Ragged Lady Vol 2 by William Dean Howells

This etext was produced by David Widger RAGGED LADY By William Dean Howells Part 2 XV. Mrs. Lander went to a hotel in New York where she had been in the habit of staying with her husband, on their way South or North. The clerk knew her, and shook hands with her across the register,
This page contains affiliate links. As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases.
Language:
Form:
Genre:
Published:
Collection:
Tags:
Buy it on Amazon FREE Audible 30 days

This etext was produced by David Widger

[NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks at the end of this file for those who may wish to sample the author’s ideas before making an entire meal of them. D.W.]

RAGGED LADY

By William Dean Howells

Part 2

XV.

Mrs. Lander went to a hotel in New York where she had been in the habit of staying with her husband, on their way South or North. The clerk knew her, and shook hands with her across the register, and said she could have her old rooms if she wanted them; the bell-boy who took up their hand-baggage recalled himself to her; the elevator-boy welcomed her with a smile of remembrance.

Since she was already up, from coming off the sleeping-car, she had no excuse for not going to breakfast like other people; and she went with Clementina to the dining-room, where the head-waiter, who found them places, spoke with an outlandish accent, and the waiter who served them had a parlance that seemed superficially English, but was inwardly something else; there was even a touch in the cooking of the familiar dishes, that needed translation for the girl’s inexperienced palate. She was finding a refuge in the strangeness of everything, when she was startled by the sound of a familiar voice calling, “Clementina Claxon! Well, I was sure all along it was you, and I determined I wouldn’t stand it another minute. Why, child, how you have changed! Why, I declare you are quite a woman! When did you come? How pretty you are Mrs. Milray took Clementina in her arms and kissed her in proof of her admiration before the whole breakfast room. She was very nice to Mrs. Lander, too, who, when Clementina introduced them, made haste to say that Clementina was there on a visit with her. Mrs. Milray answered that she envied her such a visitor as Miss Claxon, and protested that she should steal her away for a visit to herself, if Mr. Milray was not so much in love with her that it made her jealous. “Mr. Milray has to have his breakfast in his room,” she explained to Clementina. “He’s not been so well, since he lost his mother. Yes,” she said, with decorous solemnity, “I’m still in mourning for her,” and Clementina saw that she was in a tempered black. “She died last year, and now I’m taking Mr. Milray abroad to see if it won’t cheer him up a little. Are you going South for the winter?” she inquired, politely, of Mrs. Lander. “I wish I was going,” she said, when Mrs. Lander guessed they should go, later on. “Well, you must come in and see me all you can, Clementina; and I shall have the pleasure of calling upon you,” she added to Mrs. Lander with state that was lost in the soubrette-like volatility of her flight from them the next moment. “Goodness, I forgot all about Mr. Milray’s breakfast! “She ran back to the table she had left on the other side of the room.

“Who is that, Clementina?” asked Mrs. Lander, on their way to their rooms. Clementina explained as well as she could, and Mrs. Lander summed up her feeling in the verdict, “Well, she’s a lady, if ever I saw a lady; and you don’t see many of ’em, nowadays.”

The girl remembered how Mrs. Milray had once before seemed very fond of her, and had afterwards forgotten the pretty promises and professions she had made her. But she went with Mrs. Lander to see her, and she saw Mr. Milray, too, for a little while. He seemed glad of their meeting, but still depressed by the bereavement which Mrs. Milray supported almost with gayety. When he left them she explained that he was a good deal away from her, with his family, as she approved of his being, though she had apparently no wish to join him in all the steps of the reconciliation which the mother’s death had brought about among them. Sometimes his sisters came to the hotel to see her, but she amused herself perfectly without them, and she gave much more of her leisure to Clementina and Mrs. Lander.

She soon knew the whole history of the relation between them, and the first time that Clementina found her alone with Mrs. Lander she could have divined that Mrs. Lander had been telling her of the Fane affair, even if Mrs. Milray had not at once called out to her, “I know all about it; and I’ll tell you what, Clementina, I’m going to take you over with me and marry you to an English Duke. Mrs. Lander and I have been planning it all out, and I’m going to send down to the steamer office, and engage your passage. It’s all settled!”

When she was gone, Mfrs. Lander asked, “What do you s’pose your folks would say to your goin’ to Europe, anyway, Clementina?” as if the matter had been already debated between them.

Clementina hesitated. “I should want to be su’a Mrs. Milray really wanted me to go ova with her.”

“Why, didn’t you hear her say so?” demanded Mrs. Lander.

“Yes,” sighed Clementina. “Mrs. Lander, I think Mrs. Milray means what she says, at the time, but she is one that seems to forget.”

“She thinks the wo’ld of you,” Mrs. Lander urged.

“She was very nice to me that summer at Middlemount. I guess maybe she would like to have us go with her,” the girl relented.

“I guess we’ll wait and see,” said Mrs. Lander. “I shouldn’t want she should change her mind when it was too late, as you say.” They were both silent for a time, and then Mrs. Lander resumed, “But I presume she ha’n’t got the only steams that’s crossin’. What should you say about goin’ over on some otha steams? I been South a good many wintas, and I should feel kind of lonesome goin’ round to the places where I been with Mr. Landa. I felt it since I been here in this hotel, some, and I can’t seem to want to go ova the same ground again, well, not right away.”

Clementina said, “Why, of cou’se, Mrs. Landa.”

“Should you be willin’,” asked Mrs. Lander, after another little pause, “if your folks was willin’, to go ova the’a, to some of them European countries, to spend the winta?”

“Oh yes, indeed!” said Clementina.

They discussed the matter in one of the full talks they both liked. At the end Mrs. Lander said, “Well, I guess you betta write home, and ask your motha whetha you can go, so’t if we take the notion we can go any time. Tell her to telegraph, if she’ll let you, and do write all the ifs and ands, so’t she’ll know just how to answa, without havin’ to have you write again.”

That evening Mrs. Milray came to their table from where she had been dining alone, and asked in banter: “Well, have you made up your minds to go over with me?”

Mrs. Lander said bluntly, “We can’t ha’dly believe yon really want us to, Mrs. Milray.”

“I don’t want you? Who put such an idea into your head! Oh, I know!” She threatened Clementina with the door-key, which she was carrying in her hand. “It was you, was it? What an artful, suspicious thing! What’s got into you, child? Do you hate me?” She did not give Clementina time to protest. “Well, now, I can just tell you I do want you, and I’ll be quite heart-broken if you don’t come.”

“Well, she wrote to her friends this mohning,” Mrs. Lander said, “but I guess she won’t git an answa in time for youa steamer, even if they do let her go.”

“Oh, yes she will,” Mrs. Milray protested. “It’s all right, now; you’ve got to go, and there’s no use trying to get out of it.”

She came to them whenever she could find them in the dining-room, and she knocked daily at their door till she knew that Clementina had heard from home. The girl’s mother wrote, without a punctuation mark in her letter, but with a great deal of sense, that such a thing as her going to Europe could not be settled by telegraph. She did not think it worth while to report all the facts of a consultation with the rector which they had held upon getting Clementina’s request, and which had renewed all the original question of her relations with Mrs. Lander in an intensified form. He had disposed of this upon much the same terms as before; and they had yielded more readily because the experiment had so far succeeded. Clementina had apparently no complaint to make of Mrs. Lander; she was eager to go, and the rector and his wife, who had been invited to be of the council, were both of the opinion that a course of European travel would be of the greatest advantage to the girl, if she wished to fit herself for teaching. It was an opportunity that they must not think of throwing away. If Mrs. Lander went to Florence, as it seemed from Clementina’s letter she thought of doing, the girl would pass a delightful winter in study of one of the most interesting cities in the world, and she would learn things which would enable her to do better for herself when she came home than she could ever hope to do otherwise. She might never marry, Mr. Richling suggested, and it was only right and fair that she should be equipped with as much culture as possible for the struggle of life; Mrs. Richling agreed with this rather vague theory, but she was sure that Clementina would get married to greater advantage in Florence than anywhere else. They neither of them really knew anything at first hand about Florence; the rector’s opinion was grounded on the thought of the joy that a sojourn in Italy would have been to him; his wife derived her hope of a Florentine marriage for Clementina from several romances in which love and travel had gone hand in hand, to the lasting credit of triumphant American girlhood.

The Claxons were not able to enter into their view of the case, but if Mrs. Lander wanted to go to Florence instead of Florida they did not see why Clementina should not go with her to one place as well as the other. They were not without a sense of flattery from the fact that their daughter was going to Europe; but they put that as far from them as they could, the mother severely and the father ironically, as something too silly, and they tried not to let it weigh with them in making up their mind, but to consider only Clementina’s best good, and not even to regard her pleasure. Her mother put before her the most crucial questions she could think of, in her letter, and then gave her full leave from her father as well as herself to go if she wished.

Clementina had rather it had been too late to go with the Milrays, but she felt bound to own her decision when she reached it; and Mrs. Milray, whatever her real wish was, made it a point of honor to help get Mrs. Lander berths on her steamer. It did not require much effort; there are plenty of berths for the latest-comers on a winter passage, and Clementina found herself the fellow passenger of Mrs. Milray.

XVI.

As soon as Mrs. Lander could make her way to her state-room, she got into her berth, and began to take the different remedies for sea-sickness which she had brought with her. Mrs. Milray said that was nice, and that now she and Clementina could have a good tune. But before it came to that she had taken pity on a number of lonely young men whom she found on board. She cheered them up by walking round the ship with them; but if any of them continued dull in spite of this, she dropped him, and took another; and before she had been two days out she had gone through with nearly all the lonely young men on the list of cabin passengers. She introduced some of them to Clementina, but at such times as she had them in charge; and for the most part she left her to Milray. Once, as the girl sat beside him in her steamer-chair, Mrs. Milray shed a wrap on his knees in whirring by on the arm of one of her young men, with some laughed and shouted charge about it.

“What did she say?” he asked Clementina, slanting the down-pulled brim of his soft hat purblindly toward her.

She said she had not understood, and then Milray asked, “What sort of person is that Boston youth of Mrs. Milray’s? Is he a donkey or a lamb?”

Clementina said ingenuously, “Oh, she’s walking with that English gentleman now–that lo’d.”

“Ah, yes,” said Milray. “He’s not very much to look at, I hear.”

“Well, not very much,” Clementina admitted; she did not like to talk against people.

“Lords are sometimes disappointing, Clementina,” Milray said, “but then, so are other great men. I’ve seen politicians on our side who were disappointing, and there are clergymen and gamblers who don’t look it.” He laughed sadly. “That’s the way people talk who are a little disappointing themselves. I hope you don’t expect too much of yourself, Clementina?”

“I don’t know what you mean,” she said, stiffening with a suspicion that he might be going to make fun of her.

