Daisy Miller:
A Study In Two Parts

The Coxon Fund The Death of the Lion The Diary of a Man of Fifty Sir Dominick Ferrand Eugene Pickering

Henry James

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Henry James
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Daisy Miller ................................................................. 5 The Coxon Fund ....................................................... 71 The Death of the Lion ............................................. 142 The Diary of a Man of Fifty ..................................... 192 Sir Dominick Ferrand .............................................. 229 Eugene Pickering ..................................................... 293

Henry James

Daisy Miller: A Study
In Two Parts

Henry James PART I
AT THE LITTLE TOWN OF VEVEY, in Switzerland, there is a particularly comfortable hotel. There are, indeed, many hotels, for the entertainment of tourists is the business of the place, which, as many travelers will remember, is seated upon the edge of a remarkably blue lake—a lake that it behooves every tourist to visit. The shore of the lake presents an unbroken array of establishments of this order, of every category, from the “grand hotel” of the newest fashion, with a chalk-white front, a hundred balconies, and a dozen flags flying from its roof, to the little Swiss pension of an elder day, with its name inscribed in German-looking lettering upon a pink or yellow wall and an awkward summerhouse in the angle of the garden. 5

I hardly know whether it was the analogies or the differences that were uppermost in the mind of a young American. who was staying at the hotel—Geneva having been for a long time his place of residence. that Vevey assumes at this period some of the characteristics of an American watering place. so that he was at liberty to wander about. two or three years ago. a sound of high-pitched voices at all times. a view of the sunny crest of the Dent du Midi and the picturesque towers of the Castle of Chillon. smelling camphor. an echo. who look like secretaries of legation. In this region. however. He had come from Geneva the day before by the little steamer. You receive an impression of these things at the excellent inn of the “Trois Couronnes” and are transported in fancy to the Ocean House or to Congress Hall. to see his aunt. it may be said. he had no enemies. being distinguished from many of its upstart neighbors by an air both of luxury and of maturity. sat in the garden of the “Trois Couronnes. after all.” it must be added. He was some seven-and-twenty years of age. indeed. But at the “Trois Couronnes. who. 6 . they usually said that he was at Geneva “studying. they must have seemed to him charming. and in whatever fashion the young American looked at things. There are sights and sounds which evoke a vision. a rustling of muslin flounces. There is a flitting hither and thither of “stylish” young girls. with their governors.” looking about him. when his friends spoke of him. Russian princesses sitting in the garden. at some of the graceful objects I have mentioned. is famous.Daisy Miller One of the hotels at Vevey. rather idly. It was a beautiful summer morning. in the month of June. a rattle of dance music in the morning hours. there are other features that are much at variance with these suggestions: neat German waiters. little Polish boys walking about held by the hand. of Newport and Saratoga. even classical.” When his enemies spoke of him. they said—but. But his aunt had a headache—his aunt had almost always a headache—and now she was shut up in her room. American travelers are extremely numerous.

which displayed his poor little spindle-shanks. you may take one. simply. He carried in his hand a long alpenstock. a pale complexion. What I should say is. had an aged expression of countenance. In front of Winterbourne he paused. He was dressed in knickerbockers. and sharp little features. not young. and he had afterward gone to college there—circumstances which had led to his forming a great many youthful friendships. Very few Americans—indeed. After knocking at his aunt’s door and learning that she was indisposed. on which his coffee service rested. and saw that several morsels of sugar remained.” 7 . the sharp point of which he thrust into everything that he approached—the flowerbeds. “Yes.Henry James he was an extremely amiable fellow.” he answered. But Winterbourne had an old attachment for the little metropolis of Calvinism. “but I don’t think sugar is good for little boys. I think none—had ever seen this lady. he also wore a brilliant red cravat. and universally liked. the garden benches. Presently a small boy came walking along the path—an urchin of nine or ten. he had taken a walk about the town. and then he had come in to his breakfast. he had been put to school there as a boy. the trains of the ladies’ dresses. who was diminutive for his years. that when certain persons spoke of him they affirmed that the reason of his spending so much time at Geneva was that he was extremely devoted to a lady who lived there—a foreign lady—a person older than himself. and they were a source of great satisfaction to him. with red stockings. about whom there were some singular stories. which had been served to him on a little table in the garden by one of the waiters who looked like an attache. hard little voice—a voice immature and yet. looking at him with a pair of bright. The child. “Will you give me a lump of sugar?” he asked in a sharp. somehow. He had now finished his breakfast. penetrating little eyes. At last he finished his coffee and lit a cigarette. Many of these he had kept. Winterbourne glanced at the small table near him. but he was drinking a small cup of coffee.

” he said. “She’s got to give me some candy. your mother will certainly slap you.” rejoined his young interlocutor. “I can’t get any candy here—any American candy. It’s this old Europe. In America they didn’t come out. They have all come out. lance-fashion.” Winterbourne was much amused. into Winterbourne’s bench and tried to crack the lump of sugar with his teeth. And then. it’s har-r-d!” he exclaimed. “Oh. 8 . It’s these hotels. “I haven’t got any teeth to hurt.” he said. American candy’s the best candy. depositing the other as promptly in another place. on Winterbourne’s affirmative reply—”American men are the best. “If you eat three lumps of sugar. He poked his alpenstock. and the child. then. “I don’t know.” said the child. pronouncing the adjective in a peculiar manner. “I see you are one of the best!” laughed Winterbourne. His companion thanked him for the compliment. Winterbourne wondered if he himself had been like this in his infancy. I can’t help it. blazes. who had now got astride of his alpenstock. stood looking about him. paternally. for he had been brought to Europe at about this age. My mother counted them last night. and one came out right afterward. It’s the climate that makes them come out.” “And are American little boys the best little boys?” asked Winterbourne. Winterbourne had immediately perceived that he might have the honor of claiming him as a fellow countryman.Daisy Miller This little boy stepped forward and carefully selected three of the coveted fragments. “Are you an American man?” pursued this vivacious infant. I’m an American boy. I have only got seven teeth. “Take care you don’t hurt your teeth. She said she’d slap me if any more came out.” he declared. while he attacked a second lump of sugar. two of which he buried in the pocket of his knickerbockers.

” replied Randolph. in his little hard voice. as if he were prepared to rise. “This is the way!” And he gave another little jump. “How pretty they are!” thought Winterbourne. The young lady paused in front of his bench. with a hundred frills and flounces. which overlooked the lake.” said Winterbourne. “This little boy and I have made acquaintance. and she was strikingly. but looked straight at her brother.” she simply observed.” “I imagine that is your fault. She was bareheaded. The young lady gave no heed to this announcement. with great civility. “Randolph. “She’s an American girl. throwing away his cigarette.” said the young lady. “American girls are the best girls. “She’s always blowing at me. admirably pretty.” he said. and knots of pale-colored ribbon. straightening himself in his seat.” he said cheerfully to his young companion. but she balanced in her hand a large parasol.” said Winterbourne. with a deep border of embroidery. The young lady meanwhile had drawn near. by the aid of which he was springing about in the gravel and kicking it up not a little. “He’s an American man!” cried Randolph. not hers. “what are you doing?” “I’m going up the Alps. “Well. “My sister ain’t the best!” the child declared. It seemed to Winterbourne that he had been in a manner presented.” Winterbourne looked along the path and saw a beautiful young lady advancing.Henry James “Here comes my sister!” cried the child in a moment. The little boy had now converted his alpenstock into a vaulting pole. scattering the pebbles about Winterbourne’s ears. I guess you had better be quiet. as he had been per9 . She was dressed in white muslin. near the parapet of the garden. “That’s the way they come down. He got up and stepped slowly toward the young girl. In Geneva.

however. but he decided that he must advance farther. “To Italy. what conditions could be better than these?—a pretty American girl coming and standing in front of you in a garden. “Well. “Are you—a— going over the Simplon?” Winterbourne pursued. “I don’t know. “I don’t know. “I bought it.” Winterbourne explained. He wondered whether he had gone too far.” she replied. “Are you going to Italy?” Winterbourne inquired in a tone of great respect. Italy is a beautiful place!” rejoined the young man.” “Oh. but here at Vevey. a little embarrassed.” she said. And she said nothing more. I guess you had better leave it somewhere. “Can you get candy there?” Randolph loudly inquired.” she said. she then turned her head and looked over the parapet.Daisy Miller fectly aware. a young man was not at liberty to speak to a young unmarried lady except under certain rarely occurring conditions. simply glanced at him. “I should like to know where you got that pole. I am going to take it to Italy. The young girl glanced over the front of her dress and smoothed out a knot or two of ribbon. While he was thinking of something else to say. on hearing Winterbourne’s observation. the young lady turned to the little boy again. I want to go to America.” she said after a moment. what mountain are we going over?” “Going where?” the child demanded.” said Randolph. Randolph.” responded Randolph. sir. “You don’t mean to say you’re going to take it to Italy?” “Yes. Then she rested her eyes upon the prospect again. 10 .” the child declared. “I suppose it’s some mountain. rather than retreat. “I don’t want to go to Italy. The young lady glanced at him again. This pretty American girl. at the lake and the opposite mountains. “Yes.

” said his sister. There had not been the slightest alteration in her charming complexion. and though it was eminently delicate. and Winterbourne presently risked an observation upon the beauty of the view. sweet. she was evidently neither offended nor flattered. for he had begun to perceive that she was not in the least embarrassed herself.” “I haven’t had any for ever so long—for a hundred weeks!” cried the boy.Henry James “I hope not. It was not at all insipid. and seemed not particularly to hear him. indeed. He had a great relish for feminine beauty. superficial little visage there was no mockery. and as regards this young lady’s face he made several observations. she gradually gave him more of the benefit of her glance. her teeth. he was sure she had a spirit of her own. her nose. Winterbourne had not seen for a long time anything prettier than his fair countrywoman’s various features—her complexion. he was addicted to observing and analyzing it. and then he saw that this glance was perfectly direct and unshrinking. no irony. still jumping about. “I guess you have had enough candy. with which she appeared quite unacquainted. this was simply her habit. as he talked a little more and pointed out some of the objects of interest in the view. for the young girl’s eyes were singularly honest and fresh. and mother thinks so too. She asked him if he was a “real American”. She told him that they were going to Rome for the winter—she and her mother and Randolph. He was ceasing to be embarrassed. what would have been called an immodest glance. It was not. The young lady inspected her flounces and smoothed her ribbons again. If she looked another way when he spoke to her. Before long it became obvious that she was much disposed toward conversation. They were wonderfully pretty eyes. 11 . but it was not exactly expressive. and. He thought it very possible that Master Randolph’s sister was a coquette. her ears. but in her bright. Yet. however. Winterbourne mentally accused it—very forgivingly—of a want of finish. her manner.

My father’s rich. but she presently sat down. He’s got a big business. “Her name is Daisy Miller!” cried the child. so far as he remembered.” he announced. you bet!” “Well!” ejaculated Miss Miller. met an American who spoke like a German. that isn’t her name on her cards. Miller. She told him she was from New York State—”if you know where that is. “Randolph C. my boy.” Winterbourne imagined for a moment that this was the manner in which the child had been taught to intimate that Mr.” the boy went on.” said his sister.” he said.” Winterbourne learned more about her by catching hold of her small. 12 . “My father ain’t in Europe. But Randolph immediately added. She answered that she liked standing up and walking about. Miller. Then he asked her if she should not be more comfortable in sitting upon the bench which he had just quitted. laughing. indicating Winterbourne. Miller had been removed to the sphere of celestial reward.” said Winterbourne.” “It’s a pity you haven’t got one of my cards!” said Miss Miller. he continued to supply information with regard to his own family. lowering her parasol and looking at the embroidered border. “Ask him his name.” said the boy sharply. answered that he had met Germans who spoke like Americans. “I should like very much to know your name. “And I’ll tell you her name”. my father’s in a better place than Europe. and he leveled his alpenstock at his sister. Winterbourne presently released the child. “My father’s in Schenectady. he seemed more like a German—this was said after a little hesitation—especially when he spoke. “But that isn’t her real name. “Tell me your name. But on this point Randolph seemed perfectly indifferent.Daisy Miller she shouldn’t have taken him for one. but that he had not. Winterbourne. Miller. slippery brother and making him stand a few minutes by his side.. “My father’s name is Ezra B. “You had better wait till you are asked!” said this young lady calmly. “Her real name is Annie P.

“Mother thought of getting him one. She talked to Winterbourne as if she had known him a long time. There was a lady told her of a very good teacher.” “To Schenectady. She sat there with her extremely pretty hands.” said Winterbourne. He hasn’t got any boys here. I guess he could give me more instruction than I could give him. to travel round with us. “He wants to go back. perhaps you know her. There is one boy here. He’s going to college. I should think. “Or else she’s going to find some school.Henry James who departed. He’s only nine. “he seems very smart. He’s very smart. an American lady— perhaps you know her—Mrs. the people who passed by. He ought to learn some more. She wanted to know why I didn’t give Randolph lessons—give him ‘instruction.” “Yes. they won’t let him play. and with her pretty eyes now resting upon those of Winterbourne. But Randolph said he didn’t want a teacher traveling round with us. He found it very pleasant.” “And your brother hasn’t any teacher?” Winterbourne inquired. he wants to go right home.’ she called it. It was many years since he had 13 . There was an English lady we met in the cars—I think her name was Miss Featherstone. now wandering over the garden. you mean?” “Yes. and the beautiful view. Sanders. He said he wouldn’t have lessons when he was in the cars. Can you get good teachers in Italy?” “Very good. dragging his alpenstock along the path. And we are in the cars about half the time. and we thought of getting him to travel round with us.” And in this way Miss Miller continued to converse upon the affairs of her family and upon other topics.” said the young girl.” said Winterbourne. folded in her lap. I think she came from Boston. ornamented with very brilliant rings. “He doesn’t like Europe.” “Mother’s going to get a teacher for him as soon as we get to Italy. She told her of this teacher. but he always goes round with a teacher.

if there is. I used to go to New York every winter. She gave Winterbourne a history of her movements and intentions and those of her mother and brother.Daisy Miller heard a young girl talk so much. I’m very fond of society. Whenever she put on a Paris dress she felt as if she were in Europe. I don’t know where it keeps itself. She had a soft. tranquil attitude. you see the most frightful things here.” said Winterbourne. who had come and sat down beside him upon a bench. “That English lady in the cars. And then she had had ever so many dresses and things from Paris. or. “is the society. But I needn’t have done that for dresses. and that Europe was perfectly sweet. agreeable voice. slender.” she said—”Miss Featherstone—asked me if we didn’t all live in hotels in America. She had ever so many intimate friends that had been there ever so many times. but I haven’t seen anything of it. I have never seen so many—it’s nothing but hotels. she appeared to be in the best humor with everything. that she chattered.” she proceeded. “it always made me wish I was here. I don’t mean only in Schenectady. I am sure they send all the pretty ones to America. There isn’t any society. It might have been said of this unknown young lady. but in New York. I told her I had never been in so many hotels in my life as since I came to Europe. in Europe. Last winter I had seven14 . She declared that the hotels were very good. the various hotels at which they had stopped. when once you got used to their ways. “Yes. but her lips and her eyes were constantly moving. Do you? I suppose there is some society somewhere. In New York I had lots of society. She was not disappointed—not a bit. in particular. She was very quiet. and I have always had a great deal of it. and enumerated.” said Miss Miller without examining this analogy.” But Miss Miller did not make this remark with a querulous accent. The only thing I don’t like. she sat in a charming. Perhaps it was because she had heard so much about it before. and her tone was decidedly sociable. “It was a kind of a wishing cap.

with whom one’s relations were liable to take a serious turn. as they said at Geneva? He felt that he had lived at Geneva so long that he had lost a good deal. perplexed. She paused again for an instant. Certainly she was very charming. for respectability’s sake. and three of them were by gentlemen. save in cases where to say such things seemed a kind of demonstrative evidence of a certain laxity of deportment. American girls were exceedingly innocent. an audacious. the pretty girls who had a good deal of gentlemen’s society? Or was she also a designing. He had known. she was only a 15 . terrible women. indeed. slightly monotonous smile. and provided. Never. had he encountered a young American girl of so pronounced a type as this.Henry James teen dinners given me. and decidedly charmed. He was inclined to think Miss Daisy Miller was a flirt—a pretty American flirt. “I have always had. they were not. Miss Daisy Miller looked extremely innocent. He had never yet heard a young girl express herself in just this fashion. and more young lady friends too. And yet was he to accuse Miss Daisy Miller of actual or potential inconduite.” she resumed in a moment. she was very unsophisticated. as yet. here in Europe.” Poor Winterbourne was amused. “a great deal of gentlemen’s society. But this young girl was not a coquette in that sense. she was looking at Winterbourne with all her prettiness in her lively eyes and in her light. two or three women—persons older than Miss Daisy Miller. since he had grown old enough to appreciate things. and others had told him that. He had never. after all. Some people had told him that. at least. never. an unscrupulous young person? Winterbourne had lost his instinct in this matter. had any relations with young ladies of this category. “I have more friends in New York than in Schenectady—more gentleman friends. he had become dishabituated to the American tone. with husbands—who were great coquettes—dangerous. and his reason could not help him.” added Daisy Miller.” she said. but how deucedly sociable! Was she simply a pretty girl from New York State? Were they all like that. after all.

” “Your brother is not interested in ancient monuments?” Winterbourne inquired. I want to go there dreadfully. She suffers dreadfully from dyspepsia. “Have you been to that old castle?” asked the young girl. so we haven’t been to many places. He wants to stay at the hotel. He’s only nine. he wondered what were the regular conditions and limitations of one’s intercourse with a pretty American flirt. It presently became apparent that he was on the way to learn. pointing with her parasol to the far-gleaming walls of the Chateau de Chillon. if we can get Randolph. have seen it?” “No.” “It’s a very pretty excursion. we haven’t been there. Mother’s afraid to leave him alone. he says he doesn’t think much of old castles.Daisy Miller pretty American flirt. “Yes. Of course I mean to go there.” said Miss Miller. He leaned back in his seat. or you can go by the little steamer.” “You can go in the cars.” said Winterbourne. But it will be too bad if we don’t go up there. “He says he don’t care much about old castles. smiling. “and very easy to make.” said Winterbourne. You can drive.” Winterbourne assented. “You too. “We were going last week. Randolph wouldn’t go either.” And Miss Miller pointed again at the Chateau de Chillon. you can go in the cars. “I should think it might be arranged. I suppose. you know. She said she couldn’t go.” the young girl continued. I wouldn’t go away from here without having seen that old castle. But I guess we’ll go this week. more than once. “Our courier says they take you right up to the castle.” said Winterbourne. but my mother gave out. Winterbourne was almost grateful for having found the formula that applied to Miss Daisy Miller. formerly. and the courier won’t stay with him. he remarked to himself that she had the most charming nose he had ever seen. “Yes. “Couldn’t you get some one to stay for the afternoon with Randolph?” 16 .

looking sharply at her companion. after all. presumably Eugenio. Winterbourne hesitated a moment. appeared. he felt as if he ought to kiss the young lady’s hand. he now 17 . But it seemed that both his audacity and his respect were lost upon Miss Daisy Miller. as a young girl at Geneva would have done. But he’s a splendid courier.” she said.Henry James Miss Miller looked at him a moment. thought it possible she was offended. but at this moment another person.” “Eugenio?” the young man inquired. Possibly he would have done so and quite spoiled the project. “Eugenio’s our courier. “I wish you would stay with him!” she said. and then. and yet Winterbourne. Eugenio!” said Miss Miller with the friendliest accent. I guess Eugenio will. I guess he’ll stay at home with Randolph if mother does. If mother will stay with Randolph. “She don’t like to ride round in the afternoon. blushing. Eugenio had looked at Winterbourne from head to foot. “Then we may arrange it. very placidly. This program seemed almost too agreeable for credence. She didn’t rise. approached Miss Miller. “With your mother. he’s the most fastidious man I ever saw.” Winterbourne declared.” Winterbourne reflected for an instant as lucidly as possible—”we” could only mean Miss Daisy Miller and himself.” he answered very respectfully. conscious that he had been very bold. handsome man. “I should much rather go to Chillon with you. But did you really mean what you said just now—that you would like to go up there?” “Most earnestly. “Oh. wearing a velvet morning coat and a brilliant watch chain. A tall. and then we can go to the castle. with superb whiskers. He doesn’t like to stay with Randolph.” “With me?” asked the young girl with the same placidity. “I guess my mother won’t go.

blushing a little—a very little. And she gave him a smile and turned away. “Oh.” Mrs. Costello 18 . a daughter. “Mademoiselle has made arrangements?” he added in a tone which struck Winterbourne as very impertinent. anyway. “And a courier?” said Mrs. and as she moved away. “And you are staying in this hotel?” she went on. Seen them—heard them—and kept out of their way. “Oh yes. mademoiselle?” the courier inquired.” “To the Chateau de Chillon. smiling and referring to his aunt. “I shall not be happy till we go!” he protested.” said Miss Miller. “I have the honor to inform mademoiselle that luncheon is upon the table. we’ll go some day. I have observed them. “See here. Winterbourne stood looking after her.Daisy Miller bowed gravely to the young lady. he waited upon her in her apartment. Costello. even to Miss Miller’s own apprehension. and a little boy. a slightly ironical light upon the young girl’s situation.” he said. Eugenio’s tone apparently threw. however. Mrs. it conveyed an imputation that she “picked up” acquaintances. to Miss Daisy Miller. Eugenio!” she said. As soon as the former lady had got better of her headache. “I shall have the honor of presenting to you a person who will tell you all about me. drawing her muslin furbelows over the gravel. “I’m going to that old castle. engaged to do more than proved feasible. She turned to Winterbourne. He had. well.” Miss Miller slowly rose. at least. “And you are really an American?” The courier stood looking at Winterbourne offensively. said to himself that she had the tournure of a princess. and. “You won’t back out?” she said. She put up her parasol and walked back to the inn beside Eugenio. The young man. after the proper inquiries in regard to her health. thought his manner of looking an offense to Miss Miller. Costello. in promising to present his aunt. he asked her if she had observed in the hotel an American family—a mamma.

were nearer to her. as she gave him to understand. a high nose. as she said. from her tone. was rarely perceived to visit any particular city at the moment selected by his mother for her own appearance there. “I am afraid you don’t approve of them. which she presented to him in many different lights. “I can’t. if she were not so dreadfully liable to sick headaches. Her nephew. she exerted in the American capital. And her picture of the minutely hierarchical constitution of the society of that city. 19 . of course.” he said. to Winterbourne’s imagination. who frequently intimated that. though he was on his travels. “They are the sort of Americans that one does one’s duty by not—not accepting. that Miss Daisy Miller’s place in the social scale was low. But she is very common. she would probably have left a deeper impress upon her time. He immediately perceived. was therefore more attentive than those who. a person of much distinction. if he were acquainted with New York. I would if I could. he would see that one had to be. who had come up to Vevey expressly to see her. “They are very common.” said Winterbourne after another pause. pale face. and a great deal of very striking white hair. She had a long. and she was greatly pleased with him. She admitted that she was very exclusive. but.” “The young girl is very pretty. Mrs. almost oppressively striking.” “Ah.Henry James was a widow with a fortune. but I can’t. my dear Frederick. and. which she wore in large puffs and rouleaux over the top of her head. you don’t accept them?” said the young man. She had two sons married in New York and another who was now in Europe. This young man was amusing himself at Hamburg. Costello had not seen him for many years. “Of course she’s pretty. was.” Mrs. Costello declared.” “I see what you mean. He had imbibed at Geneva the idea that one must always be attentive to one’s aunt.” said Winterbourne in a moment. manifesting her approbation by initiating him into many of the secrets of that social sway which.

I think he smokes. He probably corresponds to the young lady’s idea of a count. she is very nice. the mother is just as bad! They treat the courier like a familiar friend—like a gentleman.” “An intimacy with the courier?” the young man demanded. Costello observed. “And pray who is to guarantee hers?” “Ah. “Well. and she dresses in perfection— no. you are cruel!” said the young man.Daisy Miller “She has that charming look that they all have. such fine clothes. Costello with dignity.” said Winterbourne.” Winterbourne went on. I am going to take her to the Chateau de Chillon.” “She is a young lady. To prove that I believe it.” Mrs. so like a gentleman. “She’s a very nice young girl. and yet she was very charming to me. Costello. “Oh. she is not.” “Tout bonnement! And pray what did you say?” “I said I should take the liberty of introducing her to my admirable aunt. a Comanche savage.” “It was to guarantee my respectability. “who has an intimacy with her mamma’s courier.” Winterbourne listened with interest to these disclosures.” “You don’t say that as if you believed it. after all.” “I am much obliged to you. Very likely they have never seen a man with such good manners. “She is completely uncultivated.” “You had better have said at first.” “We simply met in the garden. and we talked a bit. they helped him to make up his mind about Miss Daisy. you don’t know how well she dresses. in short. “I can’t think where they pick it up. “But she is wonderfully pretty. “that you had made her acquaintance. I can’t think where they get their taste. my dear aunt.” he said.” said Mrs.” his aunt resumed. and.” said Mrs.” “But. “I am not a courier. He sits with them in the garden in the evening. Evidently she was rather wild.” 20 . I shouldn’t wonder if he dines with them.

” he began earnestly. “That she is the sort of young lady who expects a man. to carry her off?” “I haven’t the least idea what such young ladies expect a man to do. I am an old woman. when this interesting project was formed? You haven’t been twenty-four hours in the house. Mrs. “Is it literally true that she is going to the Chateau de Chillon with you?” “I think that she fully intends it. But I really think that you had better not meddle with little American girls that are uncultivated. but I am not too old. You have lived too long out of the country. thank Heaven. Costello. “You won’t let the poor girl know you then?” he asked at last. “You really think. and with a desire for trustworthy information— ”you really think that—” But he paused again. 21 .Henry James “You two are going off there together? I should say it proved just the contrary. I am not so innocent. “Dear me!” cried Mrs. “You are guilty too. “Think what. as you call them. smiling. “I must decline the honor of her acquaintance. then!” Winterbourne continued to curl his mustache meditatively. Costello. smiling and curling his mustache. my dear Frederick.” said Mrs.” “My dear aunt. You are too innocent. “What a dreadful girl!” Her nephew was silent for some moments. sooner or later. then. “I should like to see my granddaughters do them!” she declared grimly.” “Then.” said Winterbourne. You will be sure to make some great mistake. Costello stared a moment. sir?” said his aunt.” “I have known her half an hour!” said Winterbourne. may I ask. How long had you known her. to be shocked!” “But don’t they all do these things—the young girls in America?” Winterbourne inquired.

by instinct. and had just taken leave of her till the morrow. But he isn’t afraid of Eugenio. She says she doesn’t know how she lives. and he was vexed with himself that.” observed Winterbourne. for Winterbourne remembered to have heard that his pretty cousins in New York were “tremendous flirts.” It appeared that 22 . She’s gone somewhere after Randolph. therefore. but he doesn’t like her to talk to him. but he can’t make much impression on Randolph! I don’t believe he’ll go to bed before eleven. “Has she gone to bed?” “No. Miss Daisy Miller seemed very glad to see him. She’s dreadfully nervous. Miss Daisy Miller exceeded the liberal margin allowed to these young ladies. “Have you been all alone?” he asked. opening her fan. promptly enough. He had dined with his aunt. He doesn’t like to go to bed. “I have been walking round with mother.” said Miss Daisy. I guess she sleeps more than she thinks. that with Miss Daisy Miller there was no great need of walking on tiptoe. Though he was impatient to see her. wandering about in the warm starlight like an indolent sylph. he hardly knew what he should say to her about his aunt’s refusal to become acquainted with her. had been sitting with her since dinner. and swinging to and fro the largest fan he had ever beheld. Winterbourne was impatient to see her again.” said the young girl. “She’s going to try to get Eugenio to talk to him. she wants to try to get him to go to bed.” “Let us hope she will persuade him. it was probable that anything might be expected of her. But mother gets tired walking round.” she answered.Daisy Miller This seemed to throw some light upon the matter. It was ten o’clock. Eugenio’s a splendid courier. He found her that evening in the garden. she doesn’t like to go to bed. “She doesn’t sleep—not three hours.” If. “She will talk to him all she can. but he discovered. he should not appreciate her justly. she declared it was the longest evening she had ever passed.

“but I am afraid those headaches will interfere. chattering along in her thin. laughing still. I’m not afraid!” And she gave a little laugh. I shall be ever so glad to know your aunt. Every two days she had a headache. she spoke to no one. she wore white puffs. Her prettiness was still visible in the darkness. “My dear young lady. shocked.” she said sympathetically. Miss Daisy Miller stopped and stood looking at him. on Winterbourne’s admitting the fact and expressing some curiosity as to how she had learned it. “I want to know her ever so much. It’s her wretched health.” he protested.” his companion resumed.” he said. Anyway. he was touched.” The young girl looked at him through the dusk. headache and all!” said Miss Daisy. She would be very exclusive. gay voice. Costello from the chambermaid. “Why don’t you say so? You needn’t be afraid. I suppose it’s about the same thing.” Then. Winterbourne was silent a moment. Winterbourne fancied there was a tremor in her voice. she said she had heard all about Mrs. I like a lady to be exclusive.” The young girl walked on a few steps. Well. and she never dined at the table d’hote.” he answered at last. “She tells me she does. “She’s your aunt. “I think that’s a lovely description. I know just what YOUR aunt would be. We don’t speak to everyone—or they don’t speak to us. she was opening and closing her enormous fan.” Winterbourne was embarrassed. for Winterbourne strolled about with the young girl for some time without meeting her mother. I know I should like her. I’m dying to be exclusive myself. “I have been looking round for that lady you want to introduce me to. “She doesn’t want to know me!” she said suddenly. “she knows no one.Henry James Randolph’s vigil was in fact triumphantly prolonged. we are exclusive. not knowing what to say. “She would be most happy. “But I suppose she doesn’t have a headache every day. mother and I. mortified by it. “You needn’t 23 . She was very quiet and very comme il faut.

and in the distance were dimly seen mountain forms. “I am afraid your mother doesn’t see you. the joke permissible—”perhaps she feels guilty about your shawl. “Well!” cried Miss Daisy Miller with a laugh. ceasing to advance. quite ready to sacrifice his aunt. conversationally. “Are you sure it is your mother? Can you distinguish her in this thick dusk?” Winterbourne asked. “Or perhaps.” she repeated. “I told her she could wear it. very indistinct in the darkness. “Well. the young lady. “Gracious! she IS exclusive!” she said. and for a moment almost wished that her sense of injury might be such as to make it becoming in him to attempt to reassure and comfort her.” The lady in question. rude woman. Daisy Miller looked out upon the mysterious prospect and then she gave another little laugh. “I guess I know my own mother.” “Oh. to admit that she was a proud. it’s a fearful old thing!” the young girl replied serenely. There was a vague sheen upon its surface. She won’t come here because she sees you.” 24 .Daisy Miller be afraid. with Miss Miller. too! She is always wearing my things. and to declare that they needn’t mind her. hovered vaguely about the spot at which she had checked her steps. And when she has got on my shawl. He had a pleasant sense that she would be very approachable for consolatory purposes.” said Winterbourne. and in front of her was the starlit lake. resuming her walk. But before he had time to commit himself to this perilous mixture of gallantry and impiety. for the instant. here’s Mother! I guess she hasn’t got Randolph to go to bed. gave an exclamation in quite another tone. she was close to the parapet of the garden. Winterbourne wondered whether she was seriously wounded. He felt then. Suddenly it seemed to pause.” he added.” The figure of a lady appeared at a distance. thinking. and advancing with a slow and wavering movement. “Why should she want to know me?” Then she paused again.

and a large forehead. she had a singularly delicate grace. no. But by this time they had come up to Mrs. turning toward the lake again. decorated with a certain amount of thin. much frizzled hair. Upon this the elder lady turned round. introducing the young man very frankly and prettily.” said her mother. She’s right down timid. If I didn’t introduce my gentlemen friends to Mother.” the young girl added in her little soft.Henry James “Ah. Mrs. Costello had pronounced her. flat monotone. So far as Winterbourne could observe.” she was. Like her daughter. “It isn’t for me. spare. she had enormous diamonds in her ears. poking round here?” this young lady inquired.” “To introduce me. I don’t know who it’s for! But mother doesn’t like any of my gentlemen friends. she gave him no greeting—she certainly was not looking at him. “Mother!” said the young girl in a tone of decision. But I do introduce them—almost always. 25 . Miller. who. looking intently at the lake and turning her back to them. “you must know my name. Winterbourne.” said Miss Daisy Miller. it’s for you—that is. Miller was dressed with extreme elegance. it’s for her. pulling her shawl straight. Well. “I had better leave you. “I’m afraid your mother doesn’t approve of my walking with you. “I shouldn’t think I was natural. light person. She always makes a fuss if I introduce a gentleman. “Common. “Oh. then. with her commonness.” And he proceeded to pronounce it. but by no means with that harshness of accent which her choice of words may imply. with a wandering eye. Daisy was near her. yet it was a wonder to Winterbourne that. as Mrs. as they drew near. “Mr. Her mother was a small.” said Winterbourne. “I don’t know.” “Oh.” Miss Miller gave him a serious glance. come on!” urged Miss Daisy Miller. I can’t say all that!” said his companion with a laugh. “What are you doing.” said Winterbourne. a very exiguous nose. dear. walked to the parapet of the garden and leaned upon it.

I couldn’t induce him. there was silence.Daisy Miller “I shouldn’t think you’d want that shawl!” Daisy exclaimed.” I was telling Mr. she turned her attention to the lake. Daisy’s mamma offered no response.” Daisy pursued.” Daisy rejoined. for some moments.” urged Mrs. quite without the asperity of a retort. “Did you get Randolph to go to bed?” asked the young girl. he wouldn’t go to that castle. it isn’t so bad as it was at Dover. “Well. Miller with mild emphasis. Daisy Miller. he is tiresome.” said Mrs. “He’s only nine.” declared Mrs. He wasn’t in bed at twelve o’clock: I know that. Then. “He wouldn’t go to bed at all. “Does he sleep much during the day?” Winterbourne demanded. “Well I do!” her mother answered with a little laugh. Winterbourne. “I’m going there with Mr.” the young girl went on. “I wish he would!” said her mother. yes!” said Winterbourne. Miller. presently. “Well. “Oh. and to the young man’s ear her tone might have indicated that she had been uttering his name all her life.” said the elder lady. But at last she spoke. “No. “I guess he doesn’t sleep much. “Well.” said Daisy Miller.” said Daisy. He likes to talk to that waiter. “And what occurred at Dover?” Winterbourne asked. I don’t see how he lives!” “Anyhow. Miller very gently. very placidly made.” “I think he’s real tiresome. “It seems as if he couldn’t. “I shouldn’t think you’d want to talk against your own brother!” “Well. Mother. I guess he sat up all night in the public parlor.” said the young girl.” Randolph’s mamma was silent. “I have the pleasure of knowing your son. “He wants to talk to the waiter.” To this announcement.” “It was half-past twelve. Winterbourne took for granted that she deeply 26 . Winterbourne.

“But Chillon here. beginning to feel reassured as to her opposition. “I presume you will go in the cars. “Ah yes! in England there are beautiful castles. “Yes. But there’s a lady here—I don’t know her name—she says she shouldn’t think we’d want to go to see castles here. I think she’ll enjoy it!” Winterbourne declared. And yet he was quite prepared to find that.” continued Mrs.Henry James disapproved of the projected excursion. easily managed person. who.” he began. Miller rejoined.” she pursued. “Well. and that a few deferential protestations would take the edge from her displeasure. or in the boat. “Yes.” Mrs. I don’t know.” said Winterbourne. “It seems as if there was nothing she wouldn’t undertake. with a sort of appealing air.” said her mother. but he said to himself that she was a simple. in a tone impregnated with a sense of the magnitude of the enterprise.” “It is a pity you shouldn’t go. And he desired more and more to make it a certainty that he was to have the privilege of a tete-a-tete with the young lady.” said Winterbourne. as a matter of course. she should think we’d want to wait till we got to Italy. of course. “I have never been to that castle. gently humming to herself. she meant to accompany her daughter. if Daisy feels up to it—” said Mrs. “Of course we only want to see the principal ones. strolled a few steps farther. however. We visited several in England. Miller. It seems as if there would be so many there. “your daughter has kindly allowed me the honor of being her guide. “but it seems as if we couldn’t.” Mrs. who was still strolling 27 . is very well worth seeing. “We’ve been thinking ever so much about going.” “Oh.” “Well.” said Winterbourne. Miller’s wandering eyes attached themselves.” she presently added. Of course Daisy—she wants to go round. to Daisy. Miller with an air of increasing confidence.

“Well!” ejaculated the elder lady again. Annie Miller!” exclaimed her mother. I want you to take me out in a boat!” Daisy repeated. and she had turned round and was looking at Winterbourne.” said Winterbourne. “He’s so awfully devoted!” “I will row you over to Chillon in the starlight.” Daisy declared.” she said simply. “You haven’t spoken to me for half an hour. “Well. “I have been having some very pleasant conversation with your mother. madam. “Mademoiselle!” said the young man. and then walked forward in silence. Miller’s unprotected daughter. Then—”I guess she had better go alone. “I beg you. madam. “I should think she’d rather go indoors. softly vocalizing.” said Winterbourne ardently. Winterbourne wants to take me. “Don’t you want to take me out in a boat?” “At present?” he asked. Winterbourne!” murmured Daisy. Her face wore a charming smile. They had all stopped. Winterbourne observed to himself that this was a very different type of maternity from that of the vigilant matrons who massed themselves in the forefront of social intercourse in the dark old city at the other end of the lake. to let her go.” he inquired.” her daughter went on.” “I’m sure Mr. “Of course!” said Daisy. for he had never yet enjoyed the sensation of guiding through the summer starlight a skiff freighted with a fresh and beautiful young girl. “You are not disposed. her pretty eyes were 28 . “Mr. But his meditations were interrupted by hearing his name very distinctly pronounced by Mrs.” said her mother. “Well. “I shouldn’t think she’d want to.Daisy Miller along in front of them.” “I don’t believe it!” said Daisy. “to undertake it yourself?” Daisy’s mother looked at him an instant askance.

“I think you had better not go out in a boat. Winterbourne wished to Heaven this pretty girl were not so familiar with her courier. “You see.Henry James gleaming. Miller to the courier. He had apparently just approached. “It is eleven o’clock. “But I am afraid you are chaffing me. “I assure you it’s a formal offer. turning. pointing to certain steps which descended from the garden to the lake. “I am going out in a boat!” Eugenio bowed. she only stood there laughing. “If you will do me the honor to accept my arm. she threw back her head and gave a little. “Oh.” he said to the young girl.” “Do tell her she can’t.” said Winterbourne. Winterbourne—this very minute. let me give you a row. with a foreign accent. “I like a gentleman to be formal!” she declared. “I should think you had better find out what time it is.” said a voice. it’s not very difficult. “It’s quite lovely.” “Yes. out of the neighboring darkness. then. the way you say that!” cried Daisy.” “I think not. “There are half a dozen boats moored at that landing place. mademoiselle?” “I am going with Mr.” said Daisy. it’s impossible to be prettier than that.” he said. madam.” Eugenio declared. “At eleven o’clock. she was swinging her great fan about. light laugh. “It will be still more lovely to do it. No.” Daisy went on. mademoiselle. it would be lovely!” said Daisy.” Daisy stood there smiling.” interposed her mother. “Do.” remarked Mrs. Miller very gently. thought Winterbourne. 29 . we will go and select one of them. sir. and Winterbourne. but he said nothing. But she made no movement to accompany him.” “I was bound I would make you say something. Eugenio.” said Mrs. perceived the florid personage who was in attendance upon the two ladies.

under the escort of the privileged Eugenio. or something!” He looked at her.” he answered.” said Winterbourne. “Eugenio doesn’t think anything’s proper. He waited for her in the large hall of the hotel.” said Winterbourne. “Mr. and. solemnly. “Oh. he was indeed puzzled. smiling and fanning herself.” “I am at your service. the servants. “Does mademoiselle propose to go alone?” asked Eugenio of Mrs. with a bow. Miller. The courier looked for a moment at Winterbourne—the latter thought he was smiling—and then. “Oh. “I hope you are disappointed. Randolph has gone to bed!” the courier announced frigidly. “I am puzzled. I hope it won’t keep you awake!” she said very smartly. “I don’t care to go now. or disgusted. were lounging about and staring. Daisy turned away from Winterbourne. where the couriers.” she said. “Oh. looking at him. with this gentleman!” answered Daisy’s mamma. “Good night. Winterbourne stood looking after them. turning over the mystery of the young girl’s sudden familiarities and caprices. Daisy. the foreign tourists. “As mademoiselle pleases!” he said.” “I myself shall make a fuss if you don’t go. 30 .Daisy Miller “I suppose you don’t think it’s proper!” Daisy exclaimed. now we can go!” said Mrs. “That’s all I want—a little fuss!” And the young girl began to laugh again. I hoped you would make a fuss!” said Daisy. Miller. “Well. the two ladies passed toward the house. Two days afterward he went off with her to the Castle of Chillon. He lingered beside the lake for a quarter of an hour. no. taking the hand she offered him. But the only very definite conclusion he came to was that he should enjoy deucedly “going off ” with her somewhere.

perhaps. she blushed neither when she looked at him nor when she felt that people were looking at her. He passed out with her among all the idle people that were assembled there. she was in charming spirits. without moving from her place. he felt as if there were something romantic going forward. in this particular. they were all looking at her very hard. her little rapid. There was always such a lovely breeze upon the water. on the great staircase. but she had appointed it. He had been a little afraid that she would talk loud. The sail was not long. sensibility. he sat smiling. Winterbourne’s preference had been that they should be conveyed to Chillon in a carriage. she had begun to chatter as soon as she joined him. confiding step. but Winterbourne’s companion found time to say a great many things. People continued to look at her a great deal. but she expressed a lively wish to go in the little steamer. he had some expectation of seeing her regard it in the same way. as our ancestors used to say. he was disappointed. Winterbourne was a man of imagination and. buttoning her long gloves. and even. she avoided neither his eyes nor those of anyone else. she declared that she had a passion for steamboats. To the young man himself their little excursion was so much of an escapade—an adventure—that. and you saw such lots of people. Daisy Miller was extremely animated. and Winterbourne took much satisfaction in his pretty companion’s distinguished air. she delivered herself of a great number of original reflections. laugh overmuch. But he quite forgot his fears. with his eyes upon her face. even allowing for her habitual sense of freedom. He could have believed he was going to elope with her. he had 31 . but she was apparently not at all excited. squeezing her folded parasol against her pretty figure. dressed in the perfection of a soberly elegant traveling costume. while. It was the most charming garrulity he had ever heard. she was not fluttered. desire to move about the boat a good deal. But it must be confessed that. as he looked at her dress and. She came tripping downstairs.Henry James It was not the place he should have chosen.

on his side.” “I never was better pleased in my life. after all. She found a great many pretexts in 32 . for anything she wanted to say she was sure to find a pretext. Daisy tripped about the vaulted chambers. If that’s a grin. and Winterbourne arranged with this functionary that they should not be hurried—that they should linger and pause wherever they chose.” “You look as if you were taking me to a funeral. She looked at him a moment and then burst into a little laugh. after they had landed.” murmured Winterbourne. “I like to make you say those things! You’re a queer mixture!” In the castle. flirted back with a pretty little cry and a shudder from the edge of the oubliettes. “What on earth are you so grave about?” she suddenly demanded. but every now and then it took a subjective turn. fixing her agreeable eyes upon Winterbourne’s. the subjective element decidedly prevailed. “I had an idea I was grinning from ear to ear. and turned a singularly well-shaped ear to everything that Winterbourne told her about the place. and I’ll carry round your hat. but was she so. your ears are very near together. It will pay the expenses of our journey. The custodian interpreted the bargain generously— Winterbourne. Miss Miller’s observations were not remarkable for logical consistency. had been generous—and ended by leaving them quite to themselves. They had the good fortune to have been able to walk about without other companionship than that of the custodian. or was he simply getting used to her commonness? Her conversation was chiefly of what metaphysicians term the objective cast.” “Should you like me to dance a hornpipe on the deck?” “Pray do. But he saw that she cared very little for feudal antiquities and that the dusky traditions of Chillon made but a slight impression upon her. “Am I grave?” he asked.Daisy Miller assented to the idea that she was “common”. rustled her skirts in the corkscrew staircases.

