted treasure in her hand and felt
herself rich enough to let it fall. A momentary exultation took
possession of her--a horrible delight in having wounded him; for
his face instantly told her that none of the force of her
exclamation was lost. He expressed nothing otherwise, however; he
only said quickly: "Yes, I want it immensely."

At this moment a servant came in to usher a visitor, and he was
followed the next by Lord Warburton, who received a visible check
on seeing Osmond. He looked rapidly from the master of the house
to the mistress; a movement that seemed to denote a reluctance to
interrupt or even a perception of ominous conditions. Then he
advanced, with his English address, in which a vague shyness
seemed to offer itself as an element of good-breeding; in which
the only defect was a difficulty in achieving transitions. Osmond
was embarrassed; he found nothing to say; but Isabel remarked,
promptly enough, that they had been in the act of talking about
their visitor. Upon this her husband added that they hadn't known
what was become of him--they had been afraid he had gone away.
"No," he explained, smiling and looking at Osmond; "I'm only on
the point of going." And then he mentioned that he found himself
suddenly recalled to England: he should start on the morrow or
the day after. "I'm awfully sorry to leave poor Touchett!" he
ended by exclaiming.

For a moment neither of his companions spoke; Osmond only leaned
back in his chair, listening. Isabel didn't look at him; she
could only fancy how he looked. Her eyes were on their visitor's
face, where they were the more free to rest that those of his
lordship carefully avoided them. Yet Isabel was sure that had she
met his glance she would have found it expressive. "You had
better take poor Touchett with you," she heard her husband say,
lightly enough, in a moment.

"He had better wait for warmer weather," Lord Warburton answered.
"I shouldn't advise him to travel just now."

He sat there a quarter of an hour, talking as if he might not
soon see them again--unless indeed they should come to England, a
course he strongly recommended. Why shouldn't they come to

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