He laughed more gayly. “Well, I mean we must hold the other fellows up to their duty, or we can’t do our own. We need their example. Charity may begin at home, but duty certainly begins abroad.” He went on, as if it were a branch of the same inquiry, “Did you ever meet my sisters? They came to the hotel in New York to see Mrs. Milray.”

“Yes, I was in the room once when they came in.”

“Did you like them?”

“Yes–I sca’cely spoke to them–I only stayed a moment.”

“Would you like to see any more of the family?”

“Why, of cou’se!” Clementina was amused at his asking, but he seemed in earnest.

“One of my sisters lives in Florence, and Mrs. Milray says you think of going there, too.”

“Mrs. Landa thought it would be a good place to spend the winter. Is it a pleasant place?”

“Oh, delightful! Do you know much about Italy?”

“Not very much, I don’t believe.”

“Well, my sister has lived a good while in Florence. I should like to give you a letter to her.”

“Oh, thank you!” said Clementina.

Milray smiled at her spare acknowledgment, but inquired gravely: “What do you expect to do in Florence?”

“Why, I presume, whateva Mrs. Landa wants to do.”

“Do you think Mrs. Lander will want to go into society?”

This question had not occurred to Clementina. “I don’t believe she will,” she said, thoughtfully.

“Shall you?”

Clementina laughed, “Why, do you think,” she ventured, “that society would want me to?”

“Yes, I think it would, if you’re as charming as you’ve tried to make me believe. Oh, I don’t mean, to your own knowledge; but some people have ways of being charming without knowing it. If Mrs. Lander isn’t going into society, and there should be a way found for you to go, don’t refuse, will you?”

“I shall wait and see if I’m asked, fust.”

“Yes, that will be best,” said Milray. “But I shall give you a letter to my sister. She and I used to be famous cronies, and we went to a great many parties together when we were young people. We thought the world was a fine thing, then. But it changes.”

He fell into a muse, and they were both sitting quite silent when Mrs. Milray came round the corner of the music room in the course of her twentieth or thirtieth compass of the deck, and introduced her lord to her husband and to Clementina. He promptly ignored Milray, and devoted himself to the girl, leaning over her with his hand against the bulkhead behind her and talking down upon her.

Lord Lioncourt must have been about thirty, but he had the heated and broken complexion of a man who has taken more than is good for him in twice that number of years. This was one of the wrongs nature had done him in apparent resentment of the social advantages he was born to, for he was rather abstemious, as Englishmen go. He looked a very shy person till he spoke, and then you found that he was not in the least shy. He looked so English that you would have expected a strong English accent of him, but his speech was more that of an American, without the nasality. This was not apparently because he had been much in America; he was returning from his first visit to the States, which had been spent chiefly in the Territories; after a brief interval of Newport he had preferred the West; he liked rather to hunt than to be hunted, though even in the West his main business had been to kill time, which he found more plentiful there than other game. The natives, everywhere, were much the same thing to him; if he distinguished it was in favor of those who did not suppose themselves cultivated. If again he had a choice it was for the females; they seemed to him more amusing than the males, who struck him as having an exaggerated reputation for humor. He did not care much for Clementina’s past, as he knew it from Mrs. Milray, and if it did not touch his fancy, it certainly did not offend his taste. A real artistocracy is above social prejudice, when it will; he had known some of his order choose the mothers of their heirs from the music halls, and when it came to a question of distinctions among Americans, he could not feel them. They might be richer or poorer; but they could not be more patrician or more plebeian.

The passengers, he told Clementina, were getting up, at this point of the ship’s run, an entertainment for the benefit of the seaman’s hospital in Liverpool, that well-known convention of ocean-travel, which is sure at some time or other, to enlist all the talent on board every English steamer in some sort of public appeal. He was not very clear how he came to be on the committee for drumming up talent for the occasion; his distinction seemed to have been conferred by a popular vote in the smoking room, as nearly as he could make out; but here he was, and he was counting upon Miss Claxon to help him out. He said Mrs. Milray had told him about that charming affair they had got up in the mountains, and he was sure they could have something of the kind again. “Perhaps not a coaching party; that mightn’t be so easy to manage at sea. But isn’t there something else–some tableaux or something? If we couldn’t have the months of the year we might have the points of the compass, and you could take your choice.”

He tried to get something out of the notion, but nothing came of it that Mrs. Milray thought possible. She said, across her husband, on whose further side she had sunk into a chair, that they must have something very informal; everybody must do what they could, separately. “I know you can do anything you like, Clementina. Can’t you play something, or sing?” At Clementina’s look of utter denial, she added, desperately, “Or dance something? “A light came into the girl’s face at which she caught. “I know you can dance something! Why, of course! Now, what is it?”

Clementina smiled at her vehemence. “Why, it’s nothing. And I don’t know whether I should like to.”

“Oh, yes,” urged Lord Lioncourt. “Such a good cause, you know.”

“What is it?” Mrs. Milray insisted. “Is it something you could do alone?”

“It’s just a dance that I learned at Woodlake. The teacha said that all the young ladies we’e leaning it. It’s a skut-dance”–

“The very thing!” Mrs. Milray shouted. “It’ll be the hit of the evening.”

“But I’ve never done it before any one,” Clementina faltered.

“They’ll all be doing their turns,” the Englishman said. “Speaking, and singing, and playing.”

Clementina felt herself giving way, and she pleaded in final reluctance, “But I haven’t got a pleated skut in my steama trunk.”

“No matter! We can manage that.” Mrs. Milray jumped to her feet and took Lord Lioncourt’s arm. “Now we must go and drum up somebody else.” He did not seem eager to go, but he started. “Then that’s all settled,” she shouted over her shoulder to Clementina.

“No, no, Mrs. Milray! “Clementina called after her. “The ship tilts so”–

“Nonsense! It’s the smoothest run she ever made in December. And I’ll engage to have the sea as steady as a rock for you. Remember, now, you’ve promised.”

Mrs. Milray whirled her Englishman away, and left Clementina sitting beside her husband.

“Did you want to dance for them, Clementina?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” she said, with the vague smile of one to whom a pleasant hope has occurred.

“I thought perhaps you were letting Mrs. Milray bully you into it. She’s a frightful tyrant.”

“Oh, I guess I should like to do it, if you think it would be–nice.”

“I dare say it will be the nicest thing at their ridiculous show.” Milray laughed as if her willingness to do the dance had defeated a sentimental sympathy in him.

“I don’t believe it will be that,” said Clementina, beaming joyously. “But I guess I shall try it, if I can find the right kind of a dress.”

“Is a pleated skirt absolutely necessary,” asked Milray, gravely.

“I don’t see how I could get on without it,” said Clementina.

She was so serious still when she went down to her state-room that Mrs. Lander was distracted from her potential ailments to ask: “What is it, Clementina?”

“Oh, nothing. Mrs. Milray has got me to say that I would do something at a concert they ah’ going to have on the ship.” She explained, “It’s that skut dance I learnt at Woodlake of Miss Wilson.”

“Well, I guess if you’re worryin’ about that you needn’t to.”

“Oh, I’m not worrying about the dance. I was just thinking what I should wear. If I could only get at the trunks!”

“It won’t make any matte what you wear,” said Mrs. Lander. “It’ll be the greatest thing; and if ‘t wa’n’t for this sea-sickness that I have to keep fightin’ off he’a, night and day, I should come up and see you myself. You ah’ just lovely in that dance, Clementina.”

“Do you think so, Mrs. Landa?” asked the girl, gratefully. “Well, Mr. Milray didn’t seem to think that I need to have a pleated skut. Any rate, I’m going to look over my things, and see if I can’t make something else do.”

XVII.

The entertainment was to be the second night after that, and Mrs. Milray at first took the whole affair into her own hands. She was willing to let the others consult with her, but she made all the decisions, and she became so prepotent that she drove Lord Lioncourt to rebellion in the case of some theatrical people whom he wanted in the programme. He wished her to let them feel that they were favoring rather than favored, and she insisted that it should be quite the other way. She professed a scruple against having theatrical people in the programme at all, which she might not have felt if her own past had been different, and she spoke with an abhorrence of the stage which he could by no means tolerate in the case. She submitted with dignity when she could not help it. Perhaps she submitted with too much dignity. Her concession verged upon hauteur; and in her arrogant meekness she went back to another of her young men, whom she began to post again as the companion of her promenades.

He had rather an anxious air in the enjoyment of the honor, but the Englishman seemed unconscious of its loss, or else he chose to ignore it. He frankly gave his leisure to Clementina, and she thought he was very pleasant. There was something different in his way from that of any of the other men she had met; something very natural and simple, a way of being easy in what he was, and not caring whether he was like others or not; he was not ashamed of being ignorant of anything he did not know, and she was able to instruct him on some points. He took her quite seriously when she told him about Middlemount, and how her family came to settle there, and then how she came to be going to Europe with Mrs. Lander. He said Mrs. Milray had spoken about it; but he had not understood quite how it was before; and he hoped Mrs. Lander was coming to the entertainment.

He did not seem aware that Mrs. Milray was leaving the affair more and more to him. He went forward with it and was as amiable with her as she would allow. He was so amiable with everybody that he reconciled many true Americans to his leadership, who felt that as nearly all the passengers were Americans, the chief patron of the entertainment ought to have been some distinguished American. The want of an American who was very distinguished did something to pacify them; but the behavior of an English lord who put on no airs was the main agency. When the night came they filled the large music room of the ‘Asia Minor’, and stood about in front of the sofas and chairs so many deep that it was hard to see or hear through them.

They each paid a shilling admittance; they were prepared to give munificently besides when the hat came round; and after the first burst of blundering from Lord Lioncourt, they led the magnanimous applause. He said he never minded making a bad speech in a good cause, and he made as bad a one as very well could be. He closed it by telling Mark Twain’s whistling story so that those who knew it by heart missed the paint; but that might have been because he hurried it, to get himself out of the way of the others following. When he had done, one of the most ardent of the Americans proposed three cheers for him.

The actress whom he had secured in spite of Mrs. Milray appeared in woman’s dress contrary to her inveterate professional habit, and followed him with great acceptance in her favorite variety-stage song; and then her husband gave imitations of Sir Henry Irving, and of Miss Maggie Kline in “T’row him down, McCloskey,” with a cockney accent. A frightened little girl, whose mother had volunteered her talent, gasped a ballad to her mother’s accompaniment, and two young girls played a duet on the mandolin and guitar. A gentleman of cosmopolitan military tradition, who sold the pools in the smoking-room, and was the friend of all the men present, and the acquaintance of several, gave selections of his autobiography prefatory to bellowing in a deep bass voice, “They’re hanging Danny Deaver,” and then a lady interpolated herself into the programme with a kindness which Lord Lioncourt acknowledged, in saying “The more the merrier,” and sang Bonnie Dundee, thumping the piano out of all proportion to her size and apparent strength.