Winterbourne. Mr.” said Daisy.” The young man admitted that he was not in business. his previous history. as they say. no young lady had as yet 33 . Poor Winterbourne was fairly bewildered. “Oh. “I don’t believe it!” and she began to talk about something else. bother!” she said. “I call it the first.” And for the next ten minutes she did nothing but call him horrid. even within a day or two. don’t say such dreadful things!” said Winterbourne—”just at the last!” “The last!” cried the young girl. “Other occupations? I don’t believe it!” said Miss Daisy. and intentions Miss Miller was prepared to give the most definite. his tastes. I hope you know enough!” she said to her companion. But Daisy went on to say that she wished Winterbourne would travel with them and “go round” with them. in that case. “You don’t mean to say you are going back to Geneva?” “It is a melancholy fact that I shall have to return to Geneva tomorrow. when he was pointing out to her the pretty design of an antique fireplace. she broke out irrelevantly. would force him to go back to Geneva. “Well. “I think you’re horrid!” “Oh. but he had engagements which. But a few moments later.Henry James the rugged embrasures of Chillon for asking Winterbourne sudden questions about himself—his family. and indeed the most favorable account. his intentions—and for supplying information upon corresponding points in her own personality. after he had told her the history of the unhappy Bonivard. gone into one ear and out of the other. I have half a mind to leave you here and go straight back to the hotel alone. “What do you mean? You are not in business. Of her own tastes.” “Well. Winterbourne said that nothing could possibly please him so much. his habits. “Don’t you want to come and teach Randolph?” she asked. habits. they might know something. “I never saw a man that knew so much!” The history of Bonivard had evidently. but that he unfortunately other occupations.

After this Daisy stopped teasing. and he was divided between amazement at the rapidity of her induction and amusement at the frankness of her persiflage. he would certainly come. who denied the existence of such a person. she’ll come after you in the boat. if you stay another day. in all this. “I want you to come for me. Winterbourne took a carriage. ceased to pay any attention to the curiosities of Chillon or the beauties of the lake. “Does she never allow you more than three days at a time?” asked Daisy ironically. at last.Daisy Miller done him the honor to be so agitated by the announcement of his movements. Costello that he 34 . I suppose. “That’s not a difficult promise to make. was quite unable to discover.” said Daisy. in her telling him she would stop “teasing” him if he would promise her solemnly to come down to Rome in the winter. How did Miss Daisy Miller know that there was a charmer in Geneva? Winterbourne. she opened fire upon the mysterious charmer in Geneva whom she appeared to have instantly taken it for granted that he was hurrying back to see. and I will go down to the landing to see her arrive!” Winterbourne began to think he had been wrong to feel disappointed in the temper in which the young lady had embarked. She seemed to him. If he had missed the personal accent. the young girl was very quiet.” said Winterbourne. He declared that. His companion. “My aunt has taken an apartment in Rome for the winter and has already asked me to come and see her. and they drove back to Vevey in the dusk. an extraordinary mixture of innocence and crudity. the personal accent was now making its appearance. It sounded very distinctly. after this. at any rate. Do wait over till Friday.” And this was the only allusion that the young man was ever to hear her make to his invidious kinswoman. In the evening Winterbourne mentioned to Mrs. “Doesn’t she give you a vacation in summer? There’s no one so hard worked but they can get leave to go off somewhere at this season.” “I don’t want you to come for your aunt.

“And that. “Ah.” she exclaimed. “The Americans—of the courier?” asked this lady.” Mrs. Costello sniffed a little at her smelling bottle. “the courier stayed at home.” said Winterbourne. happily.” “She went with you all alone?” “All alone. “is the young person whom you wanted me to know!” 35 .Henry James had spent the afternoon at Chillon with Miss Daisy Miller.

Miller’s address at the American banker’s and have gone to pay his compliments to Miss Daisy. “They seem to have made several acquaintances. is also very intimate with some third-rate Italians. When she comes to a party 36 .” he said to Mrs. but the courier continues to be the most intime. Of course a man may know everyone. on arriving in Rome. The young lady. courier and all. She has picked up half a dozen of the regular Roman fortune hunters. His aunt had been established there for several weeks. and he had received a couple of letters from her. “Those people you were so devoted to last summer at Vevey have turned up here. would presently have ascertained Mrs.Daisy Miller PART II WINTERBOURNE. Men are welcome to the privilege!” “Pray what is it that happens—here. Bring me that pretty novel of Cherbuliez’s—Paule Mere—and don’t come later than the 23rd. however. after what happens—at Vevey and everywhere—you desire to keep up the acquaintance. “After what happened at Vevey. I think I may certainly call upon them. you are very welcome. “If. Winterbourne. Costello. As to what happens further. went to Rome toward the end of January. and she takes them about to people’s houses.” she wrote. who had returned to Geneva the day after his excursion to Chillon.” In the natural course of events. with whom she rackets about in a way that makes much talk. “The girl goes about alone with her foreigners. you must apply elsewhere for information. for instance?” Winterbourne demanded.

the image of a very pretty girl looking out of an old Roman window and asking herself urgently when Mr.” The news that Daisy Miller was surrounded by half a dozen wonderful mustaches checked Winterbourne’s impulse to go straightway to see her.” Winterbourne meditated a moment. but he was annoyed at hearing of a state of affairs so little in harmony with an image that had lately flitted in and out of his own meditations. not definitely flattered himself that he had made an ineffaceable impression upon her heart. Depend upon it they are not bad. Mrs. “Whether or no being hopelessly vulgar is being ‘bad’ is a question for the metaphysicians. “They are very ignorant— very innocent only.” said Mrs.Henry James she brings with her a gentleman with a good deal of manner and a wonderful mustache. and she lived in the Via Gregoriana. Miller slowly advanced. They are very dreadful people. One of these friends was an American lady who had spent several winters at Geneva. “I know you!” said Randolph. where she had placed her children at school. Costello. perhaps. announcing “Madame Mila!” This announcement was presently followed by the entrance of little Randolph Miller. he went very soon to call upon two or three other friends. 37 . They are bad enough to dislike.” “They are hopelessly vulgar. who stopped in the middle of the room and stood staring at Winterbourne. and then. he determined to wait a little before reminding Miss Miller of his claims to her consideration. the room was filled with southern sunshine. Winterbourne would arrive. He had. after a considerable interval. and for this short life that is quite enough. He had not been there ten minutes when the servant came in. If. She was a very accomplished woman.” “And where is the mother?” “I haven’t the least idea. An instant later his pretty sister crossed the threshold. Winterbourne found her in a little crimson drawing room on a third floor. at any rate. however.

you know. sir!” he added jocosely. seating herself.” said Randolph.” “I don’t believe tte that!” the young girl declared. “I arrived only yesterday. and. I’ve got it most!” This announcement. “I hope you have been well since we parted at Vevey. Mrs.” said Randolph. especially in the winter season. “Well.” exclaimed Winterbourne. “I told you!” Randolph exclaimed. “It is bigger. “She’s got the dyspepsia.” Mrs. “How is your education coming on?” Daisy was exchanging greetings very prettily with her hostess. Miller turned uneasily in her chair.” he said. “I’ve got it too. too!” Daisy had entered upon a lively conversation with her hostess. Miller. instead of embarrassing Mrs. it’s less bracing than Schenectady. “Not very well. I declare!” she said. fixed her eyes upon her son. “I tell you. Winterbourne judged it becoming to address a few words to her mother. I 38 . “I told you I should come. Father’s got it.” said Miss Daisy.” she said. “I told you if I were to bring you. “I am much obliged to you. sir. “I think it’s this climate.” Winterbourne rejoined. “Well. giving Winterbourne a thump on the knee. smiling.” laughed the young man. seemed to relieve her. “It’s all gold on the walls.Daisy Miller “I’m sure you know a great many things. Miller now certainly looked at him—at his chin. “I suffer from the liver. “We’ve got a bigger place than this. I didn’t believe it. I don’t know whether you know we reside at Schenectady. taking him by the hand. Winterbourne turned with a protesting smile to her mother. but when she heard Winterbourne’s voice she quickly turned her head. you would say something!” she murmured. “You might have come to see me!” said Daisy.” she answered. but this lady evaded his glance.

and I didn’t believe I should. He was just going to try something new when we came off.” the child repeated.” his mother explained. during which Daisy chattered unremittingly to her own companion. Mr. It affects my sleep.” “Ah. at Schenectady he stands first. “I think Zurich is lovely. “that I should put a long way before Rome. I must say I am disappointed. and there’s a great deal of sickness there. and you will become very fond of it. “There’s Zurich.” said Winterbourne.” said Winterbourne. But we couldn’t help that.” said his mother.” “It’s the best place I’ve seen. too.” she answered. wait a little. I suppose we had heard too much. “You are not much like an infant. “Only it was turned the wrong way.” Winterbourne had a good deal of pathological gossip with Dr. “No. “Well. and yet there was nothing he wouldn’t do for me. At Schenectady he stands at the very top. but he was bound to cure it. The young man asked Mrs. Miller wanted Daisy to see Europe for herself. He has so much to do.” she resumed. I ain’t!” Randolph declared at a venture. “But we have seen places. “You are like the infant Hannibal. “We crossed in that ship. He said he never saw anything like my dyspepsia. Miller that it seems as if I couldn’t get on without Dr. Randolph had a good time on the City of Richmond.” she concluded. “He means the ship. they think everything of him.” And in reply to Winterbourne’s interrogation. Davis.Henry James was saying to Daisy that I certainly hadn’t found any one like Dr. We had been led to expect something different. But I wrote to Mr. Miller how she was pleased with Rome. and we hadn’t heard half so much about it. I’m sure there was nothing he wouldn’t try. Oh.” “The best place we’ve seen is the City of Richmond!” said Randolph. “We had heard so much about it. “I hate it worse and worse every day!” cried Randolph.” 39 . Davis. Davis’s patient.

my dear?” murmured Mrs. Walker how mean you were!” the young girl announced. “Why. And then she knows a great many gentlemen. Of course.” said Daisy.” interposed Randolph. Walker in the tone of a partisan of Winterbourne. with his rough ends to his 40 . Walker. Winterbourne expressed the hope that her daughter at least found some gratification in Rome. we’ve got to turn the right way some time. they have taken her right in. she thinks there’s nothing like Rome. giving a twist to a bow on this lady’s dress.” said Mrs. “Mrs. “You wouldn’t do anything.Daisy Miller “Well. and she declared that Daisy was quite carried away.” “Mother-r.” said Daisy. I must say they have been very sociable.” By this time Daisy had turned her attention again to Winterbourne. “Did you ever hear anything so quaint?” “So quaint. Walker’s ribbons. “Well. fingering Mrs. She goes round everywhere. You wouldn’t stay there when I asked you. with eloquence. it’s a great deal pleasanter for a young lady if she knows plenty of gentlemen. He remembered that a cynical compatriot had once told him that American women—the pretty ones. Miller with a little laugh. I want to tell you something. “have I come all the way to Rome to encounter your reproaches?” “Just hear him say that!” said Daisy to her hostess. Oh. and this gave a largeness to the axiom—were at once the most exacting in the world and the least endowed with a sense of indebtedness. simply because of a certain sentimental impatience. “It’s on account of the society—the society’s splendid. Of course she goes round more than I do. I don’t know.” cried Winterbourne. she has made a great number of acquaintances.” “My dearest young lady. “And what is the evidence you have offered?” asked Winterbourne. “I’ve been telling Mrs. rather annoyed at Miss Miller’s want of appreciation of the zeal of an admirer who on his way down to Rome had stopped neither at Bologna nor at Florence. you were awfully mean at Vevey.

Giovanelli. smiling. and then Mrs. Giovanelli.Henry James words. Giovanelli. Mrs. “I am going to the Pincio.” she then said. “Oh. she gave a rapid glance at Winterbourne.” said Daisy with a toss of her head. Miller prepared to take her leave.” answered Daisy’s mamma. “I guess we’ll go back to the hotel. “I tell you you’ve got to go. my dear—at this hour?” Mrs. turning with a smile to Mrs.” “I shall be happy to see any of your friends. The afternoon was drawing to a close—it was the hour for the throng of carriages and of contemplative pedestrians.” “I’ve got a lovely dress!” “I am very sure of that. 41 .” said Daisy.” Daisy pursued with the prettiest serenity.” said Mrs. He thinks ever so much of Americans. “You may go back to the hotel. “I don’t think it’s safe. “I shall be glad to see Mr. but he wants to know some Americans. Walker asked. He’s perfectly lovely!” It was settled that this brilliant personage should be brought to Mrs. “you know I’m coming to your party.” said Daisy without a tremor in her clear little voice or a shadow on her brilliant little face. he’s the handsomest man in the world— except Mr. Mrs.” “I am delighted to hear it. Miller. smiling shyly in her own fashion. but I’m going to take a walk.” Randolph proclaimed. He’s tremendously clever.” said Daisy. “Look here. my dear. Walker. Walker. Walker.” “It’s an intimate friend of mine—Mr. “Alone.” she said.” “But I want to ask a favor—permission to bring a friend. Walker’s party. Eugenio’ll raise—something!” “I’m not afraid of Eugenio. Mother. “She’s going to walk with Mr. Walker was silent a moment. Winterbourne! He knows plenty of Italians. “He’s an Italian. “He’s a great friend of mine.” said Mrs.” she went on. “I never spoke to them. they are not my friends.

Then. still showing her pretty teeth.” said Randolph.” said Mrs. and if Mr. as sure as you live. taking her hand pleadingly. Daisy.Daisy Miller “Neither do I.” “Your friend won’t keep you from getting the fever. rapidly traversed. with the ornamental courier whose acquaintance he had made at Vevey seated within. and the concourse of vehicles. She stood there. and the young girl gave him gracious leave to accompany her. Miller. while she glanced and smiled. and loungers 42 . “You’ll get the fever.” Mrs. in fact. There’s an easy way to settle it. “Mr. “I’m going to take a walk. Davis told you!” “Give her some medicine before she goes. “Is it Mr. The company had risen to its feet. without a shade of hesitation. Miller’s carriage drawn up.” subjoined Mrs. Giovanelli—the beautiful Giovanelli.” The distance from the Via Gregoriana to the beautiful garden at the other end of the Pincian Hill is. Remember what Dr. “I’m not going alone. bent over and kissed her hostess. Walker. Giovanelli?” asked the hostess. at this question his attention quickened.” “My dear young friend. she glanced at Winterbourne. As the day was splendid. walkers. Walker. you are too perfect. he would offer to walk with me!” Winterbourne’s politeness hastened to affirm itself. however. Winterbourne were as polite as he pretends. Miller. They passed downstairs before her mother.” said Mrs. “Mrs.” She continued to glance at Winterbourne. I am going to meet a friend. Winterbourne was watching the young girl. and at the door Winterbourne perceived Mrs.” “Well. “don’t walk off to the Pincio at this hour to meet a beautiful Italian. “I don’t to do anything improper. she answered. “Goodbye. Miller observed. Eugenio!” cried Daisy. “Gracious me!” Daisy exclaimed.” she said. “The Pincio is only a hundred yards distant. smiling and smoothing her bonnet ribbons. he speaks English.

“I know where you knew her. “Why haven’t you been to see me?” asked Daisy. You knew her at Geneva. but Winterbourne. So you ought to have come.” She asked him no other question than this. unattended. and I guess we’ll stay then.” “You must have stayed in the train a good while after it stopped!” cried the young girl with her little laugh. “We’ve got splendid rooms at the hotel.” “I have had the honor of telling you that I have only just stepped out of the train. Giovanelli. to her sense. apparently. she began to prattle about her own affairs. It’s a great deal nicer than I thought. and he wondered what on earth had been in Daisy’s mind when she proposed to expose herself. There are all kinds—English. I think I like the English best. and they are all so charming. This fact was highly agreeable to Winterbourne. She told me so. The society’s extremely select. and now I’m enjoying myself. The slow-moving.” “I knew Mrs. Walker—” Winterbourne began to explain. I like their style of conversation. and Germans. if we don’t die of the fever. His own mission. Eugenio says they’re the best rooms in Rome. in spite of his consciousness of his singular situation. I know ever so many people.Henry James numerous. and Italians. resolved that he would do no such thing. Walker. We are going to stay all winter. “I suppose you were asleep. at once annoyed and gratified. But 43 . was to consign her to the hands of Mr. You have had time to go to see Mrs. you knew me at Vevey. I thought it would be fearfully quiet. I was sure it would be awfully poky. “You can’t get out of that. to its appreciation. That’s just as good. Well. idly gazing Roman crowd bestowed much attention upon the extremely pretty young foreign lady who was passing through it upon his arm. the young Americans found their progress much delayed. I was sure we should be going round all the time with one of those dreadful old men that explain about the pictures and things. But we only had about a week of that.

“Well. “You certainly won’t leave me!” cried Winterbourne. a glass in one eye. she’s a cool one!” thought the young man. without a sign of troubled consciousness in her face. but I must say I never thought dancing was everything.” “I beg your pardon if I say it wrong. She burst into her little laugh. Walker’s. “It’s too imperious. He had a handsome face.” she said. with nothing but the presence of her charming eyes and her happy dimples. “I don’t like the way you say that. I guess I shall have plenty at Mrs. There’s something or other every day.” said Daisy.” Winterbourne declared.Daisy Miller there are some lovely Americans. “that I intend to remain with you. Giovanelli might be. “Then I shall find him without you. Winterbourne looked at him a moment and then said. “Do you mean to speak to that man?” “Do I mean to speak to him? Why.” 44 . “Are you afraid you’ll get lost—or run over? But there’s Giovanelli. you don’t suppose I mean to communicate by signs?” “Pray understand. I was always fond of conversation. leaning against that tree. I never saw anything so hospitable. an artfully poised hat.” When they had passed the gate of the Pincian Gardens. “where you look at the view. Miss Miller began to wonder where Mr. There’s not much dancing. her rooms are so small.” cried Miss Daisy. then.” said Winterbourne.” “I certainly shall not help you to find him.” Daisy stopped and looked at him. He’s staring at the women in the carriages: did you ever see anything so cool?” Winterbourne perceived at some distance a little man standing with folded arms nursing his cane. “We had better go straight to that place in front. and a nosegay in his buttonhole. The main point is to give you an idea of my meaning.

he had not bargained for a party of three. Winterbourne thought him not a bad-looking fellow. Giovanelli is the right one?” The gentleman with the nosegay in his bosom had now perceived our two friends. she mentioned the name of each of her companions to the other.” “I think you have made a mistake.” Daisy began to laugh again. She strolled alone with one of them on each side of her. But he nevertheless said to Daisy. 45 . who spoke English very cleverly—Winterbourne afterward learned that he had practiced the idiom upon a great many American heiresses—addressed her a great deal of very polite nonsense. who said nothing. Giovanelli had certainly a very pretty face. or a third-rate artist. and was approaching the young girl with obsequious rapidity. But he kept his temper in a manner which suggested far-stretching intentions. of course.” said Winterbourne. he had a brilliant smile. had counted upon something more intimate. reflected upon that profundity of Italian cleverness which enables people to appear more gracious in proportion as they are more acutely disappointed. He is a music master. “I have never allowed a gentleman to dictate to me. Mr. Giovanelli. an intelligent eye.” said the young American. or a penny-aliner. “No. he’s not the right one. “he is only a clever imitation of one. but with eyes that were prettier than ever. “Tell me if Mr. “You should sometimes listen to a gentleman—the right one. or to interfere with anything I do.Henry James The young girl looked at him more gravely. “I do nothing but listen to gentlemen!” she exclaimed. Giovanelli. He bowed to Winterbourne as well as to the latter’s companion. but Winterbourne felt a superior indignation at his own lovely fellow countrywoman’s not knowing the difference between a spurious gentleman and a real one.” Daisy evidently had a natural talent for performing introductions. Winterbourne flattered himself that he had taken his measure. he was extremely urbane. “He is not a gentleman. and the young American. D__n his good looks!” Mr.

But Daisy. even allowing for her being a little American flirt. on this occasion.” Winterbourne said to himself. It was impossible to regard her as a perfectly well-conducted young lady. but was it not impossible to regard the choice of these circumstances as a proof of extreme cynicism? Singular though it may seem. continued to present herself as an inscrutable combination of audacity and innocence. a nice girl. should not appear more impatient of his own company. in joining her amoroso. in fact. “Nevertheless. Fifty people have noticed her. as it seemed to Winterbourne. when a carriage that had detached itself from the revolving train drew up beside the path. Would a nice girl. she was wanting in a certain indispensable delicacy. It would therefore simplify matters greatly to be able to treat her as the object of one of those sentiments which are called by romancers “lawless passions. “a nice girl ought to know!” And then he came back to the question whether this was. make a rendezvous with a presumably lowlived foreigner? The rendezvous in this case. and responding in a tone of very childish gaiety. Walker was flushed. At the same moment Winterbourne perceived that his friend Mrs. and to be able to think more lightly of her would make her much less perplexing. “That girl must not do this sort of thing. Mrs. Winterbourne was vexed that the young girl.” 46 . to the pretty speeches of Mr. attended by her two cavaliers. It was true that. the imitation was brilliant. if he was an imitation. Walker—the lady whose house he had lately left—was seated in the vehicle and was beckoning to him. Leaving Miss Miller’s side. he hastened to obey her summons. and he was vexed because of his inclination. She had been walking some quarter of an hour.” That she should seem to wish to get rid of him would help him to think more lightly of her.Daisy Miller Giovanelli chattered and jested and made himself wonderfully agreeable. Giovanelli.” she said. had been in broad daylight and in the most crowded corner of Rome. “It is really too dreadful. She must not walk here with you two men. indeed. she wore an excited air.

” said Winterbourne. but it’s so enchanting just as I am!” and Daisy gave a brilliant glance at the gentlemen on either side of her. 47 .” said Winterbourne. Walker’s carriage rug. She immediately achieved the introduction.Henry James Winterbourne raised his eyebrows.” “It’s a pity to let the girl ruin herself!” “She is very innocent. “but you can try. I ordered the carriage and put on my bonnet. Daisy.” said Daisy. Walker tried. “I think it’s a pity to make too much fuss about it. and declared that she had never in her life seen anything so lovely as Mrs. Giovanelli at her side. She declared that she was delighted to have a chance to present this gentleman to Mrs. “I shall admire it much more as I see you driving round with it. and then to take her safely home. not even to attempt to save her. on learning that Mrs. “To ask her to get in. no. “I am glad you admire it. Walker.” “I don’t think it’s a very happy thought. “That would be charming. Walker. Thank Heaven I have found you!” “What do you propose to do with us?” asked Winterbourne. so that the world may see she is not running absolutely wild. thank you. to drive her about here for half an hour. “Will you get in and let me put it over you?” “Oh. who had simply nodded and smiled at his interlocutor in the carriage and had gone her way with her companion. I could not sit still for thinking of it. smiling sweetly.” said this lady. retraced her steps with a perfect good grace and with Mr. smiling. It seemed too pitiful. “Did you ever see anything so imbecile as her mother? After you had all left me just now.” Mrs. The young man went in pursuit of Miss Miller. Walker wished to speak to her. and came here as quickly as possible.” “Do get in and drive with me!” said Mrs. Walker. “She’s very crazy!” cried Mrs.

“Does Mr.” cried the lady from Geneva. smiling. Walker would tuck in her carriage rug and drive away. losing patience. then she turned to Winterbourne.Daisy Miller “It may be enchanting.” she asked slowly. There was a little pink flush in her cheek. “Well.” Daisy turned her quickened glance again from one of the gentlemen beside her to the other. Mr.” “You should walk with your mother. but it is not the custom here. and I will tell you. “Should you prefer being thought a very reckless girl?” she demanded. as she afterward told him. you know. “that.” urged Mrs. “Gracious!” exclaimed Daisy. smiling intensely. Giovanelli was bowing to and fro.” “You are old enough to be more reasonable. “My mother never walked ten steps in her life. to save my reputation. then!” said Daisy.” she added with a laugh. She looked again at Mr.” said Daisy presently. Winterbourne saw that she scented interference. And then. dear Miss Miller. “I don’t think I want to know what you mean. Winterbourne think. rubbing down his gloves and laughing very agreeably. Giovanelli. dear child. I ought to get into the carriage?” 48 . with her hands devoutly clasped. dear. Walker. “I don’t think I should like it. “With my mother dear!” exclaimed the young girl. leaning forward in her victoria. but this lady did not enjoy being defied. to be talked about. she was tremendously pretty. Walker. and glancing at him from head to foot. “If I didn’t walk I should expire. Winterbourne thought it a most unpleasant scene. throwing back her head. it ought to be. “Talked about? What do you mean?” “Come into my carriage.” Winterbourne wished that Mrs.” Daisy looked at Mrs. You are old enough. “I am more than five years old.

” she pursued. was that Daisy Miller should take Mrs. Giovanelli bade him farewell with a too emphatic flourish of the hat. with Mr.” Daisy gave a violent laugh. “Get in here. “That was not clever of you. sir.” his companion answered. Walker declared that if he refused her this favor she would never speak to him again. She was evidently in earnest. Mrs. The young man answered that he felt bound to accompany Miss Miller. “I never heard anything so stiff! If this is improper. as the few indications I have been able to give have made him known to the reader.Henry James Winterbourne colored. and the truth. and then he said. very gently. while the vehicle mingled again with the throng of carriages. He expected that in answer she would say something rather free. for an instant he hesitated greatly. I wish to be earnest!” 49 . offering the young girl his hand.” he said candidly. Goodbye. Walker’s advice. Walker had so charitably endeavored to dissuade her. Walker. Walker had made an imperious claim upon his society. Giovanelli. Walker’s victoria. But she only shook his hand. and there were tears in Mrs.” she said to Winterbourne. in fact. was simply to tell her the truth. Walker’s eyes. for Winterbourne. she turned away. and you must give me up. Walker sat looking after her. Winterbourne overtook Daisy and her companion. indicating the place beside her. and. here. Winterbourne was not in the best possible humor as he took his seat in Mrs. I hope you’ll have a lovely ride!” and. told her that Mrs.” But he himself. whereupon Mrs. while Mr. The finest gallantry. something to commit herself still further to that “recklessness” from which Mrs. “I don’t wish to be clever. must speak in accordance with gallantry. Mrs. “In such a case. who made a triumphantly obsequious salute. hardly looking at him. He looked at her exquisite prettiness. “I think you should get into the carriage. “then I am all improper. It seemed so strange to hear her speak that way of her “reputation.

” “But her brother. Walker declared. “If she is so perfectly determined to compromise herself.” said Winterbourne. Walker. then. “Take that example this morning.” said Mrs.” “What has she been doing?” “Everything that is not done here. your earnestness has only offended her and put her off. “sits up till midnight. Flirting with any man she could pick up. I’m told that at their hotel everyone is talking about her. receiving visits at eleven o’clock at night. in short.” “I suspect she meant no harm. But she has been going too far. the sooner one knows it the better. one can act accordingly. dancing all the evening with the same partners. sitting in corners with mysterious Italians. Mrs.” Mrs. “I wished to beg you to cease your relations with Miss Miller— not to flirt with her—to give her no further opportunity to expose herself—to let her alone. How long had you known her at Vevey?” “A couple of days. “So I thought a month ago.” “He must be edified by what he sees.” 50 . and that a smile goes round among all the servants when a gentleman comes and asks for Miss Miller. laughing. her making it a personal matter that you should have left the place!” Winterbourne was silent for some moments.” Winterbourne rejoined.” “She is naturally indelicate.Daisy Miller “Well.” “Fancy. “I suspect. “is that she is very uncultivated. Her mother goes away when visitors come. that you and I have lived too long at Geneva!” And he added a request that she should inform him with what particular design she had made him enter her carriage.” “The servants be hanged!” said Winterbourne angrily. “The poor girl’s only fault. Walker. then he said.” “It has happened very well.” he presently added.

” “There certainly will be in the way she takes them. The western sun in the opposite sky sent out a brilliant shaft through a couple of cloud bars. His companion looked at him a moment in silence. toward the residence of his aunt. Costello. But he walked—not toward the couple with the parasol. Winterbourne stood there. upon the broad ledge of the wall. whereupon Daisy’s companion took her parasol out of her hands and opened it. She came a little nearer.” “There shall be nothing scandalous in my attentions to her.” said Winterbourne. near which there are several seats. This young man lingered a moment.” Mrs. Winterbourne had asked the coachman to stop. still holding it. When they reached the low garden wall. toward whom Mrs. then he began to walk. then. familiarly. “If you wish to rejoin the young lady I will put you down. while he raised his hat. It is bordered by a large parapet. They evidently saw no one. he had turned his eyes toward Daisy and her cavalier. One of the seats at a distance was occupied by a gentleman and a lady. But I have said what I had on my conscience. 51 .Henry James “I’m afraid I can’t do that. by the way. she drove majestically away. then. “I like her extremely. then Giovanelli seated himself. they were too deeply occupied with each other. Here. Mrs.” “All the more reason that you shouldn’t help her to make a scandal. and he held the parasol over her. Walker gave a toss of her head. Walker pursued. he now descended from the carriage. so that both of their heads were hidden from Winterbourne.” The carriage was traversing that part of the Pincian Garden that overhangs the wall of Rome and overlooks the beautiful Villa Borghese. they stood a moment looking off at the great flat-topped pine clusters of the Villa Borghese. you have a chance. he let it rest upon her shoulder. At the same moment these persons rose and walked toward the parapet.

” said Mrs. As she approached Mrs. or someone. Mrs. Daisy Miller was not there. “I’m sorry she should come in that way. I wanted to bring Randolph or Eugenio. 52 . Miller at her hotel. When Winterbourne arrived. in spite of the frigidity of his last interview with the hostess. Miller with that accent of the dispassionate. Mrs. asked for Mrs. as it were. This lady and her daughter. as textbooks. make a point. and on the next day after. Walker was one of those American ladies who. Walker’s party took place on the evening of the third day. and she had on this occasion collected several specimens of her diversely born fellow mortals to serve.Daisy Miller He flattered himself on the following day that there was no smiling among the servants when he. “I’m so frightened. Miller. Mr.” said poor Mrs. and. “You see. I ain’t used to going round alone.” “And does not your daughter intend to favor us with her society?” demanded Mrs. but in a few moments he saw her mother come in alone.” said Mrs. Mrs. I’ve come all alone. “Well. Walker impressively. Daisy’s all dressed. very shyly and ruefully. it seems as if they couldn’t leave off. if not of the philosophic. but Daisy just pushed me off by myself. Winterbourne again had the misfortune not to find them. Winterbourne also drew near. however. It’s the first time I’ve ever been to a party alone. They’ve got going at the piano. repeating his visit. Giovanelli sings splendidly. while residing abroad. in their own phrase. Winterbourne was among the guests. that gentleman—the Italian—that she wanted to bring. especially in this country. historian with which she always recorded the current incidents of her daughter’s career. “She got dressed on purpose before dinner. at least. Miller’s hair above her exposed-looking temples was more frizzled than ever. Walker.” concluded Mrs. But I guess they’ll come before very long. I don’t know what to do. But she’s got a friend of hers there. Miller hopefully. were not at home. of studying European society. Walker.

Giovanelli.” Daisy came after eleven o’clock. I told her that there was no use in her getting dressed before dinner if she was going to wait three hours. though Mrs. When she comes. so I sent mother off to tell you. She rustled forward in radiant loveliness. he’s got the most lovely voice. and she gave a very cursory greeting to Mr. and attended by Mr. smiling and chattering. It’s her revenge for my having ventured to remonstrate with her. Giovanelli practice some things before he came. you know he sings beautifully. “I think every one knows you!” said Mrs. brightest audibleness. “I didn’t see the use of her putting on such a dress as that to sit round with Mr. I shall not speak to her. and I want you to ask him to sing. “I’m afraid you thought I never was coming. Daisy sat 53 . Walker pregnantly. Giovanelli. carrying a large bouquet. Walker. This gentleman bore himself gallantly. I made him go over them this evening on purpose. Giovanelli. Walker afterward declared that she had been quite unable to find out who asked him. I wanted to make Mr.” “This is most horrible!” said Mrs. “Is there anyone I know?” she asked.Henry James “Well. He smiled and bowed and showed his white teeth. He sang very prettily half a dozen songs. to the edges of her dress. we had the greatest time at the hotel. you know I introduced him to you. and he knows the most charming set of songs. She came straight to Mrs. It was apparently not Daisy who had given him his orders. round her shoulders.” Of all this Daisy delivered herself with the sweetest. he curled his mustaches and rolled his eyes and performed all the proper functions of a handsome Italian at an evening party. on such an occasion. Giovanelli. Everyone stopped talking and turned and looked at her. Walker. looking now at her hostess and now round the room. a young lady to wait to be spoken to. turning away and addressing herself to Winterbourne. This is Mr. “Elle s’affiche. while she gave a series of little pats. but she was not.” responded Daisy’s mamma.

am not a young lady of this country.” said Winterbourne gravely. and I. either.” “He should not have talked about it at all.” she said to Winterbourne. you’re too stiff. 54 .” Winterbourne answered. “he would never have proposed to a young lady of this country to walk about the streets with him. “But did you ever hear anything so cool as Mrs. and me only. “Where.” she cried.” “Of course you don’t dance. thank goodness. professed a high admiration for his singing. I don’t see why I should change my habits for them. Walker’s wanting me to get into her carriage and drop poor Mr.” “We paired off: that was much better. then. as it were. I preferred walking with you.” said Daisy. while it was going on. giving him her little smiling stare again.” “About the streets?” cried Daisy with her pretty stare. Walker!” “No. “Of course they are. frightful flirt! Did you ever hear of a nice girl that was not? But I suppose you will tell me now that I am not a nice girl. talked.” said Winterbourne. “I’m a fearful. but I wish you would flirt with me.” said Winterbourne.” “You’re a very nice girl. and though she had publicly. “It’s a pity these rooms are so small. and under the pretext that it was proper? People have different ideas! It would have been most unkind. we can’t dance. “I don’t dance. “I hope you enjoyed your drive with Mrs. “I am not sorry we can’t dance. so far as I can learn. as if she had seen him five minutes before.” “I am afraid your habits are those of a flirt. he had been talking about that walk for ten days.” said Miss Daisy. Giovanelli. I didn’t enjoy it. not inaudibly. would he have proposed to her to walk? The Pincio is not the streets.Daisy Miller at a distance from the piano. The young ladies of this country have a dreadfully poky time of it.

“Not in young unmarried women. “never says such very disagreeable things to me. “Mr. you are the last man I should think of flirting with. Flirting is a purely American custom. Mr. As I have had the pleasure of informing you. But if you won’t flirt with me. Giovanelli. they don’t understand that sort of thing here. So when you show yourself in public with Mr. “Though you may be flirting. giving her interlocutor a single glance. and without your mother—” “Gracious! poor Mother!” interposed Daisy. blushing visibly. he means something else.” said Winterbourne. at least. he stood. “If I could have the sweet hope of making you angry.” She had allowed him up to this point to talk so frankly that he had no expectation of shocking her by this ejaculation.” “Ah!” rejoined Winterbourne.” said Winterbourne. we are too good friends for that: we are very intimate friends. we are neither of us flirting.” said Daisy with vivacity. you are too stiff. it doesn’t exist here. staring.Henry James “Ah! thank you—thank you very much.” she said. I should say it again. and leaving him to exclaim mentally that little American flirts were the queerest creatures in the world.” “It seems to me much more proper in young unmarried women than in old married ones. but she immediately got up. when I am angry I’m stiffer than ever. Giovanelli is not. at any rate.” Winterbourne was bewildered.” “I thought they understood nothing else!” exclaimed Daisy. “And if you want very much to know. “Well. Giovanelli. “if you are in love with each other.” “You say that too often. Giovanelli 55 . Mr. do cease. “when you deal with natives you must go by the custom of the place. Daisy gave a delighted laugh.” “He isn’t preaching. at least. it is another affair. to flirt with your friend at the piano.” Daisy declared.” “Don’t do that.

She turned her back straight upon Miss Miller and left her to depart with what grace she might. There was an interesting performance at the piano.” Winterbourne rejoined.Daisy Miller had finished singing. for the rest of the evening. Winterbourne was standing near the door. Winterbourne saw that. “Good night. She appeared. but neither of these young people gave heed to it. She sat with him in the adjoining room. “That was very cruel. Daisy turned to Winterbourne. “It has never occurred to Mr. Walker. You see. in the embrasure of the window. Since Winterbourne was not to meet her in Mrs. bending before her with his ornamental smile.” Daisy turned away. He was still more perplexed. Walker.” she said. to have felt an incongruous impulse to draw attention to her own striking observance of them. though it seemed to prove. “She never enters my drawing room again!” replied his hostess. this lady conscientiously repaired the weakness of which she had been guilty at the moment of the young girl’s arrival. “I have offered you advice. When Daisy came to take leave of Mrs. “I prefer weak tea!” cried Daisy. grave face at the circle near the door. He left the piano and came over to Daisy. “Won’t you come into the other room and have some tea?” he asked. but Mrs. He on his side was greatly touched. looking with a pale. he saw it all. and she went off with the brilliant Giovanelli. I don’t want her to go away without me. she was too much shocked and puzzled even for indignation.” she said with her little tormenting manner. Walker’s draw56 . indeed. Miller was humbly unconscious of any violation of the usual social forms. indeed. for the first moment. Mrs. Winterbourne to offer me any tea. Daisy turned very pale and looked at her mother. “we’ve had a beautiful evening. that she had a sweetness and softness that reverted instinctively to the pardon of offenses. for this inconsequent smile made nothing clear. if I let Daisy come to parties without me. Walker.” he said to Mrs. beginning to smile again.

Walker’s little party. he should be afraid—literally afraid—of these ladies. the same odd mixture of audacity and puerility. He could hardly have said why. it was part of his conviction. At the risk of exciting a somewhat derisive smile on the reader’s part. But she was evidently very much interested in Giovanelli. she could chatter as freshly and freely with two gentlemen as with one. that she would prove a very light young person. it was very singular that she should not take more trouble to preserve the sanctity of their interviews. She showed no displeasure at her tete-a-tete with Giovanelli being interrupted. Miller being apparently constantly of the opinion that discretion is the better part of surveillance. It must be added that this sentiment was not altogether flattering to Daisy. Winterbourne remarked to himself that if she was seriously interested in Giovanelli. Very often the brilliant little Roman was in the drawing room with Daisy alone. in her conversation. it very often seemed to Winterbourne among the possibilities that. she was perpetually telling him to do this and to do that. she was constantly “chaffing” and abusing him. One 57 . but when he found them. Mrs. Miller’s hotel. the devoted Giovanelli was always present. that Daisy on these occasions was never embarrassed or annoyed by his own entrance. She looked at him whenever he spoke. but she seemed to him a girl who would never be jealous. at first with surprise. he had a pleasant sense that he should never be afraid of Daisy Miller. She appeared completely to have forgotten that Winterbourne had said anything to displease her at Mrs. given certain contingencies. Winterbourne noted. or rather of his apprehension. I may affirm that with regard to the women who had hitherto interested him. there was always. and he liked her the more for her innocent-looking indifference and her apparently inexhaustible good humor.Henry James ing room. he went as often as possible to Mrs. but he very presently began to feel that she had no more surprises for him. The ladies were rarely at home. the unexpected in her behavior was the only thing to expect.

“and I don’t believe he hopes to marry her. than the courier. 58 .” Winterbourne asked—”an affair that goes on with such peculiar publicity?” “That’s their folly.Daisy Miller Sunday afternoon. One easily sees how it is. “it’s not their merit. and then she said: “That’s what makes you so pensive in these days. “He is very handsome. Costello.” “Do you call it an intrigue. “You are very much preoccupied. Costello inspected the young couple again with her optical instrument. he is better.” said Winterbourne.” rejoined Winterbourne.” “I don’t believe she thinks of marrying him.” said the young man. with something of that pensiveness to which his aunt had alluded. the courier will come in for a magnificent commission. you are thinking of something. and if he succeeds in marrying the young lady. Costello. It was the courier probably who introduced him. This lady looked at them a moment through her eyeglass.” “They are certainly very intimate. Mrs.” “I have heard a dozen people speak of it. as they did in the Golden Age. Peter’s with his aunt. Winterbourne perceived Daisy strolling about the great church in company with the inevitable Giovanelli. She has never seen anything like him. eh?” “I had not the least idea I was pensive.” “And what is it. having gone to St. “I don’t believe that there is anything to be called an intrigue.” added Mrs. even. She thinks him the most elegant man in the world. from hour to hour.” “You may be very sure she thinks of nothing.” said Mrs. they say she is quite carried away by him.” he asked. the finest gentleman. “that you accuse me of thinking of?” “Of that young lady’s—Miss Baker’s. Miss Chandler’s—what’s her name?—Miss Miller’s intrigue with that little barber’s block.” said Winterbourne. And at the same time.” “No. Presently he pointed out the young girl and her cavalier to Mrs. I can imagine nothing more vulgar. She goes on from day to day.

Giovanelli knows that he hasn’t a title to offer. Peter’s sufficient evidence. “that Daisy and her mamma have not yet risen to that stage of—what shall I call it?—of culture at which the idea of catching a count or a marchese begins.” Winterbourne gathered that day at St. between Mrs. I believe that they are intellectually incapable of that conception. Costello and her 59 . He is evidently immensely charmed with Miss Miller. a cavaliere avvocato. Costello. If he were only a count or a marchese! He must wonder at his luck. who sat on a little portable stool at the base of one of the great pilasters. I believe he is. such expensiveness as this young lady’s.” said Winterbourne.Henry James Costello. “Who is Giovanelli?” “The little Italian. I think it is really not absolutely impossible that the courier introduced him. Costello. at the way they have taken him up. I have asked questions about him and learned something. A dozen of the American colonists in Rome came to talk with Mrs.” “He accounts for it by his handsome face and thinks Miss Miller a young lady qui se passe ses fantaisies!” said Mrs. I rather doubt that he dreams of marrying her. Miller in that mysterious land of dollars. Of the observation excited by Daisy’s “intrigue. The vesper service was going forward in splendid chants and organ tones in the adjacent choir.” “Ah! but the avvocato can’t believe it. on his side.” said Mrs. And then she must seem to him wonderfully pretty and interesting. and meanwhile. such opulence. he. If she thinks him the finest gentleman in the world. He is apparently a perfectly respectable little man. “depend upon it that she may tell you any moment that she is ‘engaged.’” “I think that is more than Giovanelli expects. That must appear to him too impossible a piece of luck. He has nothing but his handsome face to offer. has never found himself in personal contact with such splendor. “It is very true. But he doesn’t move in what are called the first circles. in a small way. Costello. and there is a substantial Mr.” Winterbourne pursued.