Some advances which Clementina had made for Mrs. Milray’s help about the dress she should wear in her dance met with bewildering indifference, and she had fallen back upon her own devices. She did not think of taking back her promise, and she had come to look forward to her part with a happiness which the good weather and the even sway of the ship encouraged. But her pulses fluttered, as she glided into the music room, and sank into a chair next Mrs. Milray. She had on an accordion skirt which she had been able to get out of her trunk in the hold, and she felt that the glance of Mrs. Milray did not refuse it approval.

“That will do nicely, Clementina,” she said. She added, in careless acknowledgement of her own failure to direct her choice, “I see you didn’t need my help after all,” and the thorny point which Clementina felt in her praise was rankling, when Lord Lioncourt began to introduce her.

He made rather a mess of it, but as soon as he came to an end of his well-meant blunders, she stood up and began her poses and paces. It was all very innocent, with something courageous as well as appealing. She had a kind of tender dignity in her dance, and the delicate beauty of her face translated itself into the grace of her movements. It was not impersonal; there was her own quality of sylvan, of elegant in it; but it was unconscious, and so far it was typical, it was classic; Mrs. Milray’s Bostonian achieved a snub from her by saying it was like a Botticelli; and in fact it was merely the skirt-dance which society had borrowed from the stage at that period, leaving behind the footlights its more acrobatic phases, but keeping its pretty turns and bows and bends. Clementina did it not only with tender dignity, but when she was fairly launched in it, with a passion to which her sense of Mrs. Milray’s strange unkindness lent defiance. The dance was still so new a thing then, that it had a surprise to which the girl’s gentleness lent a curious charm, and it had some adventitious fascinations from the necessity she was in of weaving it in and out among the stationary armchairs and sofas which still further cramped the narrow space where she gave it. Her own delight in it shone from her smiling face, which was appealingly happy. Just before it should have ended, one of those wandering waves that roam the smoothest sea struck the ship, and Clementina caught herself skilfully from falling, and reeled to her seat, while the room rang with the applause and sympathetic laughter for the mischance she had baffled. There was a storm of encores, but Clementina called out, “The ship tilts so!” and her naivete won her another burst of favor, which was at its height when Lord Lioncourt had an inspiration.

He jumped up and said, “Miss Claxon is going to oblige us with a little bit of dramatics, now, and I’m sure you’ll all enjoy that quite as much as her beautiful dancing. She’s going to take the principal part in the laughable after-piece of Passing round the Hat, and I hope the audience will–a–a–a–do the rest. She’s consented on this occasion to use a hat–or cap, rather–of her own, the charming Tam O’Shanter in which we’ve all seen her, and–a–admired her about the ship for the week past.”

He caught up the flat woolen steamer-cap which Clementina had left in her seat beside Mrs. Milray when she rose to dance, and held it aloft. Some one called out, “Chorus! For he’s a jolly good fellow,” and led off in his praise. Lord Lioncourt shouted through the uproar the announcement that while Miss Claxon was taking up the collection, Mr. Ewins, of Boston, would sing one of the student songs of Cambridge–no! Harvard– University; the music being his own.

Everyone wanted to make some joke or some compliment to Clementina about the cap which grew momently heavier under the sovereigns and half sovereigns, half crowns and half dollars, shillings, quarters, greenbacks and every fraction of English and American silver; and the actor who had given the imitations, made bold, as he said, to ask his lordship if the audience might not hope, before they dispersed, for something more from Miss Claxon. He was sure she could do something more; he for one would be glad of anything; and Clementina turned from putting her cap into Mrs. Milray’s lap, to find Lord Lioncourt bowing at her elbow, and offering her his arm to lead her to the spot where she had stood in dancing.

The joy of her triumph went to her head; she wished to retrieve herself from any shadow of defeat.

She stood panting a moment, and then, if she had had the professional instinct, she would have given her admirers the surprise of something altogether different from what had pleased them before. That was what the actor would have done, but Clementina thought of how her dance had been brought to an untimely close by the rolling of the ship; she burned to do it all as she knew it, no matter how the sea behaved, and in another moment she struck into it again. This time the sea behaved perfectly, and the dance ended with just the swoop and swirl she had meant it to have at first. The spectators went generously wild over her; they cheered and clapped her, and crowded upon her to tell how lovely it was; but she escaped from them, and ran back to the place where she had left Mrs. Milray. She was not there, and Clementina’s cap full of alms lay abandoned on the chair. Lord Lioncourt said he would take charge of the money, if she would lend him her cap to carry it in to the purser, and she made her way into the saloon. In a distant corner she saw Mrs. Milray with Mr. Ewins.

She advanced in a vague dismay toward them, and as she came near Mrs. Milray said to Mr. Ewins, “I don’t like this place. Let’s go over yonder.” She rose and rushed him to the other end of the saloon.

Lord Lioncourt came in looking about. “Ah, have you found her?” he asked, gayly. “There were twenty pounds in your cap, and two hundred dollars.”

“Yes,” said Clementina, “she’s over the’a.” She pointed, and then shrank and slipped away.

XVIII.

At breakfast Mrs. Milray would not meet Clementina’s eye; she talked to the people across the table in a loud, lively voice, and then suddenly rose, and swept past her out of the saloon.

The girl did not see her again till Mrs. Milray came up on the promenade at the hour when people who have eaten too much breakfast begin to spoil their appetite for luncheon with the tea and bouillon of the deck- stewards. She looked fiercely about, and saw Clementina seated in her usual place, but with Lord Lioncourt in her own chair next her husband, and Ewins on foot before her. They were both talking to Clementina, whom Lord Lioncourt was accusing of being in low spirits unworthy of her last night’s triumphs. He jumped up, and offered his place, “I’ve got your chair, Mrs. Milray.”

“Oh, no,” she said, coldly, “I was just coming to look after Mr. Milray. But I see he’s in good hands.”

She turned away, as if to make the round of the deck, and Ewins hurried after her. He came back directly, and said that Mrs. Milray had gone into the library to write letters. He stayed, uneasily, trying to talk, but with the air of a man who has been snubbed, and has not got back his composure.

Lord Lioncourt talked on until he had used up the incidents of the night before, and the probabilities of their getting into Queenstown before morning; then he and Mr. Ewins went to the smoking-room together, and Clementina was left alone with Milray.

“Clementina,” he said, gently, “I don’t see everything; but isn’t there some trouble between you and Mrs. Milray?”

“Why, I don’t know what it can be,” answered the girl, with trembling lips. “I’ve been trying to find out, and I can’t undastand it.”

“Ah, those things are often very obscure,” said Milray, with a patient smile.

Clementina wanted to ask him if Mrs. Milray had said anything to him about her, but she could not, and he did not speak again till he heard her stir in rising from her chair. Then he said, “I haven’t forgotten that letter to my sister, Clementina. I will give it to you before we leave the steamer. Are you going to stay in Liverpool, over night, or shall you go up to London at once?”

“I don’t know. It will depend upon how Mrs. Landa feels.”

“Well, we shall see each other again. Don’t be worried.” He looked up at her with a smile, and he could not see how forlornly she returned it.

As the day passed, Mrs. Milray’s angry eyes seemed to search her out for scorn whenever Clementina found herself the centre of her last night’s celebrity. Many people came up and spoke to her, at first with a certain expectation of knowingness in her, which her simplicity baffled. Then they either dropped her, and went away, or stayed and tried to make friends with her because of this; an elderly English clergyman and his wife were at first compassionately anxious about her, and then affectionately attentive to her in her obvious isolation. Clementina’s simple-hearted response to their advances appeared to win while it puzzled them; and they seemed trying to divine her in the strange double character she wore to their more single civilization. The theatrical people thought none the worse of her for her simple-hearted ness, apparently; they were both very sweet to her, and wanted her to promise to come and see them in their little box in St. John’s Wood. Once, indeed, Clementina thought she saw relenting in Mrs. Milray’s glance, but it hardened again as Lord Lioncourt and Mr. Ewins came up to her, and began to talk with her. She could not go to her chair beside Milray, for his wife was now keeping guard of him on the other side with unexampled devotion. Lord Lioncourt asked her to walk with him and she consented. She thought that Mr. Ewins would go and sit by Mrs. Milray, of course, but when she came round in her tour of the ship, Mrs. Milray was sitting alone beside her husband.

After dinner she went to the library and got a book, but she could not read there; every chair was taken by people writing letters to send back from Queenstown in the morning; and she strayed into the ladies’ sitting room, where no ladies seemed ever to sit, and lost herself in a miserable muse over her open page.

Some one looked in at the door, and then advanced within and came straight to Clementina; she knew without looking up that it was Mrs. Milray. “I have been hunting for you, Miss Claxon,” she said, in a voice frostily fierce, and with a bearing furiously formal. “I have a letter to Miss Milray that my busband wished me to write for you, and give you with his compliments.”

“Thank you,” said Clementina. She rose mechanically to her feet, and at the same time Mrs. Milray sat down.

“You will find Miss Milray,” she continued, with the same glacial hauteur, “a very agreeable and cultivated lady.”

Clementina said nothing; and Mrs. Milray added,

“And I hope she may have the happiness of being more useful to you than I have.”

“What do you mean, Mrs. Milray? “Clementina asked with unexpected spirit and courage.

“I mean simply this, that I have not succeeded in putting you on your guard against your love of admiration–especially the admiration of gentlemen. A young girl can’t be too careful how she accepts the attentions of gentlemen, and if she seems to invite them–“

“Mrs. Milray cried Clementina. “How can you say such a thing to me?”

“How? I shall have to be plain with you, I see. Perhaps I have not considered that, after all, you know nothing about life and are not to blame for things that a person born and bred in the world would understand from childhood. If you don’t know already, I can tell you that the way you have behaved with Lord Lioncourt during the last two or three days, and the way you showed your pleasure the other night in his ridiculous flatteries of you, was enough to make you the talk of the whole steamer. I advise you for your own sake to take my warning in time. You are very young, and inexperienced and ignorant, but that will not save you in the eyes of the world if you keep on.” Mrs. Milray rose. “And now I will leave you to think of what I have said. Here is the letter for Miss Milray–“

Clementina shook her head. “I don’t want it.”

“You don’t want it? But I have written it at Mr. Milray’s request, and I shall certainly leave it with you!”

“If you do,” said Clementina, “I shall not take it!”

“And what shall I say to Mr. Milray?”

“What you have just said to me.”

“What have I said to you?”

“That I’m a bold girl, and that I’ve tried to make men admi’a me.”

Mrs. Milray stopped as if suddenly daunted by a fact that had not occurred to her before. “Did I say that?”

“The same as that.”

“I didn’t mean that–I–merely meant to put you on your guard. It may be because you are so innocent yourself, that you can’t imagine what others think, and–I did it out of my regard for you.”