” “So she is!” answered Winterbourne. and having assured himself that his informant had seen Daisy and her companion but five minutes before. The girl is delightfully pretty. His friend talked for a moment about the superb portrait of Innocent X by Velasquez which hangs in one of the cabinets of the palace. who had just come out of the Doria Palace. “Who was her companion?” asked Winterbourne. Miller.” In answer to Winterbourne’s inquiries. but I thought I understood from you the other day that she was a young lady du meilleur monde. coming out upon the great steps of the church.” said Mrs. She was at home. Giovanelli. Miller. “She’s gone out somewhere with Mr.Daisy Miller friends.” Winterbourne was not pleased with what he heard. where he had been walking through the beautiful gallery. “And in the same cabinet. but because it was painful to hear so much that was pretty. his friend narrated that the pretty American girl—prettier than ever— was seated with a companion in the secluded nook in which the great papal portrait was enshrined. a tourist like himself. by the way. “A little Italian with a bouquet in his buttonhole.” 60 . he could not deny to himself that she was going very far indeed. and then said. “She’s always going round with Mr. who had emerged before him. Giovanelli. he jumped into a cab and went to call on Mrs. He felt very sorry for her—not exactly that he believed that she had completely lost her head. Miller. He met one day in the Corso a friend. and natural assigned to a vulgar place among the categories of disorder. he saw Daisy. there was a great deal said about poor little Miss Miller’s going really “too far. but she apologized to him for receiving him in Daisy’s absence. He made an attempt after this to give a hint to Mrs. get into an open cab with her accomplice and roll away through the cynical streets of Rome. but when. and undefended. I had the pleasure of contemplating a picture of a different kind—that pretty American girl whom you pointed out to me last week.

her behavior was not representative—was regarded by her compatriots as abnormal. or from her being. and the state of mind of Daisy’s mamma struck him as so unprecedented in the annals of parental vigilance that he gave up as utterly irrelevant the attempt to place her upon her guard. too uncultivated and unreasoning. Giovanelli promise to tell me. too provincial. But she might as well be!” this impartial parent resumed. if SHE doesn’t. passionate. and sometimes it annoyed him to suspect that she did not feel at all. “she goes on as if she was. as he perceived. though Miss Daisy Miller was a young American lady. Then at other moments he believed that she carried about in her elegant and irresponsible little organism a defiant. “Oh. it seems as if they couldn’t live without each other!” said Mrs. But I’ve made Mr. to have reflected upon her ostracism. or even to have perceived it. I should want to write to Mr. these shrewd people had quite made up their minds that she was going too far.Henry James “I have noticed that they are very intimate. It must be admitted that holding 61 . perfectly observant consciousness of the impression she produced.” Winterbourne observed. essentially. After this Daisy was never at home. he’s a real gentleman. They ceased to invite her. a young person of the reckless class. because. and Winterbourne ceased to meet her at the houses of their common acquaintances. Miller. He asked himself whether Daisy’s defiance came from the consciousness of innocence. anyhow. “Well. He said to himself that she was too light and childish. and they intimated that they desired to express to observant Europeans the great truth that. Miller about it—shouldn’t you?” Winterbourne replied that he certainly should. I keep telling Daisy she’s engaged!” “And what does Daisy say?” “Oh. Winterbourne wondered how she felt about all the cold shoulders that were turned toward her. she says she isn’t engaged.

Giovanelli was at her side. he laughed punctiliously at his pleasantries. and now it was too late. and feeling the freshness of the year and the antiquity of the place reaffirm themselves in mysterious interfusion. It seemed to him also that Daisy had never looked so pretty. Giovanelli. She was “carried away” by Mr. “as your companion. A few days after his brief interview with her mother.” said Daisy.” Giovanelli. Can’t you get anyone to walk with you?” “I am not so fortunate. he was vexed at his want of instinctive certitude as to how far her eccentricities were generic. and Giovanelli. and the rugged surface of the Palatine was muffled with tender verdure. national. he was angry at finding himself reduced to chopping logic about this young lady. “I should think you would be lonesome!” “Lonesome?” asked Winterbourne. but this had been an observation of his whenever he met her. As I have already had occasion to relate. inhaling the softly humid odors. “You are always going round by yourself. He stood. and how far they were personal. too. Daisy was strolling along the top of one of those great mounds of ruin that are embanked with mossy marble and paved with monumental inscriptions. “Well. had treated Winterbourne with distinguished politeness. The early Roman spring had filled the air with bloom and perfume. He listened with a deferential air to his remarks.Daisy Miller one’s self to a belief in Daisy’s “innocence” came to seem to Winterbourne more and more a matter of fine-spun gallantry. It seemed to him that Rome had never been so lovely as just then. From either view of them he had somehow missed her. from the first. he seemed disposed to 62 . he encountered her in that beautiful abode of flowering desolation known as the Palace of the Caesars.” said Winterbourne. looking off at the enchanting harmony of line and color that remotely encircles the city. wore an aspect of even unwonted brilliancy.

They will show it disagreeably. and didn’t flatter himself with delusive—or at least too delusive—hopes of matrimony and dollars.” “What will they do to me?” “They will give you the cold shoulder. They don’t really care a straw what I do. as an intelligent man.” And she nodded at her attendant. “Because you think I go round too much with him. “Every one thinks so—if you care to know. They are only pretending to be shocked. “I know why you say that. watching Giovanelli. He carried himself in no degree like a jealous wooer. that. Walker did the other night?” 63 . Besides.” said Winterbourne. “I have noticed you.Henry James testify to his belief that Winterbourne was a superior young man. he had obviously a great deal of tact.” “You will find I am not so stiff as several others.” said Winterbourne. smiling. HE knew how extraordinary was this young lady. he had no objection to your expecting a little humility of him. “Do you mean as Mrs.” “I think you will find they do care. “How shall I find it?” “By going to see the others. “But I don’t believe it. “How disagreeably?” “Haven’t you noticed anything?” Winterbourne asked. On this occasion he strolled away from his companion to pluck a sprig of almond blossom. bless you. she began to color. which he carefully arranged in his buttonhole.” said Daisy. “Of course I care to know!” Daisy exclaimed seriously. Do you know what that means?” Daisy was looking at him intently. I don’t go round so much.” Daisy looked at him a moment. But I noticed you were as stiff as an umbrella the first time I saw you. It even seemed to Winterbourne at times that Giovanelli would find a certain mental relief in being able to have a private understanding with him—to say to him.

you don’t!” she answered. who was decorating himself with his almond blossom. “How can I help it?” he asked. Randolph’s skepticism excited Winterbourne to further hilarity. “Since you have mentioned it. and her radiance was not brilliant. Daisy. on his return from the villa (it was eleven o’clock). “You don’t believe!” she added. “I am engaged. in the 64 . no. and then.” “I do say something”. She looked away at Giovanelli. “I shouldn’t think you would let people be so unkind!” she said. addressed herself again to her countryman. observing it too. Then looking back at Winterbourne. “Yes. When. and he observed that Giovanelli was coming back to them. “And does Randolph believe it?” he asked.” Winterbourne looked at her. it recurred to him. and he promised himself the satisfaction of walking home beneath the Arch of Constantine and past the vaguely lighted monuments of the Forum. that the interior. he had stopped laughing. presently took leave of them. but she was veiled in a thin cloud curtain which seemed to diffuse and equalize it. and he paused a moment. He was silent a moment. on arriving.” he said.Daisy Miller “Exactly!” said Winterbourne. There was a waning moon in the sky.” “Well. I believe it. “Oh. “I say that your mother tells me that she believes you are engaged.” said Daisy. then—I am not!” The young girl and her cicerone were on their way to the gate of the enclosure. and. “I guess Randolph doesn’t believe anything. “I should think you would say something. she does.” she said. dismissed his hired vehicle. The evening was charming. Winterbourne approached the dusky circle of the Colosseum. who had but lately entered. as a lover of the picturesque. “Well.” said Daisy very simply. Winterbourne began to laugh. so that Winterbourne. A week afterward he went to dine at a beautiful villa on the Caelian Hill.

an open carriage—one of the little Roman streetcabs—was stationed. as he observed. seated. but the historic atmosphere. the other was sleeping in the luminous dusk. he looks at us as one of the old lions or tigers may have looked at the Christian martyrs!” These were the words he heard. It was as if a sudden illumination had been flashed upon the ambiguity of Daisy’s behavior. they are deprecated by the doctors. intending thereafter to make a hasty retreat. and. looking at her— 65 . One of these was a woman. He stood there. it must be added. The great cross in the center was covered with shadow. The place had never seemed to him more impressive. her companion was standing in front of her. certainly. “He will have to take me first. As he stood there he began to murmur Byron’s famous lines. Then he saw that two persons were stationed upon the low steps which formed its base. Then he passed in. to take a more general glance. “Well. and the riddle had become easy to read. would be well worth a glance. you will serve for dessert!” Winterbourne stopped. Presently the sound of the woman’s voice came to him distinctly in the warm night air. among the cavernous shadows of the great structure. with a sort of relief. One-half of the gigantic circus was in deep shade. “Let us hope he is not very hungry. in the familiar accent of Miss Daisy Miller. Winterbourne walked to the middle of the arena. He turned aside and walked to one of the empty arches. out of “Manfred.” responded the ingenious Giovanelli. it was only as he drew near it that he made it out distinctly. She was a young lady whom a gentleman need no longer be at pains to respect. The historic atmosphere was there. near which.Henry James pale moonshine.” but before he had finished his quotation he remembered that if nocturnal meditations in the Colosseum are recommended by the poets. was no better than a villainous miasma. with a sort of horror. and emerged upon the clear and silent arena. scientifically considered.

He turned away toward the entrance of the place. Daisy had got up.” said the handsome native.Daisy Miller looking at her companion and not reflecting that though he saw them vaguely. “I told the signorina it was a grave indiscretion. from a sanitary point of view. Then—”All the evening.” Giovanelli lifted his well-shaped eyebrows and showed his brilliant teeth. a native Roman.” “Neither am I—for you! I am speaking for this young lady. gently. and how smartly she played at injured innocence! But he wouldn’t cut her. “I never saw anything so pretty. not from the fear that he was doing her injustice. as he did so. Then. But he took Winterbourne’s rebuke with docility. This is the way people catch it.” said Winterbourne. but when was the signorina ever prudent?” 66 . turning to Giovanelli. he himself must have been more brightly visible. should countenance such a terrible indiscretion. Giovanelli lifted his hat. Winterbourne came forward again and went toward the great cross. Daisy. it was Mr. of a delicate young girl lounging away the evening in this nest of malaria. “Why. Winterbourne had now begun to think simply of the craziness. and he cuts me!” What a clever little reprobate she was. he checked himself. “How long have you been here?” he asked almost brutally. as he was going to advance again. “that you will not think Roman fever very pretty.” he added. I wonder.” “I am afraid. “for myself I am not afraid. What if she WERE a clever little reprobate? that was no reason for her dying of the perniciosa. but. “that you.” she answered. lovely in the flattering moonlight.” “Ah. he heard Daisy speak again. but from a sense of the danger of appearing unbecomingly exhilarated by this sudden revulsion from cautious criticism. Winterbourne! He saw me. He felt angry with himself that he had bothered so much about the right way of regarding Miss Daisy Miller. looked at him a moment.

“Did you believe I was engaged. “That’s one good thing. “I don’t look like much. Eugenio can give me some pills. haven’t we. He made no answer. and the fortunate Italian placed himself beside her. “I will go and make sure the carriage is at hand.” Giovanelli rejoined.” Daisy took her seat in the carriage. But Giovanelli hurried her forward. she seemed not in the least embarrassed.” And he went forward rapidly. looking at the young American. Mr.” Then. and I don’t mean to be!” the signorina declared. he only began to laugh. “to drive home as fast as possible and take one!” “What you say is very wise. “if we get in by midnight we are quite safe.” said Winterbourne. “whether I have 67 .Henry James “I never was sick. and we have had the most beautiful time. He kept looking at her. “Don’t forget Eugenio’s pills!” said Winterbourne as he lifted his hat. I shouldn’t have wanted to go home without that. “It doesn’t matter what I believed the other day. the other day?” she asked.” said Daisy in a little strange tone. They passed under one of the dark archways. “Well. “I don’t care. I have seen the Colosseum by moonlight!” she exclaimed. she asked him why he didn’t speak. Winterbourne said nothing. Daisy followed with Winterbourne. but I’m healthy! I was bound to see the Colosseum by moonlight. Daisy chattered about the beauty of the place. Giovanelli? If there has been any danger. she was apparently going to answer. “Quick! quick!” he said.” said Winterbourne.” “I should advise you. noticing Winterbourne’s silence. Here Daisy stopped a moment. “Well. still laughing. He has got some splendid pills. what do you believe now?” “I believe that it makes very little difference whether you are engaged or not!” He felt the young girl’s pretty eyes fixed upon him through the thick gloom of the archway. Giovanelli was in front with the carriage.

Winterbourne. when the rumor came to him. and. after all.” said Randolph—”that’s what made her sick. a most efficient and judicious nurse. Winterbourne. I shouldn’t think she’d want to. that it had ceased to be a matter of serious regret to him that the little American flirt should be “talked about” by low-minded menials. in the Colosseum with a gentleman. She talked a good deal about Dr. as it appeared. as it were. a couple of days later. In America there’s always a moon!” Mrs. had serious information to give: the little American flirt was alarmingly ill. and that. These people. Davis. but Winterbourne paid her the compliment of saying to himself that she was not. Miller was invisible. immediately went to the hotel for more news. and they rolled away over the desultory patches of the antique pavement. she was now. Winterbourne went often to ask for news of her. was.Daisy Miller Roman fever or not!” Upon this the cab driver cracked his whip. though deeply alarmed. perfectly composed. a day or two later. “Daisy spoke of you the 68 . Miller. to do him justice. It was evident that Daisy was dangerously ill. She’s always going round at night. there had been an exchange of remarks between the porter and the cab driver. at the same moment. He found that two or three charitable friends had preceded him. mentioned to no one that he had encountered Miss Miller. and commented accordingly. the fact of her having been there under these circumstances was known to every member of the little American circle. at least. but nevertheless. giving her aughter the advantage of her society. “It’s going round at night. and that they were being entertained in Mrs. who. at midnight. except when there’s a moon. after Daisy’s return. But the young man was conscious. and once he saw Mrs. such a monstrous goose. it’s so plaguy dark. Miller’s salon by Randolph. You can’t see anything here at night. rather to his surprise. Winterbourne reflected that they had of course known it at the hotel.

the poor girl died. she says she’s not engaged. but that time I think she did. Giovanelli was very pale: on this occasion he had no flower in his buttonhole. it had been a terrible case of the fever. “Half the time she doesn’t know what she’s saying. She told me to tell you that she never was engaged to that handsome Italian. Mr. Only.” But.’ And then she told me to ask if you remembered the time you went to that castle in Switzerland. a number larger than the scandal excited by the young lady’s career would have led you to expect. “She was the most beautiful young lady I ever saw. and then he added in a moment. who came nearer still before Winterbourne turned away.” Winterbourne looked at him and presently repeated his words. He looked 69 . Winterbourne. I don’t know why she wanted you to know. ‘Mind you tell Mr. as Winterbourne had said. Winterbourne stood there beside it. Near him stood Giovanelli. Giovanelli’s urbanity was apparently imperturbable. “Why the devil. he seemed to wish to say something. Giovanelli hasn’t been near us since she was taken ill. with a number of other mourners. A week after this. Daisy’s grave was in the little Protestant cemetery. I would scorn to scold him. it mattered very little. “and she was the most innocent. if she is not engaged. but she said to me three times. Anyway. Well.” she said to him. At last he said. “did you take her to that fatal place?” Mr. so I am. and the most amiable”. She gave me a message she told me to tell you. “And the most innocent?” “The most innocent!” Winterbourne felt sore and angry. in an angle of the wall of imperial Rome. I thought he was so much of a gentleman. I’m sure I’m glad to know it. But I said I wouldn’t give any such messages as that. I am sure I am very glad. but I suppose he knows I’m a lady. beneath the cypresses and the thick spring flowers.Henry James other day.” he asked. but I don’t call that very polite! A lady told me that he was afraid I was angry with him for taking Daisy round at night.

slow step. but I have understood it since. I am sure.” Nevertheless. Costello was fond of Vevey. and then he said. he went back to live at Geneva. But no. “of saying that she would have reciprocated one’s affection?” Winterbourne offered no answer to this question. I was booked to make a mistake.” said Mrs. In the interval Winterbourne had often thought of Daisy Miller and her mystifying manners.” “That was no reason!” Winterbourne declared. Winterbourne almost immediately left Rome.” “Is that a modest way. I have lived too long in foreign parts. Mr. whence there continue to come the most contradictory accounts of his motives of sojourn: a report that he is “studying” hard—an intimation that he is much interested in a very clever foreign lady. Costello. “For myself I had no fear. She would have appreciated one’s esteem. and she wanted to go. Giovanelli. “How did your injustice affect her?” “She sent me a message before her death which I didn’t understand at the time. “If she had lived. I am sure. had retired.” “She would never have married you?” “For a moment I hoped so.” asked Mrs.Daisy Miller on the ground a moment. She would never have married me. “I am sure I don’t know. Costello at Vevey. When he turned away again.” Winterbourne listened to him: he stood staring at the raw protuberance among the April daisies. Costello. Mrs. Mrs. with his light. The subtle Roman again dropped his eyes. I should have got nothing. but the following summer he again met his aunt. “You were right in that remark that you made last summer. but he presently said. 70 . One day he spoke of her to his aunt—said it was on his conscience that he had done her injustice.

These excellent people might indeed have been content to give the circle of hospitality a diameter of six 71 . I had a full enough vision of the patience of the Mulvilles. and it was this perhaps that had put me into the frame of foreseeing how we should all. alone in the compartment (from Wimbledon to Waterloo. Saltram. amount of this total. He was to stay all the winter: Adelaide dropped it in a tone that drew the sting from the inevitable emphasis. have the honour of dealing with him as a whole. He had been a great experience. I won’t pretend to have taken his vast measure on that first occasion. but later on. but I think I had achieved a glimpse of what the privilege of his acquaintance might mean for many persons in the way of charges accepted. Whatever impression I then received of the. before the glory of the District Railway) I amended this declaration in the light of the sense that my friends would probably after all not enjoy a monopoly of Mr.Henry James The Coxon Fund by Henry James CHAPTER I “THEY’VE GOT HIM FOR LIFE!” I said to myself that evening on my way back to the station. sooner or later.

On finding myself in the presence of their latest discovery I had not at first felt irreverence droop—and. new and predominantly purple. I had never known them not be in a “state” about somebody. when all was said. you inevitably pronounced Frank Saltram. At a later time they grew. and I afterwards took credit to myself for not having even in primal bewilderments made a mistake about the essence of the man. it was not to be overlooked that the Kent Mulvilles were in their way still more extraordinary: as striking an instance as could easily be encountered of the familiar truth that remarkable men find remarkable conveniences. I have never been absolutely deprived of that alternative in Mr. inserting a jewel here and there or giving a twist to a plume.The Coxon Fund months. and I dare say I tried to be droll on this point in accepting their invitation. It dazzles me perhaps even more in remembrance than in fact. How the art of portraiture would rejoice in this figure if the art of portraiture had only the canvas! Nature. He had an incomparable gift. in 72 . but if they didn’t say he was to stay all summer as well it was only because this was more than they ventured to hope. poor dears. I remember that at dinner that evening he wore slippers. I never was blind to it—it dazzles me still. and there had been an implication in Adelaide’s note—judged by her notes alone she might have been thought silly—that it was a case in which something momentous was to be determined or done. of some queer carpet-stuff. however—I hasten to declare it—that compared to this specimen their other phoenixes had been birds of inconsiderable feather. for I’m not unaware that for so rare a subject the imagination goes to some expense. but the Mulvilles were still in the stage of supposing that he might be snatched from them by higher bidders. They had sent for me from Wimbledon to come out and dine. Saltram’s company. Wonderful indeed as. but theirs was a fidelity which needed no help from competition to make them proud. I saw. to fear no snatching. thank heaven.

every demand of reflexion. and no man who was so much of an absorbent can ever have been so little of a parasite. this is because the voice that comes back was really golden.Henry James truth. but he had no system of sponging— that was quite hand-to-mouth. hovering about it. that their dinners were soignes. at any rate. I think. He took whatever came. 73 . If he had loved us for our dinners we could have paid with our dinners. neglect to declare that I shall falsify my counterfeit if I seem to hint that there was in his nature any ounce of calculation. of emotion—particularly perhaps those of gratitude and of resentment. No one. he had found out that the mercy of the Mulvilles was infinite. I privately asked Adelaide what he had found out. but he never plotted for it. sometimes holds her breath. Though the great man was an inmate and didn’t dress. and people with still bigger houses and simpler charities. Not catching the allusion and gaping doubtless a little at his face. and the first words he uttered on coming into the room were an elated announcement to Mulville that he had found out something. paid the tribute of giving him up so often. first and last. He had previously of course discovered. and if memory. He had fine gross easy senses. but it was not his good-natured appetite that wrought confusion. Let me not indeed. He yielded lessons as the sea yields fish—I lived for a while on this diet. had largely rounded it. I shall never forget the look she gave me as she replied: “Everything!” She really believed it. and if it’s rendering honour to borrow wisdom I’ve a right to talk of my sacrifices. I make free in these connexions with the plural possessive because if I was never able to do what the Mulvilles did. At that moment. I met. He had a system of the universe. He fairly pampered my curiosity. in saying this. he kept dinner on this occasion waiting. Sometimes it almost appeared to me that his massive monstrous failure—if failure after all it was—had been designed for my private recreation. and it would have been a great economy of finer matter. as I had myself for that matter.

and this is only one. and I wouldn’t have approached him with my present hand had it been a question of all the features. as one looks back. for artistic purposes. Their name is legion. of which the interest is that it concerns even more closely several other persons.The Coxon Fund but the history of that experience would take me too far. Frank Saltram’s features. Such episodes. are verily the anecdotes that are to be gathered. This is not the large canvas I just now spoke of. are the little dramas that made up the innumerable facets of the big drama— which is yet to be reported. 74 .

I had at that time a lodging in Ebury Street. that it was still more that of another person. At Cambridge. come home with me for a talk. in a manner. Walking and swinging my stick. at Buckingham Gate. in London. since before we got to Ebury Street I was struck with the fact that. “It leaves itself!” I could recollect devoutly replying. even in our devastating set. five years before. with blanched cheeks. and it was to be seen that he was of an age to outweather George Gravener. and I was at any rate so amusing that for long afterwards he never encountered me without asking for news of the old man of the sea.Henry James CHAPTER II IT IS FURTHERMORE REMARKABLE that though the two stories are distinct—my own. I could only walk home. what it was then that after all such a mind as that left standing. his intellectual power had seemed to me almost awful. I duly remember. I overtook. I could smile at present for this remembrance. I had much to say to him. let me parenthesise. George Gravener. and also that several years were to elapse before it was to extend to a second chapter. as our paths lay together. I hadn’t said Mr. none the less. the night I came back from Wimbledon so agitated with a new sense of life that. as it were. about my visit to the Mulvilles. Some one had once asked me privately. save in 75 . Saltram was old. and George Gravener’s story may be said to have begun with my making him. and Gravener was staying at his brother’s empty house in Eaton Square. and this other—they equally began. for the very thrill of it. the first night of my acquaintance with Frank Saltram. whom he more indifferently knew.

or only. at hungry twenty-six. 76 . It came home to me that he was admirably British as. had had its origin in an early. like mine. were fresh to me: in the light of my old friend’s fine cold symmetry they presented mere success in amusing as the refuge of conscious ugliness. the fruit of multiplied ties in the previous generation. he turned away from the serried rows of my little French library. a circumstance I mention in order to note that even then I was surprised at his impatience of my enlivenment. As he had never before heard of the personage it took indeed the form of impatience of the preposterous Mulvilles. however. a childish intimacy with the young Adelaide. When she married Kent Mulville. for I already felt that even should we happen to agree it would always be for reasons that differed. I gained a friend. had never had any—not even when I had fancied him most Aristophanesque. but when he sniffed at them I couldn’t help taking the opposite line. The universe he laid low had somehow bloomed again—the usual eminences were visible. who was older than Gravener and I and much more amiable. his thick nose and hanging lip. In my scrap of a residence—he had a worldling’s eye for its futile conveniences. I wondered whether he had lost his humour. George Gravener had actually ceased to tower. Already. We reacted in different ways from the form taken by what he called their deplorable social action—the form (the term was also his) of nasty second-rate gush. but Gravener practically lost one. What was the need of appealing to laughter. where you might appeal so confidently to measurement? Mr. without so much as a sociable sneer at my bookbinder. Saltram’s queer figure.The Coxon Fund the sense of being well set up on his legs. his relation to whom. I could enviously enquire. I may have held in my ‘for interieur’ that the good people at Wimbledon were beautiful fools. Gravener looked as blank and parliamentary as if he were fifty and popular. but never a comrade’s joke—I sounded Frank Saltram in his ears. dreadful thought.

and when I answered that the very note of his fascination was his extraordinary speculative breadth my friend retorted that there was no cad like your cultivated cad. I forget what protest I dropped. He took an instant to circumvent my trap and come blandly out the other side. my dear fellow—that’s so soon said!” “Not so soon when he isn’t! If they’ve got hold of one this time he must be a great rascal!” “I might feel injured. Gravener was profound enough to remark after a moment that in the first place he couldn’t be anything but a Dissenter. “if you’ll admit that he’s a scamp. they don’t know anything from anything. I confess I was struck with his insistence. “if I didn’t reflect that they don’t rave about me. and I said.” “Don’t be too sure! I’ll grant that he’s a gentleman. “Because the Kent Mulvilles have invented him.Henry James “Of course I’ve never seen the fellow.” I replied. All their geese are swans.” “Clear ‘enough’ is just what it isn’t. and that I might depend upon discovering—since I had had the levity not already to have enquired—that my shining light proceeded. Is a man. a real gentleman?” “A real gentleman. They were born to be duped. from a Methodist cheesemonger. but it’s clear enough he’s a humbug.” His vehemence was doubtless an accident. in a given case.” Gravener presently added. but why on earth are you so sure?”— asking the question mainly to lay him the trap of saying that it was because the poor man didn’t dress for dinner. after reflexion: “It may be—I admit it may be. a generation back.” I answered.” 77 . and they disgust one—luckily perhaps!—with Christian charity. they cry for it. they like it. but it might have been a strange foreknowledge. “if it only were!” That ejaculation on my part must have been the beginning of what was to be later a long ache for final frivolous rest. it was at any rate something that led him to go on after a moment: “I only ask one thing—it’s perfectly simple. They’ve an infallible hand for frauds.

The Coxon Fund “I don’t know which to admire most. Mulville had told me. What they mainly aimed at was reuniting Mr. re78 . your logic or your benevolence.” “As exhibited in his writings?” “Possibly in his writings.” I was already mastering—to my shame perhaps be it said—just the tone my old friend least liked.” “That of course wasn’t to be endured. “and I’m too glad you don’t disappoint me.” “Why on what I began by boring you with—his extraordinary mind. “It’s doubtless only a trifle.” Gravener went on. so they jumped at the privilege of paying his debts!” I professed that I knew nothing about his debts.” “Left him to us?” Gravener asked. “The monster—many thanks! I decline to take him. “He didn’t leave her—no. “I was expecting to hear he has basely abandoned her. at this.” I tried to recall exactly what Mrs. “Where did they pick him up?” “I think they were struck with something he had published. Saltram to his wife.” “I can fancy the dreary thing!” “I believe they found out he had all sorts of worries and difficulties. and I reminded my visitor that though the dear Mulvilles were angels they were neither idiots nor millionaires. “but you haven’t happened to mention what his reputation’s to rest on. but he didn’t change the subject.” “And what’s it all about?” “My dear fellow. It’s she who has left him.” “You’ll hear more about him in spite of yourself.” My friend coloured at this. I really can’t resist the impression that he’s a big man. don’t ask me! About everything!” I pursued. but certainly in his talk.” he returned. which is far and away the richest I ever listened to. I can’t. no.

as many people seemed to think. only going so far as to concede. How many men were there who rose to this privilege. Gravener. in saying this. he might very well go down to posterity as the greatest of all great talkers. and gladly. We were drenched with talk—our wretched age was dying of it. a little lyrically perhaps. who had glanced at his watch and discovered it was midnight. that we were drenched with sound. and even good wasn’t always to be compared to it.” He looked. “About his ideas of things. The greater the wind-bag the greater the calamity. and I was sure he could only mean once more 79 . I admit. I fancifully added that we too should peradventure be gilded by the legend. Out of proportion to everything else on earth had come to be this wagging of the tongue. Fine talk was as rare as it was refreshing—the gift of the gods themselves. I differed from him here sincerely. However. for having actually heard. I really expressed. in a cloud of tradition. It was not however the mere speakers who were killing us—it was the mere stammerers. for such a picture was an anticipation of Saltram’s later development and still more of my fuller acquaintance with him. “You must have heard him to know what I mean—it’s unlike anything that ever was heard. should be pointed at for having listened.” I coloured. as if he meant great things. I overcharged a little.Henry James minding myself of poor Adelaide. From the best talk indeed the best writing had something to learn. my actual imagination of him when I proceeded to declare that. of how many masters of conversation could he boast the acquaintance? Dying of talk?—why we were dying of the lack of it! Bad writing wasn’t talk. found to all this a retort beautifully characteristic of him.” I then more charitably added. of legend. “There’s one little fact to be borne in mind in the presence equally of the best talk and of the worst. Before we parted George Gravener had wondered why such a row should be made about a chatterbox the more and why he should be pampered and pensioned. the one starry spangle on the ragged cloak of humanity.

if I have to be horrible!” 80 . “I declare I will be. “None whatever?” “None whatever. My pleasantry so far failed to mollify him that he promptly added that to the rule he had just enunciated there was absolutely no exception. he deprived me however of the exultation of being right by putting the truth in a slightly different way. “The only thing that really counts for one’s estimate of a person is his conduct.The Coxon Fund that neither of them mattered if a man wasn’t a real gentleman.” “Trust me then to try to be good at any price!” I laughed as I went with him to the door. Perhaps it was what he did mean. and I reproached him with unfair play in having ascertained beforehand that it was now the hour at which I always gave in.” He had his watch still in his palm.

but none the less. of different sizes. elemental. or at any rate was the freshest. By the time the Saltrams. I well knew by this time. the audience. and it was past nine o’clock. It was I.Henry James CHAPTER III IF THAT FIRST NIGHT was one of the liveliest. They set in mainly at this season and were magnificent. There was in those days in that region a petty lecture-hall to be secured on terms as moderate as the funds left at our disposal by the irrepressible question of the maintenance of five small Saltrams— I include the mother—and one large one. the other time. that was one of my great discomposures. This was the second time. four years later. for a short course of five. standing up there for an odious lamplit moment to explain to half a 81 . Repetition. a muster unprecedented and really encouraging. who had been forced into the breach. were all maintained we had pretty well poured out the oil that might have lubricated the machinery for enabling the most original of men to appear to maintain them. was the secret of Saltram’s power to alienate. it was impossible not to feel that two failures were a large order. there was another. of my exaltations. in our arduous attempt to set him on his feet as a lecturer. as we said. had fortunately the attitude of blandness that might have been looked for in persons whom the promise of (if I’m not mistaken) An Analysis of Primary Ideas had drawn to the neighbourhood of Upper Baker Street. orchestral. I was quite aware that one of these atmospheric disturbances was now due. and of course one would never have seen him at his finest if one hadn’t seen him in his remorses.

but if it had been calculated the reason would scarce have eluded an observer of the fact that no one else in the room had an approach to an appearance. a little mystifyingly. and before she addressed me I had beguiled our sorry interval by finding in her a vague recall of the opening of some novel of Madame Sand. and Kent Mulville was shocked at my want of public optimism. as it seemed to me. There was nothing to plead but that our scouts had been out from the early hours and that we were afraid that on one of his walks abroad—he took one. of which I possess an almost complete collection. and her presence spoke. Our philosopher’s “tail” was deplorably limp. prepared anything but a magnificent prospectus. My position was an accident. She seemed to carry amusement in her handsome young head. and had on her other hand a companion of obscurer type. This time therefore I left the excuses to his more practised patience. but I admit I had been angry. only relieving myself in response to a direct appeal from a young lady next whom. This visitor was the only person who looked at her ease. of all occasions. The meditative walks were a fiction. presumably a waiting-maid. where earnest brows were virtuously void of anything so cynical as a suspicion. that we couldn’t so much as put a finger on Mr. of a sudden extension of Saltram’s sphere of influence. It didn’t make her more fathomable to pass in a few minutes from this to the certitude that she was 82 . He was doing better than we hoped. at the best. I found myself sitting. for he never. for meditation. who had come a little in the spirit of adventure. hence his circulars and programmes. whenever he was to address such a company—some accident had disabled or delayed him. in the hall. She herself might perhaps have been a foreign countess. that any one could discover. and he had chosen such an occasion. to succumb to heaven knew which of his fond infirmities.The Coxon Fund dozen thin benches. are the solemn ghosts of generations never born. The young lady produced an impression of auburn hair and black velvet. Saltram. I put the case.

the most efficient of whom were indeed the handful of poor Saltram’s backers. She bored me to extinction. She had come to England to see her aunt. not at all a fine fanatic—she was but a generous. I soon made her out. but there were those who stood by her. I thought my young lady looked rich—I scarcely knew why. as Saltram himself would have been if he hadn’t been a prodigy. Like the Kent Mulvilles I belonged to both fraternities. The brotherhood of the friends of the husband was as nothing to the brotherhood. or perhaps I should say the sisterhood. I saw she’d help to pass the time when she observed that it was a pity this lady wasn’t intrinsically more interesting. however—we of both camps. for it was an article of faith in Mrs. of the friends of the wife. and I hoped she had put her hand in her pocket. Saltram. and even better than they I think I had sounded the abyss of Mrs. however. Saltram’s circle—at least among those who scorned to know her horrid husband—that she was attractive on her merits. I would recommend further waiting. it simply engendered depressing reflexions as to the possible check to contributions from Boston. as a person apparently more initiated. That was refreshing. at any rate our talk took a turn that prolonged it till she became aware we were left almost alone. but it was a measure his wife kept challenging you to apply. whereas her mere patrons and partisans had nothing but hatred for our philosopher. I hasten to 83 . and I answered that if she considered I was on my honour I would privately deprecate it. and it was at her aunt’s she had met the dreary lady we had all so much on our mind. as it were—who had always done most for her. I’m bound to say it was we. and I knew but too well how she had bored her husband. Saltram’s wrongs. I presently ascertained she knew Mrs. They did her liberal justice. She asked me if.Henry James American. She was in truth a most ordinary person. The question of vulgarity had no application to him. and this explained in a manner the miracle. irresponsible enquirer. Perhaps she didn’t.

that is. “I suppose they ought to have kept me away. at her aunt’s. to which he has subjected us.” my companion dropped. for instance. “and I suppose they’d have done so if I hadn’t somehow got an idea that he’s fascinating. “Do you mean in his bad faith?” “In the extraordinary effects of it.” said my young lady. that her curiosity had been kindled—kindled mainly by his wife’s remarkable stories of his want of virtue. My joke probably cost Saltram a subscription or two. you’ve seen!” My young lady raised fine eyebrows.” she sociably continued. She had read some of his papers and hadn’t understood them. of some quality or other that condemns us in advance to forgive him the humiliation.” It was amusing to converse with a pretty girl who could talk of the clearness of Saltram’s mind. as one of his guarantors. “She says he drinks like a fish. She had come to-night out of high curiosity—she had wanted to learn this proper way for herself. Saltram herself says he is. his possession. “He doesn’t seem to have much force of character. In fact Mrs. but it helped me on with my interlocutress. as I may call it.” “So you came to see where the fascination resides? Well.The Coxon Fund add that the consequences of your doing so were no sufficient reason for his having left her to starve. “and yet she allows that his mind’s wonderfully clear. at which I laughed out so loud that my departing friends looked back at me over their shoulders as if I were making a joke of their discomfiture. an effort attended perhaps more than ever on this occasion with the usual effect of my feeling that I wasn’t after all very sure of it. before you as the purchaser of a ticket.” 84 .” “The humiliation?” “Why mine. I tried to tell her—I had it almost on my conscience—what was the proper way to regard him. but it was at home. I expected next to hear she had been assured he was awfully clever.

” “Oh. Had she acted only in obedience to this singular plea. fat. you can’t ‘see’ it!” I cried. “Why his wife says he’s lovely!” My hilarity may have struck her as excessive. featureless save for his great eyes. but it didn’t embarrass me now. “How then do you get at it?” “You don’t! You mustn’t suppose he’s good-looking. for I had a sense of recognising it: George Gravener. It had embarrassed me then. But he moves badly and dresses worse.Henry James She let her charming gay eyes rest on me. “Do you call him a real gentleman?” I started slightly at the question. “You don’t look humiliated a bit. after a moment appealed. who appeared to reflect on this. and altogether he’s anything but smart. and if you did I should let you off. of what was irritating in the narrowness of that lady’s point of view? “Mrs.” said my young lady attentively. his great eyes. “A real gentleman? Emphatically not!” My promptitude surprised her a little. but I confess it broke out afresh. She had evidently heard all about his great eyes—the beaux yeux for which alone we had really done it all. years before. He’s not. but I quickly felt how little it was to Gravener I was now talking. had put me face to face with it. she overpraises him where he’s weak. “They’re tragic and splendid—lights on a dangerous coast. Saltram.” “Yes. for the mysterious quality you speak of is just the quality I came to see. “undervalues him where he’s strongest. assuredly. to make up for it perhaps. on Mrs. he’s middle-aged. superficially attractive. disappointed as I am.” I explained. so that.” I added. that first flushed night. for I had lived with it and overcome it and disposed of it. “Do you say that because he’s—what do you call it in England?—of humble extraction?” 85 . so characteristic. Saltram’s part.” My companion.

a mighty mass of speculation.” “And how much do they come to?” “You’re right to put it as if we had a big bill to pay. quotation.The Coxon Fund “Not a bit. sacrifices—all with nothing more deterrent than an agony of shame. The recognition’s purely spiritual—it isn’t in the least social. notation. and he speedily loses them in the crowd.” “I mean isn’t it positively fatal?” “Fatal to what? Not to his magnificent vitality. The genius is there. as you say. But when they pass over he turns away. 86 . the surrenders. in the wantonness of his youth. your questions are rather terrible.” “But isn’t it an awful drawback?” “Awful—quite awful. to the number of three. have been much exaggerated: they consist mainly after all in one comprehensive defect. of philosophy. to a great sum total of poetry. His vices. They come.” “He doesn’t recognise his obligations?” “On the contrary. His father was a country school-master and his mother the widow of a sexton. but that has nothing to do with it. he recognises them with effusion. as I’ve told you before. I was thinking of his noble intellect.” I held my tongue about the natural children.” I said. So he leaves all his belongings to other people to take care of. “But the efforts.” Again she had a meditative moment.” “A want of will?” “A want of dignity. but. these mere exercises of genius. He accepts favours. and we do what we can. especially in public: he smiles and bows and beckons across the street to them. “And is his magnificent vitality the cause of his vices?” “Your questions are formidable. I only remarked that he did make efforts—often tremendous ones. Fortunately we’re a little faithful band. “never come to much: the only things that come to much are the abandonments. loans. but I’m glad you put them. I say it simply because I know him well. engendered.

to show him to-night! However. there isn’t much. after all.” She became grave. to show?” “In the way of achievement recognised and reputation established?” I asked. out of which she leaned a moment after she had thanked me and taken her seat. at his age. in front of which the lamps of a quiet brougham were almost the only thing Saltram’s treachery hadn’t extinguished. since his writing. but as I wasn’t prepared for another question I hastily pursued: “The sight of a great suspended swinging crystal—huge lucid lustrous. Moreover two-thirds of his work are merely colossal projects and announcements.” “And what would his talk just have been?” I was conscious of some ineffectiveness. carrying her away too fast. It would just have been his talk. to allow me to exclaim “Ingratitude!” 87 . as well perhaps as of a little impatience.” “I go abroad in a day or two with my aunt. a block of light—flashing back every impression of life and every possibility of thought!” This gave her something to turn over till we had passed out to the dusky porch of the hall. fortunately for my manners. as his talk. but there’s no genius to support the defence.” I went on: “we endeavoured. mostly.Henry James you see. ‘Showing’ Frank Saltram is often a poor business. Her smile even in the darkness was pretty. you’ll have observed. isn’t certainly as showy. to meet the surrender. as I replied: “The exhibition of a splendid intellect. “Not unless he really comes!” At which the brougham started off.” “But what is there.” My young lady looked not quite satisfied at this. “It’s quite worth it. I went with her to the door of her carriage. “To ‘show’ if you will. if he had lectured he’d have lectured divinely.” “Wait over till next week. “I do want to see that crystal!” “You’ve only to come to the next lecture.” I suggested. isn’t as fine.

SALTRAM made a great affair of her right to be informed where her husband had been the second evening he failed to meet his audience. She often appeared at my chambers to talk over his lapses. a deeply wronged. whose hope for the best never twirled the thumbs of him more placidly than when he happened to know the worst. she had carefully preserved the water of this ablution. after their separation. he had entered into with regard to his wife. She came to me to ascertain. for if. but ultimately confessed.The Coxon Fund CHAPTER IV MRS. justly resentful. which she handed about for analysis. He had known it on the occasion I speak of—that is immediately after. she had washed her hands of him. She had arts of her own of exciting one’s impatience. whom I more and more loved. In reality her personal fall had been a sort of social rise—since I had seen the moment when. quite irreproachable and insufferable person. They were the people who by doing most for her hus88 . Her voice was grating and her children ugly. for in spite of my ingenuity I remained in ignorance. her desolation almost made her the fashion. It was of course familiar to me that Saltram was incapable of keeping the engagements which. It wasn’t till much later that I found this had not been the case with Kent Mulville. the most infallible of which was perhaps her assumption that we were kind to her because we liked her. but I couldn’t satisfy her. moreover she hated the good Mulvilles. in our little conscientious circle. What he confessed was more than I shall now venture to make public. He was impenetrable then. as she declared.

Lady Coxon. I recognised her superiority when I asked her about the aunt of the disappointed young lady: it sounded like a sentence from an English-French or other phrase-book. I’m bound to say he didn’t criticise his benefactors. she. She offered the odd spectacle of a spirit puffed up by dependence. Miss Anvoy. Mrs. She pitied me for not knowing certain people who aided her and whom she doubtless patronised in turn for their luck in not knowing me. and indeed it had introduced her to some excellent society. or that deficiencies might be organic. a Bath-chair and a fernery. Saltram had made her acquaintance through mutual friends. had been established here for years in consequence of her marriage with the late Sir Gregory of that name. One might doubtless have overdone the idea that there was a general licence for such a man. such as it was. She triumphed in what she told me and she may have triumphed still more in what she withheld. My friend of the other evening. as if she never suspected that he had a character. the irritating effect of a mind incapable of a generalisation.Henry James band had in the long run done most for herself. the aunt. but if this had happened it would have been through one’s feeling that there could be none for such a woman. and above all she had sympathy. had but lately come to England. She had a house in the Regent’s Park. and the warm confidence with which he had laid his length upon them was a pressure gentle compared with her stiffer persuadability. but she had a stubborn little way of challenging them one after the other. I dare say I should have got on with her better if she had had a ray of imagination—if it had occasionally seemed to occur to her to regard Saltram’s expressions of his nature in any other manner than as separate subjects of woe. pearls strung on an endless thread. however. though practically he got tired of them. They were all flowers of his character. had the highest standards about eleemosynary forms. This vagueness caused me to feel how much I was out of it and how large an inde89 .