Clementina did not answer.

Mrs. Milray went on, “That was why I was so provoked with you. I think that for a young girl to stand up and dance alone before a whole steamer full of strangers”–Clementina looked at her without speaking, and Mrs. Milray hastened to say, “To be sure I advised you to do it, but I certainly was surprised that you should give an encore. But no matter, now. This letter–“

“I can’t take it, Mrs. Milray,” said Clementina, with a swelling heart.

“Now, listen!” urged Mrs. Milray. “You think I’m just saying it because, if you don’t take it I shall have to tell Mr. Milray I was so hateful to you, you couldn’t. Well, I should hate to tell him that; but that isn’t the reason. There!” She tore the letter in pieces, and threw it on the floor. Clementina did not make any sign of seeing this, and Mrs. Milray dropped upon her chair again. “Oh, how hard you are! Can’t you say something to me?”

Clementina did not lift her eyes. “I don’t feel like saying anything just now.”

Mrs. Milray was silent a moment. Then she sighed. “Well, you may hate me, but I shall always be your friend. What hotel are you going to in Liverpool?

“I don’t know,” said Clementina.

“You had better come to the one where we go. I’m afraid Mrs. Lander won’t know how to manage very well, and we’ve been in Liverpool so often. May I speak to her about it?”

“If you want to,” Clementina coldly assented.

“I see!” said Mrs. Milray. “You don’t want to be under the same roof with me. Well, you needn’t! But I’ll tell you a good hotel: the one that the trains start out of; and I’ll send you that letter for Miss Milray.” Clemeutina was silent. “Well, I’ll send it, anyway.”

Mrs. Milray went away in sudden tears, but the girl remained dry-eyed.

XIX.

Mrs. Lander realized when the ship came to anchor in the stream at Liverpool that she had not been seasick a moment during the voyage. In the brisk cold of the winter morning, as they came ashore in the tug, she fancied a property of health in the European atmosphere, which she was sure would bring her right up, if she stayed long enough; and a regret that she had never tried it with Mr. Lander mingled with her new hopes for herself.

But Clementina looked with home-sick eyes at the strangeness of the alien scene: the pale, low heaven which seemed not to be clouded and yet was so dim; the flat shores with the little railroad trains running in and out over them; the grimy bulks of the city, and the shipping in the river, sparse and sombre after the gay forest of sails and stacks at New York.

She did not see the Milrays after she left the tug, in the rapid dispersal of the steamer’s passengers. They both took leave of her at the dock, and Mrs. Milray whispered with penitence in her voice and eyes, “I will write,” but the girl did not answer.

Before Mrs. Lander’s trunks and her own were passed, she saw Lord Lioncourt going away with his heavily laden man at his heels. Mr. Ewins came up to see if he could help her through the customs, but she believed that be had come at Mrs. Milray’s bidding, and she thanked him so prohibitively that he could not insist. The English clergyman who had spoken to her the morning after the charity entertainment left his wife with Mrs. Lander, and came to her help, and then Mr. Ewins went his way.

The clergyman, who appeared to feel the friendlessness of the young girl and the old woman a charge laid upon him, bestowed a sort of fatherly protection upon them both. He advised them to stop at a hotel for a few hours and take the later train for London that he and his wife were going up by; they drove to the hotel together, where Mrs. Lander could not be kept from paying the omnibus, and made them have luncheon with her. She allowed the clergyman to get her tickets, and she could not believe that be had taken second class tickets for himself and his wife. She said that she had never heard of anyone travelling second class before, and she assured him that they never did it in America. She begged him to let her pay the difference, and bring his wife into her compartment, which the guard had reserved for her. She urged that the money was nothing to her, compared with the comfort of being with some one you knew; and the clergyman had to promise that as they should be neighbors, he would look in upon her, whenever the train stopped long enough.

Before it began to move, Clementina thought she saw Lord Lioncourt hurrying past their carriage-window. At Rugby the clergyman appeared, but almost before he could speak, Lord Lioncourt’s little red face showed at his elbow. He asked Clementina to present him to Mrs. Lander, who pressed him to get into her compartment; the clergyman vanished, and Lord Lioncourt yielded.

Mrs. Lander found him able to tell her the best way to get to Florence, whose situation he seemed to know perfectly; he confessed that he had been there rather often. He made out a little itinerary for going straight through by sleeping-car as soon as you crossed the Channel; she had said that she always liked a through train when she could get it, and the less stops the better. She bade Clementina take charge of the plan and not lose it; without it she did not see what they could do. She conceived of him as a friend of Clementina’s, and she lost in the strange environment the shyness she had with most people. She told him how Mr. Lander had made his money, and from what beginnings he rose to be ignorant of what he really was worth when he died. She dwelt upon the diseases they had suffered, and at the thought of his death, so unnecessary in view of the good that the air was already doing her in Europe, she shed tears.

Lord Lioncourt was very polite, but there was no resumption of the ship’s comradery in his manner. Clementina could not know how quickly this always drops from people who have been fellow-passengers; and she wondered if he were guarding himself from her because she had danced at the charity entertainment. The poison which Mrs. Milray had instilled worked in her thoughts while she could not help seeing how patient he was with all Mrs. Lander’s questions; he answered them with a simplicity of his own, or laughed and put them by, when they were quite impossible. Many of them related to the comparative merits of English and American railroads, and what he thought himself of these. Mrs. Lander noted the difference of the English stations; but she did not see much in the landscape to examine him upon. She required him to tell her why the rooks they saw were not crows, and she was not satisfied that he should say the country seat she pointed out was a castle when it was plainly deficient in battlements. She based upon his immovable confidence in respect to it an inquiry into the structure of English society, and she made him tell her what a lord was, and a commoner, and how the royal family differed from both. She asked him how he came to be a lord, and when he said that it was a peerage of George the Third’s creation, she remembered that George III. was the one we took up arms against. She found that Lord Lioncourt knew of our revolution generally, but was ignorant of such particulars as the Battle of Bunker Hill, and the Surrender of Cornwallis, as well as the throwing of the Tea into Boston Harbor; he was much struck by this incident, and said, And quite right, he was sure.

He told Clementina that her friends the Milrays had taken the steamer for London in the morning. He believed they were going to Egypt for the winter. Cairo, he said, was great fun, and he advised Mrs. Lander, if she found Florence a bit dull, to push on there. She asked if it was an easy place to get to, and he assured her that it was very easy from Italy.

Mrs. Lander was again at home in her world of railroads and hotels; but she confessed, after he left them at the next station, that she should have felt more at home if he had been going on to London with them. She philosophized him to the disadvantage of her own countrymen as much less offish than a great many New York and Boston peuple. He had given her a good opinion of the whole English nation; and the clergyman, who had been so nice to them at Liverpool, confirmed her friendly impressions of England by getting her a small omnibus at the station in London before he got a cab for himself and his wife, and drove away to complete his own journey on another road. She celebrated the omnibus as if it were an effect of his goodness in her behalf. She admired its capacity for receiving all their trunks, and saving the trouble and delay of the express, which always vexed her so much in New York, and which had nearly failed in getting her baggage to the steamer in time.

The omnibus remained her chief association with London, for she decided to take the first through train for Italy in the morning. She wished to be settled, by which she meant placed in a Florentine hotel for the winter. That lord, as she now began and always continued to call Lioncourt, had first given her the name of the best little hotel in Florence, but as it had neither elevator nor furnace heat in it, he agreed in the end that it would not do for her, and mentioned the most modern and expensive house on the Lungarno. He told her he did not think she need telegraph for rooms; but she took this precaution before leaving London, and was able to secure them at a price which seemed to her quite as much as she would have had to pay for the same rooms at a first class hotel on the Back Bay.

The manager had reserved for her one of the best suites, which had just been vacated by a Russian princess. “I guess you better cable to your folks where you ah’, Clementina,” she said. “Because if you’re satisfied, I am, and I presume we sha’n’t want to change as long as we stay in Florence. My, but it’s sightly! “She joined Clementina a moment at the windows looking upon the Arno, and the hills beyond it. “I guess you’ll spend most of your time settin’ at this winder, and I sha’n’t blame you.”

They had arrived late in the dull, soft winter afternoon. The landlord led the way himself to their apartment, and asked if they would have fire; a facchino came in and kindled roaring blazes on the hearths; at the same time a servant lighted all the candles on the tables and mantels. They both gracefully accepted the fees that Mrs. Lander made Clementina give them; the facchino kissed the girl’s hand. “My!” said Mrs. Lander, “I guess you never had your hand kissed before.”

The hotel developed advantages which, if not those she was used to, were still advantages. The halls were warmed by a furnace, and she came to like the little logs burning in her rooms. In the care of her own fire, she went back to the simple time of her life in the country, and chose to kindle it herself when it died out, with the fagots of broom that blazed up so briskly.

In the first days of her stay she made inquiry for the best American doctor in Florence; and she found him so intelligent that she at once put her liver in his charge, with a history of her diseases and symptoms of every kind. She told him that she was sure that he could have cured Mr. Lander, if he had only had him in time; she exacted a new prescription from him for herself, and made him order some quinine pills for Clementina against the event of her feeling debilitated by the air of Florence.

XX.

In these first days a letter came to Clementina from Mrs. Lander’s banker, enclosing the introduction which Mrs. Milray had promised to her sister-in-law. It was from Mr. Milray, as before, and it was in Mrs. Milray’s handwriting; but no message from her came with it. To Clementina it explained itself, but she had to explain it to Mrs. Lander. She had to tell her of Mrs. Milray’s behavior after the entertainment on the steamer, and Mrs. Lander said that Clementina had done just exactly right; and they both decided, against some impulses of curiosity in Clementina’s heart, that she should not make use of the introduction.

The ‘Hotel des Financieres’ was mainly frequented by rich Americans full of ready money, and by rich Russians of large credit. Better Americans and worse, went, like the English, to smaller and cheaper hotels; and Clementina’s acquaintance was confined to mothers as shy and ungrammatical as Mrs. Lander herself, and daughters blankly indifferent to her. Mrs. Lander drove out every day when it did not rain, and she took Clementina with her, because the doctor said it would do them both good; but otherwise the girl remained pent in their apartment. The doctor found her a teacher, and she kept on with her French, and began to take lessons in Italian; she spoke with no one but her teacher, except when the doctor came. At the table d’hote she heard talk of the things that people seemed to come to Florence for: pictures, statues, palaces, famous places; and it made her ashamed of not knowing about them. But she could not go to see these things alone, and Mrs. Lander, in the content she felt with all her circumstances, seemed not to suppose that Clementina could care for anything but the comfort of the hotel and the doctor’s visits. When the girl began to get letters from home in answer to the first she had written back, boasting how beautiful Florence was, they assumed that she was very gay, and demanded full accounts of her pleasures. Her brother Jim gave something of the village news, but he said he supposed that she would not care for that, and she would probably be too proud to speak to them when she came home. The Richlings had called in to share the family satisfaction in Clementina’s first experiences, and Mrs. Richling wrote her very sweetly of their happiness in them. She charged her from the rector not to forget any chance of self-improvement in the allurements of society, but to make the most of her rare opportunities. She said that they had got a guide-book to Florence, with a plan of the city, and were following her in the expeditions they decided she must be making every day; they were reading up the Florentine history in Sismondi’s Italian Republics, and she bade Clementina be sure and see all the scenes of Savonarola’s martyrdom, so that they could talk them over together when she returned.