She had pretty clothes and pretty manners. but I saw it would take only a little more or a little less to make her speak of them as thankless subjects of social countenance—people for whom she had vainly tried to do something. Saltram said. and she spoke as if during the absence of these ladies she mightn’t know where to turn for it. What had happened I didn’t know. as she might have mysterious means of depriving me of my knowledge. but I felt I should know most by not depriving her of her advantage. when they had come back. on my leading her up to it. take a husband.The Coxon Fund pendent circle Mrs. when I learnt it. Mrs. The niece. Saltram had at her command. Saltram had fatigued by overpressure the spring of the sympathy of which she boasted. Lady Coxon having in fact gone abroad accompanied by her niece.Saltram. besides which she would lack occasion to repeat her experiment. be distracted. over there. in whose very name. what was prettier still. the only daughter and the light of the eyes of some great American merchant. The girl at any rate would forget the small adventure. I should probably neither see her nor hear of her again: the knight’s widow (he had been mayor of Clockborough) would pass away and the heiress would return to her inheritance. delivered without an 90 . this experience was stayed. For the present. a man. besides being immensely clever. A few months later indeed. Saltram was always sympathy. moreover. I confess I saw how it wouldn’t be in a mere week or two that I should rid myself of the image of Ruth Anvoy. and I founded this reticence on the easy supposition that Mrs. and she had. was an heiress. The great thing of all for Mrs. I gathered with surprise that she had not communicated to his wife the story of her attempt to hear Mr.. the great thing of all. I should have been glad to know more about the disappointed young lady. We clung to the idea of the brilliant course. I found something secretly to like. of endless indulgences and dollars. her tone perceptibly changed: she alluded to them. rather as to persons in her debt for favours received.

The very gates of the kingdom of light seemed to 91 . all minor eloquence grew dumb.Henry James accident. its large fireside and clear lamplight. however. as a lecturer. It was indeed amusing work to be scrupulous for Frank Saltram. that I’m at my best. They declined to make their saloon a market. its pictures and its flowers. so that Saltram’s golden words continued the sole coin that rang there. In our scrutiny of ways and means we were inevitably subject to the old convention of the synopsis. it meant too enslaved for the hour to the superstition of sobriety. that they shamelessly broke down.” he suggestively allowed. for the pride of her hospitality. “Yes. for we had anticipated Bayreuth.” We all knew what too much worry meant. as there’s a flaw in every perfection this was the inexpugnable refuge of their egotism. there was fallacy at least. I used to call it the music-room. It can have happened to no man. to be paid a greater price than such an enchanted hush as surrounded him on his greatest nights. On the Saturdays I used to bring my portmanteau. that. felt a presence. I think. The most profane. He admitted with a candour all his own that he was in truth only to be depended on in the Mulvilles’ drawing-room. on these occasions. when it gets toward eleven—and if I’ve not been too much worried. who also at moments laughed about it. but the fact remained that in the case of an inspiration so unequal there was treachery. I had a bold theory that as regards this temple of talk and its altars of cushioned chintz. partly of course not to lose the advantage of his grand free hand in drawing up such things. anxiously watched the door or stealthily poked the fire. in the very conception of a series. so far as the comfort of a sigh so unstudied as to be cheerful might pass for such a sound. but for myself I laughed at our playbills even while I stickled for them. however. Here it was. the syllabus. would still make the paying public aware of our great man. quite late. Adelaide Mulville. we might really arrive at something if the Mulvilles would but charge for admission. “it’s there. so as not to have to think of eleven o’clock trains.

She wanted all moneys to be paid to herself: they were otherwise liable to such strange adventures. alas. The ideal solution. as reported to our friend. led her so often to my door. and the money was simply a deposit on borrowing the work. she interrupted. brought into his face the noble blank melancholy that sometimes made it handsome. but some masterpiece of Saltram’s may have died in his bosom of the shudder with which it was then convulsed. The editors and the publishers were the last people to take this remarkable thinker at the valuation that has now pretty well come to be established. Nature herself had brought him out in voluminous form. They trickled away into the desert—they were mainly at best. in concatenations of omnibuses and usually in very wet weather. The title of an unwritten book didn’t after all much matter. She hovered. we were always conscious of the creak of Mrs. When they tastelessly enquired why publication hadn’t ensued I was tempted to ask who in the world had ever been so published. the state of affairs being mostly such as to supply her with every incentive for enquiring what was to be done next. I mean. would have been some system of subscription to projected treatises with their non-appearance provided for—provided for. a slender stream. the sittings of our little board. 92 . by the indulgence of subscribers. Saltram’s shoes. and when a volume on this or that portentous subject was proposed to the latter they suggested alternative titles which. The former were half-distraught between the desire to “cut” him and the difficulty of finding a crevice for their shears.The Coxon Fund open and the horizon of thought to flash with the beauty of a sunrise at sea. In the consideration of ways and means. It was the pressing pursuit of this knowledge that. failing the fee at Kent Mulville’s door. The author’s real misfortune was that subscribers were so wretchedly literal. She thought us spiritless creatures with editors and publishers. but she carried matters to no great effect when she personally pushed into back-shops. she almost presided.

but it would have cost me much to confide to the friend of my youth. being in view most from the tall steeple of Clockborough. with the difference to our credit. already quite in view but still hungry and frugal. and all his movements and postures were calculated for the favouring angle. had naturally enough more ambition than charity. He took more pains to swing his censer than I had 93 . His immediate ambition was to occupy e lui seul the field of vision of that smokily-seeing city. I never forgot our little discussion in Ebury Street. Mulville’s work not mine—and by the time the claret was served had seen the god descend. The movement of the hand as to the pocket had thus to alternate gracefully with the posture of the hand on the heart. however. He had sharp aims for stray sovereigns. and I never passed the hat to George Gravener. It had cost me nothing to confide to this charming girl. and I think it stuck in my throat to have to treat him to the avowal I had found so easy to Mss Anvoy.Henry James CHAPTER V I WAS DOUBTLESS often a nuisance to my friends in those years. He talked to Clockborough in short only less beguilingly than Frank Saltram talked to his electors. He had more than once been at Wimbledon—it was Mrs. Was this because I had already generalised to the point of perceiving that women are really the unfastidious sex? I knew at any rate that Gravener. that we had already voted and that our candidate had no antagonist but himself. but there were sacrifices I declined to make. that the character of the “real gentleman” wasn’t an attribute of the man I took such pains for.

I can find a place for them: we might even find a place for the fellow himself. Gravener entertained the idea of annexing Mr. in the fever of broken slumbers. in a word. The only thing would have been to carry him massively about. for the “things” themselves. but I’ll be hanged if I don’t put some of those things in. and the irony of Saltram’s being made showy at Clockborough came out to me when he said. was essentially not calculable. in fine for the rest of my eloquence. Such a project was delusive. Later on I could see that the oracle of Wimbledon was not in this case so appropriate as he would have been had the polities of the gods only coincided more exactly with those of the party. to turn him on for a particular occasion in a particular channel. of the air of those lungs for convenient public uncorking in corn-exchanges—was an experiment for which no one had the leisure. For what there would have been to do The Empire. you know. There was a distinct moment when. the great newspaper. I hadn’t often made it myself. Frank Saltram’s channel. Saltram.The Coxon Fund expected. The difference was that on Gravener’s part a force attached to it that could never attach to it on mine. He was ABLE to use people—he had the machinery. I remember that this neat remark humiliated me almost as much as if virtually. as if he had no memory of our original talk and the idea were quite fresh to him: “I hate his type. I need scarcely say. clipped. caged. but it was no new misfortune that there were delicate 94 . paid. and there was no knowing what disastrous floods might have ensued. but on our way back to town he forestalled any little triumph I might have been so artless as to express by the observation that such a man was—a hundred times!—a man to use and never a man to be used by. for the discovery of analogies between his body of doctrine and that pressed from headquarters upon Clockborough—the bottling. was there to look to. without saying anything more definite to me. however. but for some other things very near them.” I myself should have had some fear—not.

No one knew better than George Gravener that that was a time when prompt returns counted double. It would be too much to describe myself as troubled by this play of surmise. I afterwards learned. a house with “grounds. the big square shoulders. as he said. I could see the faded red livery. but after she returned from abroad I learned from Mrs. Saltram—who. the high-walled garden of this decent abode. just as he was. The man would have been. and I could see him in the old-time garden with Miss Anvoy. through Mrs. a real enough gentleman if he could have helped to put in a real gentleman. On his part. was in correspondence with Lady Coxon’s housekeeper—that Gravener was known to have spoken of the habitation I had in my eye as the pleasantest thing at Clockborough. of feeling it sud95 . who would be certain. Saltram that the lease had fallen in and that she had gone down to resume possession. perhaps indeed I went so far as to pray. I was destined to hear. as he perhaps even pushed the Bath-chair over somebody’s toes. In fine there was an instinctive apprehension that a clever young journalist commissioned to report on Mr. Lady Coxon had a fine old house. I tried to focus the many-buttoned page. Gravener’s great objection to the actual member was that he was not one. If he therefore found our friend an exasperating waste of orthodoxy it was because of his being. poor Gravener. not because he was down in the dust. and very justly. but I occur to remember the relief. The vivid scene was now peopled. to think him good-looking. up in the clouds.Henry James situations in which The Empire broke down. none the less.” at Clockborough. Saltram might never come back from the errand. in the daily airing. I was sure. singular enough. As the rumble of dissolution grew louder the suitor would have pressed his suit. which she had let. and I found myself hoping the politics of the late Mayor’s widow wouldn’t be such as to admonish her to ask him to dinner. they would naturally form a bar to any contact. this was the voice not of envy but of experience.

I owed him. The letter. abjuring. gross indecency—one had one’s choice only of such formulas as that the more they fitted the less they gave one rest. unlearning him. It was all very well to have an unfortunate temperament. which. It wasn’t for anything he had done to me. ignoring. profiting by the example so signally given him of the fatal effect of a want of character. There were limits after all. was the central feature of the incident. and I am under no obligation. thank heaven. oh 96 . and I felt that one could pity him as much as one ought only by never thinking of him again. to be definite about the business. At a distance. the drop too much. him. I at least know how much I missed. I had had my disgusts. but that was no excuse. but this was a supreme revolt. Base ingratitude. unanswered. addressed by Saltram to Wimbledon during a stay with the Pudneys at Ramsgate. certain values stood out. for practical purposes. There are things which if I had had to tell them—well. I discovered what he had done for me. and if I don’t know how much. there was nothing so unfortunate as to have. would have stopped me off here altogether. if I may allow myself to-day such an expression. These are dead aches now. an annoyance the result of its happening to come over me about that time with a rush that I was simply ashamed of Frank Saltram. it was for what he had done to the Mulvilles. and her husband.The Coxon Fund denly brushed away by an annoyance really much greater. I went abroad for the general election. an incredible one. I forgot. had many features. I didn’t want to do anything in the world to him but that. I avoided George Gravener at this moment and reflected that at such a time I should do so most effectually by leaving England. Certain things cleared up in my mind. however. Adelaide cried about it for a week. I wanted to forget Frank Saltram— that was all. each more painful than whichever other we compared it with. and my mark at last had been reached. left the letter. The Pudneys had behaved shockingly. Indignation had withered on the stalk. nothing else. in a foreign land. on the Continent.

Henry James unmistakeably. 97 . certain noble conceptions. one day as my absence drew to an end. and lo it continued to twinkle. Yet when I at last wrote her that I was coming home and would discharge my accumulated burden by seeing her. I but remarked in regard to her question that she must really put it to Miss Anvoy. my eye. A direct question of Mrs. who. The great other fact about him just then was that he had been triumphantly returned for Clockborough in the interest of the party that had swept the country—so that I might easily have referred Mrs. was caught by a name on a leaf that had detached itself from the packet. I was pursued of course by letters from Mrs. But the light it gave me just showed me how much more I wanted. The allusion was to Miss Anvoy. George Gravener. it appeared. Saltram’s had thus remained unanswered— she had enquired of me in a postscript what sort of man this aspirant to such a hand might be. and this is how. was engaged to be married to Mr. while I rummaged in my desk for another paper. though quite aware her embarrassments couldn’t but be now of the gravest. and the news was two months old. Saltram to the journals of the day. Saltram which I didn’t scruple not to read. I sacrificed to propriety by simply putting them away. I had lighted my little taper at his smoky lamp.

What was present to it was that he was to marry that beautiful girl. and this had delayed their arrival. I 98 . on my return. jocosely. for his political success had momentarily passed out of my mind. not to have heard of that triumph and to be alluding to the rumour of a victory still more personal. He was so good as to say that he hoped I should soon make the acquaintance of Miss Anvoy. “On my election?” he asked after a moment. I fed with George Gravener. and one of the symptoms. one Saturday night. with her aunt. in the country. The season. was a recovery of appetite. had been seriously unwell. I dare say I coloured however. was understood to be reviving. under the new Ministry. People once more fed together.The Coxon Fund CHAPTER VI I HAD ALMOST AVOIDED the general election. He himself indeed ought gracefully to have done so. When the ladies left the room I moved up to where he sat and begged to congratulate him. in a social body. at somebody’s house. but some of its consequences. who. began to breathe again and to flap its folded wings. and he was so much lighter in hand than I had lately seen him that his spirits might well have been fed from a twofold source. in London.” We straightened the matter out. had smartly to be faced. and yet his question made me conscious of some discomposure—I hadn’t intended to put this before everything. so that I could feign. and I remember thinking the whole man was in this assumption that in expressing my sense of what he had won I had fixed my thoughts on his “seat. Lady Coxon. and it happened that. was presently coming up to town. Confidence.

He really has been most kind. even the daughters of rich men.” He added that his eldest brother had taken a tremendous fancy to her and that during a recent visit at Coldfield she had nearly won over Lady Maddock. for other favours. at Lady Coxon’s own house. My enquiry drew out that Lady Coxon. and everything’s quite satisfactory. would have in any contingency to act under her late husband’s will. perhaps. Gravener had spoken of me there as an old friend. without saying no. he laughed and said “Do you mean for her?” When I had again explained what I meant he went on: “Oh she’s an American. old maids. “by her being used to more money than most girls in England. and. saddling her with a mass of queer obligations complicated with queer loopholes. who was the oddest of women. when I suggested that the young lady might come in through a loophole. you know. The Knight’s widow was again indisposed—she had succumbed at 99 . but you’d scarcely know it. if it wasn’t for the great liberality of her father. I seem to recall that in some turn taken by our talk he almost imposed it on me as an act of decorum to ask if Miss Anvoy had also by chance expectations from her aunt. That wouldn’t in the least do for a fellow like me. then suddenly. There were several dreary people. whether or no it was Gravener’s directness that begot my own. I understood well enough the springs one was moved by. Coxon cousins.” he added. and I received a gracious invitation to dine. which was odder still. unless. I gathered from something he dropped later on that the free-handed gentleman beyond the seas had not made a settlement. People are simplified alike by great contentments and great yearnings. he declared quite dryly: “That’s all rot—one’s moved by other springs!” A fortnight later. Gravener laughed.Henry James told him I had heard the marriage would be a splendid one. but had given a handsome present and was apparently to be looked to. on which. to whom she would have more or less to minister. brightened and humanised by his luck. across the water. as if he suspected my turning a lantern on him.

when I heard the servant announce Mrs. for either of us. he had just sent up word that the House. It could only strike me that I had never seen a young woman put such ignorance into her cleverness. with almost jubilant mirth: “Oh you don’t admire Mrs. Saltram on such an occasion. but I leave the reader to judge of my sense of the aggravation. but she’d certainly tell him to-morrow. so that I found Miss Anvoy bravely playing hostess without even Gravener’s help. the insatiable House. with which he supposed he had contracted for easier terms. Saltram. I had at this moment my first glimpse of the fact that she was a person who could carry a responsibility. From what immediately passed between the two ladies I gathered that the latter had been sent for post-haste to fill the gap created by the absence of the mistress of the house. she said to me frankly. was Mrs. I had briefly to consider before I could reply that my objection to the lady named was the objection often ut100 .The Coxon Fund the eleventh hour. not indeed that this would make him like any better her having had the innocence to invite such a person as Mrs.” and my apprehension was promptly justified. after dinner. to make matters worse. I did what I could to help her to classify them. Mrs. such freedom into her modesty. since. I asked myself what Miss Anvoy meant by doing such things. Saltram with a vengeance. of such a burden. positively declined to release him. “Good!” I remember crying. this. after I had recovered from the confusion of seeing her slightly disconcerted at perceiving in the guest introduced by her intended the gentleman with whom she had had that talk about Frank Saltram. I was struck with the courage. I think. Saltram taken in to dinner. “she’ll be put by me. and taken in as a consequence of an appeal to her amiability. the grace and gaiety of the young lady left thus to handle the fauna and flora of the Regent’s Park. She hadn’t happened to tell him of her visit to Upper Baker Street. but the only answer I arrived at was that Gravener was verily fortunate. Saltram?” Why should I? This was truly a young person without guile. was when.

Saltram came up to interrupt us.” “But you know he knows him and wonders what some of us see in him. to bloom like a rose. “I should like to see them. “Get him to take you some day out to see the Mulvilles. who had been introducing with her American distinctness. continued: “But the chance of a lecture—one of the wonderful lectures? Isn’t there another course announced?” “Another? There are about thirty!” I exclaimed. But that won’t prevent his being planted there again.” she went on as Mrs. You mustn’t miss them.” “We haven’t happened to talk of him. Then. He lets me do everything. Saltram’s little eyes in my back. looked encouragingly round at some of the combinations she had risked.” “Utterly.” “You mean Gravener won’t let you?” “I haven’t asked him. “for at night all cats are grey.” she said with her fostering smile. Saltram had thrown the Mulvilles over.” the girl said.” “I’ll make George take me. but there are some new ones.” “I thought Mr. Then as Miss Anvoy remained momentarily vague I added: “Those about her husband. A few days after this I heard that Gravener’s marriage was near at hand—was settled for 101 . turning away and feeling Mrs. You saw the shade of this one the night we waited for him together. Ah novelty would be pleasant!” “Doesn’t it appear that of late he has been particularly horrid?” “His fluctuations don’t matter”.” Miss Anvoy thought a moment.” “None for me. “It’s too bad I can’t see him. within a month or two.” “Oh yes. She sniffed at this unfortunate as kindly as she had smiled at me and. “They’re tremendously worth it. What will you have? He has no dignity. addressing the question to her. I returned.” Miss Anvoy.Henry James tered about people met at the social board—I knew all her stories.

but this didn’t matter. These were the things Adelaide and I. His room. and we had a horrible consciousness of his wandering roofless. in fact told me as much. Lady Coxon had to be so constantly attended to that on the occasion of a second attempt in the Regent’s Park I equally failed to obtain a sight of her niece. who had taken him to Birmingham. What had already occurred was some accident determining a more patient wait. had already got rid of him. and there presently came to me in fact the report of a postponement. at this period. began to reach me. I went to Wimbledon at times because Saltram was there. I judged it discreet in all the conditions not to make a third. If he wasn’t barefoot in the mire he was sure to be unconventionally shod. talked about when we didn’t speak. that the progression. making me catch my breath a little. I forget to-day the exact order in which. This was probably rather late in the day. George Gravener. The Pudneys. his splendid tainted genius. sundry incidents occurred and the particular stage at which it suddenly struck me. about the smoky Midlands. and the exact order doesn’t signify. had been lately done up (I could hear the crackle of the new chintz) and the difference only made his smirches and bruises. though I was at first unwitting. Lady Coxon had to be constantly attended to. and there were other good reasons as well. but I had neither seen her nor seen Miss Anvoy. who were old enough friends to stare at each other in silence. the more tragic. but as no invitation had reached me I had my doubts. When we spoke it was only about the brilliant girl George Gravener 102 . was for all the world that of fine drama. what was the matter was supposed to be that Lady Coxon was now critically ill. Something was the matter. I had called on her after my dinner in the Regent’s Park. the acceleration. almost as the injured Lear wandered on the storm-lashed heath. but without signs of perturbation. whom I met again. for it was through Adelaide Mulville that the side-wind of the comedy. and I went at others because he wasn’t. in dishonour. upstairs.The Coxon Fund Whitsuntide.

and as regards Ruth Anvoy she was more easily won over than Lady Maddock. Mulville commemorated it after her sole fashion of showing confidence in a new relation. I could see that this presentation had been happy. 103 .Henry James was to marry and whom he had brought out the other Sunday. for Mrs. “She likes me—she likes me”: her native humility exulted in that measure of success. We all knew for ourselves how she liked those who liked her.

hired. Mulville had begun immediately to drive him about? If he was ashamed of his ingratitude she might have been ashamed of her forgiveness. Was it in pride or in penance that Mrs. very late in the season. Adelaide drove gently into London in a one-horse greenish thing. near at hand. but before that. of the sacrifices they made for Frank Saltram was that they had to give up their carriage. if he was in the pillory for twenty minutes in the Regent’s Park—I mean at Lady Coxon’s door while his companion paid her call—it wasn’t to the further humiliation of any one concerned that she presently came out for him in person. This was his position and I dare say his costume when on an afternoon in July she went to return Miss Anvoy’s visit. one of the dear woman’s own. The member for 104 .The Coxon Fund CHAPTER VII ONE OF THE CONSEQUENCES. under Gravener’s auspices. Saltram was reinstated. for the Mulvilles. compunctions and condonations alike unutterable. an early Victorian landau. However. but she was incorrigibly capable of liking him to be conspicuous in the landau while she was in shops or with her acquaintance. Her account of the introduction I had in its order. not even to show either of them what a fool she was that she drew him in to be introduced to the bright young American. The wheel of fate had now revolved. imaginatively. I met Miss Anvoy at tea at the House of Commons. from a broken-down jobmaster whose wife was in consumption—a vehicle that made people turn round all the more when her pensioner sat beside her in a soft white hat and a shawl. and amid silences deep and exhaustive.

and the Mulvilles were not of the party. and I declared that this very enquiry proved to me the problem had already caught her by the skirt. She turned back toward the knot of the others. I fancied she had become aware Gravener was looking at us. Mulville—she might find herself flattening her nose against the clear hard pane of an eternal question—that of the relative. but before we separated I remarked to her that it was an act of mere humanity to warn her that if she should see more of Frank Saltram—which would be likely to follow on any increase of acquaintance with Mrs.” “You want to do that?” She had a pause. importances of virtue and brains. “Immensely. the guest of honour immediately exclaimed to me: “I’ve seen him. On the great terrace. She asked me if I called virtue a gift—a thing handed to us in a parcel on our first birthday.” “Bitten?” I thought she coloured a little.” I rejoiced with her over plain Adelaide. “Oh it doesn’t matter!” I laughed.” We went no further. What I referred to was what I had referred to the night we met in Upper Baker Street—the relative importance (relative to virtue) of other gifts. you know—I’ve seen him!” She told me about Saltram’s call. and I said: “Dislike him as much as you will—I see you’re bitten.” “I hope I shan’t die of anything before I’ve seen more of Mrs. She 105 . whereupon I admitted that I had perhaps expressed myself ill. whom she pronounced the loveliest woman she had met in England.Henry James Clockborough had gathered a group of pretty ladies. She replied that this was surely a subject on which one took everything for granted. Mulville. “one doesn’t die of it. “And how did you find him?” “Oh so strange!” “You didn’t like him?” “I can’t tell till I see him again. that of the opposed. as I strolled off with her a little.

Saltram. Of course he’d follow her as soon as he was free to make her his wife. News of the catastrophe first came to me from Mrs. Mulville. explained that she supposed he simply meant that the thing was to use it. had suffered reverses. the same help I myself had once had. She would do so doubtless again and again. in resisting its tendency to make one cross. in New York. in rejoinder to which Adelaide. For a quarter of 106 . only she mightn’t now be able to bring him anything like the marriage-portion of which he had begun by having the virtual promise. and it was afterwards confirmed at Wimbledon: poor Miss Anvoy was in trouble—great disasters in America had suddenly summoned her home. Her father. but not to thank you for it?” I still more profanely enquired. “Moi pas comprendre!” I commented on this. with her beautiful sympathy. “What help do you mean?” “That of the member for Clockborough. according to Mrs. Mulville let me know what was already said: she was charming. Mrs.The Coxon Fund would have help however. “To take it. smiled. It was Adelaide who told me she had gone off alone at less than a week’s notice.” She stared. this American girl. though I heard the very next month that this fine faculty had undergone a temporary eclipse. “Alone? Gravener has permitted that?” “What will you have? The House of Commons!” I’m afraid I cursed the House of Commons: I was so much interested. was of opinion that a man was never to suffer his relation to money to become a spiritual relation—he was to keep it exclusively material. lost so much money that it was really vexatious as showing how much he had had. but really these American fathers—! What was a man to do? Mr. Saltram. then returned: “Why my idea has been to help him!” She had helped him—I had his own word for it that at Clockborough her bedevilment of the voters had really put him in. don’t you know? but not to think too much about it.

He wasn’t looking. that afternoon—in the Regent’s Park. “I take care of it for him!” The dear practical soul thought my agitation. since you ask me!” “Right there on the spot?” Again poor Adelaide faltered. of swindling her betrothed!” 107 .Henry James an hour afterwards she wouldn’t look at me.” Something in her tone made me laugh.” Mrs.” “Yes. of her taking our friend to see Miss Anvoy.” “Oh. I suppose. “It was everything one could wish. some vague synthetic cry. “Thirty pounds.” “Straight out of her pocket?” “Out of the drawer of a table at which she had been writing. my dear friend. “I assure you. and I dare say that during that moment I wondered if anything else in the world makes people so gross as unselfishness. “Truly indeed these Americans!” I said.” I stared. though I could see it was with an effort. as it were. Mulville had to remount the stream. “It was to me of course she gave it. he was in one of his happy hours. I uttered.” But I wasn’t thinking of that. “He said he recognised in her a nature he could absolutely trust.” Now at last she met my eyes. for she went on as if she had had a glimpse of my inward amaze at such passages. for I confess I was agitated. “Do you mean a sum of money?” “It was very handsome. it was while he was going back to the carriage. referred to the employment of the money. “Oh so charming!” she answered. She just slipped the folded notes into my hand. “With her father in the very act. somehow I couldn’t see the scene. but I’m speaking of the effect on herself.” said Adelaide reassuringly. Her disclosure made me for a moment muse violently. but this didn’t prevent my asking her what had been the result. “Do you mean she gave him—a dole?” “Well. brightening.

had a deflexion?” Mrs. the sublimity of it.The Coxon Fund Mrs. and some rude ripple that I emitted again caused my companion to admonish me. but there it was. Mulville stared. “How can you be so cruel when you know how little he calculates?” “Forgive me.” “On what great question. Very likely they won’t be able to keep it up. dear lady. but I had to give it up. Mulville exultantly demanded. Anvoy has scarcely gone bankrupt—or whatever he has done—on purpose. I’m sure he hadn’t caught a glimpse of anything but some splendid idea. But you tell me things that act on my nerves.” “Perhaps even! And what was it all about?” “His talk? It was apropos of her engagement.” After a moment I added: “Had he peradventure caught a glimpse of the money in the table-drawer?” At this my companion honestly flushed. which I had told him about: the idea of marriage. the poetry. “Oh yes.” Mrs. but never. I tried to think of some other great man. but you know his freshness.” “Of illustration? Indeed I do!” “And how he has always been right on that great question. Mulville brightly concurred. and it was a very beautiful impulse. “Didn’t Miss Anvoy express her satisfaction in any less diffident way than by her charming present?” I was reduced to asking instead. He surprised even me.” “You say Saltram was very fine?” “Beyond everything. “And perhaps even of her beautiful listening face. the philosophy. “Oh I suppose Mr.” It was impossible wholly to restrain one’s mirth at this. hasn’t he been right?” “Of what other great men can you equally say it?—and that he has never. “It sounds a little stale.” “And I know what you’ve enjoyed. she overflowed to me on the steps while he was getting 108 . I do know it.

” Adelaide pursued. you know.” These words somehow brushed up a picture of Saltram’s big shawled back as he hoisted himself into the green landau. “A crystal?” “Suspended in the moral world—swinging and shining and flashing there. and you know he’s really clean. “She said she wasn’t disappointed. She’s monstrously clever. “Monstrously!” 109 . Miss Anvoy used such a remarkable expression—she said his mind’s like a crystal!” I pricked up my ears. “I mean yours. I turned it over.” I thought again.Henry James into the carriage.” “He looked very nice. “Did he wear his shawl?” “His shawl?” She hadn’t even noticed.

The Coxon Fund CHAPTER VIII GEORGE GRAVENER didn’t follow her. Lady 110 .” “None whatever. He was coming up from Scotland and I had just quitted some relations who lived near Durham. The current of travel back to London wasn’t yet strong. Anvoy suddenly began to totter. I met him in a railway-carriage. who. after the House had risen. much on his mind and on his hands. I’m afraid he’s really in for some big reverse. But it may create tiresome delays. an absence of curiosity invidious. I saw things weren’t well with him. We fared in company. and now he seems quite on his back. after expressing due concern. and though he had a blue-book in his lap and the open jaws of his bag threatened me with the white teeth of confused papers. lay seriously ill at Clockborough. “Ah Miss Anvoy’s in America?” “Her father has got into horrid straits—has lost no end of money. already. at any rate on entering the compartment I found he had had it for some time to himself. Then Mr. with her niece likely to be detained some time in America. He mentioned that he was worried about his good old friend Lady Coxon. of which there have been too many. we even at last sociably conversed. as it had made on another occasion. moreover it’s my trade to meet objections. but I eventually said: “I hope that raises no objection to your marriage. from various causes. but I asked no question till something dropped by himself made. we inevitably. for late in September. then she got much better. Lady Coxon got very bad.” I waited.

He gave me a cold glance. hadn’t seen her three times. for some reason. How can I supply her with Ruth? I haven’t got Ruth myself!” “Surely you haven’t lost her?” I returned. and I replied that she was unfortunately never out of it. Lady Coxon. Gravener told me more about the crash in New York and the annoyance it had been to him. and she sends me word that she must have Ruth. had for an hour seen in the miserable woman—you could never know what she’d see in people—an interesting pretext for the liberality with which her nature overflowed. Gravener uttered a sound of impatience. I’ve other things to smooth. she’s hopelessly mad. that made me ask if she hadn’t such an appreciation of Mrs. We stopped at that station. I happened to remember the wonderful accounts she had given me of the kindness Lady Coxon had shown her. She writes me every post— telling me to smooth her aunt’s pillow. some one made a movement to get in. is really alone. Saltram into my head. poor girl. and I pretended 111 . But even Miss Anvoy was now quite tired of her. or what it was. Saltram as might render that active person of some use. we started afresh. who used. and. save for her servants. but the old lady. The only foundation for it was that Miss Anvoy. She won’t receive her Coxon relations—she’s angry at so much of her money going to them.” said Gravener very frankly. and I felt sure that but for this I should have had the secret. to chuck money about in a manner she must now regret. at the carriage-door. I don’t remember whether it was this. Then the intruder. spared us his company. however. wanting to know what had put Mrs. awfully upset by the news from America. but by the time we got to Doncaster the principal thing he had let me see was that he was keeping something back. Gravener declared this to be false. My companion held his tongue. and my hope of a disclosure returned. “She’s everything to her wretched father.Henry James Coxon’s worse again. Besides. and we also glanced here and there in other directions. who didn’t care for her.

“I mean of the average intelligent man.” “She wishes to endow—?” “Some earnest and ‘loyal’ seeker. Lady Coxon.” “And you want me to decide between you? I decide in advance for Miss Anvoy. He tossed away with some vivacity the remnant of a cigarette and then said: “If you’re not too sleepy I want to put you a case. She has it on the brain.” Gravener puffed his cigarette a minute and then continued: “Are you familiar with the idea of the Endowment of Research?” “Of Research?” I was at sea a moment. he might also say—of another person. He had lighted another cigarette while he talked. The case he wanted to put to me was a matter on which it concerned him to have the impression—the judgement.” I answered that I’d make every effort to attend.” Gravener said. should she eventually see her oppor112 . “I give you Lady Coxon’s phrase. poor dear.” His tone had much behind it—was full of promise. in fact I really dozed for discouragement. But my story will interest you only so far as your mind isn’t made up. the strictly legal view.” There would be the technical. That’s how I decided when I proposed to her. and he handed it on to her. then there would be the way the question would strike a man of the world. but of which. When I reopened my eyes he was looking at me with an injured air. “It was a sketchy design of her late husband’s. and welcomed the note of interest when he went on: “As I told you a while ago. with a laugh slightly artificial: “In fact it’s a subject on which Miss Anvoy and I are pulling different ways. and I saw he was glad to have it to handle when he brought out at last.The Coxon Fund to go to sleep.” “In advance—that’s quite right. I asked if her ladyship’s misfortune were a trait of her malady or only of her character. is demented. but you see I take what I can get. and he pronounced it a product of both. setting apart in his will a sum of money of which she was to enjoy the interest for life.

and we’ve naturally had a lot of talk. A little learning’s a dangerous thing. who. has landed you in a disagreement. such as they were. was to be called The Coxon Fund.” “His search for what?” “For Moral Truth. the intellectual. or fermenting rather in her foolish brain: it lies with her to carry them out. However. He left his wife a full declaration of his views. in a word.” Gravener said. having the rest of the machinery. no less than thirteen thousand pounds. “Delightful munificent Sir Gregory! It’s a charming idea. He’s worst of all when he’s dead. as you’ve so interestingly intimated. the poor man’s aspirations are now in his wife’s bosom. and a good citizen who happens to have been an ass is worse for a community than bad sewerage. is most hampered in his search.Henry James tunity—the matter was left largely to her discretion—she would best honour his memory by determining the exemplary public use. so far at least as that term may be applied to views vitiated by a vagueness really infantine.” “She considers there’s something in it. That’s what Sir Gregory calls it.” “Talk that. But of course she must first catch her hare.” I burst out laughing. and poor Sir Gregory evidently proposed to himself that The Coxon Fund should cover his name with glory—be universally desired and admired. the spiritual. But Lady Coxon has put the matter before her. The individual.” “Has she a candidate for the Fund?” “Not that I know of—and she’s perfectly reasonable about it. 113 .” “So Miss Anvoy thinks. This sum of money.” “Her earnest loyal seeker?” “The flower that blushes unseen for want of such a pecuniary independence as may aid the light that’s in it to shine upon the human race. because then he can’t be stopped.

“The real history of the matter. Ah the poor dear woman’s very particular—she says there must be no mistake. what becomes of the money?” I demanded. “I’m not competent—I hate the thing.The Coxon Fund “And you consider there’s nothing?” “It seems to me a piece of solemn twaddle—which can’t fail to be attended with consequences certainly grotesque and possibly immoral.” I found all this quite thrilling—I took it in with avidity. with the life she has led?—her husband’s intention has come very near lapsing. She can’t! As she has never yet caught her hare.” “How can she cling if she’s dying?” “Do you mean how can she act in the matter?” Gravener asked. if she hasn’t made some other disposition of it. to do him justice. His idea.’ as anything but an original sign of grace. as a process. never spied out her lucky impostor—how should she. she hasn’t. “That’s precisely the question. She came to England forty years ago.” 114 .” “The sole tribunal is Lady Coxon?” “And any one she chooses to invite. as a ‘Werden. fancy constituting an endowment without establishing a tribunal—a bench of competent people. “And if she dies without doing anything.” “But she has invited you. is that the inspiration was originally Lady Coxon’s own. but it’s precisely what makes her cling to the notion of the ‘Fund’—cling to it as to a link with the ideal. and even her odd happy frumpy Clockborough marriage never really materialised her. She feels indeed that she has become very British—as if that. I take it.” my friend went on. the perfect mixture of genius and chill penury. were conceivable. her aboriginal enthusiasm.” I noted. “It goes back to his family. and that the flattering option left her is simply his tribute to her beautiful. should fail to turn up. Besides. a thin transcendental Bostonian. that she infected him with it. of judges. To begin with. was that it should lapse if exactly the right person.

Henry James

“She may do that then—she may divert it?” “Her hands are not tied. She has a grand discretion. The proof is that three months ago she offered to make the proceeds over to her niece.” “For Miss Anvoy’s own use?” “For Miss Anvoy’s own use—on the occasion of her prospective marriage. She was discouraged—the earnest seeker required so earnest a search. She was afraid of making a mistake; every one she could think of seemed either not earnest enough or not poor enough. On the receipt of the first bad news about Mr. Anvoy’s affairs she proposed to Ruth to make the sacrifice for her. As the situation in New York got worse she repeated her proposal.” “Which Miss Anvoy declined?” “Except as a formal trust.” “You mean except as committing herself legally to place the money?” “On the head of the deserving object, the great man frustrated,” said Gravener. “She only consents to act in the spirit of Sir Gregory’s scheme.” “And you blame her for that?” I asked with some intensity. My tone couldn’t have been harsh, but he coloured a little and there was a queer light in his eye. “My dear fellow, if I ‘blamed’ the young lady I’m engaged to I shouldn’t immediately say it even to so old a friend as you.” I saw that some deep discomfort, some restless desire to be sided with, reassuringly, approvingly mirrored, had been at the bottom of his drifting so far, and I was genuinely touched by his confidence. It was inconsistent with his habits; but being troubled about a woman was not, for him, a habit: that itself was an inconsistency. George Gravener could stand straight enough before any other combination of forces. It amused me to think that the combination he had succumbed to had an American accent, a transcendental aunt and an insolvent father; but all my old loyalty to him mustered 115

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to meet this unexpected hint that I could help him. I saw that I could from the insincere tone in which he pursued: “I’ve criticised her of course, I’ve contended with her, and it has been great fun.” Yet it clearly couldn’t have been such great fun as to make it improper for me presently to ask if Miss Anvoy had nothing at all settled on herself. To this he replied that she had only a trifle from her mother—a mere four hundred a year, which was exactly why it would be convenient to him that she shouldn’t decline, in the face of this total change in her prospects, an accession of income which would distinctly help them to marry. When I enquired if there were no other way in which so rich and so affectionate an aunt could cause the weight of her benevolence to be felt, he answered that Lady Coxon was affectionate indeed, but was scarcely to be called rich. She could let her project of the Fund lapse for her niece’s benefit, but she couldn’t do anything else. She had been accustomed to regard her as tremendously provided for, and she was up to her eyes in promises to anxious Coxons. She was a woman of an inordinate conscience, and her conscience was now a distress to her, hovering round her bed in irreconcilable forms of resentful husbands, portionless nieces and undiscoverable philosophers. We were by this time getting into the whirr of fleeting platforms, the multiplication of lights. “I think you’ll find,” I said with a laugh, “that your predicament will disappear in the very fact that the philosopher is undiscoverable.” He began to gather up his papers. “Who can set a limit to the ingenuity of an extravagant woman?” “Yes, after all, who indeed?” I echoed as I recalled the extravagance commemorated in Adelaide’s anecdote of Miss Anvoy and the thirty pounds.


Henry James

THE THING I had been most sensible of in that talk with George Gravener was the way Saltram’s name kept out of it. It seemed to me at the time that we were quite pointedly silent about him; but afterwards it appeared more probable there had been on my companion’s part no conscious avoidance. Later on I was sure of this, and for the best of reasons—the simple reason of my perceiving more completely that, for evil as well as for good, he said nothing to Gravener’s imagination. That honest man didn’t fear him—he was too much disgusted with him. No more did I, doubtless, and for very much the same reason. I treated my friend’s story as an absolute confidence; but when before Christmas, by Mrs. Saltram, I was informed of Lady Coxon’s death without having had news of Miss Anvoy’s return, I found myself taking for granted we should hear no more of these nuptials, in which, as obscurely unnatural, I now saw I had never too disconcertedly believed. I began to ask myself how people who suited each other so little could please each other so much. The charm was some material charm, some afffinity, exquisite doubtless, yet superficial some surrender to youth and beauty and passion, to force and grace and fortune, happy accidents and easy contacts. They might dote on each other’s persons, but how could they know each other’s souls? How could they have the same prejudices, how could they have the same horizon? Such questions, I confess, seemed quenched but not answered when, one day in February, going out to Wimbledon, I found our young lady in the house. A 117

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passion that had brought her back across the wintry ocean was as much of a passion as was needed. No impulse equally strong indeed had drawn George Gravener to America; a circumstance on which, however, I reflected only long enough to remind myself that it was none of my business. Ruth Anvoy was distinctly different, and I felt that the difference was not simply that of her marks of mourning. Mrs. Mulville told me soon enough what it was: it was the difference between a handsome girl with large expectations and a handsome girl with only four hundred a year. This explanation indeed didn’t wholly content me, not even when I learned that her mourning had a double cause—learned that poor Mr. Anvoy, giving way altogether, buried under the ruins of his fortune and leaving next to nothing, had died a few weeks before. “So she has come out to marry George Gravener?” I commented. “Wouldn’t it have been prettier of him to have saved her the trouble?” “Hasn’t the House just met?” Adelaide replied. “And for Mr. Gravener the House—!” Then she added: “I gather that her having come is exactly a sign that the marriage is a little shaky. If it were quite all right a self-respecting girl like Ruth would have waited for him over there.” I noted that they were already Ruth and Adelaide, but what I said was: “Do you mean she’ll have had to return to make it so?” “No, I mean that she must have come out for some reason independent of it.” Adelaide could only surmise, however, as yet, and there was more, as we found, to be revealed. Mrs. Mulville, on hearing of her arrival, had brought the young lady out in the green landau for the Sunday. The Coxons were in possession of the house in Regent’s Park, and Miss Anvoy was in dreary lodgings. George Gravener had been with her when Adelaide called, but had assented graciously enough to the little visit at Wimbledon. The carriage, with Mr. Saltram in it but not mentioned, had been sent off on some errand from which it was to return and pick the ladies up. 118

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Gravener had left them together, and at the end of an hour, on the Saturday afternoon, the party of three had driven out to Wimbledon. This was the girl’s second glimpse of our great man, and I was interested in asking Mrs. Mulville if the impression made by the first appeared to have been confirmed. On her replying after consideration, that of course with time and opportunity it couldn’t fail to be, but that she was disappointed, I was sufficiently struck with her use of this last word to question her further. “Do you mean you’re disappointed because you judge Miss Anvoy to be?” “Yes; I hoped for a greater effect last evening. We had two or three people, but he scarcely opened his mouth.” “He’ll be all the better to-night,” I opined after a moment. Then I pursued: “What particular importance do you attach to the idea of her being impressed?” Adelaide turned her mild pale eyes on me as for rebuke of my levity. “Why the importance of her being as happy as we are!” I’m afraid that at this my levity grew. “Oh that’s a happiness almost too great to wish a person!” I saw she hadn’t yet in her mind what I had in mine, and at any rate the visitor’s actual bliss was limited to a walk in the garden with Kent Mulville. Later in the afternoon I also took one, and I saw nothing of Miss Anvoy till dinner, at which we failed of the company of Saltram, who had caused it to be reported that he was indisposed and lying down. This made us, most of us—for there were other friends present— convey to each other in silence some of the unutterable things that in those years our eyes had inevitably acquired the art of expressing. If a fine little American enquirer hadn’t been there we would have expressed them otherwise, and Adelaide would have pretended not to hear. I had seen her, before the very fact, abstract herself nobly; and I knew that more than once, to keep it from the servants, managing, dissimulating cleverly, she had helped her husband to carry 119

The Coxon Fund

him bodily to his room. Just recently he had been so wise and so deep and so high that I had begun to get nervous—to wonder if by chance there were something behind it, if he were kept straight for instance by the knowledge that the hated Pudneys would have more to tell us if they chose. He was lying low, but unfortunately it was common wisdom with us in this connexion that the biggest splashes took place in the quietest pools. We should have had a merry life indeed if all the splashes had sprinkled us as refreshingly as the waters we were even then to feel about our ears. Kent Mulville had been up to his room, but had come back with a face that told as few tales as I had seen it succeed in telling on the evening I waited in the lecture-room with Miss Anvoy. I said to myself that our friend had gone out, but it was a comfort that the presence of a comparative stranger deprived us of the dreary duty of suggesting to each other, in respect of his errand, edifying possibilities in which we didn’t ourselves believe. At ten o’clock he came into the drawing-room with his waistcoat much awry but his eyes sending out great signals. It was precisely with his entrance that I ceased to be vividly conscious of him. I saw that the crystal, as I had called it, had begun to swing, and I had need of my immediate attention for Miss Anvoy. Even when I was told afterwards that he had, as we might have said to-day, broken the record, the manner in which that attention had been rewarded relieved me of a sense of loss. I had of course a perfect general consciousness that something great was going on: it was a little like having been etherised to hear Herr Joachim play. The old music was in the air; I felt the strong pulse of thought, the sink and swell, the flight, the poise, the plunge; but I knew something about one of the listeners that nobody else knew, and Saltram’s monologue could reach me only through that medium. To this hour I’m of no use when, as a witness, I’m appealed to—for they still absurdly contend about it—as to whether or no on that historic night he was drunk; and my position is slightly ridiculous, for I’ve 120

have found means to rejoin her. as I caught gleams of it. and it takes something from my pride of clearness. At Wimbledon for instance it had appeared to me she was literally afraid of Saltram. I greatly enjoyed this discovery and was sure that had that question alone been involved she would have stirred no step. about the way her behaviour. It was plainly not the question of her marriage that had brought her back. I’m bound to say. she should have in any degree the air of waiting for her fate. in spite of the House of Commons. perhaps her prospective sister-in-law would be wholly won over.Henry James never cared to tell them what it really was I was taken up with. It afterwards made me uncomfortable for her that. However. even in thus roughly evoking the occasion. I had come up to town with her the next day and had been convinced that. so that I was presently relieved at hearing of her having gone to stay at Coldfield. my interpretation of her very looks and tones. She would show as little as possible before she should be ready to show 121 . In this case doubtless Gravener would. she was immensely on her guard. though deeply interested. The others were shared. What I got out of it is the only morsel of the total experience that is quite my own. to my private amusement. I shall perhaps be as clear as is absolutely needful if I remark that our young lady was too much given up to her own intensity of observation to be sensible of mine. I watched her in the light of this queer possibility—a formidable thing certainly to meet—and I was aware that it coloured. There would be much to say. but this is incommunicable. If she was in England at all while the engagement stood the only proper place for her was under Lady Maddock’s wing. I feel that now. Now that she was unfortunate and relatively poor. in dread of a coercion that she had begun already to feel. alone in the lodging Mrs. extravagantly perhaps. if I had space. ministered to the image that had taken birth in my mind. while that other night I listened to George Gravener in the railway-carriage. Mulville had put before me as dreary.

but it contained no mention of Lady Coxon’s niece. There was something I wanted so little to have to say that my prudence surmounted my curiosity. I only wondered if Ruth Anvoy talked over the idea of The Coxon Fund with Lady Maddock. Having for family reasons to spend some time that spring in the west of England. I had a reproachful note about something or other from Mrs. 122 . Mulville was still reduced to wonder what she had come out again for if she hadn’t come as a conciliatory bride. That she had come in some other character was the only thing that fitted all the appearances. If there was really a present rigour in the situation of which Gravener had sketched for me the elements. I should think so much about her. since I couldn’t help her. But I saw Mrs. What this final exhibition might be on the part of a girl perceptibly so able to think things out I found it great sport to forecast. and also somewhat why I didn’t hear from Wimbledon.The Coxon Fund everything. appealed to by her for advice. It was in part my suspense that was responsible for this. she would have to get out of her difficulty by herself. I didn’t fail to ask myself why. It wasn’t I who had launched her and it wasn’t I who could help her. Mulville a portion at least of what I had learned from Gravener. but I prayed to heaven I mightn’t find myself in such a predicament. Saltram. on whom her eyes had been much less fixed since the recent untoward events. It would have been exciting to be approached by her. I waited impatiently to see whether she wouldn’t have told Mrs. I was in a manner out of earshot of the great oceanic rumble—I mean of the continuous hum of Saltram’s thought—and my uneasiness tended to keep me quiet.

” I gave a quick cry at this. “How very awful!” 123 . “And why in the world doesn’t she do do?” I asked. where in the innocence of his heart he had originally brought her himself. “He has mentioned to her his having told you about it. I was honoured by this admirable woman with an early visit. “She says you know. Gravener had now raised an objection to it. Saltram. which. and as soon as she told me that darling Ruth had been in her house nearly a month I had my question ready. Adelaide had a pause. made my visitor turn pale.” To which my friend added: “Of course she’s thinking of Mr.” Then on my also hesitating she added: “A condition he makes. in its violence.” “Ah but so little! Do you mean she has accepted the trust?” “In the most splendid spirit—as a duty about which there can be no two opinions.Henry James CHAPTER X POOR ADELAIDE’S SILENCE was fully explained later—practically explained when in June. he called on her to put an end to their engagement in the only proper. As soon as she arrived I guessed everything. returning to London. “What in the name of maidenly modesty is she staying in England for?” “Because she loves me so!” cried Adelaide gaily. He had protested at least against her being at Wimbledon. the only happy manner. and what was much more to the point was that Mr. But she hadn’t come to see me only to tell me Miss Anvoy loved her: that was quite sufficiently established.” “The Coxon Fund?” I panted.

definite. Mulville tossed her head. Saltram naturally as a tremendous force for good. yes: she had absolutely to see her poor aunt’s solicitor. she doesn’t in the least consider it so. and that’s the whole difficulty?” “The difficulty that brought her back. “She’s many things enough. rich enough?” I demanded. with genuine immediate horror. if not his own. among them. Adelaide. it’s not her own money.” “I’m sure you needn’t!” and Mrs. She regarded Mr. How could she. but the only explanation my bewildered friend could give me was that she was so clever. Besides. “Rich enough. It’s clear that by Lady Coxon’s will she may have the money. to have anything to do with such an idea one’s self. intensely implied on her uncle’s part. even expressed feebly the power of the things he said to haunt the mind. as we knew. It’s for the Endowment or it’s for nothing. She was intelligent enough to understand him and generous enough to admire. but is she. help it if Miss Anvoy’s mind was haunted? I demanded with a groan what right a pretty girl engaged to a rising M. He had influenced her. if I would. I hope!” and my emphasis brought back the blood with a rush to poor Adelaide’s face. She declared while she blushed—for I had frightened her again—that she had never influenced anybody and that the girl had only seen and heard and judged for herself. “He isn’t good enough!” I went on. This made me. but it’s still clearer to her conscience that the original condition. She can only take one view of it. to sacrifice such a lot of good money?” “That’s for herself to judge. I mean.The Coxon Fund “Awful?” “Why. had to have a mind. to which she opposed a sound almost as contentious as my own had been. is attached to the use of it.P.” 124 . exclaim: “You haven’t influenced her. as he did every one who had a soul: that word.” “And Gravener does.

“Why on earth does she want to see me?” 125 . Gravener’s words?” Adelaide asked.” “Ruth doesn’t insist on that. It’s simply the way it strikes me too. It’s an old wife’s tale. and I asked what could have made two such persons ever suppose they understood each other.” “Are you repeating Mr. It was not till a day or two ago. Mulville. but fundamentally ridiculous. Mrs.” said Mrs. “Oh I’m so sorry!—when?” Small though her sense of humour.” I permitted myself to observe. Mulville assured me the girl loved him as such a woman could love and that she suffered as such a woman could suffer. for her. though I’ve not seen him for months. At this I sprang up with a groan. but I was pledged to secrecy.” “Are you repeating her words?” I enquired. “is a conception superficially sublime. “and it’s.” I turned this over. I thought of George Gravener confronted with such magnificence as that. Mulville went on. but she said she was magnificent. the nearest it would be convenient I should come out.” “And that’s why you didn’t write?” “I couldn’t very well tell you she was with me without telling you that no time had even yet been fixed for her marriage. I forget what else Adelaide said.” Mrs. Nevertheless she wanted to see me. but such an absurdly loose arrangement has no legal aspect. I think Adelaide laughed at my sequence.Henry James “The Endowment. “that she asked me to ask you if you wouldn’t come and see her. “For several weeks. exactly this technical weakness that constitutes the force of the moral obligation. Then at last she spoke of your knowing about the idea of the Endowment. “Possibly. We discussed the day. but before she went I asked my visitor how long she had been acquainted with these prodigies. Gravener made some reference to the legal aspect. And I couldn’t very well tell you as much as that without telling you what I knew of the reason of it.

she successively tossed me. Mulville dolorously echoed. “Is Miss Anvoy prepared for that?” My visitor. the unconscious candidate had carried himself.” “So do you!” I laughed as she went off. by the happiest of chances: he has positively been a dear. for a moment. and I presently returned: “I think I’ll sail to-morrow for Australia. That girl at Wimbledon. from her chair. “What danger can equal for him the danger to which he’s exposed from himself?” I asked. Saltram. “On Thursday at five. treat us to some exhibition that will make an Endowment a scandal. really. His very highest—pure celestial light. on the Thursday afternoon. about Mr. I recognised fully now the cause of the agitation she had produced in me from the first—the faint foreknowledge that there was something very stiff I should have to do for her. And then. You won’t do him an ill turn?” Adelaide pleaded at the door. as to what we revere him for. Pale and bright. more than justified my apprehensions. if he has lately been too prim. continued. But I frivolously. “Look out sharp. Mulville. all this time. “He grows bigger every day.” “Well then—sail!” said Mrs. we said?” The appointment was made definite and I enquired how. I tried with a smile to string together the pearls of lucidity which. in the most wonderful form. naturally. into the priggish 126 . standing before her in the big drawing-room where they had tactfully left us to ourselves. He’ll presently take a day off. but I asked myself whether any girl had ever had so charming an instinct as that which permitted her to laugh out. “In perfection. of the passion of duty.” “As a subject for the prize?” This was hugely obvious. as for the joy of her difficulty. screwed her parasol into my carpet.The Coxon Fund “To talk with you. I felt more than ever committed to my fate as.” “A scandal?” Mrs. in her monotonous mourning. she was an image of intelligent purpose. getting up.

he had to be embanked. of a promise. by Mr. but 127 . The Mulvilles were sympathy itself. on the occasion of our first meeting. but she desired it there from my lips. She hadn’t been a month so much in the house with him without discovering that he wasn’t a man of monumental bronze. the interpretation of a fidelity. and she admitted that it stirred very deep things. wasn’t paralysing. impressions she had received. Saltram’s want of dignity. She put her project boldly before me: there it stood in its preposterous beauty. one had always in the last resort to make up one’s mind for one’s self. There were things she couldn’t go into—injunctions. Her reason for this was as distinct as her beauty: it was to make me explain what I had meant. She didn’t pretend that such a responsibility was a simple matter. It wasn’t that she couldn’t imagine. Moreover she professed that she couldn’t discuss with me the primary question—the moral obligation: that was in her own breast. These aberrations. and that was precisely the source of her interest in him and the ground of her project. and on questions of delicacy. and at moments when I ought doubtless to have cursed her obstinacy I found myself watching the unstudied play of her eyebrows or the recurrence of a singularly intense whiteness produced by the parting of her lips. didn’t prevent my learning soon enough why she had wished to see me. It was the idea of the application to the particular case. if it had been she wouldn’t have attempted to saddle me with any portion of it. such a splendid one at last. that troubled her. they were absolutely clear to her. What she really desired of course was to know whether there was worse about him than what she had found out for herself. They were a part of the closest intimacy of her intercourse with her aunt.Henry James old room. I hasten to add. This remarkable young woman could be earnest without being solemn. He was like a jelly minus its mould. She was as willing to take the humorous view of it as I could be: the only difference was that for her the humorous view of a thing wasn’t necessarily prohibitive.

the effect of a determination that people shouldn’t know from herself that her relations with the man she was to marry were strained. never an exception. embarrassed me. Saltram. hooked their uniform noses at the tail of governess Conduct. never. she had sent for me to ask no less than that of me—whether there was anything dreadful kept back. But were we absolutely to hold that there was never. never. and I divined that it struck her I might possibly intend it as a reference to some personal subjection to our fat philosopher. that she left me to throw was a sufficient implication of the weight HE had thrown in vain. Oh she knew the question of character was immense. “gives me an extraordinary notion of the point your enthusiasm has reached. never. to some aberration of sensibility. outbalance another? When Miss Anvoy threw off this appeal I could have embraced her for so delightfully emphasising her unlikeness to Mrs.The Coxon Fund were they absolutely candid? Could they indeed be. never an occasion for liberal acceptance. All the weight. for clever charity. in short.” She considered this remark an instant with her eyes on mine.” she asked. as the result of any word of mine. however. for suspended pedantry—for letting one side. and that one couldn’t entertain any plan for making merit comfortable without running the gauntlet of that terrible procession of interrogation-points which. “as well as the enthusiasm of one’s adhesion?” “Seeing how wonderfully you’ve threshed the whole thing out. At least I couldn’t interpret otherwise the sudden flash that came into her face.” I evasively replied. like a young ladies’ school out for a walk. in their position—would it even have been to be desired? Yes. some perversion of taste. “Why not have the courage of one’s forgiveness. Such a manifestation. but while I was thinking how to reassure her the flush passed away 128 . She made no allusion whatever to George Gravener—I thought her silence the only good taste and her gaiety perhaps a part of the very anxiety of that discretion.

like her. and if her tone simply extinguished his strange figure with the brush of its compassion. he didn’t. in spite of the illiberality. took the measure of all I didn’t believe.Henry James in a smile of exquisite good nature. The probable sincerity. 129 . as for his alienation. grasp the lift Frank Saltram had given her interest in life. with what rage in his heart the man himself might! He wasn’t. and it enabled her to go on: “What can one do when a person has given such a lift to one’s interest in life?” “Yes. I indulged in another inarticulate murmur—”Poor George Gravener!” What had become of the lift he had given that interest? Later on I made up my mind that she was sore and stricken at the appearance he presented of wanting the miserable money. of his scruples about the particular use of it under discussion didn’t efface the ugliness of his demand that they should buy a good house with it. pardonably enough. Then. This was the hidden reason of her alienation. But with what quick response of fine pity such a relegation of the man himself made me privately sigh “Ah poor Saltram!” She instantly. it also rings in my ear to-day as the purest of all our praises. I was to see. “Oh you see one forgets so wonderfully how one dislikes him!” she said. with this. too proud to show me why he was disappointed. what can one do?” If I struck her as a little vague it was because I was thinking of another person. If a mere spectator could ask that last question.

got something excellent and cheap. A great deal that I had in fact learned had been forced upon me by his wife. I laughed louder even than she. it wouldn’t be a trifle that the first of these worthies shouldn’t have been a striking example of the domestic virtues. I desired in truth to get away from my young lady. for that obviously helped me not to pretend to satisfy her. she couldn’t have let him alone and been content to entrust George Gravener with the purchase of the good house. as it were. That idea. There was something even irritating in Miss Anvoy’s crude conscientiousness. as the beneficiary of the Fund was to enjoy a simple life-interest. I professed a horror of responsibilities and twitted her with her own extravagant passion for them. Of course. I temporised. the moral discredit for the Fund. I told her I must think over her case. I failed her. 130 .The Coxon Fund CHAPTER XI I was unable this time to stay to dinner: such at any rate was the plea on which I took leave. and the laurel would. My own policy had ever been to learn the least about poor Saltram’s weaknesses—not to learn the most. and I wondered why. after all. as it was hoped that new beneficiaries would arise and come up to new standards. what troubled me most was a feeling of a different order. It wasn’t really that I was afraid of the scandal. The Fund would start badly. How could I satisfy her? I asked myself—how could I tell her how much had been kept back? I didn’t even know and I certainly didn’t desire to know. I was sure he would have driven a bargain. in some respects at least. scarcely be greener from the brows of the original wearer.

It made me. instead of going straight to the station. and I told her so before I went away. and in fact contribute to. There was a worry for me to work off. Doubtless I was rendered peculiarly sensitive to it by something in the way I had been giving him up and sinking him. been saddled with it. with sad far-wandering eyes and plump white hands folded on the head of a stick—a stick I recognised. not the source of solicitude it ought perhaps to have been. I had told Miss Anvoy 131 . While I met it I stood there smitten. a deviation from attainable bliss in the life of two other persons in whom I was deeply interested? Suddenly. to begin with. as I have hinted. at the end of twenty minutes. and I felt myself responding to it with a sort of guilty grimace. a bruised noble gentleness. and I felt on the instant as if we had been overspanned and conjoined by the great arch of a bridge or the great dome of a temple. for I felt less the irregularity of Saltram’s getting the money than that of this exalted young woman’s giving it up. for I declined even to admit to myself that I had. She looked graver at this than she had looked at all. and it happened that for some reason or other I took in as I had perhaps never done before the beauty of his rich blank gaze. a stout gold-headed staff that I had given him in devoted days. What could have been clearer indeed than the attitude of recognising perfectly what a world of trouble The Coxon Fund would in future save us. It was charged with experience as the sky is charged with light. very restless—made me. was at that hour. saying she hoped such a preference wouldn’t make me dishonest. I stopped short as he turned his face to me. or rather keep at a distance. in Miss Anvoy’s phrase. This brought back his attention in a smile which expressed for me a cheerful weary patience. and of yet liking better to face a continuance of that trouble than see. there was projected across this clearness the image of a massive middle-aged man seated on a bench under a tree. fidget a little about that many-coloured Common which gives Wimbledon horizons.Henry James however. I wanted her to have it for herself.

was all the dear man himself wanted on any occasion. but what did he seem to me. I dare say it was a smaller matter than that famous night at Wimbledon. the night of the problematical sobriety and of Miss Anvoy’s initiation. didn’t seem in short majestic? There was majesty in his mere unconsciousness of our little conferences and puzzlements over his maintenance and his reward. He never.The Coxon Fund that he had no dignity.” I wanted to hold him. precisely. rose till all other risings were over. I had too often had to press upon him considerations irrelevant. had always been the principal reason mentioned by departing cooks. Something had come up which made me want him to feel at peace with me—and which. I had abstained from ordering dinner.30 he was sublime. all unbuttoned and fatigued as he waited for me to come up. if he didn’t seem unconcerned with small things. old friend—come back and spend the evening. in whatever situation. but it gives me pleasure now to think that on that particular evening I didn’t even mention Mrs. I asked him if he hadn’t everything of mine. but I was as much in it on this occasion as I had been out of it then. The coast was therefore 132 . so we were reduced to tea and fried fish at my rooms— reduced also to the transcendent. and at Waterloo. and even better at forgiving than at being forgiven. I only let him see that I was conscious of what I owed him. that he had no things. After I had sat by him a few minutes I passed my arm over his big soft shoulder—wherever you touched him you found equally little firmness—and said in a tone of which the suppliance fell oddly on my own ear: “Come back to town with me. he was never so fine as on a shy return. and his breakfasts. When he objected. and it was too late for preliminaries at a club. I wanted to keep him. At about 1. Late into the night we smoked and talked. Saltram and the children. as regards staying all night. He was as mild as contrition and as copious as faith. at Wimbledon. old shames and old rigours fell away from us. I telegraphed possessively to the Mulvilles. an hour later.

I had seen their horrid missives to the Mulvilles. one had to admit that he had put himself more grossly in the wrong than at any moment of his life. to my surprise. her resignation and desired to embody the act in an unsparing form. had dug a still deeper ditch for his aberration than the chasm left yawning behind. but after my eyes had caught the superscription I heard myself say with a flatness that betrayed a sense of something very different from relief: “Oh the Pudneys!” I knew their envelopes though they didn’t know mine. vindictively. Saltram had tendered me. It was another chapter. looking at me very hard in the eyes.” I turned the thing over without opening it. it was announced to me his wife had called. as it were. I hesitated. disingenuously as they themselves had behaved. but the Pudneys.” Mrs. They always used the kind sold at post-offices with the stamp affixed. but she herself settled the question. to be delivered. but hadn’t been in direct correspondence with them. after she had come up. “They enclosed it to me. They doubtless explain to you that they hadn’t your address. For a single moment there glimmered before me the fond hope that Mrs. early the next morning. Saltram dryly added. I felt. and as this letter hadn’t been posted they had wasted a penny on me. The worst. about telling her Saltram was in the house. and then. “Why in the world should they write to me?” “Because they’ve something to tell you. the episode in which. she placed. with a pregnant absence of comment. He had begun by insulting the matchless Mulvilles for these more specious protectors.Henry James clear for me to receive her when. in my hand. The chasm at Wimbledon was now blessedly closed. To bring this about I would have feigned any humiliation. of the history of their lamentable quarrel with her husband. kept me reticent by drawing forth a sealed letter which. according to his wont at the end of a few months. across their persistent 133 .

“I don’t want to know the worst. It was a question with them whether a man who had himself so much to cover up would dare his blow. and I had been from the first for not defending him—reasoning that if they weren’t contradicted they’d perhaps subside.” I presently declared.” I felt it—it was fat and uncanny. I felt a certain thrill. that is I divined. I was the only person save George Gravener and the Mulvilles who was aware of Sir Gregory Coxon’s and of Miss Anvoy’s strange bounty. conscious as they were in their own virtue of an exposed place in which Saltram could have planted a blow. and I began to reflect on the grotesque. so that these vessels of rancour were in a manner afraid of each other. “Because she’s staying with Mr. the unconscious perversity of her action. kept up the nastiest fire. Where could there have been a more signal illustration of the clumsiness of human affairs than her having complacently selected this moment to fly in 134 . that their allegations had gone as yet only as far as their courage.” “So they tell me—to Miss Anvoy. I never doubted they had a strong case. Mulville. I judged that on the day the Pudneys should cease for some reason or other to be afraid they would treat us to some revelation more disconcerting than any of its predecessors. and Mrs. “Wheels within wheels!” I exclaimed. It also contains an enclosure.The Coxon Fund gulf. This was above all what I wanted. “Why don’t they send it to her directly?” Mrs. Saltram hung fire. “You’ll have to open the letter. and I so far prevailed that I did arrest the correspondence in time to save our little circle an infliction heavier than it perhaps would have borne.” I stared.” “And why should that prevent?” Again my visitor faltered. Saltram’s letter in my hand it was distinctly communicated to me that the day had come—they had ceased to be afraid. I knew. “There’s something for me too to deliver. As I held Mrs.

and Mrs. that Mr. Saltram’s embarrassment increased. another view of kindness before her reverses. “Because she’s there. who’s so easily shocked? Why do such things concern her?” I asked. “It’s all in kindness. “It’s his own idea. “Kindness to Miss Anvoy? You took. then it flashed upon me. with a glance at my letter. Mr. and I well remember that this was the moment at which I began.” “Then why couldn’t he send the letter to you to be delivered?” Mrs.” My companion smiled with some acidity “Perhaps you’re no safer than the Mulvilles!” I didn’t want her to think that. Saltram with a flush. she gave me another hard look. on the whole. “Especially to Miss Anvoy. Pudney have been watching this: they feel she may be taken in.” Still I didn’t understand.” “Thank you for all the rest of us! What difference can it make when she has lost her power to contribute?” Again Mrs. then very nobly: “There are other things in the world than money. but she now added. “You must make that out for yourself. and Mrs. much at a loss. with consid135 . “You mean they might intercept it? How can you imply anything so base?” I indignantly demanded “It’s not I—it’s Mr. Saltram considered.” This hadn’t occurred to her so long as the young lady had any.Henry James the face of it? “There’s the chance of their seeing her letters.” I made it out quickly enough. “It’s a denunciation?” “A real lady doesn’t betray her husband!” this virtuous woman exclaimed. They know Mr. Pudney!” cried Mrs. Pudney’s hand. Pudney doubtless explained their motives. exposed to all his craft.” she continued as she got up. I burst out laughing. nor that she should report to the Pudneys that they had not been happy in their agent. and I fear my laugh may have had an effect of impertinence.

from my pocket to a drawer which I double-locked would have amounted. quickly deepened. I transferred the whole thing. at which her eyes followed so hungrily the little flourish of the letter with which I emphasised them that I instinctively slipped Mr. I could see. When I saw she didn’t know what I meant by this I added: “You may turn out to have done. Pudney’s communication into my pocket. with which. unopened.” My tone had a significance which. capable of grabbing it to send it back to him. for an initiated observer.” I at any rate soon responded. and there was a moment. “It’s best you should take my view of my safety. at any rate. as if I had almost given her my word I wouldn’t deliver the enclosure. to promise myself to enjoin upon Miss Anvoy never to open any letter that should come to her in one of those penny envelopes. in her embarrassed annoyance. 136 . The passionate movement. and I fear I must add my confusion. I presently should have been as glad to frighten Mrs. My emotion. I felt. to some such pledge. after I had made two or three more remarks of studiously bewildering effect. a thing you’ll profoundly regret. Saltram as to think I might by some diplomacy restore the Pudneys to a quieter vigilance. after she had gone. in bringing me this letter.The Coxon Fund erable emotion. in solitude. did make her uneasy. She looked.

Gravener. I gave this supreme impression of Saltram time to fade if it would. but I took my time. 137 .Henry James CHAPTER XII MRS. perplexed by my absence. individually. Adelaide Mulville. I waited from day to day. At that season of the year I was usually oftener “with” them. Hang it. Mrs. What had dropped from me like a cumbersome garment as Saltram appeared before me in the afternoon on the heath was the disposition to haggle over his value. I didn’t quite know what it was—it had a shocking resemblance to my honour. one had to put that value somewhere. I left Mrs. I had rallied to the rare analyst. it hasn’t faded even now. Saltram to deal as her apprehensions should prompt with the Pudneys. The emotion was the livelier surely in that my pulses even yet vibrated to the pleasure with which. I was perfectly mindful that I was under bonds to see this young lady. and also that I had a letter to hand to her. Mulville drove in for him at a discreet hour—the earliest she could suppose him to have got up. She also wrote that she feared a real estrangement had set in between Mr. the great intellectual adventurer and pathfinder. and. During the month that I thus invited myself to stiffen again. I knew at last what I meant—I had ceased to wince at my responsibility. so I would put it really high and have done with it. SALTRAM left me drawing my breath more quickly and indeed almost in pain—as if I had just perilously grazed the loss of something precious. the night before. but it didn’t fade. one had to choose. and I learned that Miss Anvoy would also have come had she not been expecting a visit from Mr. wrote to me to ask why I was so stiff.

In fact I don’t want to!” 138 . I wrote to George Gravener to ask if. I hear. “Well I thought I was.” “Discouraging?” “On the subject of a present application of The Coxon Fund. and neither have I.’” he said. I told him there was something I felt I ought in candour to let him know—I recognised the obligation his friendly confidence had laid on me. During the month. Saltram failed to disengage itself from the merely nebulous state.The Coxon Fund Gravener and her sweet young friend—a state of things but half satisfactory to her so long as the advantage resulting to Mr. toward the end. I saw he had immediately connected my enquiry with the talk we had had in the railway-carriage.” he said. These are old frustrations now. and I thought she thought I was. If however she did speak to you of our conversation she probably told you I was discouraging. “That’s her own affair. There never was the slightest opening. Saltram? My dear fellow. a trifle too reserved. if anything. Ruth Anvoy hasn’t married.” I replied.” “I believe she did. I might come to see him. She’s not ‘discouraged. I don’t know what you call discouraging!” Gravener cried. She intimated that her sweet young friend was. “It wasn’t to tell you so that I wanted to see you. but such a thing’s measured by the effect. “for it seemed to me that such a communication would rest wholly with herself. The reason I asked you to see me was that it appeared to me I ought to tell you frankly that—decidedly!—I can’t undertake to produce that effect. she also intimated that there might now be an opening for another clever young man. and his answer was to knock the very next day at my door. on a special errand.” “To the case of Mr. and his promptitude showed that the ashes of his eagerness weren’t yet cold. “You mean Miss Anvoy has talked to you? She has told me so herself. I may here parenthesise. and of course the question can’t come up to-day.

When I see the compliments that are paid right and left I ask myself why this one shouldn’t take its course. but I propose to invite Mss Anvoy to remain in ignorance of it. damn you!” my visitor laughed.” “My relations with Miss Anvoy are not at an end. “Taking one form of public recognition with another it seems to me on the whole I should be able to bear it. Again for an instant I thought. and I don’t know what it contains.” I said. “The offer I propose to make you gives me the right to address you a question remarkably direct. Gravener’s clear handsome eyes plunged into mine a minute. Then he said: “You’d like to see that scoundrel publicly glorified—perched on the pedestal of a great complimentary pension?” I braced myself. This therefore is what you’re entitled to have looked to me to mention to you.Henry James “It’s very good of you.” 139 . “But we’re perfectly good friends. “The only explanation I can think of is that the person sending it may have imagined your relations with Miss Anvoy to be at an end—may have been told this is the case by Mrs. but evidently without fishing up a clue to this motive—a failure by which I was almost wounded. red and really grave. “What does the letter contain?” “It’s sealed. I’m not. as I tell you. Saltram.” he slowly brought out. I speak of a sealed letter that I’ve been requested to deliver to her. I’ve some evidence that perhaps would be really dissuasive.” “And you don’t mean to?” “There’s only one consideration that would make me. Are you still engaged to Miss Anvoy?” “No.” “And to invite me to do the same?” “Oh you don’t require it—you’ve evidence enough.” poor Gravener stammered.” “Why is it sent through you?” “Rather than you?” I wondered how to put the thing.

“Yes. as it were. “Have you brought it with you?” “No indeed. but. to watch the manna descend. when I had told her the story of Mrs. had begun to draw the magnificent income. but long enough to make me nervous. “Hand it to the devil!” he broke out. with a grand abstracted gesture. She debated for a time probably of the briefest. at Wimbledon. “I’ll engage to hand her the letter before night.” “Then for God’s sake send it!” “I’ll do so if you’re ready to assure me that her sacrifice would now presumably bring about your marriage. as all the world now knows.” I went back. turning it mechanically round he stood looking a moment hard at its unruffled perfection. Saltram’s visit.” Gravener took up his hat. when I burnt it unread. locked up. If you give it me. Its magnificence. Saltram.The Coxon Fund “Such good friends that you’ll again become prospective husband and wife if the obstacle in your path be removed?” “Removed?” he anxiously repeated. and then she said “Go back and destroy it.” “I’d marry her the next day!” my visitor cried. The Pudneys approached her again pressingly. It’s at home. The Coxon Fund had already become an operative benefit and a general amaze: Mr. while we gathered about.” I said. Then very angrily honestly and gallantly. He drew it as he had always drawn everything. prompt as they were. it was the begin140 . with which he clapped the hat on his head and left me. quite quenched him. alas.” There was another great silence. but would she marry you? What I ask of you of course is nothing less than your word of honour as to your conviction of this. but I didn’t destroy it till after Saltram’s death. “Will you read it or not?” I said to Ruth Anvoy. “If I send Miss Anvoy the letter I speak of she may give up her idea.

and especially deprived the Mulvilles. It was also naturally a new grievance for his wife. to renounce his glorious office.Henry James ning of his decline. the elder style. His wife. like everybody else. as she says. to become. on the whim of a meddlesome American. is criminally dull. of much of our occupation. They complain that people are self-sufficing. he hates being in the Upper House. but what’s an empty carriage? In short I think we were all happier as well as poorer before. But what are these accidents. Adelaide’s most frequent reference to their destitution is embodied in the remark that dear far-away Ruth’s intentions were doubtless good. whose want of self-support I never measured till they lost their great inmate. and hasn’t yet had high office. the grander. This deprived us. whose fortune clears the property. even including George Gravener. who by the deaths of his brother and his nephew has lately become Lord Maddock. and who at this hour accuses us of having bribed him. but no one presents a true sphere of usefulness. With Saltram the fine type of the child of adoption was scattered. who began to believe in him as soon as he was blighted. She and Kent are even yet looking for another prop. which I should perhaps apologise for mentioning. The very day he found himself able to publish he wholly ceased to produce. They’ve no one to live on now. They’ve got their carriage back. in the light of the great eventual boon promised the patient by the rate at which The Coxon Fund must be rolling up? 141 . as may easily be imagined.

I suppose. who was in his unhonoured grave. in her bereavement and depression. Deedy. a change of heart. which poor Mrs. which had been supposed to be almost past redemption when he took hold of it.” At the same time I 142 . mainly plant and office-furniture. but as I had my way to make I found matter enough for complacency in being on a “staff.The Death of the Lion The Death of the Lion by Henry James CHAPTER I I HAD SIMPLY. I rather resented the practice of fathering all flatness on my late protector. Pinhorn was my “chief. Young as I was I had been in a manner taken over from Mr. Pinhorn. This was a weekly periodical. who had been owner as well as editor. Deedy. Mr. It was Mr. I could account for my continuity but on the supposition that I had been cheap.” as he was called in the office: he had the high mission of bringing the paper up. Deedy who had let the thing down so dreadfully: he was never mentioned in the office now save in connexion with that misdemeanour. parted with at a rough valuation. forming part of a promiscuous lot. and it must have begun when I received my manuscript back from Mr.

” “Call it that if you like. “Very well. to begin with. I remember how he looked at me—quite. he considered a moment and then returned: “I see—you want to write him up. “I don’t ‘want’ anything—the proposal’s your own. Pinhorn stared. Pinhorn responded. But you must remember that that’s the way we do things NOW.” Then he added: “But where can you do it?” “Under the fifth rib!” Mr. When I had reminded him that the great principle on which we were supposed to work was just to create the demand we required.” said Mr. Unregenerate as I was I could read the queer implications of this speech. and had doubtless been at the bottom of my proposing to Mr. “Where’s that?” “You want me to go down and see him?” I asked when I had enjoyed his visible search for the obscure suburb I seemed to have named. touch him. Pinhorn with another dig Mr. The present owner’s superior virtue as well as his deeper craft spoke in his reference to the late editor as one of that baser sort 143 . This made me feel I was doubly bound to have ideas. Pinhorn pursed up his mouth. for he hasn’t been touched. Pinhorn that I should lay my lean hands on Neil Paraday. Deedy. as if he had never heard of this celebrity.Henry James was aware of my exposure to suspicion as a product of the old lowering system. and even when I had knowingly explained he expressed but little confidence in the demand for any such stuff.” This argument was effective and Mr.” “And what’s your inducement?” “Bless my soul—my admiration!” Mr. who indeed at that moment was by no means in the centre of the heavens. “Is there much to be done with him?” “Whatever there is we should have it all to ourselves.

work nearer at hand. And then wasn’t an immediate exposure of everything just what the public wanted? Mr. while its freshness and flavour were unimpaired. whose own sincerity took the form of ringing door-bells and whose definition of genius was the art of finding people at home. My allusion to the sequestered manner in which Mr. Paraday lived—it had formed part of my explanation. and couldn’t be concerned to straighten out the journalistic morals of my chief. I would be as considerate as even Mr. really been there. but such scruples presented themselves as mere ignoble thrift to his successor.The Death of the Lion who deal in false representations. as it happened. Really to be there this time moreover was a vision that made the idea of writing something subtle about Neil Paraday only the more inspiring. Miss Braby’s own version of that great international episode? I felt somewhat uneasy at this lumping of the actress and the author. Deedy could have wished. Pinhorn could conceive. It was as if Mr. and I confess that after having enlisted Mr. feeling them indeed to be an abyss over the edge of which it was better not to peer. though I knew of it only by hearsay—was. I thus set in motion in the daily papers columns of 144 . I had succeeded better than I wished. A few days later I called on Lord Crouchley and carried off in triumph the most unintelligible statement that had yet appeared of his lordship’s reasons for his change of front. Deedy had published reports without his young men’s having. It struck him as inconsistent with the success of his paper that any one should be so sequestered as that. Deedy would as soon have sent me to call on Neil Paraday as he would have published a “holiday-number”. Hadn’t we published. and yet I should be as present as only Mr. I could divine. Pinhorn’s sympathies I procrastinated a little. as I have hinted. very much what had made Mr. I was unregenerate. Pinhorn effectually called me to order by reminding me of the promptness with which I had met Miss Braby at Liverpool on her return from her fiasco in the States. Pinhorn nibble. as Pinhorn would have said. and I had. Mr.

Henry James virtuous verbiage. as Mr. Pinhorn. many curious particulars that had not been articulated in court. who was now annoyed with me for having lost so many days. It was a pure case of profession flair—he had smelt the coming glory as an animal smells its distant prey. on the subject of her divorce. Bounder. since I first spoke to him. 145 . I became aware that Neil Paraday’s new book was on the point of appearing and that its approach had been the ground of my original appeal to Mr. He bundled me off—we would at least not lose another. The following week I ran down to Brighton for a chat. If ever an article flowed from the primal fount it was that article on Mrs. who gave me. to create a visible urgency. Pinhorn called it. however. and no enlightenment could possibly have reached him. By this time. Bounder. I’ve always thought his sudden alertness a remarkable example of the journalistic instinct. Nothing had occurred. with Mrs.

I had gone to the neighbouring inn for the night. so that if they see the light the insidious forces that. and he insisted the next day on my sleeping under his roof. 146 . He had recently recovered from a long. Pinhorn supposed us to put our victims through on the gallop. however. Some voice of the air had taught me the right moment. after my remove from the inn. compassion. hospitality. while he was occupied in his study. The curtain fell lately enough on the lamentable drama. My memory of the day I alighted at Mr. in the office. The scheme of my narrative allows no space for these things. but I spent the evening in his company. and in any case a prohibitory sentiment would hang about my recollection of so rare an hour. I hadn’t an indefinite leave: Mr. I fortified myself. Paraday’s door is a fresh memory of kindness. and of the wonderful illuminating talk in which the welcome was conveyed.The Death of the Lion CHAPTER II I MAY AS WELL SAY at once that this little record pretends in no degree to be a picture either of my introduction to Mr. as my story itself shows. I said nothing to Mr. but in the morning. the moment of his life at which an act of unexpected young allegiance might most come home to him. Paraday about it. by the conviction that nothing could be more advantageous for my article than to be written in the very atmosphere. make at present for publicity will simply have overmastered my precautions. It was later. grave illness. as my training had taught me to do. that the rude motions of the jig were set to music. Paraday or of certain proximate steps and stages. These meagre notes are essentially private.

I knew but too well what had happened. Once my paper was written I was free to stay on. accompanied with a letter the gist of which was the desire to know what I meant by trying to fob off on him such stuff. Pinhorn’s purpose couldn’t well be imagined.Henry James as he had notified me he should need to be. and if it was calculated to divert attention from my levity in so doing I could reflect with satisfaction that I had never been so clever. and he was visibly angry at my having (at his expense. with a second-class ticket) approached the subject of our enterprise only to stand off so helplessly. but I was equally conscious that Mr. I had been sent down to be personal and then in point of fact hadn’t been personal at all: what I had dispatched to London was just a little finicking feverish study of my author’s talent. I committed to paper the main heads of my impression. Pinhorn by my celerity. but it was exactly where I couldn’t have succeeded. and on the Wednesday his book came out. That night my manuscript came back from Mr. and he let me go out into the garden with it immediately after breakfast. There was nothing he loved so much as to print on the right occasion a thing he hated. and it made my mistake immense to me. Then thinking to commend myself to Mr. I walked out and posted my little packet before luncheon. Pinhorn. I had begun my visit to the great man on a Monday. Pinhorn. and in the evening he asked me to remain with him the rest of the week and over the Sunday. Anything less relevant to Mr. I don’t mean to deny of course that I was aware it was much too good for Mr. Pinhorn had the supreme shrewdness of recognising from time to time the cases in which an article was not too bad only because it was too good. A copy of it arrived by the first post. For myself. Such as this mistake was I could now only look it in the face and accept it. That was the meaning of the question. if not exactly its form. I read it from beginning to end that day. I knew where I had failed. and how a miracle—as pretty as some old miracle of legend—had been wrought on the spot to 147 .

giving it a particular application to Mr. There had been a big brush of wings. and the reflexions I made on it are what I meant. I owed my squandered privilege. obtained for it the hospitality of another journal. at the beginning of this anecdote. Mr. the sense of an angel’s having swooped down and caught me to his bosom. and then. by my change of heart. but an invitation immediately to send him—it was the case to say so—the genuine article. A week or two later I recast my peccant paper and. I must admit. He held me only till the danger was over. Pinhorn’s note was not only a rebuke decidedly stern. the revealing and reverberating sketch to the promise of which. Pinhorn was so far vindicated as that it attracted not the least attention. Mr. and it all took place in a minute. 148 . Paraday’s new book. and of which alone. with a great cool stir of the air. the flash of an opaline robe.The Death of the Lion save me. where. With my manuscript back on my hands I understood the phenomenon better.

But when he had tossed the last bright word after the others. and this familiar statement of it. weighing mounds of coin. The theme I thought singularly rich. Loose liberal confident. the flushed fairness. was really. my great man had offered to read me something I quite held my breath as I listened. a precious independent work. The idea he now communicated had all the freshness. I remember rather profanely wondering whether the ultimate production could possibly keep at the pitch. and it had grown magnificently under this second hand. of the conception untouched and untried: it was Venus rising from the sea and before the airs had blown upon her. I knew a sudden prudent alarm. I had never been so throbbingly present at such an unveiling. It was a high distinction simply to be told such things. quite the strongest he had yet treated. at any rate. in the garden. 149 . as I had seen cashiers in banks. drop a final sovereign into the tray.Henry James CHAPTER III I WAS FRANKLY. at the end of three days. a mine of gold. It was the written scheme of another book—something put aside long ago. in summarised splendour. so that one morning when. for the advantage of posterity. before his illness. but that he had lately taken out again to reconsider. full too of fine maturities. in close correspondence with him—were the distinguished person to whom it had been affectionately addressed. made me feel as if I were. His reading of the fond epistle. a very prejudiced critic. it might have passed for a great gossiping eloquent letter—the overflow into talk of an artist’s amorous plan. He had been turning it round when I came down on him.