Clexnentina wondered what Mrs. Richling would think if she told her that all she knew of Florence was what she overheard in the talk of the girls in the hotel, who spoke before her of their dances and afternoon teas, and evenings at the opera, and drives in the Cascine, and parties to Fiesole, as if she were not by.

The days and weeks passed, until Carnival was half gone, and Mrs. Lander noticed one day that Clementina appeared dull. “You don’t seem to get much acquainted?” she suggested.

“Oh, the’e’s plenty of time,” said Clementina.

“I wish the’e was somebody you could go round with, and see the place. Shouldn’t you like to see the place? “Mrs. Lander pursued.

“There’s no hurry about it, Mrs. Lander. It will stay as long as we do.”

Mrs. Lander was thoughtfully silent. Then she said, “I declare, I’ve got half a mind to make you send that letta to Miss Milray, after all. What difference if Mrs. Milray did act so ugly to you? He never did, and she’s his sista.”

“Oh, I don’t want to send it, Mrs. Landa; you mustn’t ask me to. I shall get along,” said Clementina. The recognition of her forlornness deepened it, but she was cheerfuller, for no reason, the next morning; and that afternoon, the doctor unexpectedly came upon a call which he made haste to say was not professional.

“I’ve just come from another patient of mine, and I promised to ask if you had not crossed on the same ship with a brother of hers,–Mr. Milray.”

Celementina and Mrs. Lander looked guiltily at each other. “I guess we did,” Mrs. Lander owned at last, with a reluctant sigh.

“Then, she says you have a letter for her.”

The doctor spoke to both, but his looks confessed that he was not ignorant of the fact when Mrs. Lander admitted, “Well Clementina, he’e, has.”

“She wants to know why you haven’t delivered it,” the doctor blurted out.

Mrs. Lander looked at Clementina. “I guess she ha’n’t quite got round to it yet, have you, Clementina?”

The doctor put in: “Well, Miss Milray is rather a dangerous person to keep waiting. If you don’t deliver it pretty soon, I shouldn’t be surprised if she came to get it.” Dr. Welwright was a young man in the early thirties, with a laugh that a great many ladies said had done more than any one thing for them, and he now prescribed it for Clementina. But it did not seem to help her in the trouble her face betrayed.

Mrs. Lander took the word, “Well, I wouldn’t say it to everybody. But you’re our doctor, and I guess you won’t mind it. We don’t like the way Mrs. Milray acted to Clementina, in the ship, and we don’t want to be beholden to any of her folks. I don’t know as Clementina wants me to tell you just what it was, and I won’t; but that’s the long and sho’t of it.”

“I’m sorry,” the doctor said. “I’ve never met Mrs. Milray, but Miss Milray has such a pleasant house, and likes to get young people about her. There are a good many young people in your hotel, though, and I suppose you all have a very good time here together.” He ended by speaking to Clementina, and now he said he had done his errand, and must be going.

When he was gone, Mrs. Lander faltered, “I don’t know but what we made a mistake, Clementina.”

“It’s too late to worry about it now,” said the girl.

“We ha’n’t bound to stay in Florence,” said Mrs. Lander, thoughtfully. “I only took the rooms by the week, and we can go, any time, Clementina, if you are uncomf’table bein’ here on Miss Milray’s account. We could go to Rome; they say Rome’s a nice place; or to Egypt.”

“Mrs. Milray’s in Egypt,” Clementina suggested.

“That’s true,” Mrs. Lander admitted, with a sigh. After a while she went on, “I don’t know as we’ve got any right to keep the letter. It belongs to her, don’t it?”

“I guess it belongs to me, as much as it does to her,” said Clementina. “If it’s to her, it’s for me. I am not going to send it, Mrs. Landa.”

They were still in this conclusion when early in the following afternoon Miss Milray’s cards were brought up for Mrs. Lander and Miss Claxon.

“Well, I decla’e!” cried Mrs. Lander. “That docta: must have gone straight and told her what we said.”

“He had no right to,” said Clementina, but neither of them was displeased, and after it was over, Mrs. Lander said that any one would have thought the call was for her, instead of Clementina, from the way Miss Milray kept talking to her. She formed a high opinion of her; and Miss Milray put Clementina in mind of Mr. Milray; she had the same hair of chiseled silver, and the same smile; she moved like him, and talked like him; but with a greater liveliness. She asked fondly after him, and made Clementina tell her if he seemed quite well, and in good spirits; she was civilly interested in Mrs. Milray’s health. At the embarrassment which showed itself in the girl, she laughed and said, “Don’t imagine I don’t know all about it, Miss Claxon! My sister-in-law has owned up very handsomely; she isn’t half bad, as the English say, and I think she likes owning up if she can do it safely.”

“And you don’t think,” asked Mrs. Lander, “that Clementina done wrong to dance that way?”

Clementina blushed, and Miss Milray laughed again. “If you’ll let Miss Claxon come to a little party I’m giving she may do her dance at my house; but she sha’n’t be obliged to do it, or anything she doesn’t like. Don’t say she hasn’t a gown ready, or something of that kind! You don’t know the resources of Florence, and how the dress makers here doat upon doing impossible things in no time at all, and being ready before they promise. If you’ll put Miss Claxon in my hands, I’ll see that she’s dressed for my dance. I live out on one of the hills over there, that you see from your windows”–she nodded toward them–“in a beautiful villa, too cold for winter, and too hot for summer, but I think Miss Claxon can endure its discomfort for a day, if you can spare her, and she will consent to leave you to the tender mercies of your maid, and “Miss Milray paused at the kind of unresponsive blank to which she found herself talking, and put up her lorgnette, to glance from Mrs. Lander to Clementina. The girl said, with embarrassment, “I don’t think I ought to leave Mrs. Landa, just now. She isn’t very well, and I shouldn’t like to leave her alone.”

“But we’re just as much obliged to you as if she could come,” Mrs. Lander interrupted; “and later on, maybe she can. You see, we han’t got any maid, yit. Well, we did have one at Woodlake, but she made us do so many things for her, that we thought we should like to do a few things for ouaselves, awhile.”

If Miss Milray perhaps did not conceive the situation, exactly, she said, Oh, they were quite right in that; but she might count upon Miss Claxon for her dance, might not she; and might not she do anything in her power for them? She rose to go, but Mrs. Lander took her at her word, so far as to say, Why, yes, if she could tell Clementina the best place to get a dress she guessed the child would be glad enough to come to the dance.

“Tell her!” Miss Milray cried. “I’ll take her! Put on your hat, my dear,” she said to Clementina, “and come with me now. My carriage is at your door.”

Clementina looked at Mrs. Lander, who said, “Go, of cou’se, child. I wish I could go, too.”

“Do come, too,” Miss Milray entreated.

“No, no,” said Mrs. Lander, flattered. “I a’n’t feeling very well, to- day. I guess I’m better off at home. But don’t you hurry back on my account, Clementina.” While the girl was gone to put on her hat she talked on about her. “She’s the best gul in the wo’ld, and she won’t be one of the poorest; and I shall feel that I’m doin’ just what Mr. Landa would have wanted I should. He picked her out himself, moa than three yea’s ago, when we was drivin’ past her house at Middlemount, and it was to humor him afta he was gone, moa than anything else, that I took her. Well, she wa’n’t so very easy to git, either, I can tell you.” She cut short her history of the affair to say when Clementina came back, “I want you should do the odderin’ yourself, Miss Milray, and not let her scrimp with the money. She wants to git some visitin’ cahds; and if you miss anything about her that she’d ought to have, or that any otha yong lady’s got, won’t you just git it for her?”

As soon as she imagined the case, Miss Milray set herself to overcome Mrs. Lander’s reluctance from a maid. She prevailed with her to try the Italian woman whom she sent her, and in a day the genial Maddalena had effaced the whole tradition of the bleak Ellida. It was not essential to the understanding which instantly established itself between them that they should have any language in common. They babbled at each other, Mrs. Lander in her Bostonized Yankee, and Maddalena in her gutteral Florentine, and Mrs. Lander was flattered to find how well she knew Italian.

Miss Milray had begun being nice to Clementina in fealty to her brother, who so seldom made any proof of her devotion to him, and to whom she bad remained passionately true through his shady past. She was eager to humor his whim for the little country girl who had taken his fancy, because it was his whim, and not because she had any hopes that Clementina would justify it. She had made Dr. Welwright tell her all he knew about her, and his report of her grace and beauty had piqued her curiosity; his account of the forlorn dullness of her life with Mrs. Lander in their hotel had touched her heart. But she was still skeptical when she went to get her letter of introduction; when she brought Clementina home from the dressmaker’s she asked if she might kiss her, and said she was already in love with her.

Her love might have made her wish to do everything for her that she now began to do, but it simplified the situation to account for her to the world as the ward of Mrs. Lander, who was as rich as she was vulgar, and it was with Clementina in this character that Miss Milray began to make the round of afternoon teas, and inspired invitations for her at pleasant houses, by giving a young ladies’ lunch for her at her own. Before the night of her little dance, she had lost any misgiving she had felt at first, in the delight of seeing Clementina take the world as if she had thought it would always behave as amiably as that, and as if she had forgotten her unkind experiences to the contrary. She knew from Mrs. Lander how the girls at their hotel had left her out, but Miss Milray could not see that Clementina met them with rancor, when her authority brought them together. If the child was humiliated by her past in the gross lonely luxury of Mrs. Lander’s life or the unconscious poverty of her own home, she did not show it in the presence of the world that now opened its arms to her. She remained so tranquil in the midst of all the novel differences, that it made her friend feel rather vulgar in her anxieties for her, and it was not always enough to find that she had not gone wrong simply because she had hold still, and had the gift of waiting for things to happen. Sometimes when Miss Milray had almost decided that her passivity was the calm of a savage, she betrayed so sweet and grateful a sense of all that was done for her, that her benefactress decided that, she was not rustic, but was sylvan in a way of her own, and not so much ignorant as innocent. She discovered that she was not ignorant even of books, but with no literary effect from them she had transmitted her reading into the substance of her native gentleness, and had both ideas and convictions. When Clementina most affected her as an untried wilderness in the conventional things she most felt her equality to any social fortune that might befall her, and then she would have liked to see her married to a title, and taking the glory of this world with an unconsciousness that experience would never wholly penetrate. But then again she felt that this would be somehow a profanation, and she wanted to pack her up and get her back to Middlemount before anything of the kind should happen. She gave Milray these impressions of Clementina in the letter she wrote to thank him for her, and to scold him for sending the girl to her. She accused him of wishing to get off on her a riddle which he could not read himself; but she owned that the charm of Clementina’s mystery was worth a thousand times the fatigue of trying to guess her out and that she was more and more infatuated with her every day.