Of course my illness made. I had taken a fresh one. thank God. as you were telling 150 . You think of more and more all the while. but that’s not true. which with an intenser smile. “It isn’t as if I weren’t all right.” “Oh if you weren’t all right I wouldn’t look at you!” I tenderly said. “Time isn’t what I’ve lacked hitherto: the question hasn’t been to find it. by way of answer to my exclamation. as an encircling medium. We had both got up. what perfect conditions! Oh for a lone isle in a tepid sea!” “Isn’t this practically a lone isle. quickened as by this clearer air. all the same. “I’m sure that during the months you lay here in pain you had visitations sublime. how. He was fifty years old. so respectable. and he had lighted a cigarette. At a time when so many people are spent you come into your second wind. you’re better! Thank God. “If I weren’t better I shouldn’t have thought of that!” He flourished his script in his hand. a great hole—but I dare say there would have been a hole at any rate. as I now recall their expression. tepid enough?” he asked.” “That’s exactly what I mean. but what time it will take. while it lasted. you’re not. he applied to the flame of his match. are you going to do it? It’s infinitely noble. But. after all. but to use it. That’s what makes you. I seem to have seen a dim imagination of his fate. and his illness had been cruel. too. “I don’t want to be discouraging. alluding with a laugh to the wonder of my young admiration and the narrow limits of his little provincial home.The Death of the Lion “My dear master.” I returned. his convalescence slow. You thought of a thousand things.” Neil Paraday looked at me with eyes—such pleasant eyes as he had—in which. if you’ll pardon my familiarity. what patience and independence. The great thing is now to keep on my feet. The earth we tread has more pockets than a billiard-table. what assured. and aren’t you.

let us hope. I’m not in the least celebrated—my obscurity protects me. I had a general faith in his having behaved well. It looks well in the newspapers. Paraday down to dinner. who offered him.” “You won’t see it. and the frisk of petticoats. there’s nothing so safe. sir?” was about his modest mahogany.Henry James me yesterday. ‘successful. one must make the worst of it. and I had once. taken Mrs. “Dead—passe encore.’ If you weren’t a failure what would be the use of trying? That’s my one reserve on the subject of your recovery—that it makes you ‘score. without heeding the address. is again in the enjoyment of excellent health. ‘We are happy to announce that Mr. from whom he had succeeded in separating without redundancy of legend. with a timorous “Sherry. One never knows what a living artist may do—one has mourned so many. The Empire of that morning. It 151 .” At this moment the parlour-maid appeared in the door that opened from the garden: Paraday lived at no great cost. and almost anything that does that’s horrible. and I asked myself if I were the same young man who had come down a few days before to scatter him to the four winds. took the paper from its envelope. and the woman—the second London post had come in—had placed my letters and a newspaper on a bench. The idea of his security became supremely dear to me. I wandered to the end of the precinct. He now turned to speak to the maid. But couldn’t you bear even to see I was dying or dead?” my host enquired. I sat down there to the letters. When I retraced my steps he had gone into the house. on a tray. and then. You must be as dead as you can. However. excited.’ as the newspapers say. He allowed half his income to his wife.” “Don’t I meet that condition in having just published a book?” “Adequately. It was the journal of highest renown. which were a brief business. the celebrated author. Paraday. some card or note.’ Somehow I shouldn’t like to see it. while. for the book’s verily a masterpiece. agitated. in London.

His place was assigned him as publicly as if a fat usher with a wand had pointed to the topmost chair. presenting Neil Paraday to the human race. already aware of it. the tremendous wave I speak of had swept something away. all was different. I instantly divined that The Empire had spoken of him. The article was “epoch-making. As I sat there conscious of a palpitation I think I had a vision of what was to be. uncrumpling the wrapper.The Death of the Lion regularly came to Paraday. When Neil Paraday should come out of the house he would come out a con152 . the fifth from his hand. The guns had been booming these three hours in the house without our suspecting them. and had reared itself into the likeness of a temple vast and bare. In a flash. His new book. and I’ve not forgotten the odd little shock of the circumstance. had been but a day or two out. between the watching faces and the envious sounds—away up to the dais and the throne. I had also a vision of the letter I would presently address to Mr. somehow. and I fear I grew a little faint— it meant so much more than I could say “yea” to on the spot. and The Empire. higher and higher. Pinhorn. but I remembered that neither of us had yet looked at the copy already delivered. I suppose.” the last of three. as it were. he was to pass up and still up. with Mr. and now he was proclaimed and anointed and crowned. It checked all eagerness and made me drop the paper a moment. A national glory was needed. I saw it to be directed to my host and stamped with the name of his publishers. The article wasn’t. it was a “leader. a salute of a whole column. waked up a national glory. Of course. breaking. as if on the birth of a prince. The big blundering newspaper had discovered him. and. I thanked heaven.” a landmark in his life. my little customary altar. however. and it was an immense convenience he was there. It had knocked down. fired. a review. Pinhorn. What all this meant rolled over me. my twinkling tapers and my flowers. This one had a great mark on the “editorial” page. he had taken rank at a bound. the next minute the voice of The Empire was in my ears.

Henry James temporary. A little more and he would have dipped down the short cut to posterity and escaped. 153 . That was what had happened: the poor man was to be squeezed into his horrible age. I felt as if he had been overtaken on the crest of the hill and brought back to the city.

“I hadn’t the least idea of it. “Already?” I cried with a sort of sense that my friend had fled to me for protection. and in whom at a second glance I recognised the highest contemporary enterprise.” said Paraday. might have been a policeman. agreeably. who. and I felt as if Paraday and I were tossing terrified under his bows. Morrow remarked to me.” our visitor 154 . He had begun to pull off his gloves. “I represent. “I was confident that I should be the first in the field. Morrow glared. As a “surrounding” I felt how I myself had already been taken in. I was a little fish in the stomach of a bigger one. Morrow.” he smiled. which were violently new. rather white: “he wants to publish heaven knows what about me. as if he had been told he had been snoring. “This is Mr. and to look encouragingly round the little garden. for beside him walked a stout man with a big black beard. “That’s so very interesting—it’s something to start with. I saw his momentum was irresistible. “I find he hasn’t read the article in The Empire. save that he wore spectacles. looking. Paraday’s surroundings.The Death of the Lion CHAPTER IV WHEN HE CAME OUT it was exactly as if he had been in custody.” I winced as I remembered that this was exactly what I myself had wanted. A great interest is naturally felt in Mr.” Mr. through his glasses: they suggested the electric headlights of some monstrous modem ship.” said Paraday.” he heavily observed. I thought. Mr.

“a syndicate of influential journals. and my thought. no less than thirtyseven. They would greatly appreciate any expression of his views on the subject of the art he so nobly exemplifies. she went so far as to say that I had made her genius more comprehensible even to herself. as if with an anxiety that had suddenly made him grave. during which we seemed to acknowledge in the only way that was possible the presence of universal fate. One had heard of unfortunate people’s having “a man in the house. Pinhorn. but because our visitors last words were in my ear. I may say—are in peculiar sympathy with Mr. and while Mr. Morrow so settled himself I felt he had taken official possession and that there was no undoing it. like Mr. Morrow. the brilliant author of ‘Obsessions. and that having come. His movement had been interpreted by his visitor as an invitation to sink sympathetically into a wicker chair that stood hard by. isn’t it?—and conve155 . whose public—whose publics.” and this was just what we had. I saw just how emphatic I should make my rejoinder to Mr. Not because I had brought my mind back. I must remain as long as possible to save. I was honoured only last week. the sunny stillness took no pity. he looked hard at a bare spot in the lawn.’ She pronounced herself thoroughly pleased with my sketch of her method.” Neil Paraday had dropped on the garden-bench and sat there at once detached and confounded. to betray.Henry James continued. I presently enquired with gloomy irrelevance if Guy Walsingham were a woman. with the confidence of Guy Walsingham. as a representative of The Tatler. Paraday’s line of thought. whose most prominent department. In addition to my connexion with the syndicate just mentioned I hold a particular commission from The Tatler. ‘Smatter and Chatter’—I dare say you’ve often enjoyed it—attracts such attention. There was a silence of a moment. as I was sure Paraday’s was doing. a mere pseudonym—rather pretty. performed within the minute a great distant revolution. “Oh yes.

for a lady who goes in for the larger latitude. it determined the appearance of his note-book. was justified by the inevitability with which I replied. which. “There’s no point on which distinguished views are so acceptable as on this question—raised perhaps more strikingly than ever by Guy Walsingham—of the permissibility of the larger latitude. takes the ground. he was a man of resources—he only needed to be on the spot. I gather. He had pocketed the whole poor place while Paraday and I were wool-gathering. helplessly assisting at the promulgation of this ineptitude. He doesn’t read such things!” I unwarily added. got up nervously and walked away. however. ‘Obsessions. he at first kept slightly behind him. Morrow now frankly appealed to me.’ which everybody’s talking about. you know. while our companion. Morrow as well as any other. precisely in connexion with it. as I found poor Paraday. with Dora Forbes.’ would look a little odd. I took on myself to repudiate the supposition. and I could imagine that he had already got his “heads. I’ve an appointment. “Mr. but opened out the note-book with a more fatherly pat. still absent. Morrow. made no answer. even as the dentist approaching his victim keeps the horrible forceps. by Miss So-and-so. author of ‘The Other Way Round. I found myself.The Death of the Lion nient. to save my friend the trouble: “Dear no—he hasn’t read it. Paraday glanced at ‘The Other Way Round’?” Mr. but men are more naturally indelicate. remote. Has Mr. still silent. Morrow continued sociably to our companion. His visitor paid no heed to his withdrawal. Paraday holds with the good old proprieties—I see!” And thinking of the thirty-seven influential journals. at any rate. next week.” His system. Have you peeped into ‘Obsessions’?” Mr. It was the psychological moment. Paraday. Imperturbably bland. “Dora Forbes. as if he hadn’t heard the question: a form of intercourse that appeared to suit the cheerful Mr. “Things that are too far over the fence. that the larger 156 . eh?” I was indeed a godsend to Mr. the same as Guy Walsingham’s.

I simply sat staring. excused himself. and only found presence of mind to say: “Is this Miss Forbes a gentleman?” Mr. pleading that. Morrow had a subtle smile. My interlocutor’s pencil was poised. without catching the allusion. But an authoritative word from Mr. A great deal of interest is felt in his acting on that idea—which is clever. His young friend. Paraday—from the point of view of his sex. you know— would go right round the globe. But the poor man. with visible amusement at my being so out of it. “It wouldn’t be ‘Miss’—there’s a wife!” “I mean is she a man?” “The wife?”—Mr.Henry James latitude has simply got to come. but Paraday’s own kind face met his question reassur157 . Morrow didn’t expect great things even of his young friend. though greatly honoured by his visitor’s interest. Of course his sex makes him a less prejudiced witness. Morrow remarked invitingly that he should be happy to make a note of any observation the movement in question. that this was the “pen-name” of an indubitable male—he had a big red moustache.” Our host at this moment joined us again. the bid for success under a lady’s name. none the less. looked at Neil Paraday with an anxious eye. Morrow was for a moment as confused as myself. He holds that it has got to be squarely faced. greatly wondering if he were doomed to be ill again. He takes the line that we haven’t got to face it?” I was bewildered: it sounded somehow as if there were three sexes. isn’t it?—and there’s every prospect of its being widely imitated. and Mr. but he hoped Mr. he suddenly felt unwell and should have to take leave of him—have to go and lie down and keep quiet. my private responsibility great. “He goes in for the slight mystification because the ladies are such popular favourites. But when I explained that I alluded to Dora Forbes in person he informed me. at this moment. His young friend might be trusted to answer for him. Paraday. might suggest to Mr.

” Getting newspaper-men out of the house was odd business for an emissary of Mr. but I’m scared: get him out of the house as quietly as possible. and I was so exhilarated by the idea of it that I called after him as he left us: “Read the article in The Empire and you’ll soon be all right!” 158 . Pinhorn.The Death of the Lion ingly. seemed to say in a glance intelligible enough: “Oh I’m not ill.

but I had a quick inspiration.” I had no wish whatever to be rude to Mr. however. but if we could talk things over right there where he sits I feel as if I should get the keynote. He wouldn’t be lying down on his study-table? There’s a great interest always felt in the scene of an author’s labours. “The way to get at his life is to—But wait a moment!” I broke off and went quickly into the house. I was much too initiated not to tend to more diplomacy. dropping again into his chair. Morrow. Morrow ejaculated. whence I in three minutes reappeared before Mr. Sometimes we’re favoured with very delightful peeps.” I said. “His life’s here. the little things he has about. “I was shown into the drawing-room. Now what have you got for me?” he continued. he the next moment eagerly rose. and almost jammed my hand into one into which I made a dash! I don’t ask that of you. “and I’m so full of this admirable thing that I can’t talk of anything else. “No. his literary sanctum.” I went on.Henry James CHAPTER V “DELICIOUS MY HAVING come down to tell him of it!” Mr. The artist’s 159 . from which. Dora Forbes showed me all his table-drawers. an almost superstitious objection to his crossing the threshold of my friend’s little lonely shabby consecrated workshop. Morrow with the two volumes of Paraday’s new book. or other domestic objects and features. no—we shan’t get at his life that way. and I entertained an insurmountable. “My cab was at the door twenty minutes after The Empire had been laid on my breakfast-table. but there must be more to see—his study.

and this is the place to observe him.” Mr. “Do you mean to say that no other source of information should be open to us?” “None other till this particular one—by far the most copious— has been quite exhausted. It tells you with a perfection that seems to me quite final all the author thinks. Morrow. My dear sir. who had picked up the second volume and was insincerely thumbing it. refers us. What he has to tell us he tells us with this perfection. “Everywhere—in the whole treatment of his case. the best interviewer is the best reader. and with such pathetic confidence. Extract the opinion. You’ll of course have perceived for yourself that one scarcely does read Neil Paraday till one reads him aloud. Morrow.’” “Where does it do that?” asked Mr. and something should surely be done to restore its ruined credit. after a minute. “The only kind that count. This last book of Mr. did I. disengage the answer—those are the real acts of homage. I may confide to you. Take up your book again and let me listen.” “Revelations?” panted Mr.” “Heaven forbid I should take you for anything so dreadful! You came down to perform a little act of sympathy. Morrow.” Mr. “Ah but you mustn’t take me for a reviewer. and it’s only when you expose it confidently to that test that you really get near his style. while you pay it 160 . It’s the course to which the artist himself at every step. Have you exhausted it. he gives out to the ear an extraordinary full tone. whom I had forced again into his chair. and so. about the advent of the ‘larger latitude. for instance. Morrow good-humouredly protested. These pages overflow with the testimony we want: let us read them and taste them and interpret them. tossed the book away. Let us perform our little act together.The Death of the Lion life’s his work. my dear sir? Had you exhausted it when you came down here? It seems to me in our time almost wholly neglected. Paraday’s is full of revelations.

Presently his eyes fell on the manuscript from which Paraday had been reading to me and which still lay on the bench. as if it gently throbbed with the life the reader had given it. I only grasped my manuscript the tighter. the one he had come out from. So he 161 . To reassure myself. glaring at each other while one of them held a bundle of papers well behind him. or even impertinent. watching his broad back recede. Morrow indulged in a nod at it and a vague thrust of his umbrella.Henry James out. and which at any rate left Mr. gathering together his hat and gloves. He went to the back door of the house. Mr. Morrow made another movement.” Mr.” “A secret!” There was an instant’s silence. but it affected me as the translated impulse of the desire to lay hands on the manuscript. but on trying the handle he appeared to find it fastened. it’s a plan—a secret. If you feel you can’t do it justice. buttoning his coat. Morrow gave me a straight look which was as hard as a blow between the eyes. and a question had formed itself in his mind which reached my sense as distinctly as if he had uttered it: “What sort of a damned fool are you?” Then he got up. Morrow quitted me abruptly. “What’s that?” “Oh. he had turned rather red. to that wonderful fifteenth chapter. An instant later Mr. Paraday’s two admirers very erect. projecting hungrily all over the place the big transparency of his mask. compose yourself to attention while I produce for you—I think I can!—this scarcely less admirable ninth. As my own followed them I saw it looked promising. Even the poor roses were common kinds. as if he had really carried something off with him. It seemed to flare over Fleet Street and somehow made the actual spot distressingly humble: there was so little for it to feed on unless he counted the blisters of our stucco or saw his way to do something with the roses. I may have been mistaken. and this led me to indulge in a quick anticipatory grab which may very well have seemed ungraceful. looked pregnant. and then Mr.

right round the globe. to use Mr. The Tatler published a charming chatty familiar account of Mr. 162 . Morrow’s own expression. Paraday’s “Home-life. and by listening intently enough I could presently hear the outer gate close behind him with a bang.The Death of the Lion passed round into the front garden. I thought again of the thirty-seven influential journals and wondered what would be his revenge. I hasten to add that he was magnanimous: which was just the most dreadful thing he could have been.” and on the wings of the thirty-seven influential journals it went.

London dinners were all material and London ladies were fruitful toil.” It was rather rude justice perhaps. none the less. early in May. while the phantasmagoric town was probably after all less of a battlefield than the haunted study.” His momentary terror had been real. “and not many have read three pages that I’ve written. though the article in The Empire had done unwonted wonders for it. but he had the finest conception of being let alone that I’ve ever met. but the fatigue had the merit of being a new sort. His formula had been found—he was a “revelation. having in his pocket the portable sophistries about the nature of the artist’s task. Observation too was a kind of work and experience a kind of success.Henry James CHAPTER VI A WEEK LATER. but had had more than was good for him before. London closed the parenthesis and exhibited him in rela163 . For the time. but I must dine with them first—they’ll find out why when they’ve time. where. “No one has the faintest conception of what I’m trying for. No advancement was ever more rapid. His book sold but moderately. no bewilderment more teachable. he took his profit where it seemed most to crowd on him. my glorified friend came up to town. no exaltation more complete. He once told me that he had had no personal life to speak of since his fortieth year. He was far from unsociable. it may be veraciously recorded he was the king of the beasts of the year.” he said to me. but he circulated in person to a measure that the libraries might well have envied. just as mine had been—the overclouding of his passionate desire to be left to finish his work.

the result of the agitation wrought in him by this forcing open of a new period. the animals rub shoulders freely with the spectators and the lions sit down for whole evenings with the lambs. Weeks Wimbush. In this establishment. It had been ominously clear to me from the first that in Neil Paraday this lady. but I should be glad when it was well over. She was a blind violent force to which I could attach no more idea of responsibility than to the creaking of a sign in the wind. It was evidently all right. wife of the boundless brewer and proprietress of the universal menagerie. as everybody knows. his old ideal even had to be changed. but she never did. one of the most inevitable of these being that in which he found himself to Mrs. but my thoughts were fixed on the day he should resume his shape or at least get back into his box. the pious illumination of the missal in the convent cell were things of the gathered 164 . I had an instinctive fear of her which I tried without effect to conceal from her victim. I had a special fear—the impression was ineffaceable of the hour when. Paraday heeded it. and all I asked of her for our tractable friend was not to do him to death. His old programme. after Mr. The monastic life. She was constructed of steel and leather. considered that she had secured a prime attraction.The Death of the Lion tions. on occasions when the crush is great. success was a complication and recognition had to be reciprocal. Say what one would. That pretext of indisposition had not in the least been meant as a snub to the envoy of The Tatler— he had gone to lie down in very truth. was tremendous fun. He had consented for a time to be of india-rubber. as all the world agreed. for her conscience was that of a romping child. I had found him on the sofa in his study. but which I let her notice with perfect impunity. and nothing could exceed the confused apprehensions it excited in me. He had felt a pang of his old pain. Morrow’s departure. It was difficult to say what she conduced to but circulation. a creature of almost heraldic oddity. who. Nothing could exceed her enthusiasm over her capture.

These two interests were in their essence opposed. upstairs. Let whoever would represent the interest in his presence (I must have had a mystical prevision of Mrs. were drawn up before the house.” “And in the dining-room?” “A young lady. Wimbush. and she was always on the spot to see that he did it. as youth is fleeting. Before I left him on that occasion we had passed a bargain. a barouche and a smart hansom. and all I had as yet achieved was to find 165 . “In the drawing-room. sir? Mrs. the lady of the barouche would. point the moral of my sweet solicitude. at such a crisis. Weeks Wimbush. I gave up nothing (I don’t count Mr. One day in Sloane Street I found myself questioning Paraday’s landlord. Pinhorn) because I had nothing. Two vehicles. I went into the dining-room first. On which days. postponing the pleasure of seeing how. She made appointments with him to discuss the best means of economising his time and protecting his privacy. No one took such an interest as herself in his doing only what was good for him. my part of which was that I should make it my business to take care of him.” It was three o’clock. She further made his health her special business. but at least it required adjustment. if I shall ever again know the intensity of joy with which I felt that in so good a cause I was willing to make myself odious. sir—waiting: I think a foreigner. and I doubt. would have rushed round immediately after her own repast. on my arrival. and had so much sympathy with my own zeal for it that she was the author of pleasing fictions on the subject of what my devotion had led me to give up. who had come to the door in answer to my knock. didn’t the dear man lunch out? Mrs. and on days when Paraday didn’t lunch out he attached a value to these appropriated hours. however. Weeks Wimbush) I should represent the interest in his work—or otherwise expressed in his absence.Henry James past. It didn’t engender despair.

I had dashed in to save my friend. but I had only got domesticated and wedged.The Death of the Lion myself also in the menagerie. so that I could do little more for him than exchange with him over people’s heads looks of intense but futile intelligence. 166 .

I could only disclose my dread of it. “I’ve been waiting half an hour. but he doesn’t answer. The collection of faded notes. represented a formidable purpose. and in a moment she added: “I don’t believe he gets many like them!” “I’m sure they’re beautiful. signatures.” I reflected. blue eyes. you know.” “How do you know the sort I mean?” My interlocutress had blushed and smiled. 167 . I’ve written three times. “Most people apply to Mr. “I’ve come for his autograph.” I didn’t add that I had convinced him he ought to.” I don’t know whether it was this that told me she was American. platitudes. Paraday by letter. and in her lap a big volume. At any rate I saw she had an individual patience and a lovely frock. but I’m prepared to wait all day. black hair. showily bound and full of autographs of price. for the propensity to wait all day is not in general characteristic of her race. Putting her book on the table she showed me a massive album.” “Yes.Henry James CHAPTER VII THE YOUNG LADY in the dining-room had a brave face. but he burns without reading. of still more faded “thoughts.” of quotations. together with an expression that played among her pretty features like a breeze among flowers. I was enlightened probably not so much by the spirit of the utterance as by some quality of its sound. “the sort of letter you mean goes straight into the fire.” “Very true.” she said when I had explained to her that I was under bonds to see people for him when he was occupied.

but it wouldn’t make me see him. I could imagine she had lost parents.” I stared. her errand. and I speedily arrived at a conviction that no impulse could have been more generous than the impulse that had operated here.” She looked at me a moment—her face was sweet and gay. her innocence. “All alone?” “I don’t see that that’s exactly your business. I had to come alone or not come at all. Paraday should write his name in it. These things became clearer to me later on. I foresaw at that moment that it would make her my peculiar charge. natural protectors—could conceive even she had inherited money. “Enough to have come from America for the purpose. so that one’s honour would be concerned in guiding her straight. at the instant I had scepticism enough to observe to her. I was at a pass of my own fortunes when keeping hansoms at doors seemed to me pure swagger. “Do you burn without reading too?”—in answer to which I assured her that if she’d trust me with her repository I’d see that Mr. just as circumstances had made Neil Paraday. that her net had all the same caught many a big fish. however. as I turned the pages of her volume. She considered a little. but if it will make me more seductive I’ll confess that I’m quite by myself.The Death of the Lion “Isn’t he then in danger of burning things of importance?” “He would perhaps be so if distinguished men hadn’t an infallible nose for nonsense. The confidence of young Americans was notorious. She would be another person to look after. As a trick of this bold and sensitive girl. She appeared to have had fruitful 168 .” She was interesting. but somehow I had never yet taken my duty to the great author so seriously. “That’s very well. it became romantic—a part of the general romance of her freedom.” “Do you want very much to see him?” It seemed ungracious to catechise so charming a creature.

“that you’ve a passion for Mr. by throwing up the album without a pang. I demurred a little. Do you mean. It belonged to a girl-friend in America. For her visit to Mr. to pick up more autographs: she thought they might like to see. She met this argument. the immortal names. as some tale in the Arabian Nights. what she did want was to look straight into his face.” I presently returned.” “Permit me to remark then. Paraday’s books?” “They’ve been everything to me and a little more beside—I know them by heart. the curious errand. “And why do you require to do that?” “Because I just love him!” Before I could recover from the agitating effect of this crystal ring my companion had continued: “Hasn’t there ever been any face that you’ve wanted to look into?” How could I tell her so soon how much I appreciated the opportunity of looking into hers? I could only assent in general to the proposition that there were certainly for every one such yearnings. and as beguiling. The “girl-friend.” I pursued. all made a story as strange to me.” the western city. but she hastened to assure me that this was the first time she had brought it out. “that you’re one of the right sort. in Europe. She didn’t really care a straw that he should write his name. in what company they would be. a young lady in a western city.Henry James access to the great ones of the earth. There’s no author about whom I’m in such a state as I’m in about Neil Paraday. Thus it was that my informant had encumbered herself with the ponderous tome. the idyllic faith.” 169 . “Oh yes. They’ve completely taken hold of me. She couldn’t have worried George Washington and Friedrich Schiller and Hannah More. It wasn’t even her own. there were people moreover whose signatures she had presumably secured without a personal interview. I’m a student of physiognomy. she was responsible for none of its treasures. all my wisdom. and even such faces. Paraday it had simply been a pretext. This young lady had insisted on her bringing it. and I felt the crisis demand all my lucidity. to my surprise.

” She looked mystified.” 170 .The Death of the Lion “One of the enthusiasts? Of course I am!” “Oh there are enthusiasts who are quite of the wrong.” She turned it over. “we’re dying of it. “Ah that dreadful word ‘personally’!” I wailed. “He hasn’t any disfigurement?” “Nothing to speak of!” “Do you mean that social engagements interfere with his occupations?” “That but feebly expresses it. “Give up this crude purpose of seeing him! Go away without it. badgered. sir—what’s the matter with him?” “The matter with him is that if he doesn’t look out people will eat a great hole in his life. If she was ready for one it was only waiting for her.” “So that he can’t give himself up to his beautiful imagination?” “He’s beset. his golden time.” My young lady continued to look at me in confusion and mistrust. then turned visibly pale. for you women bring it out with murderous effect.” “An appeal?” Her face lighted as if with the chance of some great sacrifice. Know him only by what’s best in him and spare him for the same sweet sake. hasn’t he any personal charm?” The girl was terrible and laughable in her bright directness. bothered—he’s pulled to pieces on the pretext of being applauded. and in a moment I mentioned it. People expect him to give them his time. “Why. That will be far better. When you meet with a genius as fine as this idol of ours let him off the dreary duty of being a personality as well. and the result of her reflexion on what I had just said was to make her suddenly break out: “Look here. I mean you’re one of those to whom an appeal can be made. who wouldn’t themselves give five shillings for one of his books.

and you’ll be immensely sustained by the thought of the good you’re doing him. Do you want to know. cultivate him at a distance and secretly appropriate his message. on which she presently laid her hands as if to take it away.” “Why it’s too bad!” the girl exclaimed with the face of an angel. Do you want to know how to show a superlative consideration? Simply avoid him.” 171 .” “Oh I express it badly. Two-thirds of those who approach him only do it to advertise themselves. I was afterwards happy to remember that she must have gathered from my face the liveliness of my interest in herself.” I continued. you know—and study the thoughts and style a little more.” She made no response to this. pity. and at the truth I had put before her with candour. ten pages he ever wrote. but I should be delighted if you’d let me come to see you—to explain it better. I followed up my advantage. I only mention her as a single case. and who yet hasn’t read. “The more you get into his writings the less you’ll want to. credulity. and her thoughtful eyes fell on the big album. “how to perform an act of homage really sublime?” Then as she hung on my words: “Succeed in never seeing him at all!” “Never at all?”—she suppressed a shriek for it. warming to my idea. “It’s the first time I was ever called crude!” she laughed.” She looked at me without resentment or spite. “There’s a lady with him now who’s a terrible complication.” “Avoid him?” she despairingly breathed.Henry James “Five? I’d give five thousand!” “Give your sympathy—give your forbearance. “Don’t force him to have to take account of you. “I think I see what you mean. “I did use to say out West that they might write a little less for autographs—to all the great poets. I’m sure. “Then how does she talk—?” “Without ceasing. admire him in silence.” My visitor’s wide eyes grew tenderer.

I assured her I’d bring it back to her myself. I was at any rate far from desiring to hustle her off.” She had got up to go. but you do see him!” I had to admit that this was the case. you’ll find my address somewhere in it on a paper!” she sighed all resignedly at the door. I’m not sure. She eased the situation off. Then thinking it over gravely she returned with her odd intonation: “Yes. and I wasn’t so prepared with an effective attenuation as I could have wished. by the charming quaintness with which she finally said: “Well. and though I wanted her to succeed in not seeing Neil Paraday I wanted her also. “Well. Paraday. was still saving our friend in her own way. “that I do myself. but I persuaded her to let me keep the album to show Mr. 172 . Sinking again into her chair to listen she showed a deep interest in the anecdote. the little incident of my having gone down into the country for a profane purpose and been converted on the spot to holiness. in illustration of my point. and I dare say that you by no means make me out. to remain in the house. I asked my young lady to let me briefly relate.” I added.The Death of the Lion “What do they care for the thoughts and style? They didn’t even understand you. inconsequently. Weeks Wimbush. I wouldn’t want him to be lonely!” This time she rose in earnest. upstairs. however. As Mrs.

with that idea of mine about the act of homage: it had ended by filling her with a generous rapture. She positively desired to do something sublime for him. We read him together when I could find time. this was the system that had. I failed to find her at home. as this particular flight was difficult.Henry James CHAPTER VIII I BLUSH TO CONFESS IT. read him— that will be an education in decency. as she expressed it. This was why I carried it to Albemarle Street no later than on the morrow. seeking him in his works even as God in nature. she appreciated the fact that my visits kept her up. quite agreeing with him moreover as to the wisdom of getting rid with equal promptitude of the book itself. though indeed I could see that. while. and the generous creature’s sacrifice was fed by our communion. I had it on my conscience to keep her up: I neglected nothing that would contribute to it. I told him how I had got rid of the strange girl who had brought it— her ominous name was Miss Hurter and she lived at an hotel. I returned repeatedly. according to my assurance. weaned her. “Read him. but I invited Mr. There were twenty selfish women about 173 . and her conception of our cherished author’s independence became at last as fine as his very own. I may briefly declare.” I constantly repeated. she represented herself as convinced that. She had been immensely taken. to supply her with this information. the more she thought of it. Paraday that very day to transcribe into the album one of his most characteristic passages. but she wrote to me and I went again. she wanted so much to hear more about Neil Paraday.

Paraday out to her in the stalls. To torment her tenderly I pressed the glass upon her. her inspired back to the house. touching feats of submission. Pinhorn’s. produced an effect on me of which the end is not yet. I may remark. Milsom had invited me to their box—I attempted to point Mr. were reduced to a single one—the question of reconstituting so far as might be possible the conditions under which he had produced his best work. should 174 . all the rest of the evening. and some of these occasions enabled Fanny Hurter to perform. read me that admirable sketch of. for consistency’s sake. by the end of the season. Such conditions could never all come back. telling her how wonderfully near it brought our friend’s handsome head. These tears. presented. Milsom. I wanted above all things to see him sit down to the subject he had. They received invitations and dined out. These question indeed. I thanked our stars that none had been presented to Mr. Mrs. on my making his acquaintance. but I was deterred by the reflexion that there were questions more relevant to his happiness. and the two ladies began to present. At another time when I was at the opera with them—Mrs. By way of answer she simply looked at me in charged silence. There was a moment when I felt it my duty to mention them to Neil Paraday. came over from Paris. Paraday. she instantly left the room by another door and then straightway quitted the house. while that lady devoured the great man through a powerful glass.The Death of the Lion whom I told her and who stirred her to a beautiful rage. letting me see that tears had gathered in her eyes. as we used to say at Mr. as they called it. Nothing indeed would now have induced her even to look at the object of her admiration. hearing his name announced at a party. On this she asked her sister to change places with her and. Once. their letters. for there was a new one that took up too much place. Immediately after my first visit her sister. Something told me there was no security but in his doing so before the new factor. but some perhaps were not beyond recall.

Rumble’s picture. might well become an object of adoration. I hated at all events Mr. for the faithful. none the less. and there was one roaring year in which Mrs. leaped through the hoops of his showy frames almost as electrically as they burst into telegrams and “specials. was to show how far he could make him go. it was the same ingenuous assumption that he would rejoice in the repercussion. was to be the first to perch on the shoulders of renown. and who had no connexion with Mr. Wimbush into the mouth of another cannon. as we also used to say at Mr. A young artist in whom she was intensely interested. Wimbush to the last “representative” who called to ascertain his twelve favourite dishes. Pinhorn’s. Rumble. There would even not be wanting critics to declare. 175 . he was the reporter on canvas. and had my bottled resentment ready when. There were moments when I fancied I might have had more patience with them if they hadn’t been so fatally benevolent. Mr. Poor Paraday. a tiny volume which. Bounder and Miss Braby. Guy Walsingham and Dora Forbes proclaimed in chorus from the same pictured walls that no one had yet got ahead of him. Rumble.” He pranced into the exhibitions on their back. later on.Henry James render the problem incalculable. that the plan was a thing to be more thankful for than the structure to have been reared on it. Paraday had been promptly caught and saddled. I found my distracted friend had been stuffed by Mrs. Rumble’s studio was a circus in which the man of the hour. the Vandyke up to date. accepting with characteristic good-humour his confidential hint that to figure in his show was not so much a consequence as a cause of immortality. My impatience for the structure. From Mrs. whose little game. It only half-reassured me that the sketch itself was so copious and so eloquent that even at the worst there would be the making of a small but complete book. Mr. grew and grew with the interruptions. in return. I foresaw. He had on coming up to town begun to sit for his portrait to a young painter. and still more the woman.

I begged he might rather take the time in some restorative way. I protested against this visit. The people I was perhaps angriest with were the editors of magazines who had introduced what they called new features. I intimated that he was too unwell for hospitality without a nuance. for caresses without imagination. He filled his lungs. I’m afraid I shall have presented him as a martyr in a very small cause if I fail to explain that he surrendered himself much more liberally than I surrendered him. The only thing he said to me was that he believed a comfortable attack of something or other would set him up: it would put out of the question everything but the exemptions he prized. hung over his August. for I found his reticence his worst symptom. I had a battle with Mrs. but I hadn’t needed this. and he would greatly profit by the interval of rest. for the most part. Paraday appeared to have contracted to spend with her in the country. Wimbush over the artist she protected.The Death of the Lion was naturally to write something somewhere about the young artist. He hadn’t told me he was ill again that he had had a warning. of ponderous parties. and her establishment was a huge machine in which the tiniest and the biggest wheels went round to the same treadle. I had a scene with her in which I tried to express that the function of such a man was to exercise his genius—not to serve as a hoarding for pictorial posters. She played her victims against each other with admirable ingenuity. and another over the question of a certain week. I made sure that before I should have done with him there would scarcely be a current form of words left me to be sick of. at the end of July. that Mr. A sultry air of promises. but meanwhile I could make surer still of my animosity to bustling ladies for whom he drew the water that irrigated their social flower-beds. with the comedy of his queer fate: the tragedy was in the spectacles through which 176 . so aware were they that the newest feature of all would be to make him grind their axes by contributing his views on vital topics and taking part in the periodical prattle about the future of fiction.

and his the impressions and the harvest. Paraday’s admirers.Henry James I chose to look. He was conscious of inconvenience. by telegraph. was of a famous foreign house. I was worsted in my encounters. The party had been made up for him. and she quite understood my unuttered comment on her measure of such things. For a moment too she met my eyes. the dear Princess most of all. Mrs. If he was well enough he was to read them something absolutely fresh. She was so fond of genius in any walk of life. Mrs. “Oh all sorts of things!” I wondered if this were an imperfect recollection or only a perfect fib. “What has he read to you?” I crudely enquired. Wimbush reminded me that he had again and again given her. I don’t think her august presence had had to do with Paraday’s consenting to go. and every one was counting on it. for wasn’t the state of his health the very reason for his coming to her at Prestidge? Wasn’t it precisely at Prestidge that he was to be coddled. and three days later she invited me. Of course. was the most expensive specimen in the good lady’s collection. as regards Mrs. But if she could forget Neil Paraday’s beauties she could of course forget my rudeness. and was so used to it and understood it so well: she was the greatest of Mr. This time she might indeed have had a story about what I had given up to be 177 . Wimbush. in her gilded cage. and for the fraction of a moment she hesitated and coloured. with her retinue of keepers and feeders. I looked at her a moment. Wimbush averred. Wimbush. and wasn’t the dear Princess coming to help her to coddle him? The dear Princess. and above all of a great renouncement. Mrs. now on a visit to England. and it was on that particular prospect the Princess had set her heart. to join the party at Prestidge. and. but it’s not impossible he had operated as a bait to the illustrious stranger. the privilege of listening to him. but how could he have heard a mere dirge in the bells of his accession? The sagacity and the jealousy were mine. And then he read like an angel. she devoured everything he wrote.

I addressed from that fine residence several communications to a young lady in London. I quitted with reluctance and whom the reminder of what she herself could give up was required to make me quit at all. 178 . I confess. a young lady whom.The Death of the Lion near the master. It adds to the gratitude I owe her on other grounds that she kindly allows me to transcribe from my letters a few of the passages in which that hateful sojourn is candidly commemorated.

There’s supposed to be a copy of his last book in the house. All the disinterested people here are his particular admirers and have been carefully selected as such. To be intimate with him is a feather in my cap. The house is full of people who like him. in attitudes.” I wrote. bending gracefully over the first volume. and as my want of gaiety has at last worn out her patience she has given me a glimpse of her shrewd guess. Pessimism on the contrary possesses me and cynicism deeply engages. I delight in his nonsense myself. Wimbush thinks she can answer that question. I positively feel my own flesh sore from the brass nails in Neil Paraday’s social harness. and the relinquished volume lies open on its face and as dropped under 179 . There’s a sociable circle or a confidential couple. why is it therefore that I grudge these happy folk their artless satisfaction? Mystery of the human heart—abyss of the critical spirit! Mrs. “but somehow it doesn’t amuse me. and in the hall I come upon ladies. and with whom his talent for talking nonsense has prodigious success. I discreetly avert my eyes. it gives me an importance that I couldn’t naturally pretend to. I’m made restless by the selfishness of the insincere friend—I want to monopolise Paraday in order that he may push me on. awfully. and when I next look round the precarious joy has been superseded by the book of life.Henry James CHAPTER IX “I SUPPOSE I OUGHT to enjoy the joke of what’s going on here. and I seek to deprive him of social refreshment because I fear that meeting more disinterested people may enlighten him as to my real motive. as they mention.

I feel as if I ought to ‘tip’ some custode for my glimpse of it. with its air of momentary desolation. He’s perpetually detailed for this job. to last and be transmitted. Every one’s beginning—at the end of two days—to sidle obsequiously away from her. Mrs. Why should I take the occasion of such distinguished honours to say that I begin to see deeper into Gustave Flaubert’s doleful refrain about the hatred of literature? I refer you again to the perverse constitution of man. Paraday draw it out. She contrives to commit herself extraordinarily little in a great many languages. and every one’s telling every one where they put it last. Wimbush delights in her wit and says there’s nothing so charming as to hear Mr. “The Princess is a massive lady with the organisation of an athlete and the confusion of tongues of a valet de place. Every one’s asking every one about it all day. in the night of ages. Somebody else presently finds it and transfers it. and yet everybody has the impression that somebody else has read to the end. that the second volume is lost—has been packed in the bag of some departing guest. I’m sure it’s rather smudgy about the twentieth page. She can’t have a personal taste any more than.The Death of the Lion extreme coercion. and her opinion on any matter is rusty and heavy and plain—made. and he tells me it has a peculiarly exhausting effect. too. she can have a personal crown. and Mrs. when her husband succeeds. He looks very fagged and has at last confessed to me 180 . I’ve a strong impression. You see therefore that the beautiful book plays a great part in our existence. and is entertained and conversed with in detachments and relays. None of the uses I have yet seen him put to infuriate me quite so much. like an institution which goes on from generation to generation or a big building contracted for under a forfeit. to another piece of furniture. She has been told everything in the world and has never perceived anything. and the echoes of her education respond awfully to the rash footfall—I mean the casual remark—in the cold Valhalla of her memory. Wimbush pushes him again and again into the breach.

into the little supplementary seat of a brougham in which the Princess and our hostess 181 . Last night I had some talk with him about going to-day. ‘only believe that I feel a sort of terror. and he pays for his imagination. He makes no secret of being mortally afraid of her. however. I’d as soon overturn that piece of priceless Sevres as tell her I must go before my date. and several of the company. which puts him (I should hate it) in the place of others and makes him feel. Wimbush has forcibly annexed her. “To-day’s wet and cold. which means of course that Mrs. Paraday. I’m afraid! Don’t enquire too closely.’ It sounds dreadfully weak. It’s strange. It appears this eminent lady’s staying at a house a few miles off. and when I ask what harm she can do him that she hasn’t already done he simply repeats: ‘I’m afraid. their feelings. reminding me.Henry James that his condition makes him uneasy—has even promised me he’ll go straight home instead of returning to his final engagements in town. and it has been postponed a day to allow Guy Walsingham to arrive. Wimbush wants her to hear Mr. that the first lesson of his greatness has been precisely that he can’t do what he likes. at the invitation of the Duke. by command. She’s to come over in a day or two—Mrs. I saw poor Paraday wedge himself. When I hint that a violent rupture with our hostess would be the best thing in the world for him he gives me to understand that if his reason assents to the proposition his courage hangs woefully back. cutting his visit short. Besides. Wimbush would never forgive him if he should leave her before the Princess has received the last hand. What a pity he has such a lot of it! He’s too beastly intelligent.’ he said last night. have driven over to luncheon at Bigwood. the famous reading’s still to come off. Mrs. He told me that this is what he would like to do. It’s indeed inveterately against himself that he makes his imagination act. so sure am I that he’ll be better as soon as he’s shut up in his lighthouse. but he has some reason. when she’s so kind! At any rate. their motives. even against himself. their appetites.

The Death of the Lion were already ensconced. When I asked her what she was looking for she said she had mislaid something that Mr. If the front glass isn’t open on his dear old back perhaps he’ll survive. who had wished to give her a glimpse of it as a salve for her not being able to stay and hear it read. shines out by contrast. I believe. and the Princess is easily heated. and I’ve a foreboding that it’s the noble morsel he read me six weeks ago. When I expressed my surprise that he should have bandied about anything so precious (I happen to know it’s his only copy—in the most beautiful hand in all the world) Lady Augusta confessed to me that she hadn’t had it from himself. there are no fires in the house. the temperature goes by the weather. Bigwood. and have been out under an umbrella to restore my circulation. I believe. She says he also must hear him. Wimbush. and I wish him well out of the adventure. the weather goes by God knows what. Wimbush doesn’t guard such a treasure so jealously as she might. Meanwhile Mrs. ‘She’s coming.’ I asked. Paraday had lent her. I’ve nothing but my acrimony to warm me. Wimbush has found out about him.’ 182 . “‘Is that the piece he’s to read. in the midst of all this. I can’t tell you how much more and more your attitude to him. Wimbush goes by the calendar. and is actively wiring to him. early to-morrow. but from Mrs. I ascertained in a moment that the article in question is a manuscript. ‘when Guy Walsingham arrives?’ “‘It’s not for Guy Walsingham they’re waiting now. Mrs. all marble and precedence.’ I replied. it’s for Dora Forbes. but see what a comfort I find it to scribble to you! I appreciate it—it keeps me warm. The clear thing is that Mrs.’ “‘You bewilder me a little. Coming in an hour ago I found Lady Augusta Minch rummaging about the hall.’ Lady Augusta said. is very grand and frigid. I never willingly talk to these people about him. ‘in the age we live in one gets lost among the genders and the pronouns.

They haven’t time to look over a priceless composition.’ “‘I dare say she is—she’s so awfully clever. Paraday’s greatest admirer. you mean. I suggested that the ‘man.’ “‘And your chance has only proved a chance to lose it?’ “‘I haven’t lost it. and I’m hoping 183 .’ “‘She spoke. The piece in question was very long—it would keep them three hours. because unfortunately I go tomorrow to Bigwood. and at this she looked a little disconcerted. ‘She didn’t have time. “‘Three hours! Oh the Princess will get up!’ said Lady Augusta.’ fired with a noble emulation. But what’s the use of being a Princess—‘ “‘If you can’t dissemble your love?’ I asked as Lady Augusta was vague. Paraday lent her the manuscript to look over. She said at any rate she’d question her maid. But I added that if the manuscript had gone astray our little circle would have the less of an effort of attention to make.’ “The conscience of these people is like a summer sea. ‘I dare say it’s all right. I remember now—it was very stupid of me to have forgotten. as if it were the morning paper?’ “Lady Augusta stared—my irony was lost on her.Henry James “‘Poor dear. had perhaps kept the work for his own perusal. they’ve only time to kick it about the house.’ “‘Of course he gave it back to my maid—or else his man did. if the thing shouldn’t reappear for the grand occasion appointed by our hostess. I told my maid to give it to Lord Dorimont—or at least to his man.’ “‘And Lord Dorimont went away directly after luncheon.’ said Lady Augusta. and her ladyship wanted to know whether. she has the Princess to guard! Mr. the author wouldn’t have something else to read that would do just as well. Their questions are too delightful! I declared to Lady Augusta briefly that nothing in the world can ever do so well as the thing that does best. so she gave me a chance first. “‘I thought she was Mr.

” 184 .The Death of the Lion that when I go down to dinner I shall find the manuscript has been recovered.

” I wrote early the next day. “and I’m moreover much troubled about our friend. though decorated with the rare flower she had brought him for his button-hole. and the Doctor for Paraday also arrived early.Henry James CHAPTER X “IT HAS NOT BEEN RECOVERED. To-day he’s in great pain. and the advent of ces dames—I mean of Guy Walsingham and Dora Forbes—doesn’t at all console me. Guy Walsingham’s already on the scene. but after I had gone to dress Mrs. He came back from Bigwood with a chill and. with the inevitable result that when I returned I found him under arms and flushed and feverish. It does Mrs. He returns this afternoon. lay down a while before dinner. however. I tried to get him to say that our invalid must go straight home—I mean to-morrow or next day. He came down to dinner. and I’m to go back to see the patient at one o’clock. Wimbush. I haven’t yet seen the author of ‘Obsessions. for she has consented to his remaining in bed so that he may be all right to-morrow for the listening circle. when he next takes his medicine. Wimbush came up to see him. but Lady Augusta Minch was very shy of him. Absolute quiet and warmth and the regular administration of an important remedy are the points he mainly insists on. I tried to send him to bed and indeed thought I had put him in the way of it. being allowed to have a fire in his room.’ but of course I’ve had a moment by myself with the Doctor. It consoles me a little that he certainly won’t be able to read—an exertion he was already more than unfit for. but he quite refuses to talk about the future. Lady Augusta went off after 185 .

her superiority to prejudice must have come to her early. She looked so juvenile and so innocent that if. I’m rendered almost indifferent. for she’s a goodnatured woman. that I had made the acquaintance of this celebrity and that she was a pretty little girl who wore her hair in what used to be called a crop. the well-meaning ravages of our appreciative circle I bow my head in submission to some great natural. she was resigned to the larger latitude. at Prestidge.” Later in the day I informed my correspondent. but she’ll do what she can. Toward evening I became conscious somehow that her superiority was contagious. as Mr.’ That was precisely what made her give the thing to Lord Dorimont and made Lord Dorimont bag it. assuring me her first care would be to follow up the lost manuscript. in fact quite gay (ha-ha!) by the sense of immitigable fate. Before dinner I received a telegram from Lady Augusta Minch.The Death of the Lion breakfast. I can see she thinks me a shocking busybody and doesn’t understand my alarm. some universal accident. “Lord Dorimont thinks he 186 . I’ve the worst forebodings. but it was communicated to me from below that Guy Walsingham. One would suppose it some thrilling number of the family budget. What use he has for it God only knows. who’s aware of the accident. Mrs. Wimbush. I thought of Dora Forbes and felt that he had no time to lose. for whom indeed I kept a loose diary of the situation. As I consider the unconscious. was a success. and by the time the company separated for the night I was sure the larger latitude had been generally accepted. but somehow I’m strangely without passion— desperately calm. Morrow had announced. ‘So are they all honourable men. I spent most of the day hovering about Neil Paraday’s room. The last evidence is that her maid did give it to his lordship’s valet. is much less agitated by it than she would doubtless be were she not for the hour inevitably engrossed with Guy Walsingham. Lady Augusta promises me to trace the precious object and let me have it through the post by the time Paraday’s well enough to play his part with it.

he was to have a nurse. “Le roy est mort—vive le roy”: I was reminded that another great author had already stepped into his shoes. Wimbush. Push enquiries. There was a certain gladness. mentioned to me that Guy Walsingham had made a very favourable impression on her Imperial Highness. Indeed I think every one did so. on the morrow. like the money-market or the national honour. but he admitted to me that night that my friend was gravely ill. and my spirits rose to such cheerfulness that I could almost laugh over Lady Augusta’s second telegram: “Lord Dorimont’s servant been to station—nothing found. Fool that I had been: the thirty-seven influential journals wouldn’t have destroyed it. Mrs. When the nurse arrived she turned me out of the room.” How could I enquire—if I was to take the word as a command? I was too worried and now too alarmed about Neil Paraday. they’d only have printed it. There could be no question of moving him: we must at any rate see first. He was proud of being called to so distinguished a patient.” I did laugh. a perceptible bustle in the air. It was really a relapse. however. on which I went downstairs. and it was an immense satisfaction to me to be sure he was wise and interested. On the morrow the dear man was easier. and that. When I came down again after the 187 .Henry James must have left bundle in train—enquire. on the spot. which I thought slightly anomalous in a house where a great author lay critically ill. whose social gift never shone brighter than in the dry decorum with which she accepted this fizzle in her fireworks. Of course I said nothing to Paraday. her Imperial Highness was constitutionally sensitive. a recrudescence of his old malady. Meanwhile. I’m sure. Morrow to point his umbrella at. The Doctor came back. and the Princess graciously remarked that he was only to be commiserated for missing the society of Miss Collop. what turn his condition would take. I should premise that at breakfast the news that our brilliant friend was doing well excited universal complacency. as I remembered this to be the mystic scroll I had scarcely allowed poor Mr.

We looked at each other hard a moment.The Death of the Lion nurse had taken possession I found a strange gentleman hanging about the hall and pacing to and fro by the closed door of the drawing-room. the disconcerted drop of Miss Collop’s public manner: she must have been in the midst of the larger latitude.” I smiled. but had suffered a scruple to restrain him from penetrating further. he had a big red moustache and wore showy knickerbockers—characteristics all that fitted to my conception of the identity of Dora Forbes. but not so fast as not to hear. This personage was florid and bald. Guy Walsingham has just published a work in which amiable people who are not initiated have been pained to see the genius of a sister-novelist held up to unmistakeable ridicule. The new visitor whispered to me that he judged something was going on he oughtn’t to interrupt. your distinguished confrere—or shall I say your formidable rival?” “Oh!” growled Dora Forbes. only it was the author of “Obsessions” who now furnished the sacrifice. pausing to listen at his gesture of caution. expressed it in an infernal “Do!” After this I got out into the air. In a moment I saw what had happened: the author of “The Other Way Round” had just alighted at the portals of Prestidge. I recognised his scruple when. Then he added: “Shall I spoil it if I go in?” “I should think nothing could spoil it!” I ambiguously laughed. The famous reading had begun. “Miss Collop?” “Guy Walsingham. he gave an irritated crook to his moustache. so fresh an exhibition does it seem to them of the dreadful way men 188 . Producing with extreme rapidity. “Shall I go in?” he presently asked. “and the Princess has a thirst for the inedit. I heard a shrill voice lifted in a sort of rhythmic uncanny chant. then I expressed something bitter that was in me.” Dora Forbes lifted his bushy brows. when the door of the drawing-room opened. Dora Forbes evidently felt the dilemma. “Miss Collop arrived last night.

Little country practitioner as he was. and I roamed alone about the empty terraces and gardens. and she went up to town with him in great publicity. a fortunate circumstance doubtless. after a brief improvement. Day by day I saw him sink. and Guy Walsingham emigrated with her. it’s true. This was not the kind of performance for which she had invited him to Prestidge. so Mrs. The sudden turn for the worse her afflicted guest had. at the present hour. let alone invited the Princess. If the interruption I had whimsically sanctioned was almost a scandal. is immensely pushed by Mrs. however. What happened at Prestidge later in the day is of course contemporary history.Henry James have always treated women. Dora Forbes. She departed as promptly as if a revolution had broken out. small comfort as I was to have at the end. taken on the third night raised an obstacle to her seeing him before her retreat. His wife never came near him. The privilege was withheld indeed from Dora Forbes. I was kindly permitted to remain. her usual way of dealing with her eminent friends that a couple of days of it exhausted her patience. he literally packed off the Princess. but I scarcely noticed it: as I paced there with rage in my heart I was too full of another wrong. I must add that none of the generous acts marking her patronage of intellectual and other merit have done so much for her reputation as her lending Neil Paraday the most beautiful of her numerous homes to die in. He decreed in the interest of his patient an absolutely soundless house and a consequent break-up of the party. and this was not denied even to Mrs. what is to be said of that general scatter of the company which. began to take place in the evening? His rule was soothing to behold. This was so little. Wimbush and has sat for his portrait to the young artists she protects. He took advantage to the utmost of the singular favour. 189 . sat for it not only in oils but in monumental alabaster. Wimbush kept her latest capture temporarily concealed. for she was fundamentally disappointed in him. under the Doctor’s rule. Wimbush.

She had signified her willingness to meet the expense of all advertising. you know.” Neil Paraday murmured. Some190 . the promise seems to me less sacred. that precious heritage of his written project. Fortunately I’ve a devoted associate in the person of a young lady who has every day a fresh indignation and a fresh idea. to suppose it can have been wantonly destroyed. who had really been worried to death. I’ve kept the advertising in my own hands. Paraday’s sweepings. “That thing I read you that morning. the night before he died. My undiscourageable search for the lost treasure would make a long chapter. and at any rate intolerable. I’m convinced that if such pages had appeared in his lifetime the Abbey would hold him to-day. was extremely sorry. It may be imagined whether. some brutal fatal ignorance has lighted kitchen-fires with it. with the tenderest editorial care. It’s impossible. for I didn’t want to be taunted by her with desiring to aggrandise myself by a public connexion with Mr.” “It is a glorious book. But where was that precious heritage and were both the author and the book to have been snatched from us? Lady Augusta wrote me that she had done all she could and that poor Lord Dorimont. as indeed she was always ready to do.” “In your garden that dreadful day? Yes!” “Won’t it do as it is?” “It would have been a glorious book. The last night of the horrible series. I couldn’t have the matter out with Mrs.The Death of the Lion In the event of his death it would fall to me perhaps to bring out in some charming form. I put my ear closer to his pillow. and who maintains with intensity that the prize will still turn up. Wimbush. Every stupid and hideous accident haunts my meditations.” “Beautifully!” I passionately promised. now that he’s gone. “Print it as it stands—beautifully. Perhaps some hazard of a blind hand. but the manuscript has not been recovered. with notes.

191 . The only thing for us at all events is to go on seeking and hoping together.Henry James times I believe her. and we should be closely united by this firm tie even were we not at present by another. but I’ve quite ceased to believe myself.

and in seven-and-twenty years there is room for changes. all the forgotten impressions of that enchanting time come back to me.—They told me I should find Italy greatly changed.The Diary of a Man of Fifty The Diary of a Man of Fifty by Henry James FLORENCE. in the long intervals of consciousness? Where do they hide themselves away? in what unvisited cupboards and crannies of our being do they preserve themselves? They are like the lines of a letter written in sympathetic ink. There have been moments during the last ten years when I have fell so portentously old. 1874. but they afterwards faded away. APRIL 5TH. so fagged and finished. What in the world became of them? Whatever becomes of such things. At the moment they were powerful enough. fresh page. the thing has been lying before me today as a clear. It is the warmth of this yellow sun of Florence that has been restoring the text of my own young romance. that I should 192 . But to me everything is so perfectly the same that I seem to be living my youth over again. hold the letter to the fire for a while and the grateful warmth brings out the invisible words.

Henry James

have taken as a very bad joke any intimation that this present sense of juvenility was still in store for me. It won’t last, at any rate; so I had better make the best of it. But I confess it surprises me. I have led too serious a life; but that perhaps, after all, preserves one’s youth. At all events, I have travelled too far, I have worked too hard, I have lived in brutal climates and associated with tiresome people. When a man has reached his fifty-second year without being, materially, the worse for wear—when he has fair health, a fair fortune, a tidy conscience and a complete exemption from embarrassing relatives— I suppose he is bound, in delicacy, to write himself happy. But I confess I shirk this obligation. I have not been miserable; I won’t go so far as to say that—or at least as to write it. But happiness— positive happiness—would have been something different. I don’t know that it would have been better, by all measurements—that it would have left me better off at the present time. But it certainly would have made this difference—that I should not have been reduced, in pursuit of pleasant images, to disinter a buried episode of more than a quarter of a century ago. I should have found entertainment more—what shall I call it?—more contemporaneous. I should have had a wife and children, and I should not be in the way of making, as the French say, infidelities to the present. Of course it’s a great gain to have had an escape, not to have committed an act of thumping folly; and I suppose that, whatever serious step one might have taken at twenty-five, after a struggle, and with a violent effort, and however one’s conduct might appear to be justified by events, there would always remain a certain element of regret; a certain sense of loss lurking in the sense of gain; a tendency to wonder, rather wishfully, what might have been. What might have been, in this case, would, without doubt, have been very sad, and what has been has been very cheerful and comfortable; but there are nevertheless two or three questions I might ask myself. Why, for instance, have I never married—why have I never been able to care 193

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for any woman as I cared for that one? Ah, why are the mountains blue and why is the sunshine warm? Happiness mitigated by impertinent conjectures—that’s about my ticket. 6TH.—I knew it wouldn’t last; it’s already passing away. But I have spent a delightful day; I have been strolling all over the place. Everything reminds me of something else, and yet of itself at the same time; my imagination makes a great circuit and comes back to the starting-point. There is that well-remembered odour of spring in the air, and the flowers, as they used to be, are gathered into great sheaves and stacks, all along the rugged base of the Strozzi Palace. I wandered for an hour in the Boboli Gardens; we went there several times together. I remember all those days individually; they seem to me as yesterday. I found the corner where she always chose to sit— the bench of sun-warmed marble, in front of the screen of ilex, with that exuberant statue of Pomona just beside it. The place is exactly the same, except that poor Pomona has lost one of her tapering fingers. I sat there for half an hour, and it was strange how near to me she seemed. The place was perfectly empty—that is, it was filled with HER. I closed my eyes and listened; I could almost hear the rustle of her dress on the gravel. Why do we make such an ado about death? What is it, after all, but a sort of refinement of life? She died ten years ago, and yet, as I sat there in the sunny stillness, she was a palpable, audible presence. I went afterwards into the gallery of the palace, and wandered for an hour from room to room. The same great pictures hung in the same places, and the same dark frescoes arched above them. Twice, of old, I went there with her; she had a great understanding of art. She understood all sorts of things. Before the Madonna of the Chair I stood a long time. The face is not a particle like hers, and yet it reminded me of her. But everything does that. We stood and looked at it together once for half an hour; I remember perfectly what she said. 194

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8TH.—Yesterday I felt blue—blue and bored; and when I got up this morning I had half a mind to leave Florence. But I went out into the street, beside the Arno, and looked up and down—looked at the yellow river and the violet hills, and then decided to remain— or rather, I decided nothing. I simply stood gazing at the beauty of Florence, and before I had gazed my fill I was in good-humour again, and it was too late to start for Rome. I strolled along the quay, where something presently happened that rewarded me for staying. I stopped in front of a little jeweller’s shop, where a great many objects in mosaic were exposed in the window; I stood there for some minutes—I don’t know why, for I have no taste for mosaic. In a moment a little girl came and stood beside me—a little girl with a frowsy Italian head, carrying a basket. I turned away, but, as I turned, my eyes happened to fall on her basket. It was covered with a napkin, and on the napkin was pinned a piece of paper, inscribed with an address. This address caught my glance—there was a name on it I knew. It was very legibly written—evidently by a scribe who had made up in zeal what was lacking in skill. Contessa Salvi-Scarabelli, Via Ghibellina—so ran the superscription; I looked at it for some moments; it caused me a sudden emotion. Presently the little girl, becoming aware of my attention, glanced up at me, wondering, with a pair of timid brown eyes. “Are you carrying your basket to the Countess Salvi?” I asked. The child stared at me. “To the Countess Scarabelli.” “Do you know the Countess?” “Know her?” murmured the child, with an air of small dismay. “I mean, have you seen her?” “Yes, I have seen her.” And then, in a moment, with a sudden soft smile—”E bella!” said the little girl. She was beautiful herself as she said it. “Precisely; and is she fair or dark?” The child kept gazing at me. “Bionda—bionda,” she answered, 195

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looking about into the golden sunshine for a comparison. “And is she young?” “She is not young—like me. But she is not old like—like—” “Like me, eh? And is she married?” The little girl began to look wise. “I have never seen the Signor Conte.” “And she lives in Via Ghibellina?” “Sicuro. In a beautiful palace.” I had one more question to ask, and I pointed it with certain copper coins. “Tell me a little—is she good?” The child inspected a moment the contents of her little brown fist. “It’s you who are good,” she answered. “Ah, but the Countess?” I repeated. My informant lowered her big brown eyes, with an air of conscientious meditation that was inexpressibly quaint. “To me she appears so,” she said at last, looking up. “Ah, then, she must be so,” I said, “because, for your age, you are very intelligent.” And having delivered myself of this compliment I walked away and left the little girl counting her soldi. I walked back to the hotel, wondering how I could learn something about the Contessa Salvi-Scarabelli. In the doorway I found the innkeeper, and near him stood a young man whom I immediately perceived to be a compatriot, and with whom, apparently, he had been in conversation. “I wonder whether you can give me a piece of information,” I said to the landlord. “Do you know anything about the Count SalviScarabelli?” The landlord looked down at his boots, then slowly raised his shoulders, with a melancholy smile. “I have many regrets, dear sir—” “You don’t know the name?” “I know the name, assuredly. But I don’t know the gentleman.” I saw that my question had attracted the attention of the young 196

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Englishman, who looked at me with a good deal of earnestness. He was apparently satisfied with what he saw, for he presently decided to speak. “The Count Scarabelli is dead,” he said, very gravely. I looked at him a moment; he was a pleasing young fellow. “And his widow lives,” I observed, “in Via Ghibellina?” “I daresay that is the name of the street.” He was a handsome young Englishman, but he was also an awkward one; he wondered who I was and what I wanted, and he did me the honour to perceive that, as regards these points, my appearance was reassuring. But he hesitated, very properly, to talk with a perfect stranger about a lady whom he knew, and he had not the art to conceal his hesitation. I instantly felt it to be singular that though he regarded me as a perfect stranger, I had not the same feeling about him. Whether it was that I had seen him before, or simply that I was struck with his agreeable young face—at any rate, I felt myself, as they say here, in sympathy with him. If I have seen him before I don’t remember the occasion, and neither, apparently, does he; I suppose it’s only a part of the feeling I have had the last three days about everything. It was this feeling that made me suddenly act as if I had known him a long time. “Do you know the Countess Salvi?” I asked. He looked at me a little, and then, without resenting the freedom of my question—”The Countess Scarabelli, you mean,” he said. “Yes,” I answered; “she’s the daughter.” “The daughter is a little girl.” “She must be grown up now. She must be—let me see—close upon thirty.” My young Englishman began to smile. “Of whom are you speaking?” “I was speaking of the daughter,” I said, understanding his smile. “But I was thinking of the mother.” 197

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“Of the mother?” “Of a person I knew twenty-seven years ago—the most charming woman I have ever known. She was the Countess Salvi—she lived in a wonderful old house in Via Ghibellina.” “A wonderful old house!” my young Englishman repeated. “She had a little girl,” I went on; “and the little girl was very fair, like her mother; and the mother and daughter had the same name— Bianca.” I stopped and looked at my companion, and he blushed a little. “And Bianca Salvi,” I continued, “was the most charming woman in the world.” He blushed a little more, and I laid my hand on his shoulder. “Do you know why I tell you this? Because you remind me of what I was when I knew her—when I loved her.” My poor young Englishman gazed at me with a sort of embarrassed and fascinated stare, and still I went on. “I say that’s the reason I told you this—but you’ll think it a strange reason. You remind me of my younger self. You needn’t resent that—I was a charming young fellow. The Countess Salvi thought so. Her daughter thinks the same of you.” Instantly, instinctively, he raised his hand to my arm. “Truly?” “Ah, you are wonderfully like me!” I said, laughing. “That was just my state of mind. I wanted tremendously to please her.” He dropped his hand and looked away, smiling, but with an air of ingenuous confusion which quickened my interest in him. “You don’t know what to make of me,” I pursued. “You don’t know why a stranger should suddenly address you in this way and pretend to read your thoughts. Doubtless you think me a little cracked. Perhaps I am eccentric; but it’s not so bad as that. I have lived about the world a great deal, following my profession, which is that of a soldier. I have been in India, in Africa, in Canada, and I have lived a good deal alone. That inclines people, I think, to sudden bursts of confidence. A week ago I came into Italy, where I spent six months when I was your age. I came straight to Florence—I was eager to see 198

” said my young friend. “Oh. If you too are staying at this inn. then.” 199 . fortunately the beauty is always here.” The young man inclined himself a little. it’s my whole situation over again. We will walk down the Arno to the Cascine.” “So am I ridiculous.” he murmured. We had a great deal of talk: it’s not only myself.” He glanced at me again. and we strolled for an hour beside the river and through the shady alleys of that lovely wilderness. It’s an introduction to beauty.” said my companion. my dear boy.” “Yes. He stood and looked away for a moment at the river and the mountains. it’s enchanting.Henry James it again. I couldn’t express it.” I answered. “One can’t express that.” “The first time one comes—as I have done—it’s a revelation. He hesitated a moment. we are fellow-travellers. one never forgets it. we are two very reasonable. There are several things I should like to ask of you. I used to try—I used to write verses. “do you prefer?” My companion looked a little mystified. “to come back.” “Well. “No.” “Oh. What form of it. “I am very fond of the pictures. I like to hear. in silence. as if he had been struck with a sudden respect. “Are you very fond of Italy?” I asked.” I asked. and at last he said.” “And it must be a great pleasure. let us take a walk. “we are not ridiculous. I have taken the liberty of giving you a hint of them. They have been crowding upon me ever so thickly.” I said. “It’s very beautiful. on account of associations. On the subject of Italy I was very ridiculous.” My young Englishman assented with an air of almost filial confidence. superior people. But that’s nothing to you. “That’s the way I used to talk. I remember well. “On the contrary.” “Just so.

My companion admitted that he had heard her daughter say so. smiling. with wrinkles accentuated by the dust of ages. stood above us and listened to our talk.” I said.” said the young man. “The Countess Salvi died ten years ago. which do you like best?” “Oh. he had evidently heard nothing.The Diary of a Man of Fifty “So was I.” “So did I. A week. “that I have never seen the mother. and a solemn blank-eyed Hermes. Later. perhaps.” “Very true. but I had certain favourites. I keep confounding. and then he confessed that the group of painters he preferred. a great many. I was so struck with this that I stopped short. I will tell you. Has the daughter the same charm?” “You forget. a month—it was all the same to me.” “A week?” For a moment he said nothing. on the whole.” I added.” said my young man. We sat down on an old stone bench in the Cascine. “A month. 200 . was that of the early Florentines. A very short time. But the daughter—how long have you known her?” “Only since I have been here.” Again the young man hesitated a little. “She was a very interesting woman—there are a great many things to be said about her.” “I think it is more than a month. to all others. I have heard that.” “Yes.” “That’s just the answer I should have made.” “And what else have you heard?” My companion stared at me. “After I knew her she married again. “The Count Salvi died before I knew her—a couple of years after their marriage. And among the pictures. “That was exactly my taste!” And then I passed my hand into his arm and we went our way again.

The furniture is covered with pale sea-green.” continued my friend.” “The analogy is complete.” He too was silent. then—in twenty-seven years. Before you come into the drawingroom you stand a moment in a great vaulted place hung round with faded tapestry.” “I hope he appreciated it! There is a fountain in the court. and furnished only with three chairs. In the drawing-room. is a superb Andrea del Sarto.” 201 . and there is a charming old garden beyond it. But the furniture is in pale red. and there is a medallion by Luca della Robbia set into the wall at the place where it makes a bend.” “Ah. Somehow I took for granted it was all over. “brought it to her husband as her marriage-portion. “But the friend who gave me my letter to Madame de Salvi died many years ago. I never thought of the little girl. “I should like to see that. “Why don’t you go and see it? If you knew the mother so well. I don’t know why it never came into my mind that her daughter might be living in Florence. paved with bare tiles.Henry James “It’s probably six. I walked past the palace yesterday and saw that it was occupied.” “And there’s a portrait of Madame de Salvi. it’s magnificent. I was silent a moment. admired her greatly. Then he asked. “The Andrea del Sarto is there. How did you make her acquaintance?” “By a letter—an introduction given me by a friend in England. “The mother was a very dangerous woman. The staircase is of white marble. above the fireplace. why don’t you call upon the daughter?” “From what you tell me I am afraid. too.” My companion listened to all this.” said my friend. I never heard what had become of her. The Countess’s sittingroom looks into that garden.” “What have I told you to make you afraid?” I looked a little at his ingenuous countenance. He. they have changed it.” “The Countess Scarabelli.” I said. but I took for granted it had changed hands.

save that he is a better boy than I. He goes to see her every evening and stays half the night. “it’s time to go. All her mother’s friends were dear to her.” I don’t know at what time he comes home. old enough to be his father. I desire to remember only what was good in her. Today he brought me a message from his Contessa—a very gracious little speech. and that I asked permission to come and see her.” he said. battered soldier. towards 3 A. He continues to represent to me. He is evidently acutely interested in his Countess. but I suppose his evening seems as short as mine did. and a most amiable young fellow he is. She remembered often to have heard her mother speak of me—she called me her English friend. these Florentines keep the most extraordinary hours.—I have seen that poor boy half a dozen times again.” And as we walked back I begged him to render me the service of mentioning my name to his friend. I remember. in the most extraordinary manner. and leads quite the same life with her that I led with Madame de Salvi.” I answered “for after all. and of course it can’t in the least signify to him that a poor grizzled. but he presently inquired in what way the Countess Salvi had been dangerous. “Are you very sure?” He didn’t say he was sure. my own young identity. the correspondence is perfect at all points..—”Come.The Diary of a Man of Fifty The young Englishman began to blush again. should come to call upon his inammorata. Madame de Salvi used to turn me out. and of saying that I had known her mother well. If you were to stay later people might talk. Poor young Stanmer (he is of the Devonshire Stanmers—a great property) reported this speech verbatim. 9TH. “The daughter is not. But I remember how it used to matter to me when 202 . She is always at home of an evening. and she begged I would do her the honour to come and see her.M. “You must not ask me that. come.” she would say.

but with her mother’s perfect head and brow and sympathetic. However. Her face has just that peculiarity of her mother’s. Repose in her face always suggested sadness. I suppose I am afraid of the very look of the place—of the old rooms.Henry James other men came. and three or four other admirers. I don’t know what I’m afraid of. but I couldn’t bring myself to the point. So. she thought an old English name as good. There are the same cypresses on the opposite hills. they all got up when I came in. which. I am afraid of the very echoes.—She has the most extraordinary resemblance to her mother. I think I had been talked about. They were old Florentine names. I meant to go tonight to Casa Salvi. Camerino was thirty-four—and then the others! She was always at home in the evening. Poor young Stanmer was there. eyes. almost pitying. of old. and yet with the same faults in her face. It is very warm—my window is open—I can look out on the river gliding past in the starlight. and they all used to come. when I came home. and while you were watching it with a kind of awe. and there was some curiosity. When I went in I was tremendously startled. the old walls. I used to be in a hurry enough to go there once. I shall go tomorrow night. and wondering of 203 . At twenty-five I shouldn’t have been afraid of myself at fifty-two. What a transcendent coquette! … But basta cosi as she used to say. it is past midnight. was the one that passed most quickly and completely from the expression of gaiety to that of repose. 10TH. But she used to let me stay after them all. She is a wonderful likeness of her mother. I stood starting at her. I used to stand and look out. of all human countenances that I have ever known. it’s only because I’m so old. that’s a point of difference. I have just come home. But why should I have been talked about? They were all youngish men—none of them of my time. Beautiful like her mother. I have been all the evening at Casa Salvi. I couldn’t get over it.

any more than the mother. who carried a twinkling taper before me up the great dark marble staircase. were almost uninterrupted. I have received an impression of you. But I was sure she had forgotten me.” said the Countess.” said the Countess.’ she used to call you—’il mio Inglese.” “Why are you surprised? Were you not good friends?” “Yes. The Countess Scarabelli’s smiles tonight.” “She never forgot. “my mother often spoke of you. She greeted me—divinely. “I am surprised at that. and I was admitted by a solitary servant.” “She was not like most other women in any way. “I have often heard of you. The Countess. and not answering this: it was just her mother’s trick.” “Often?” I answered. the rooms. The house. it kindled. still laughing. looking at me intently and smiling.’” “I hope she spoke of me kindly. “Ah. but they don’t modify the general effect. “She was not like that. She is thin and very fair.” “A good one. “I have always been very curious to see you.” I declared. gave a little shrug balancing her hand 204 . for a certain time—very good friends. and young Stanmer sat in the corner of the sofa—as I used to do—and watched her while she talked. vaporous black that completes the resemblance. there may be changes of detail. she was charming. rattling open her fan. however. on the instant. are almost absolutely the same. I suppose.” She looked at me. laughing. The furniture is worn and faded. as her mother used to do.The Diary of a Man of Fifty what tragic secret it was the token. The daughter is not rich.” cried the Countess. There are the same precious pictures on the walls of the salon—the same great dusky fresco in the concave ceiling.” I insisted. “‘My Englishman. I hope. and was dressed in light. as I sat down near her. into a radiant Italian smile.

“You want to know what the Signora Contessa says about you.Henry James to and fro.” I said. then. That will make a difference. I always supposed you had had a quarrel.” Instantly she began to smile. She was always pretending she was not clever. and in reality—” “In reality she was an angel. You are very—how shall I say it?—very eccentric.” said our hostess.” I went on.” I said to Stanmer. in his corner of the sofa.” “You are almost a match for the Signora Contessa.” Stanmer looked straight into her face. But let us talk of you. “I like men who are afraid of nothing.” I said. very gravely. “He’s as quiet as a lamb—he’s like all the world.” She looked at me with sudden gravity. “I don’t care a straw what she says. You will see for yourself.” “Every one tells me that. she spoke of you as a great original.” “That speech. He is in love with you.” 205 .” I answered.” cried the Countess. “So-so. eh? To escape from dangerous comparisons I will admit. that I am clever. “Oh. You don’t mind my being frank like this—eh?” “I delight in it. he coloured and got up—then came toward us. But aren’t all Englishmen eccentric? All except that one!” and the Countess pointed to poor Stanmer. it reminds me of your mother. “Like all the world—yes. “She declares she doesn’t care a pin’s head what you think. He had seen that we were talking about him.” “Is that what your mother told you?” “To tell the truth. “he is peculiar in this: he is rather afraid of you. she turned her face toward Stanmer.” “Well. “I don’t object to your saying that for all the world—but I do for him. I know just what he is. “completes the resemblance. “I know what you want. But I am not clever like her.

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“I recognise the Countess’s style!” Stanmer exclaimed, turning away. “One would think,” said the Countess, “that you were trying to make a quarrel between us.” I watched him move away to another part of the great saloon; he stood in front of the Andrea del Sarto, looking up at it. But he was not seeing it; he was listening to what we might say. I often stood there in just that way. “He can’t quarrel with you, any more than I could have quarrelled with your mother.” “Ah, but you did. Something painful passed between you.” “Yes, it was painful, but it was not a quarrel. I went away one day and never saw her again. That was all.” The Countess looked at me gravely. “What do you call it when a man does that?” “It depends upon the case.” “Sometimes,” said the Countess in French, “it’s a lachete.” “Yes, and sometimes it’s an act of wisdom.” “And sometimes,” rejoined the Countess, “it’s a mistake.” I shook my head. “For me it was no mistake.” She began to laugh again. “Caro Signore, you’re a great original. What had my poor mother done to you?” I looked at our young Englishman, who still had his back turned to us and was staring up at the picture. “I will tell you some other time,” I said. “I shall certainly remind you; I am very curious to know.” Then she opened and shut her fan two or three times, still looking at me. What eyes they have! “Tell me a little,” she went on, “if I may ask without indiscretion. Are you married?” “No, Signora Contessa.” “Isn’t that at least a mistake?” “Do I look very unhappy?” She dropped her head a little to one side. “For an Englishman—no!” “Ah,” said I, laughing, “you are quite as clever as your mother.” 206

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“And they tell me that you are a great soldier,” she continued; “you have lived in India. It was very kind of you, so far away, to have remembered our poor dear Italy.” “One always remembers Italy; the distance makes no difference. I remembered it well the day I heard of your mother’s death!” “Ah, that was a sorrow!” said the Countess. “There’s not a day that I don’t weep for her. But che vuole? She’s a saint its paradise.” “Sicuro,” I answered; and I looked some time at the ground. “But tell me about yourself, dear lady,” I asked at last, raising my eyes. “You have also had the sorrow of losing your husband.” “I am a poor widow, as you see. Che vuole? My husband died after three years of marriage.” I waited for her to remark that the late Count Scarabelli was also a saint in paradise, but I waited in vain. “That was like your distinguished father,” I said. “Yes, he too died young. I can’t be said to have known him; I was but of the age of my own little girl. But I weep for him all the more.” Again I was silent for a moment. “It was in India too,” I said presently, “that I heard of your mother’s second marriage.” The Countess raised her eyebrows. “In India, then, one hears of everything! Did that news please you?” “Well, since you ask me—no.” “I understand that,” said the Countess, looking at her open fan. “I shall not marry again like that.” “That’s what your mother said to me,” I ventured to observe. She was not offended, but she rose from her seat and stood looking at me a moment. Then—“You should not have gone away!” she exclaimed. I stayed for another hour; it is a very pleasant house. Two or three of the men who were sitting there seemed very civil and intelligent; one of them was a major of engineers, who offered 207

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me a profusion of information upon the new organisation of the Italian army. While he talked, however, I was observing our hostess, who was talking with the others; very little, I noticed, with her young Inglese. She is altogether charming—full of frankness and freedom, of that inimitable disinvoltura which in an Englishwoman would be vulgar, and which in her is simply the perfection of apparent spontaneity. But for all her spontaneity she’s as subtle as a needlepoint, and knows tremendously well what she is about. If she is not a consummate coquette … What had she in her head when she said that I should not have gone away?—Poor little Stanmer didn’t go away. I left him there at midnight. 12TH.—I found him today sitting in the church of Santa Croce, into which I wandered to escape from the heat of the sun. In the nave it was cool and dim; he was staring at the blaze of candles on the great altar, and thinking, I am sure, of his incomparable Countess. I sat down beside him, and after a while, as if to avoid the appearance of eagerness, he asked me how I had enjoyed my visit to Casa Salvi, and what I thought of the padrona. “I think half a dozen things,” I said, “but I can only tell you one now. She’s an enchantress. You shall hear the rest when we have left the church.” “An enchantress?” repeated Stanmer, looking at me askance. He is a very simple youth, but who am I to blame him? “A charmer,” I said “a fascinatress!” He turned away, staring at the altar candles. “An artist—an actress,” I went on, rather brutally. He gave me another glance. “I think you are telling me all,” he said. “No, no, there is more.” And we sat a long time in silence. At last he proposed that we should go out; and we passed in the street, where the shadows had begun to stretch themselves. 208

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“I don’t know what you mean by her being an actress,” he said, as we turned homeward. “I suppose not. Neither should I have known, if any one had said that to me.” “You are thinking about the mother,” said Stanmer. “Why are you always bringing her in?” “My dear boy, the analogy is so great it forces itself upon me.” He stopped and stood looking at me with his modest, perplexed young face. I thought he was going to exclaim—“The analogy be hanged!”—but he said after a moment— “Well, what does it prove?” “I can’t say it proves anything; but it suggests a great many things.” “Be so good as to mention a few,” he said, as we walked on. “You are not sure of her yourself,” I began. “Never mind that—go on with your analogy.” “That’s a part of it. You are very much in love with her.” “That’s a part of it too, I suppose?” “Yes, as I have told you before. You are in love with her, and yet you can’t make her out; that’s just where I was with regard to Madame de Salvi.” “And she too was an enchantress, an actress, an artist, and all the rest of it?” “She was the most perfect coquette I ever knew, and the most dangerous, because the most finished.” “What you mean, then, is that her daughter is a finished coquette?” “I rather think so.” Stanmer walked along for some moments in silence. “Seeing that you suppose me to be a—a great admirer of the Countess,” he said at last, “I am rather surprised at the freedom with which you speak of her.” I confessed that I was surprised at it myself. “But it’s on account of the interest I take in you.” 209

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“I am immensely obliged to you!” said the poor boy. “Ah, of course you don’t like it. That is, you like my interest—I don’t see how you can help liking that; but you don’t like my freedom. That’s natural enough; but, my dear young friend, I want only to help you. If a man had said to me—so many years ago— what I am saying to you, I should certainly also, at first, have thought him a great brute. But after a little, I should have been grateful—I should have felt that he was helping me.” “You seem to have been very well able to help yourself,” said Stanmer. “You tell me you made your escape.” “Yes, but it was at the cost of infinite perplexity—of what I may call keen suffering. I should like to save you all that.” “I can only repeat—it is really very kind of you.” “Don’t repeat it too often, or I shall begin to think you don’t mean it.” “Well,” said Stanmer, “I think this, at any rate—that you take an extraordinary responsibility in trying to put a man out of conceit of a woman who, as he believes, may make him very happy.” I grasped his arm, and we stopped, going on with our talk like a couple of Florentines. “Do you wish to marry her?” He looked away, without meeting my eyes. “It’s a great responsibility,” he repeated. “Before Heaven,” I said, “I would have married the mother! You are exactly in my situation.” “Don’t you think you rather overdo the analogy?” asked poor Stanmer. “A little more, a little less—it doesn’t matter. I believe you are in my shoes. But of course if you prefer it, I will beg a thousand pardons and leave them to carry you where they will.” He had been looking away, but now he slowly turned his face and met my eyes. “You have gone too far to retreat; what is it you know about her?” 210

Henry James

“About this one—nothing. But about the other—” “I care nothing about the other!” “My dear fellow,” I said, “they are mother and daughter—they are as like as two of Andrea’s Madonnas.” “If they resemble each other, then, you were simply mistaken in the mother.” I took his arm and we walked on again; there seemed no adequate reply to such a charge. “Your state of mind brings back my own so completely,” I said presently. “You admire her—you adore her, and yet, secretly, you mistrust her. You are enchanted with her personal charm, her grace, her wit, her everything; and yet in your private heart you are afraid of her.” “Afraid of her?” “Your mistrust keeps rising to the surface; you can’t rid yourself of the suspicion that at the bottom of all things she is hard and cruel, and you would be immensely relieved if some one should persuade you that your suspicion is right.” Stanmer made no direct reply to this; but before we reached the hotel he said—”What did you ever know about the mother?” “It’s a terrible story,” I answered. He looked at me askance. “What did she do?” “Come to my rooms this evening and I will tell you.” He declared he would, but he never came. Exactly the way I should have acted! 14TH.—I went again, last evening, to Casa Salvi, where I found the same little circle, with the addition of a couple of ladies. Stanmer was there, trying hard to talk to one of them, but making, I am sure, a very poor business of it. The Countess—well, the Countess was admirable. She greeted me like a friend of ten years, toward whom familiarity should not have engendered a want of ceremony; she made me sit near her, and she asked me a dozen questions about my 211

But I think you are like that. “Ah. it was all the more reason she should have been careful. As I say. she met my eyes gravely. smiling.” “If she was intending to marry again. Today I spent an hour in Michael Angelo’s chapel at San Loreozo.” murmured the Countess. “Twenty-seven? Altro!” “I mean my own past.” “At the time only?” “Well. “It seems to me that your question is a little impertinent.” I said.” I looked at her a moment. Your lamented father was dead—and she had not yet contracted her second marriage. She dropped her fan with a certain violence. “Have you lately looked at any of them?” I asked. “Are you very careful?” I said. the pictures are beautiful.The Diary of a Man of Fifty health and my occupations. “I went to a great many of those places with your mother. yes.” “Ah yes.” “Twenty-seven years old.” said the Countess. “Those things are very old. cara Signora? She was perfectly free. into the old palaces and the churches. to accompany me to the Uffizzi. your mother did me the honour.” I answered. “she made sacrifices. so it seems to me now. “Have you gone to the galleries with him?” She hesitated a moment.” “Ah. over the top of her fan. more than once.” “So it seemed to me at the time.” “To what. “I go into the galleries. “I live in the past.” “My mother must have been very kind to you.” “Eh. you are impertinent!” 212 .” I said.” “A little impertinent? Never. that’s the past.” said the Countess. if you prefer. glancing at Stanmer.

that I knew you when you were three years old. “I have forgotten it now. “If it was not. I may surely ask such questions. But you are right.” “I remember him. My stepfather was very kind to me. “I saw him a great many times—your mother already received him. She was wonderfully nice 213 .” I said. I bear the poor man no resentment. and simply remarked to the Countess that as his fault had been so was his punishment.” “You have not forgiven her that!” said the Countess.” “Did he fight any more duels?” “He was killed in a duel. however. instead of shocking me. saying nothing.”—I wonder if the late Count Scarabelli was also killed in a duel. It seems almost monstrous. her own brief married life had been happy. as well. unfortunately for him. after all these years. Most assuredly. and if his adversary … Is it on the books that his adversary.” My hostess sat with lowered eyes. “I don’t judge my mother. I think. that woman is consummately plausible.” she said.” said the Countess. shall perish by the pistol? Which of those gentlemen is he. I trust.” I said. very gravely. unlike her mother’s. caused me to feel a strange exhilaration. And your stepfather—is he still living?” “He died—before my mother. I wonder? Is it reserved for poor little Stanmer to put a bullet into him? No. but she presently looked up. She was certainly thinking of her second marriage. “Have you?” I asked. “She was very unhappy with my father. more lightly. especially as I can give no reason for it—but this announcement. will do as I did. Of course I controlled my manner. that the feeling of which I speak was at the bottom of my saying to her that I hoped that. one must do your mother justice. That is a mortal sin.” “That I can easily believe. discreetly.Henry James “Ah no. “Remember that I am old enough to be your father. And yet. poor little Stanmer.