In the meantime, Miss Milray’s little dance grew upon her till it became a very large one that filled her villa to overflowing when the time came for it. She lived on one of the fine avenues of the Oltrarno region, laid out in the brief period of prosperity which Florence enjoyed as the capital of Italy. The villa was built at that time, and it was much newer than the house on Seventeenth street in New York, where she spent the girlhood that had since prolonged itself beyond middle life with her. She had first lived abroad in the Paris of the Second Empire, and she had been one winter in Rome, but she had settled definitely in Florence before London became an American colony, so that her friends were chiefly Americans, though she had a wide international acquaintance. Perhaps her habit of taking her brother’s part, when he was a black sheep, inclined her to mercy with people who had not been so blameless in their morals as they were in their minds and manners. She exacted that they should be interesting and agreeable, and not too threadbare; but if they had something that decently buttoned over the frayed places, she did not frown upon their poverty. Bohemians of all kinds liked her; Philistines liked her too; and in such a place as Florence, where the Philistines themselves are a little Bohemian, she might be said to be very popular. You met persons whom you did not quite wish to meet at her house, but if these did not meet you there, it was your loss.

On the night of the dance the line of private carriages, remises and cabs, lined the Viale Ariosto for a mile up and down before her gates, where young artists of both sexes arrived on foot. By this time her passion for Clementina was at its height. She had Maddalena bring her out early in the evening, and made her dress under her own eye and her French maid’s, while Maddalena went back to comfort Mrs. Lander.

“I hated to leave her,” said Clementina. “I don’t believe she’s very well.”

“Isn’t she always ill?” demanded Miss Milray. She embraced the girl again, as if once were not enough. “Clementina, if Mrs. Lander won’t give you to me, I’m going to steal you. Do you know what I want you to do tonight? I want you to stand up with me, and receive, till the dancing begins, as if it were your coming-out. I mean to introduce everybody to you. You’ll be easily the prettiest girl, there, and you’ll have the nicest gown, and I don’t mean that any of your charms shall be thrown away. You won’t be frightened?”

“No, I don’t believe I shall,” said Clementina. “You can tell me what to do.”

The dress she wore was of pale green, like the light seen in thin woods; out of it shone her white shoulders, and her young face, as if rising through the verdurous light. The artists, to a man and woman, wished to paint her, and severally told her so, during the evening which lasted till morning. She was not surprised when Lord Lioncourt appeared, toward midnight, and astonished Miss Milray by claiming acquaintance with Clementina. He asked about Mrs. Lander, and whether she had got to Florence without losing the way; he laughed but he seemed really to care. He took Clementina out to supper, when the time came; and she would have topped him by half a head as she leaned on his arm, if she had not considerately drooped and trailed a little after him.

She could not know what a triumph he was making for her; and it was merely part of the magic of the time that Mr. Ewins should come in presently with one of the ladies. He had arrived in Florence that day, and had to be brought unasked. He put on the effect of an old friend with her; but Clementina’s curiosity was chiefly taken with a tall American, whom she thought very handsome. His light yellow hair was brushed smooth across his forehead like a well-behaving boy’s; he was dressed like the other men, but he seemed not quite happy in his evening coat, and his gloves which he smote together uneasily from time to time. He appeared to think that somehow the radiant Clementina would know how he felt; he did not dance, and he professed to have found himself at the party by a species of accident. He told her that he was out in Europe looking after a patent right that he had just taken hold of, and was having only a middling good time. He pretended surprise to hear her say that she was having a first-rate time, and he tried to reason her out of it. He confessed that from the moment he came into the room he had made up his mind to take her to supper, and had never been so disgusted in his life as when he saw that little lord toddling off with her, and trying to look as large as life. He asked her what a lord was like, anyway, and he made her laugh all the time.

He told her his name, G. W. Hinkle, and asked whether she would be likely to remember it if they ever met again.

Another man who interested her very much was a young Russian, with curling hair and neat, small features who spoke better English than she did, and said he was going to be a writer, but had not yet decided whether to write in Russian or French; she supposed he had wanted her advice, but he did not wait for it, or seem to expect it. He was very much in earnest, while he fanned her, and his earnestness amused her as much as the American’s irony. He asked which city of America she came from, and when she said none, he asked which part of America. She answered New England, and he said, “Oh, yes, that is where they have the conscience.” She did not know what he meant, and he put before her the ideal of New England girlhood which he had evolved from reading American novels. “Are you like that?” he demanded.

She laughed, and said, “Not a bit,” and asked him if he had ever met such an American girl, and he said, frankly, No; the American girls were all mercenary, and cared for nothing but money, or marrying titles. He added that he had a title, but he would not wear it.

Clementina said she did not believe she cared for titles, and then he said, “But you care for money.” She denied it, but as if she had confessed it, he went on: “The only American that I have seen with that conscience was a man. I will tell you of him, if you wish.”

He did not wait for her answer. “It was in Naples–at Pompeii. I saw at the first glance that he was different from other Americans, and I resolved to know him. He was there in company with a stupid boy, whose tutor he was; and he told me that he was studying to be a minister of the Protestant church. Next year he will go home to be consecrated. He promised to pass through Florence in the spring, and he will keep his word. Every act, every word, every thought of his is regulated by conscience. It is terrible, but it is beautiful.” All the time, the Russian was fanning Clementina, with every outward appearance of flirtation. “Will you dance again? No? I should like to draw such a character as his in a romance.”

XXII.

It was six o’clock in the morning before Miss Milray sent Clementina home in her carriage. She would have kept her to breakfast, but Clementina said she ought to go on Mrs. Lander’s account, and she wished to go on her own.

She thought she would steal to bed without waking her, but she was stopped by the sound of groans when she entered their apartment; the light gushed from Mrs. Lander’s door. Maddalena came out, and blessed the name of her Latin deity (so much more familiar and approachable than the Anglo-Saxon divinity) that Clementina had come at last, and poured upon her the story of a night of suffering for Mrs. Lander. Through her story came the sound of Mrs. Lander’s voice plaintively reproachful, summoning Clementina to her bedside. “Oh, how could you go away and leave me? I’ve been in such misery the whole night long, and the docta didn’t do a thing for me. I’m puffectly wohn out, and I couldn’t make my wants known with that Italian crazy-head. If it hadn’t been for the portyary comin’ in and interpretin’, when the docta left, I don’t know what I should have done. I want you should give him a twenty-leary note just as quick as you see him; and oh, isn’t the docta comin’?”

Clementina set about helping Maddalena put the room, which was in an impassioned disorder, to rights; and she made Mrs. Lander a cup of her own tea, which she had brought from S. S. Pierces in passing through Boston; it was the first thing, the sufferer said, that had saved her life. Clementina comforted her, and promised her that the doctor should be there very soon; and before Mrs. Lander fell away to sleep, she was so far out of danger as to be able to ask how Clementina had enjoyed herself, and to be glad that she had such a good time.

The doctor would not wake her when he came; he said that she had been through a pretty sharp gastric attack, which would not recur, if she ate less of the most unwholesome things she could get, and went more into the air, and walked a little. He did not seem alarmed, and he made Clementina tell him about the dance, which he had been called from to Mrs. Lander’s bed of pain. He joked her for not having missed him; in the midst of their fun, she caught herself in the act of yawning, and the doctor laughed, and went away.

Maddalena had to call her, just before dinner, when Mrs. Lander had been awake long enough to have sent for the doctor to explain the sort of gone feeling which she was now the victim of. It proved, when he came, to be hunger, and he prescribed tea and toast and a small bit of steak. Before he came she had wished to arrange for going home at once, and dying in her own country. But his opinion so far prevailed with her that she consented not to telegraph for berths. “I presume,” she said, “it’ll do, any time before the icebugs begin to run. But I d’ know, afta this, Clementina, as I can let you leave me quite as you be’n doin’. There was a lot of flowas come for you, this aftanoon, but I made Maddalena put ’em on the balcony, for I don’t want you should get poisoned with ’em in your sleep; I always head they was dangerous in a person’s ‘bed room. I d’ know as they are, eitha.”

Maddalena seemed to know that Mrs. Lander was speaking of the flowers. She got them and gave them to Clementina, who found they were from some of the men she had danced with. Mr. Hinkle had sent a vast bunch of violets, which presently began to give out their sweetness in the warmth of the room, and the odor brought him before her with his yellow hair, scrupulously parted at the side, and smoothly brushed, showing his forehead very high up. Most of the gentlemen wore their hair parted in the middle, or falling in a fringe over their brows; the Russian’s was too curly to part, and Lord Lioncourt had none except at the sides.

She laughed, and Mrs. Lander said, “Tell about it, Clementina,” and she began with Mr. Hinkle, and kept coming back to him from the others. Mrs. Lander wished most to know how that lord had got down to Florence; and Clementina said he was coming to see her.

“Well, I hope to goodness he won’t come to-day, I a’n’t fit to see anybody.”

“Oh, I guess he won’t come till to-morrow,” said Clementina; she repeated some of the compliments she had got, and she told of all Miss Milray’s kindness to her, but Mrs. Lander said, “Well, the next time, I’ll thank her not to keep you so late.” She was astonished to hear that Mr. Ewins was there, and “Any of the nasty things out of the hotel the’e?” she asked.

“Yes,” Clementina said, “the’e we’e, and some of them we’e very nice. They wanted to know if I wouldn’t join them, and have an aftanoon of our own here in the hotel, so that people could come to us all at once.”

She went back to the party, and described the rest of it. When she came to the part about the Russian, she told what he had said of American girls being fond of money, and wanting to marry foreign noblemen.

Mrs. Lander said, “Well, I hope you a’n’t a going to get married in a hurry, anyway, and when you do I hope you’ll pick out a nice American.”

“Oh, yes,” said Clementina.

Mrs. Lander had their dinner brought to their apartment. She cheered up, and she was in some danger of eating too much, but with Clementina’s help she denied herself. Their short evening was one of the gayest; Clementina declared she was not the least sleepy, but she went to bed at nine, and slept till nine the next day.

Mrs. Lander, the doctor confessed, the second morning, was more shaken up by, her little attack than he had expected; but she decided to see the gentleman who had asked to call on Clementina. Lord Lioncourt did not come quite so soon as she was afraid he might, and when he came he talked mostly to Clementina. He did not get to Mrs. Lander until just before he was going. She hospitably asked him what his hurry was, and then he said that he was off for Rome, that evening at seven. He was nice about hoping she was comfortable in the hotel, and he sympathized with her in her wish that there was a set-bowl in her room; she told him that she always tried to have one, and he agreed that it must be very convenient where any one was, as she said, sick so much.

Mr. Hinkle came a day later; and then it appeared that he had a mother whose complaints almost exactly matched Mrs. Lander’s. He had her photograph with him, and showed it; he said if you had no wife to carry round a photograph of, you had better carry your mother’s; and Mrs. Lander praised him for being a good son. A good son, she added, always made a good husband; and he said that was just what he told the young ladies himself, but it did not seem to make much impression on them. He kept Clementina laughing; and he pretended that he was going to bring a diagram of his patent right for her to see, because she would be interested in a gleaner like that; and he said he wished her father could see it, for it would be sure to interest the kind of man Mrs. Lander described him to be. “I’ll be along up there just about the time you get home, Miss Clementina. Then did you say it would be?”

“I don’t know; pretty ea’ly in the spring, I guess.”

She looked at Mrs. Lander, who said, “Well, it depends upon how I git up my health. I couldn’t bea’ the voyage now.”

Mr. Hinkle said, “No, best look out for your health, if it takes all summer. I shouldn’t want you to hurry on my account. Your time is my time. All I want is for Miss Clementina, here, to personally conduct me to her father. If I could get him to take hold of my gleaner in New England, we could make the blueberry crop worth twice what it is.”

Mrs. Lander perceived that he was joking; and she asked what he wanted to run away for when the young Russian’s card came up. He said, “Oh, give every man a chance,” and he promised that he would look in every few days, and see how she was getting along. He opened the door after he had gone out, and put his head in to say in confidence to Mrs. Lander, but so loud that Clementina could hear, “I suppose she’s told you who the belle of the ball was, the other night? Went out to supper with a lord!” He seemed to think a lord was such a good joke that if you mentioned one you had to laugh.

The Russian’s card bore the name Baron Belsky, with the baron crossed out in pencil, and he began to attack in Mrs. Lander the demerits of the American character, as he had divined them. He instructed her that her countrymen existed chiefly to make money; that they were more shopkeepers than the English and worse snobs; that their women were trivial and their men sordid; that their ambition was to unite their families with the European aristocracies; and their doctrine of liberty and equality was a shameless hypocrisy. This followed hard upon her asking, as she did very promptly, why he had scratched out the title on his card. He told her that he wished to be known solely as an artist, and he had to explain to her that he was not a painter, but was going to be a novelist. She taxed him with never having been in America, but he contended that as all America came to Europe he had the materials for a study of the national character at hand, without the trouble of crossing the ocean. In return she told him that she had not been the least sea-sick during the voyage, and that it was no trouble at all; then he abruptly left her and went over to beg a cup of tea from Clementina, who sat behind the kettle by the window.

“I have heard this morning from that American I met in Pompeii” he began. “He is coming northward, and I am going down to meet him in Rome.”

Mrs. Lander caught the word, and called across the room, “Why, a’n’t that whe’e that lo’d’s gone?”

Clementina said yes, and while the kettle boiled, she asked if Baron Belsky were going soon.

“Oh, in a week or ten days, perhaps. I shall know when he arrives. Then I shall go. We write to each other every day.” He drew a letter from his breast pocket. “This will give you the idea of his character,” and he read, “If we believe that the hand of God directs all our actions, how can we set up our theories of conduct against what we feel to be his inspiration?”

“What do you think of that?” he demanded.

“I don’t believe that God directs our wrong actions,” said Clementina.

“How! Is there anything outside of God?

“I don’t know whether there is or not. But there is something that tempts me to do wrong, sometimes, and I don’t believe that is God.”

The Russian seemed struck. “I will write that to him!”

“No,” said Clementina, “I don’t want you to say anything about me to him.”

“No, no!” said Baron Belsky, waving his band reassuringly. “I would not mention your name!”

Mr. Ewins came in, and the Russian said he must go. Mrs. Lander tried to detain him, too, as she had tried to keep Mr. Hinkle, but be was inexorable. Mr. Ewins looked at the door when it had closed upon him. Mrs. Lander said, “That is one of the gentlemen that Clementina met the otha night at the dance. He is a baron, but he scratches it out. You’d ought to head him go on about Americans.”

“Yes,” said Mr. Ewins coldly. “He’s at our hotel, and he airs his peculiar opinions at the table d’hote pretty freely. He’s a revolutionist of some kind, I fancy.” He pronounced the epithet with an abhorrence befitting the citizen of a state born of revolution and a city that had cradled the revolt. “He’s a Nihilist, I believe.”

Mrs. Lander wished to know what that was, and he explained that it was a Russian who wanted to overthrow the Czar, and set up a government of the people, when they were not prepared for liberty.

“Then, maybe he isn’t a baron at all,” said Mrs. Lander.

“Oh, I believe he has a right to his title,” Ewins answered. “It’s a German one.”

He said he thought that sort of man was all the more mischievous on account of his sincerity. He instanced a Russian whom a friend of his knew in Berlin, a man of rank like this fellow: he got to brooding upon the condition of working people and that kind of thing, till he renounced his title and fortune and went to work in an iron foundry.

Mr. Ewins also spoke critically of Mrs. Milray. He had met her in Egypt; but you soon exhausted the interest of that kind of woman. He professed a great concern that Clementina should see Florence in just the right way, and he offered his services in showing her the place.

The Russian came the next day, and almost daily after that, in the interest with which Clementina’s novel difference from other American girls seemed to inspire him. His imagination had transmuted her simple Yankee facts into something appreciable to a Slav of his temperament. He conceived of her as the daughter of a peasant, whose beauty had charmed the widow of a rich citizen, and who was to inherit the wealth of her adoptive mother. He imagined that the adoption had taken place at a much earlier period than the time when Clementina’s visit to Mrs. Lander actually began, and that all which could he done had been done to efface her real character by indulgence and luxury.

His curiosity concerning her childhood, her home, her father and mother, her brothers and sisters, and his misunderstanding of everything she told him, amused her. But she liked him, and she tried to give him some notion of the things he wished so much to know. It always ended in a dissatisfaction, more or less vehement, with the outcome of American conditions as he conceived them.

“But you,” he urged one day, “you who are a daughter of the fields and woods, why should you forsake that pure life, and come to waste yourself here?”

“Why, don’t you think it’s very nice in Florence?” she asked, with eyes of innocent interest.

“Nice! Nice! Do we live for what is nice? Is it enough that you have what you Americans call a nice time?”

Clementina reflected. “I wasn’t doing much of anything at home, and I thought I might as well come with Mrs. Lander, if she wanted me so much.” She thought in a certain way, that he was meddling with what was not his affair, but she believed that he was sincere in his zeal for the ideal life he wished her to lead, and there were some things she had heard about him that made her pity and respect him; his self-exile and his renunciation of home and country for his principles, whatever they were; she did not understand exactly. She would not have liked never being able to go back to Middlemount, or to be cut off from all her friends as this poor young Nihilist was, and she said, now, “I didn’t expect that it was going to be anything but a visit, and I always supposed we should go back in the spring; but now Mrs. Lander is beginning to think she won’t be well enough till fall.”

“And why need you stay with her?”

“Because she’s not very well,” answered Clementina, and she smiled, a little triumphantly as well as tolerantly.

“She could hire nurses and doctors, all she wants with her money.”

“I don’t believe it would be the same thing, exactly, and what should I do if I went back?”

“Do? Teach! Uplift the lives about you.”

“But you say it is better for people to live simply, and not read and think so much.”

“Then labor in the fields with them.”

Clementina laughed outright. “I guess if anyone saw me wo’king in the fields they would think I was a disgrace to the neighbahood.”

Belsky gave her a stupified glare through his spectacles. “I cannot undertand you Americans.”

“Well, you must come ova to America, then, Mr. Belsky”–he had asked her not to call him by his title–“and then you would.”

“No, I could not endure the disappointment. You have the great opportunity of the earth. You could be equal and just, and simple and kind. There is nothing to hinder you. But all you try to do is to get more and more money.”

“Now, that isn’t faia, Mr. Belsky, and you know it.”

Well, then, you joke, joke–always joke. Like that Mr. Hinkle. He wants to make money with his patent of a gleaner, that will take the last grain of wheat from the poor, and he wants to joke–joke!’

Clementina said, “I won’t let you say that about Mr. Hinkle. You don’t know him, or you wouldn’t. If he jokes, why shouldn’t he?”

Belsky made a gesture of rejection. “Oh, you are an American, too.”

She had not grown less American, certainly, since she had left home; even the little conformities to Europe that she practiced were traits of Americanism. Clementina was not becoming sophisticated, but perhaps she was becoming more conventionalized. The knowledge of good and evil in things that had all seemed indifferently good to her once, had crept upon her, and she distinguished in her actions. She sinned as little as any young lady in Florence against the superstitions of society; but though she would not now have done a skirt-dance before a shipful of people, she did not afflict herself about her past errors. She put on the world, but she wore it simply and in most matters unconsciously. Some things were imparted to her without her asking or wishing, and merely in virtue of her youth and impressionability. She took them from her environment without knowing it, and in this way she was coming by an English manner and an English tone; she was only the less American for being rather English without trying, when other Americans tried so hard. In the region of harsh nasals, Clementina had never spoken through her nose, and she was now as unaffected in these alien inflections as in the tender cooings which used to rouse the misgivings of her brother Jim. When she was with English people she employed them involuntarily, and when she was with Americans she measurably lost them, so that after half an hour with Mr. Hinkle, she had scarcely a trace of them, and with Mrs. Lander she always spoke with her native accent.

XXIII

One Sunday night, toward the end of Lent, Mrs. Lander had another of her attacks; she now began to call them so as if she had established an ownership in them. It came on from her cumulative over-eating, again, but the doctor was not so smiling as he had been with regard to the first. Clementina had got ready to drive out to Miss Milray’s for one of her Sunday teas, but she put off her things, and prepared to spend the night at Mrs. Lander’s bedside. “Well, I should think you would want to,” said the sufferer. “I’m goin’ to do everything for you, and you’d ought to be willing to give up one of youa junketin’s for me. I’m sure I don’t know what you see in ’em, anyway.”

“Oh, I am willing, Mrs. Lander; I’m glad I hadn’t stahted before it began.” Clementina busied herself with the pillows under Mrs. Lander’s dishevelled head, and the bedclothes disordered by her throes, while Mrs. Lander went on.

“I don’t see what’s the use of so much gaddin’, anyway. I don’t see as anything comes of it, but just to get a passal of wo’thless fellas afta you that think you’a going to have money. There’s such a thing as two sides to everything, and if the favas is goin’ to be all on one side I guess there’d betta be a clear undastandin’ about it. I think I got a right to a little attention, as well as them that ha’n’t done anything; and if I’m goin’ to be left alone he’e to die among strangers every time one of my attacks comes on”–

The doctor interposed, “I don’t think you’re going to have a very bad attack, this time, Mrs. Lander.”

“Oh, thank you, thank you, docta! But you can undastand, can’t you, how I shall want to have somebody around that can undastand a little English?”

The doctor said, “Oh yes. And Miss Claxon and I can understand a good deal, between us, and we’re going to stay, and see how a little morphine behaves with you.”

Mrs. Lander protested, “Oh, I can’t bea’ mo’phine, docta.”

“Did you ever try it?” he asked, preparing his little instrument to imbibe the solution.

“No; but Mr. Landa did, and it ‘most killed him; it made him sick.”

“Well, you’re about as sick as you can be, now, Mrs. Lander, and if you don’t die of this pin-prick”–he pushed the needle-point under the skin of her massive fore-arm–“I guess you’ll live through it.”

She shrieked, but as the pain began to abate, she gathered courage, and broke forth joyfully. “Why, it’s beautiful, a’n’t it? I declare it wo’ks like a cha’m. Well, I shall always keep mo’phine around after this, and when, I feel one of these attacks comin’ on”–

“Send for a physician, Mrs. Lander,” said Dr. Welwright, “and he’ll know what to do.”

“I an’t so sure of that,” returned Mrs. Lander fondly. “He would if you was the one. I declare I believe I could get up and walk right off, I feel so well.”

“That’s good. If you’ll take a walk day after tomorrow it will help you a great deal more.”

“Well, I shall always say that you’ve saved my life, this time, doctor; and Clementina she’s stood by, nobly; I’ll say that for her.” She twisted her big head round on the pillow to get sight of the girl. “I’m all right, now; and don’t you mind what I said. It’s just my misery talkin’; I don’t know what I did say; I felt so bad. But I’m fustrate, now, and I believe I could drop off to sleep, this minute. Why don’t you go to your tea? You can, just as well as not!”

“Oh, I don’t want to go, now, Mrs. Lander; I’d ratha stay.”

“But there a’n’t any more danger now, is the’e, docta?” Mrs. Lander appealed.

“No. There wasn’t any danger before. But when you’re quite yourself, I want to have a little talk with you, Mrs. Lander, about your diet. We must look after that.”

“Why, docta, that’s what I do do, now. I eat all the healthy things I lay my hands on, don’t I, Clementina? And ha’n’t you always at me about it?”

Clementina did not answer, and the doctor laughed. Well, I should like to know what more I could do!”

“Perhaps you could do less. We’ll see about that. Better go to sleep, now, if you feel like it.”

“Well, I will, if you’ll make this silly child go to her tea. I s’pose she won’t because I scolded her. She’s an awful hand to lay anything up against you. You know you ah’, Clementina! But I can say this, doctor: a betta child don’t breathe, and I just couldn’t live without her. Come he’e, Clementina, I want to kiss you once, before I go to sleep, so’s to make su’a you don’t bea’ malice.” She pulled Clementina down to kiss her, and babbled on affectionately and optimistically, till her talk became the voice of her dreams, and then ceased altogether.

“You could go, perfectly well, Miss Claxon,” said the doctor.

“No, I don’t ca’e to go,” answered Clementina. I’d ratha stay. If she should wake”–

“She won’t wake, until long after you’ve got back; I’ll answer for that. I’m going to stay here awhile. Go! I’ll take the responsibility.”

Clementina’s face brightened. She wanted very much to go. She should meet some pleasant people; she always did, at Miss Milray’s. Then the light died out of her gay eyes, and she set her lips. “No, I told her I shouldn’t go.”

“I didn’t hear you,” said Dr. Welwright. “A doctor has no eyes and ears except for the symptoms of his patients.”

“Oh, I know,” said Clementina. She had liked Dr. Welwright from the first, and she thought it was very nice of him to stay on, after he left Mrs. Lander’s bedside, and help to make her lonesome evening pass pleasantly in the parlor. He jumped up finally, and looked at his watch. “Bless my soul!” he said, and he went in for another look at Mrs. Lander. When he came back, he said, “She’s all right. But you’ve made me break an engagement, Miss Claxon. I was going to tea at Miss Milray’s. She promised me I should meet you there.”

It seemed a great joke; and Clementina offered to carry his excuses to Miss Milray, when she went to make her own.

She, went the next morning. Mrs. Lander insisted that she should go; she said that she was not going to have Miss Milray thinking that she wanted to keep her all to herself.

Miss Milray kissed the girl in full forgiveness, but she asked, “Did Dr. Welwright think it a very bad attack?”

“Has he been he’a?” returned Clementina.

Miss Milray laughed. “Doctors don’t betray their patients–good doctors. No, he hasn’t been here, if that will help you. I wish it would help me, but it won’t, quite. I don’t like to think of that old woman using you up, Clementina.”

“Oh, she doesn’t, Miss Milray. You mustn’t think so. You don’t know how good she is to me.”

“Does she ever remind you of it?”

Clementina’s eyes fell. “She isn’t like herself when she doesn’t feel well.”

“I knew it!” Miss Milray triumphed. “I always knew that she was a dreadful old tabby. I wish you were safely out of her clutches. Come and live with me, my dear, when Mrs. Lander gets tired of you. But she’ll never get tired of you. You’re just the kind of helpless mouse that such an old tabby would make her natural prey. But she sha’n’t, even if another sort of cat has to get you! I’m sorry you couldn’t come last night. Your little Russian was here, and went away early and very bitterly because you didn’t come. He seemed to think there was nobody, and said so, in everything but words.”

“Oh!” said Clementina. “Don’t you think he’s very nice, Miss Milray?”

“He’s very mystical, or else so very simple that he seems so. I hope you can make him out.”

Don’t you think he’s very much in ea’nest?

“Oh, as the grave, or the asylum. I shouldn’t like him to be in earnest about me, if I were you.”

“But that’s just what he is!” Clementina told how the Russian had lectured her, and wished her to go back to the country and work in the fields.

“Oh, if that’s all!” cried Miss Milray. I was afraid it was another kind of earnestness: the kind I shouldn’t like if I were you.”

“There’s no danger of that, I guess.” Clementina laughed, and Miss Milray went on:

“Another of your admirers was here; but be was not so inconsolable, or else be found consolation in staying on and talking about you, or joking.”

“Oh, yes; Mr. Hinkle,” cried Clementina with the smile that the thought of him always brought. He’s lovely.”

“Lovely? Well, I don’t know why it isn’t the word. It suits him a great deal better than some insipid girls that people give it to. Yes, I could really fall in love with Mr. Hinkle. He’s the only man I ever saw who would know how to break the fall!”

It was lunch-time before their talk had begun to run low, and it swelled again over the meal. Miss Milray returned to Mrs. Lander, and she made Clementina confess that she was a little trying sometimes. But she insisted that she was always good, and in remorse she went away as soon as Miss Milray rose from table.

She found Mrs. Lander very much better, and willing to have had her stay the whole afternoon with Miss Milray. “I don’t want she should have anything to say against me, to you, Clementina; she’d be glad enough to. But I guess it’s just as well you’a back. That scratched-out baron has been he’e twice, and he’s waitin’ for you in the pahla’, now. I presume he’ll keep comin’ till you do see him. I guess you betta have it ova; whatever it is.”

“I guess you’re right, Mrs. Lander.”

Clementina found the Russian walking up and down the room, and as soon as their greeting was over, he asked leave to continue his promenade, but he stopped abruptly before her when she had sunk upon a sofa.

“I have come to tell you a strange story,” he said.

“It is the story of that American friend of mine. I tell it to you because I think you can understand, and will know what to advise, what to do.”

He turned upon his heel, and walked the length of the room and back before he spoke again.

“Since several years,” he said, growing a little less idiomatic in his English as his excitement mounted, “he met a young girl, a child, when he was still not a man’s full age. It was in the country, in the mountains of America, and–he loved her. Both were very poor; he, a student, earning the means to complete his education in the university. He had dedicated himself to his church, and with the temperament of the Puritans, he forbade himself all thoughts of love. But he was of a passionate and impulsive nature, and in a moment of abandon he confessed his love. The child was bewildered, frightened; she shrank from his avowal, and he, filled with remorse for his self-betrayal, bade her let it be as if it had not been; he bade her think of him no more.”

Clementina sat as if powerless to move, staring at Belsky. He paused in his walk, and allowed an impressive silence to ensue upon his words.

“Time passed: days, months, years; and he did not see her again. He pursued his studies in the university; at their completion, he entered upon the course of divinity, and he is soon to be a minister of his church. In all that time the image of the young girl has remained in his heart, and has held him true to the only love he has ever known. He will know no other while he lives.”

Again he stopped in front of Clementina; she looked helplessly up at him, and he resumed his walk.

“He, with his dreams of renunciation, of abnegation, had thought some day to return to her and ask her to be his. He believed her capable of equal sacrifice with himself, and he hoped to win her not for himself alone, but for the religion which he put before himself. He would have invited her to join her fate with his that they might go together on some mission to the pagan–in the South Seas, in the heart of Africa, in the jungle of India. He had always thought of her as gay but good, unworldly in soul, and exalted in spirit. She has remained with him a vision of angelic loveliness, as he had seen her last in the moonlight, on the banks of a mountain torrent. But he believes that he has disgraced himself before her; that the very scruple for her youth, her ignorance, which made him entreat her to forget him, must have made her doubt and despise him. He has never had the courage to write to her one word since all those years, but he maintains himself bound to her forever.” He stopped short before Clementina and seized her hands. “If you knew such a girl, what would you have her do? Should she bid him hope again? Would you have her say to him that she, too, had been faithful to their dream, and that she too”–

“Let me go, Mr. Belsky, let me go, I say!” Clementina wrenched her hands from him, and ran out of the room. Belsky hesitated, then he found his hat, and after a glance at his face in the mirror, left the house.

XXIV.

The tide of travel began to set northward in April. Many English, many Americans appeared in Florence from Naples and Rome; many who had wintered in Florence went on to Venice and the towns of northern Italy, on their way to Switzerland and France and Germany.

The spring was cold and rainy, and the irresolute Italian railroads were interrupted by the floods. A tawny deluge rolled down from the mountains through the bed of the Arno, and kept the Florentine fire-department on the alert night and day. “It is a curious thing about this country,” said Mr. Hinkle, encountering Baron Belsky on the Ponte Trinita, “that the only thing they ever have here for a fire company to put out is a freshet. If they had a real conflagration once, I reckon they would want to bring their life-preservers.”