If your beautiful mother were to come to life for an hour she would see the resemblance. “And he is very intelligent. I am so much interested. and over it all something so picturesquely simple and southern. I suppose. I was very hand214 . Such frankness and freedom. Was I like that—was I so constantly silent? I suspect I was when I was perplexed.” said my hostess. “I don’t like to praise him too much. without any of the stiffness.” “Bel tipo inglese. She is a perfect Italian. After the talk I have just jotted down she changed her place. partly. expressive eyes upon me. “I stay on from day to day.” I rejoined.” “Eh.” She stood there resting her smile and her clear. she was really irresistible. “I hope you are not leaving Florence yet. and that my week was over. he has a beautiful mind.The Diary of a Man of Fifty last evening. so much of the brightness. I’m glad our city pleases you!” “Florence pleases me—and I take a paternal interest to our young friend. “I have become very fond of him. he reminds me so much of what I was at his age. of good breeding. “And yet you don’t look at all like him!” “Ah. you didn’t know me when I was twenty-five. Before I went away I had a few more words tete-a-tete with the Countess. and the conversation for half an hour was general. Stanmer indeed said very little.” I added. But she comes honestly by it.” She gave me a little amused stare. such graceful gaiety. “lest I should appear to praise myself. it’s the beautiful moment.” she said. “you will stay a while longer?” I answered that I came only for a week. and Heaven knows that very often my perplexity was extreme. because he is shy of talking a foreign tongue. glancing at Stanmer. and yet something so soft and womanly.

” she answered.” “And you mean. “he can’t read the riddle?” “You yourself. it isn’t that.Henry James some! And. Madame Scarabelli seemed struck with his attitude.” she said. I should be sorry to have him think any evil of me. 215 .” She looked round at him. that I am a puzzle to poor Mr. and as fortune would have it. I laughed out—I laugh still as I write it.” “All my mother ever told me was that you were—a sad puzzle to her. moreover.” And she looked straight at me—seriously.” “And so you mean that Mr. Remember it was you who said he was intelligent. like him. it’s the mental resemblance. and staring at the ceiling with the expression of a man who has just been asked a conundrum. his appearance at that moment quite confirmed my assertion.” At this. “Well. “Don’t you see. I was ingenuous. of course. but I was. appealingly—with her beautiful candid brow. not in the least addicted to thinking evil. that was my situation—I was a sad puzzle to a very clever woman. I couldn’t easily imagine any harm of any one. since she occasionally did me the honour to speak of me. “said he was incapable of thinking evil. fundamentally.” The Countess gave me one of her serious looks. Stanmer?” “He is racking his brains to make you out.” “Your mother might have told you. candid. trusting. therefore. then. He was lounging back in his chair with an air of indolence rather too marked for a drawing-room. I mean that his situation is the same as mine. “Come.” I said.” “Trusting? I remember my mother once telling me that you were the most suspicious and jealous of men!” “I fell into a suspicious mood. Stanmer is in a suspicions mood?” “Well. “what was it—this famous situation of yours? I have heard you mention it before.

and I confess that in the perception of his happiness I have lived over again my own. I profess an admiration for the Countess Scarabelli. to indulge in painful imagery. 26TH. He is very happy in spite of his doubts. If I am a puzzle to him.” she went on.” “I admit I am inconsistent. I have proposed to him to come with me to Venice for a fortnight. I have seen a good deal also of my young friend—had a good many walks and talks with him. for I accept her hospitality. but meanwhile I have been half a dozen times to Casa Salvi. This is so much the case that when. smiling. just now. In the first place—it’s obvious—I am open to the charge of playing a double game. in a manner which might have meant— ”How could that be possible?” “I have a great esteem for him. “I want him to think well of me. you seem to me. I told him that if he was bent upon knowing I would satisfy him. Explain me to him. but that it seemed a pity. and at the same time I attempt to poison your mind. in the second place. but there are various reasons for it. though my admiration for the Countess and my desire to prevent you from taking a foolish step are equally sincere.” “Explain you. And then. do me a little service.—I have written nothing for a good many days. isn’t that the proper expression? I can’t exactly make up my mind to that. on the whole. so happy! 216 . dear lady?” “You are older and wiser than he. he at last made up his mind to ask me to tell him the wrong that Madame de Salvi had done me. and then she turned away.The Diary of a Man of Fifty I inclined myself. Make him understand me. “But I thought you wanted so much to put me out of conceit of our friend. the other day.” She looked deep into my eyes for a moment. but he won’t listen to the idea of leaving Florence. I rather checked his curiosity.

To be young and ardent.” he added in a moment. Heaven knows I admired that! It’s a nice point.” said Stanmer. “You admire her as much as I do. “Are you jealous of me. That would be more loyal. “I would break off my relations. “in the case you speak of I would give the lady notice. Besides. and to believe in the moral perfection of a beautiful woman—what an admirable situation! Float with the current. “I recommend nothing. but I am at least not a partner to the conspiracy. “Recommend you!” he exclaimed. that is so delightful while it lasts. “the Countess knows your state of mind.” “Otherwise.” “In such a case. because your conduct contradicts your words.” “Your real reason is that you feel you have no case against the poor lady. and I think I laughed. I never said she was a vulgar flirt.” “I just admitted that I admired her. but I have never minded it. how much one is hound in honour not to warn a young friend against a dangerous woman because one also has relations of civility with the lady. no matter how pernicious.” said Stanmer. however. because I have always understood it.” “I have always said that the Countess is fascinating. in the midst of an Italian spring. These are the rare moments of life.” 217 . I’ll stand on the brink and watch you. “Not in the least. I may be the victim to be rescued. and that you propose to do your best to rescue a simple-minded youth from her wiles. It is not the first time he has laughed at me.” “Give her notice?” “Mention to her that you regard her with suspicion. her mother was an absolutely scientific one.” I looked at him. by chance?” He shook his head emphatically.” And he began to laugh again. laughing again.” said Stanmer. “Is that what you recommend me to say to the Countess?” I asked.Henry James One hesitates to destroy an illusion. I like to see you there.

5TH. She declares that she has a good conscience. by the way. after all. under a mixture of impulses. however. does curiosity reduce a man!) Let him finish the story in his own way. a quarter of a century later. There need be no scruples on either side. She is as free to use every possible art to entangle poor Stanmer more closely as I am to clip her fine-spun meshes. I should like to see how he would agree with her after she had devoured him—(to what vulgar imagery. however. it is open war.The Diary of a Man of Fifty “Has she told you so?” Stanmer hesitated. but why. But as regards her meshes.—Hang it. “she’s an accomplished woman!” And it is indeed very clever of her to take that tone. She must hate me intensely. Under the circumstances. she has guessed them for herself.” “Ah. why. It is the same story.—Ah. I have had it on my conscience not to go near the Countess again—and yet from the moment she is aware of the way I feel about her. as I finished it in mine. “She has begged me to listen to everything you may say against her. but I have lingered on in Florence. should it have the same denoument? Let him make his own denoument. I don’t want the poor boy to be miserable. Stanmer afterwards assured me explicitly that he has never given her a hint of the liberties I have taken in conversation with—what shall I call it?—with her moral nature. but did my denoument then prove such a happy one? 218 .” said I. and yet her manner has always been so charming to me! She is truly an accomplished woman! MAY 4TH.—I have stayed away from Casa Salvi for a week. should I clip them? It would really be very interesting to see Stanmer swallowed up. 6TH. we naturally shouldn’t meet very cordially.

I am not sure that she would have accepted it—I am by no means clear that she wanted that. however. am I not describing the Scarabelli?” “The Countess Scarabelli never lied!” cried Stanmer. “There was a man always there—Count Camerino. and yet I didn’t trust her.” And he sat there beside she candle. The trouble. of course. If I had moments of dislike for the divine Bianca. “What was it she did to you?” he asked. But she wanted. at moments. With my name and my prospects.—He came to my room late last night. Unfortunately they didn’t last long. I was prepared to do. was simply that I was jealous of him. I was very much in love with her. at any rate. she had a charm which made it pure pedantry to be conscious of her faults. But you know what I mean. he was a sort of fixture in the house. I don’t know. “Have you quarrelled with the Countess?” But he only repeated his own. I might perfectly have offered her my hand. I answered him first with another question. I can’t say what I expected—I can’t say what. Camerino was always there.” “A man may want to know!” said the innocent fellow. very intelligent. wanted keenly. he was much excited. I believed that she could be cruel. is my story. Nevertheless. I had no moments of liking for him.” “The man she married?” “The man she married. on what ground I could have quarrelled with him. to attach me to 219 . “This. very civil. as the matter stood. “What was it she did to you?” “Sit down and I’ll tell you. not in the least disposed to make a quarrel with me. And yet he was a very agreeable fellow. I couldn’t help laughing out. and while these moments lasted I would have done anything for her.Henry James 7TH. “That’s just what I would have said to any one who should have made the insinutation! But I suppose you are not asking me the question you put to me just now from dispassionate curiosity. for I had no definite rights. staring at me. I was sure that she lied.

That was what she wanted—a rich. he stood looking out a moment. it appeared. ‘He has all the appearance of being your lover. “I must do her complete justice. my career.’ I said. and she admitted that her husband’s jealousy had been the occasion of it.” At this Stanmer got up and walked to the window. ‘because you like him so much. she turned pale.’ ‘Good heavens!’ I cried. she wanted to have me about.” “It remains perfectly true that at a given moment I was capable of doing as I say. I honestly believe she was fond of me.” he said. The Count. then she said: ‘He killed my husband. She took it very strangely.’ I retorted. ‘How can he be my lover after what he has done?’ she asked. and something had just happened to bring it out. It was a brutal speech. rather neatly. susceptible. certainly.The Diary of a Man of Fifty her. for I had been at no pains to conceal my feeling about him. And yet. meanwhile. credulous. “You know she was older than I. had been anything but irreproachable. “Madame Scarabelli is older than you.” I added.’ ‘I assure you I don’t like him.’ she answered. but she was not indignant. ‘Che voule?’” “Is that all?” asked Stanmer. convenient young Englishman established near her en permanence. she went on to say that Camerino had killed Count Salvi in a duel. “yours should be asked twenty-five years hence. he had done a mortal injury to a man 220 . I should have been capable of giving up everything—England. ‘What has he done?’ She hesitated a good while. ‘I dislike him. to live near her and see her every day. then?” asked Stanmer. and then he turned round. One day in the garden. ‘and you receive him!’ Do you know what she said? She said. was a monster of jealousy— he had led her a dreadful life.” “Why didn’t you do it. “Why don’t you?” “To be a proper rejoinder to my question. He himself.” I went on. but any other man in my place would have made it. her mother asked me in an angry tone why I disliked Camerino. “No. my family—simply to devote myself to her.

he had not as yet obtained it. and the man whom his wife subsequently married. “I am bound to believe it was for the same reason. by the whole story. I was horrified. his eyes were fixed on mine. By an extraordinary arrangement (the Italians have certainly no sense of fair play) the other man was allowed to be Camerino’s second.” said Stanmer. in an access of jealous fury the Count had struck Camerino in the face. This gentleman took a fancy not to contradict the impression. the other gentleman had the credit of having put his blade through M. among the public. though at first it was not expected to be fatal. So long as he consented. The duel with Camerino had come on first. to do her justice. he died on the following day. I know not how justly. and it was allowed to subsist. it was of course in Camerino’s interest not to contradict it.Henry James of whom he pretended to be a friend. did not tell me that her husband was a coward). And as for Salvi having been a brute. at any rate. de Salvi. and it was not known. didn’t like him.” 221 . “Why didn’t she contradict it?” I shrugged my shoulders. and this affair had become notorious. The gentleman in question had demanded satisfaction for his outraged honour. I was extremely shocked at the Countess’s want of dignity in continuing to see the man by whose hand her husband had fallen. The matter was hushed up as much as possible for the sake of the Countess’s good name. that marriage is hard to get over. “Its not being known made no difference. “Yes.” Stanmer had listened to all this with extreme attention. that is but a way of saying that his wife.” Stanmer hooked extremely meditative. The duel was fought with swords. It was not becoming. was deemed expiable before the other. as it left him much more free to keep up his intimacy with the Countess. and so successfully that it was presently observed that. and this outrage.” “The husband had been a great brute. but for some reason or other (the Countess. and the Count received a wound of which.

and I declared I would never see her again. I read that the Countess Bianca Salvi.” “If you had been you would have come back—three days after.’ as Falstaff says!” And Stanmer began to laugh. Ah. But it was not then I needed my resolution. famous for some years as the presiding genius of the most agreeable seen in Florence.” “That’s about the same thing. “Did you tell Madame de Salvi that your instinct was against her?” “No. and in one of them was a letter from Italy.” “So doubtless it seems to you. Besides. I never saw her again. and other delectable items. and she answered that her husband had been a brute. and I had trusted my instinct. All I can say is that it was the great effort of my life. therefore it was no scandal.” said Stanmer. it was a tremendous escape! I had been ready to marry the woman who was capable of that! But my instinct had warned me.” 222 . Being a military man. my dear boy. Just your argument! I retorted that this was odious reasoning. no one knew it. with a lot of so-called ‘fashionable intelligence. it was when I left Florence in a post-chaise. The post brought me some English papers. In the heat of my displeasure I left Florence.The Diary of a Man of Fifty “Ah. “what a long breath I drew when I heard of it! I remember the place and the hour. and I kept my vow. shocked me. And what did she say?” “She asked me what I would have? I called her friendship with Camerino a scandal. I have had on various occasions to face time enemy. and that she had no moral sense. horrified me.” said I. “I was not—three months after.” “‘Instinct’s everything. was about to bestow her hand upon Count Camerino. among various scandals in high life. We had a passionate argument. seven years after I had left Florence. a distinguished Bolognese. I told her that she frightened me. It was at a hill-station in India.” “You couldn’t have been much in love with her.’ There.

at any rate. He was silent a while. And then she wished to get the credit of being very frank. 11TH. and then he added—”Perhaps she wouldn’t have done so if you had remained. 10TH. to his fate.—I went this evening to bid farewell to the Scarabelli.” “Good heavens.—He’s an obstinate little wretch. “I’ll take care of that myself!” And he went away—satisfied. which was lighted only by a couple of candles. she was alone in her great dusky drawing-room. She married Camerino.” “I don’t see any Camerino in my case. how you must have analysed her!” cried my companion. it is growing insupportably hot.” said Stanmer. But there it is.” “She was afraid it would damage her more that I should think he was her lover. it irritates me to see him sticking to it.” he cried. She wished to say the thing that would most effectually persuade me that he was not her lover—that he could never be. “Upon my word. drily. “you have analysed her!” “You ought to he grateful to me.” “Yes. “There is nothing so analytic as disillusionment. with the immense 223 . I have done for you what you seem unable to do for yourself.” he said. It could only damage her. I don’t lime that. There was no one there.” He has a little innocent way! “Very likely she would have dispensed with the ceremony. I hope. Perhaps he is looking for his Camerino.” I answered. staring.” “Thank you. “Perhaps among those gentlemen I can find one for you.” he said. I shall leave him. and then he said: “I don’t understand! I don’t understand why she should have told you that Camerino had killed her husband.Henry James Stanmer turned about the room two or three times.

” At this moment there was the sound of a step in the ante-chamber. of course. at any rate. This evening you are enchanting.” “I won’t say I’m sorry!” she said. But in a moment she came back.” “But yours is abominable!” she exclaimed. You are too wise for that. “I think you say that only for form.” I answered.” “Ah no. “But I am very glad to have seen you. I have too much reason rather than too little. you must find me so.” “You have. and stood looking at me.” She looked at me a while. with a laugh. You are a curiosity. “How could you treat my mother so?” she asked. why I had been so long without coming. A man who can resist your charms! The fact is.” “Yes. and her beautiful solemn eyes seemed to shine in the dimness of the room. and I thank you and kiss your hands.The Diary of a Man of Fifty windows open over the garden. and if it had been it seems to me she was consoled. I leave Florence tomorrow. She was dressed in white. “I imagine you know. I can’t. She asked me. I am only too sane. and I saw that the Countess perceived it to be Stanmer’s. you have treated me with wonderful kindness. laughing again. 224 . I always wondered about you. “Of course you can’t like me or my ideas. she was deucedly pretty. what we call a fixed idea.” “There is no harm in that so long as it’s a good one. and it is the first time I have been alone with you.” She gave no heed to this. she turned away. “I think you are a little crazy. All things considered. “Treat her so?” “How could you desert the most charming woman in the world?” “It was not a case of desertion.” “Che! what have I done?” “Nothing at all.

but he said he was very glad to have made my acquaintance. interrupting our talk. almost angrily— ”Yes. made out by the aid of a street lamp that Stanmer was but just coming home. it does irritate me—the way he sticks! He was followed in a moment by two or three of the regular Italians. and. “My poor mother needed a protector.” But.” I said. I stood a long time at the window. and have been here these three days. after an interval. I called to him to come to my rooms. and upon my word. and then. I kept her hand an instant. “Good-bye. Instead of going to bed.” she murmured. he made his appearance. “I want to bid you good-bye. Signore.” Stanmer came in. and looking at me. I must have bullied you immensely.” He made no attempt to say he was sorry. looking out at the river. and then bent my venerable head and kissed it. 225 . and she gave me her hand in silence. I thought. BOLOGNA.Henry James “That wouldn’t have happened. Presently I heard a slow footstep beneath my window. still night.—I left Florence on the 11th. and I made my visit short. After all. Don’t go to the trouble of saying you are sorry. late at night. Of course you are not. She looked at me from head to foot. meddlesome bore. I think I appeased her. I afterwards fell asleep in my chair. He must think me indeed a tiresome. I wonder at his docility. softly. “I shall depart in the morning.” I said. 14TH. the night was half over when I woke up. and the first faint streaks of sunrise were in the sky. It was a warm. after coming back from Casa Salsi. he’s five-and-twenty—and yet I must add. “Do you need a protector?” I added. and looking down. to deprecate her anger. turning it all over. Delightful old Italian town—but it lacks the charm of my Florentine secret. Countess. with a little air of bravado. I wrote that last entry five days ago.

pointed by his candid young countenance. dated Rome. whom I saw in Florence—a remarkable little note. “My dear General—I have it at heart to tell you that I was married a week ago to the Countess Salvi-Scarabelli. PARIS. smiling. I hope it will last—I mean his cleverness. I myself had been so especially happy. with his little innocent air. a greater force than it had ever had before. S. “P.” “Have you found Camerino?” I asked.” “Well. everything occurs to one sooner or later.” That’s what I said to him.—Yours ever. “Has it ever occurred to you that you may have made a great mistake?” “Oh yes. DECEMBER 17TH. but I didn’t say that the question. E. Things that involve a risk are like the Christian faith. S. had.The Diary of a Man of Fifty “Your conversation.” I said. 226 . they must be seen from the inside. and worth transcribing. “some day when you find that you have made a great mistake. not his happiness. as things had turned out.” he said. You talked me into a great muddle.—A fig for analogies unless you can find an analogy for my happiness!” His happiness makes him very clever.—A note from young Stanmer.” He looked for a minute as if he were trying to anticipate that day by the exercise of his reason. “has been very suggestive. And then he asked me whether. “I have given up the search. but a month after that it was all very clear. remember I told you so. for the moment.

As I have had the honour to say. at Lady H—’s. I must do him the justice to say that he looks felicitous. you never did. and then.” “I am sure the Countess has forgiven me. Come and make her acquaintance. for I remember I used to disparage that woman to him. “My dear young friend.” “I was not alluding to my wife. I had a complete theory about her. but it was rather awkward.” And he gave a little significant laugh. which I didn’t pretend to forget. “Depend upon it you were wrong!” he said. “Oh yes. I had to do that. suddenly breaking off and looking at me. I met Edmund Stanmer. “and in that case you ought to bear no grudge. I want you to know her.—Last night.Henry James LONDON.” “Oh no. I will call upon her immediately.” “You forget that I do know her.” “My own story?” 227 . But he didn’t seem at all stiff. he appeared to enjoy our encounter. he laid his hand on my arm. “Depend upon it you were wrong. with a fresh contented face. A handsome young fellow.” Something else again was spoken of. “imagine the alacrity with which I concede it.” he answered. but that I would do myself the honour of calling upon his wife. on the contrary.” I answered. APRIL 19TH.” I said. “I was thinking of your own story. We talked for a minute of something else. but in an instant he repeated his movement. I heard the other day that they had come to England. who married Bianca Salvi’s daughter. you don’t. she’s in one of the other rooms. 1877. He reminded me of Florence. so I said that I was leaving the house. I didn’t feel like facing the ci-devant Scarabelli at that moment. I asked him if his wife were there.

how the questions come crowding in! If I marred her happiness. And I might have made it—eh? That’s a charming discovery for a man of my age! 228 . “That’s not a question to solve in a London crush. Was it not rather a mistake?” I looked at him a moment.The Diary of a Man of Fifty “So many years ago.—I haven’t yet called on the ci-devant. Wasn’t it rather a mistake?” Was I wrong—was it a mistake? Was I too cautions—too suspicious—too logical? Was it really a protector she needed—a man who might have helped her? Would it have been for his benefit to believe in her.” And I turned away. 22D. I certainly didn’t make my own. and was her fault only that I had forsaken her? Was the poor woman very unhappy? God forgive me. I am afraid of finding her at home. And that boy’s words have been thrumming in my ears—“Depend upon it you were wrong. he’s positively rosy.

He knew that such precipitation looked eager. It was really degrading to be eager in the face of having to “alter. with the taste of acrid smoke. principled though he was in favour of it. Locket’s rather curt note had said. and Peter Baron had scarcely swallowed his leathery muffin before he got into motion to obey the editorial behest. but how could he maintain a godlike calm. like a child with a sea-shell at his ear. but I’ll take it if you’ll alter it.” Peter Baron tried to figure to himself at 229 .Henry James Sir Dominick Ferrand by Henry James “THERE ARE SEVERAL OBJECTIONS to it. I’ll show you what I mean. in his third-class carriage. a specimen of his ardent young genius? It was not till. the first time one of the great magazines had accepted.” This communication had reached Jersey Villas by the first post. he began to be aware of the great roar of the “underground. to his inner sense. and there was no waste of words in the postscript in which he had added: “If you’ll come in and see me. and he had no desire to look eager—it was not in his interest. even with a cruel reservation.” Mr. the cruelty of the reservation penetrated.” that.

there was no want of vividness in his occasional suspicion that he passed there for a familiar bore. had even seen her pass in and out. 3. in the befogged gaslight. The only thing that was clearly flattering was the fact that the Promiscuous rarely published fiction. had taken possession of the rooms on the ground floor. and that would more than make up to him for a phrase in one of Mr. Bundy’s terminology. Tormenting indeed had always seemed to him such a fate as to have the creative head without the creative hand. It should be mentioned. he encountered the lady who. Locket’s inexorable earlier notes. and from his window. and this observation had created in his mind a vague prejudice in her favour. “You don’t seem able to keep a character together. but he saw that to the small round eye of this still more downtrodden brother he represented selfish success. the door of which stood open to a small front garden). the bookstall standard of literature and asked himself whose character had fallen to pieces now. Locket his attention had been briefly engaged by an incident occurring at Jersey Villas. Such a preju230 . two or three times. He had heard her. He made believe—as if to the greasy fellow-passenger opposite—that he felt indignant. He should therefore be associated with a deviation from a solemn habit. On leaving the house (he lived at No. the “parlours” of Mrs. however. but whatever might be thought in the office of that periodical of some of his flights of fancy.Sir Dominick Ferrand that moment that he was not flying to betray the extremity of his need. as he sat in his corner while the train stopped. He would have liked to linger in the conception that he had been “approached” by the Promiscuous. but hurrying to fight for some of those passages of superior boldness which were exactly what the conductor of the “Promiscuous Review” would be sure to be down upon. a phrase which still rankled. considered. Peter Baron. about his showing no symptom of the faculty really creative. a week before.” this pitiless monitor had somewhere else remarked. that before he started on his mission to Mr.

she positively preferred tenants who were clever.Henry James dice. she had satisfied Mrs. whom she occasionally allowed to amuse himself—under restrictions very publicly enforced—in the tiny black patch which. who considered her “parlours” (they were a dozen feet square). and Mrs. not from her singing (for she only played). had threshed out the subject of the new lodger in advance with our young man. Bundy.” Mrs. but from her gay admonitions to her child. and Mrs. Mrs. the earnest proprietress of No. Bundy that she was not a simple strummer. reminding him that her affection for his own person was a proof that. Ryves’s piano would blight his existence if her hand should prove heavy or her selections vulgar. was held. had not falsified this somewhat rash prediction. if possible. Everything would depend on the “touch” of their inmate. other things being equal. Bundy. Bundy. This was the case with Mrs. even more attractive. to be a feature. Ryves. for herself. 3. She had furthermore a little boy and a very sweet voice. than the second floor with which Baron had had to content himself—Mrs. who evidently knew thoroughly what she was about. Ryves. it was true. She never 231 . semidetached. who reserved the drawing-room for a casual dressmaking business. but if she played agreeable things and played them in an agreeable way she would render him rather a service while he smoked the pipe of “form. as a forecourt to each house. Mrs. and Peter could honestly reply that his ear was equally sensitive. in the humble row. she had a weakness for a pretty tune. who wanted to let her rooms. but it was still less to be overlooked that she had a cottage piano. Bundy admitted to Peter Baron that. had been subjected to a violent test. guaranteed on the part of the stranger a first-class talent. Jersey Villas stood in pairs. of which Peter Baron had caught the accent. Mrs. it had been fairly apparent that she had a light step. Ryves—such was the name under which the new lodger presented herself—had been admitted to the house as confessedly musical.

Harmony. and his mother appeared to have come out for a moment. you would have supposed to be divided from the obnoxious instrument by walls and corridors. which was Baron’s working-time. who was so reasonable. Baron’s excuse of being “littery”(he kept a bull-terrier and had five hats—the street could count them). of massive structure and fabulous extent. Ryves’s conception of it was that she seemed devoted to the dismal. bareheaded. obstacles and intervals. 4. This gentleman had taken up an attitude which had now passed into the phase of correspondence and compromise. Bundy. they floated up. on the contrary. and the only criticism he would have made of Mrs. could not be said of the gentleman of No. it was not so on the rights and the wrongs of landladies. if you had listened to Mrs. to see that he was doing no harm.Sir Dominick Ferrand played in the morning. 4. and on whatever subject the sentiment of Jersey Villas might have been vague. She was discussing with him the responsibility that he might incur by passing a piece of string round one of the iron palings and pretending he was in command of a “geegee”. who had not even Mr. however. Bundy as open to no objection but that of their own gentleman. therefore. Ryves’s little boy was in the garden as Peter Baron issued from the house. and he found himself listening with pleasure at other hours to her discreet and melancholy strains. “Ou geegee!” in a manner productive of some refined embar232 . however. It was not. Mrs. shouting. and whom. He really knew little about music. Ryves’s piano was on the free side of the house and was regarded by Mrs. Mrs. but it happened that at the sight of the other lodger the child was seized with a finer perception of the drivable. As much. but it was the opinion of the immediate neighbourhood that he had not a leg to stand upon. that these strains were not pleasant to him. as a sort of conscious response to some of his broodings and doubts. He rushed at Baron with a flourish of the bridle. would have reigned supreme had it not been for the singularly bad taste of No.

strike him as the voice of another. hereupon clamoured for another ride. permittingly shook her head to get rid of them.” She looked gentle and bright as she spoke. She gave a vague exclamation and. She had made an impression which remained till the other party to the conversation reached the railway-station. The little boy. and he put his fingers exuberantly into her hair. so that while she smiled at Baron she slowly. nodding slightly but not unsociably. when it was superseded by the thought of his prospective discussion with Mr. is not against their wall. 233 .Henry James rassment to his mother. as it fell upon his ear. you know. to moderate his transports. so that by the time this performance was over—it took but a few seconds—the young man felt introduced to Mrs. who was handsome. and as the young man’s eyes rested on her the tolerance for which she expressed herself indebted seemed to him the least indulgence she might count upon. she added: “It’s very good of you not to complain of my piano. and she took him up herself. with a sudden expressiveness which made his voice. you’re not a nuisance!” and felt more and more introduced. “If they really make a fuss I’m afraid I shall have to go. no. Her smile struck him as charming. don’t go!” Baron broke out. and such an impression shortens many steps. thank you—you mustn’t let him worry you”. having put down the child and raised his hat. though my room. She stood a moment with the child in her arms.” “I particularly enjoy it—you play beautifully. Baron met his advance by mounting him on a shoulder and feigning to prance an instant. in the house. he was turning away. “I have to play. you see—it’s all I can do.” said Peter Baron. Locket. don’t find me a nuisance. Ryves. “Oh. This was a proof of the intensity of that interest. Therefore I thank you for letting me tell them that you. and then as.” she went on. passed back into the house. But he only laughed and said “Oh. She said. “Oh. But the people next door don’t like it.

he looked vaguely into shop-windows for solutions and hints. He had had the question out with Mr. Mr. He felt lavish this morn234 . and that was a tribute which Baron was in a position to make the most of. to look at. and he was in a flutter which ought to have been a sense of triumph and which indeed at first he succeeded in regarding in this light. Locket had had to admit that there was an idea in his story. in the awkward attitude engendered by the poor piece of furniture. If by exception he went out when the day was young he noticed that life seemed younger with it. a fresher bustle. a different air was in the streets and a chaff of traffic for the observer of manners to catch. and he had a foreknowledge that if ever he should ruin himself it would be well before noon. amiable house. often rosy. This inference was probably a part of the joy in which Peter Baron walked as he carried home a contribution it pleased him to classify as accepted. But there was also a scene which scandalised the editorial conscience and which the young man had promised to rewrite. Locket. as it began to worry him. He went some distance without settling that point. which had to serve as his altar of literary sacrifice. Locket lived in the depths of Chelsea. and then. one of the rickety features of Mrs. Above all. Bundy’s second floor. in a little panelled. were all matutinal. The idea that Mr. who quitted his editor with his manuscript under his arm. in a London walk in the morning.Sir Dominick Ferrand The aftertaste of the later conference was also intense for Peter Baron. There was a new amusement for him. there were livelier industries to profit by and shop-girls. it was the time when poor Baron made his purchases. Mr. these were hours that he habitually spent at his table. Locket had been so good as to disengage depended for clearness mainly on this scene. and Baron took his way homeward along the King’s Road. his extravagances. which were wholly of the wandering mind. for some mysterious reason. He walked to work off his excitement and to think in what manner he should reconstruct. so it was easy to see his objection was perverse.

Henry James ing. as he hinted. It was an old piece. Peter suffered himself to be conducted into an interminable dusky rear. Bundy with a freedom that cost her nothing. Before the old bookshops and printshops. He never saw a commodious writing-table. but there was one that detained him in supreme contemplation. which he described as remarkably cheap for what it was. There was a fine assurance about it which seemed a guarantee of masterpieces. the sum mentioned by the voluble vendor mocked at him even more than he had feared.” he used. to commit luxurious follies. without being freshly reminded of Mrs. just to help himself on his way. Peter Baron glanced at them all through the fronts of the shops. There were several such tables in the King’s Road— they seemed indeed particularly numerous today. the crowded panes of the curiosity-mongers and the desirable exhibitions of mahogany “done up. On this particular occasion the King’s Road proved almost unprecedentedly expensive. with elbow-room and drawers and a fair expanse of leather stamped neatly at the edge with gilt. but when at last he went in and. where he presently found himself bending over 235 . He refurnished Mrs. but it had got pushed out of sight in one of the upper rooms—they contained such a wilderness of treasures—and happened to have but just come to light. and he was on the point of completing his comedy by a pensive retreat when the shopman bespoke his attention for another article of the same general character. For once in a way he had a bad conscience—he felt himself tempted to pick his own pocket. Bundy’s dilapidations. and indeed this occasion differed from most others in containing the germ of real danger. he had lost sight for the moment of what he should have to do for the Promiscuous. by an innocent process. from a sale in the country. and lost himself in pictures of a transfigured second floor. and it had been in stock some time. asked the impossible price. It was far too expensive. on the strength of what the Promiscuous would do for him.

as if fragrant. faint odour in the receptacle. He felt rather vulgar. 236 . with the aid of front legs. he felt that such a basis for literature would be half the battle.Sir Dominick Ferrand one of those square substantial desks of old mahogany. but the davenport arrived that evening at Jersey Villas. hallowed things had once been put away there. firm lid. but as the shopman pushed up a chair for him and he sat down with his elbows on the gentle slope of the large. but it had an old-time solidity and to Peter Baron it unexpectedly appealed. A davenport was a compromise. and at Mrs. After he had sat for a minute with his nose in the friendly desk he had a queer impression that it might tell him a secret or two—one of the secrets of form. on a sort of retreating pedestal which is fitted with small drawers. He raised the lid and looked lovingly into the deep interior. When he took his head out of it he said to the shopman: “I don’t mind meeting you halfway. Bundy’s he had to write on an insincere cardtable. but what was all life but a compromise? He could beat down the dealer. This specimen had visibly seen service. raised. one of the sacrificial mysteries— though no doubt its career had been literary only in the sense of its helping some old lady to write invitations to dull dinners. he reflected on the economy of having a literary altar on which one could really kindle a fire.” He had been told by knowing people that that was the right thing. There was a strange. contracted conveniences known immemorially to the knowing as davenports. He would have said in advance that such an article was exactly what he didn’t want. he sat ominously silent while his companion dropped the striking words: “Now that’s an article I personally covet!” Then when the man mentioned the ridiculous price (they were literally giving it away).

4. The two lodgers had grown regularly acquainted. Ryves. she held her beautiful child in her arms. in reference to their litigious neighbour and the precarious piano. Mrs. She was professional. so between Peter Baron and the lady of the parlours it had become a basis of peculiar agreement. as a letter of furnished lodgings. and for the rest she depended on 237 . and the piano had had much to do with it. looked dimly like a modern Madonna. but Jersey Villas could be proud of a profession that didn’t happen to be the wrong one— they had seen something of that. who when. and a lady who could bring Mrs. Bundy. with the gentleman at No. but she had the highest confidence in Mrs. a topic. was characterised in general by a familiar domestic severity in respect to picturesque young women. She was luminous about her being a lady. he thought it unlikely Mrs. Mrs. Bundy knew this. Ryves was so prepossessing that Peter was sure that even if they had not had the piano he would have found something else to thresh out with her. Fortunately however they did have it. at any rate. Ryves had a hundred a year (Baron wondered how Mrs.Henry James CHAPTER II “I DARESAY it will be all right.” said the poor lady of the “parlours” a few days later. at least. Bundy back to a gratified recognition of one of those manifestations of mind for which she had an independent esteem. as a theme for discussion. and he. he seems quiet now. made the most of it. Just as this instrument served. of conversation frequently renewed. Mrs. knowing more now about his new friend. Ryves had told her). widowed and fatigued.

like Baron himself. She did give a few lessons. and had established independent relations with Peter. Sidney haunted the doorstep of No. The young man’s window. it all went fast. indeed. She had almost no visitors. with manuscripts under her arm. he was sufficiently enlightened. for the little boy had been almost as great a help as the piano. Mrs. they were essentially local. 3 he was eminently sociable. was a frail dependence. and he ended by knowing more or less what she went out for and what she came in from. upstairs. every day. and. Very soon. Her vain approaches were to the music-sellers. to his sense. looked out on their acquaintance. who was also ancient and who came humbly enough to governess the infant of the parlours. Mrs. 238 . and he asked himself at first whether she played country-dances at children’s parties or gave lessons to young ladies who studied above their station. only a decent old lady or two. a frequent feature of which was an adventurous visit. she tried to compose—to produce songs that would make a hit. and. through a starched muslin curtain it kept his neighbour before him. too. made him almost more aware of her comings and goings than he felt he had a right to be. Ryves was a struggler (Baron scarcely liked to think of it). Ryves sometimes went out. Baron judged that her music. still more like Baron. but she occupied a pinnacle for Miss Teagle.Sir Dominick Ferrand her lovely music. poor dingy Miss Teagle. to picture books criticised for not being all geegees and walking sticks happily more conformable. looked out on a good deal of life. she almost always came back with them. even though lovely. and one of the things it had most shown him was that there is nobody so bereft of joy as not to be able to command for twopence the services of somebody less joyous. He was capable of a shyness of curiosity about her and of dumb little delicacies of consideration. who had lived on—and from a noble nursery—into a period of diplomas and humiliation. it would hardly help to fill a concert-room. Peter Baron’s window had always.

the concessions to the platitude of his conception of the public mind were degrading. This rightness was just a vulgar “fluke”—there were lots of words really clever that were of no use at all. but Mr. It was not on one of these occasions. back to his mother. Locket were impossible. laughing. It seemed to look up at him reproachfully and to say. blase and drowsy. Locket’s liberality was to depend on the ingenuity of his contributor. that he supposed any words he should try to produce would be sure to be too clever. yet only three weeks after his first encounter with Mrs. He had made the purchase in anticipation of the money he expected from Mr. and such a re-enforcement to the young man’s style was not impaired by his sense of something lawless in the way it had been gained. but once when he had come in on no better pretext than that of simply wanting to (she had after all virtually invited him). who now found himself confronted with the consequence of a frivolous optimism. The davenport was delightful. Ryves he sat at his delightful davenport (well aware that he had duties more pressing). as he stared at it with his elbows on his desk. she confided to Peter one of the first times he took Sidney. how could you pass your word to mutilate and dishonour me?” The alterations demanded by Mr. after six months of its tottering predecessor. Locket. trying to string together rhymes idiotic enough to make his neighbour’s fortune. an aspect uncompromising and incorruptible. He was satisfied of the fineness of her musical gift—it had the touching note. or any principle of perception more discoverable than the stare of huddled sheep! Peter Baron felt that it concerned him to determine if he were only not clever enough 239 . The public mind!—as if the public had a mind.Henry James A successful song was an income. with its essential finish: “How could you promise anything so base. Peter said. that she mentioned how only one song in a thousand was successful and that the terrible difficulty was in getting the right words. The fruit of his labour presented. The touching note was in her person as well.

at a moment when her little boy was in his room. Ryves might be able to set to music. biting his pen and wondering what was meant by the “rewards” of literature. to guess how much there was still to learn. between sound and sense. That was the way he thought of her now.Sir Dominick Ferrand or if he were simply not abject enough to rewrite his story. to whom he had sacrificed barley-sugar (it had no attraction for his own lips. To spend his mornings over cheap rhymes for her was certainly to shirk the immediate question. He had not ventured to show her anything yet. to taste it as sweet. The truth about his luckless tale was now the more bitter from his having managed. by an inspiration. The experiments would be pleasant enough for him if they were pleasant for his inscrutable neighbour. it seemed to him that. for he had learned enough about her. little by little. and resignation was half of success. the production of gelid prose which his editor could do nothing with on the one side and he himself could do nothing with on the other. in the profession of letters. If the sense was not confused it was because the sound was so familiar. Poor Peter actually flushed with pain as he recognised that this was not success. baffled and sombre. yet in these days there was 240 . for some days. but it might very well become a labour of love. Humility. Success in these experiments wouldn’t be a reward of literature. He had said to the child. was half of practice. he did meet it obliquely when he considered that he shouldn’t be an utter failure if he were to produce some songs to which Mrs. He might in truth have had less pride if he had had more skill. Locket and trying his hand at the sort of twaddle that Mrs. but one morning. he had arrived at the happy middle course (it was an art by itself ). but there were hours when he judged this question to be altogether too arduous. reflecting that he might quite as well perish by the sword as by famine. As he sat there. and more discretion if he had had more practice. he generally ended by tossing away the composition deflowered by Mr. Besides. Ryves’s accompaniments would give a circulation.

He was reminded. and after he had gone Baron stood a moment at the window chinking pennies and keys in pockets and wondering if the charming composer would think his song as good. roamed. while Peter copied off the song in a pretty hand. the traces of Sidney’s assault were visible in three or four ugly scratches. whom with his left arm he held in durance on his knee while with his free hand he addressed the missive to Mrs. Sidney had absorbing occupation and. which stood a few steps out from the recess of the window. as he was fond of beating time to his intensest joys. or in other words as bad. “Confound the little brute!” he exclaimed. At the moment Sidney committed this violence his kind friend had happened to raise the lid of the desk and. about the room. was rummaging among a mass of papers for a proper envelope. As Sidney was fond of errands he was easily got rid of. 241 . Sidney paused an instant. as he thought it. leaving the child for a moment under a demoralising impression of impunity. began to bang on the surface of it with a paper-knife which at that spot had chanced to fall upon the floor. and then the young man. It came of course immediately. he administered another. His eyes as he turned away fell on the wooden back of the davenport.Henry James always some of it about). he had confided to the small Sidney that if he would wait a little he should be intrusted with something nice to take down to his parent. he waited with quick curiosity for a repetition of the stroke. while Peter still hunted for the envelope. I say. and this time a distinctly disobedient. solicitous for the ancient glaze of his most cherished possession. Ryves. my boy!” he exclaimed. then. and. where. In this manner he lurched like a little toper into the rear of the davenport. gurgling and sticky. to his regret. “I say. rap. this thing has a false back!” jumped up and secured his visitor. who had at the same instant found his envelope and ejaculated “Hallo. Peter heard it from within and was struck with its oddity of sound—so much so that. feeling as if an altar had been desecrated. with his head beneath it.

They had admitted moreover that they had accidentally neglected this relic of gentility—it had been overlooked in the multiplicity of their treasures. and. the more so as every indication of it had been cleverly concealed. he knocked on the wood with his knuckle. carrying presumably its secret with it. but his suspicion was strongly confirmed when. and he pried and pressed and fumbled in an eager search for the sensitive spot. The people at the shop had never noticed it. two or three hours after his visit. It sounded from that position commonplace enough. His legendary lore instructed him that where there was a hiding-place there was always a hidden spring. during which he reflected that the people of the shop were not such fools after all. He now recalled that the man had wanted to polish it up before sending it home. again standing beside the desk. he put his head beneath the lifted lid and gave ear while with an extended arm he tapped sharply in the same place. everything fitted with a closeness that completely saved appearances. of the observation this outrage had led him to make. and that. Peter Baron was still boy enough to be thrilled by the idea of such a feature. for further assurance. there was a space between the inner and the outer pieces (he could measure it). so wide that he was a fool not to have noticed it before. he had in his impatience declined to wait for such an operation. else they would have called his attention to it as an enhancement of value. satisfied for his own part with its honourable appearance and averse in general to shiny furniture. there was an absurdity 242 . The article was really a wonder of neat construction. so that the object had left the place for Jersey Villas. The back was distinctly hollow. It took Baron some minutes to pursue his inquiry. and the purpose could only be the creation of a secret compartment.Sir Dominick Ferrand however. The sacrifice could of course only be for a purpose. This secret it seemed indeed capable of keeping. The depth of the receptacle from front to rear was so great that it could sacrifice a certain quantity of room without detection.

Behind the panel was a spring. He thumped and sounded. when pushed. a small sliding panel.Henry James in being baffled. he might have remained for years without suspicion of it. in two vertical rows. which. Not only was there a compartment between the two backs. safe. Its capacity was limited. had at any rate been worth somebody’s hiding. a sliding panel. in its turn. in presence of the ingenuity with which it had been dissimulated. These objects were a collec243 . oblong box. Locket wouldn’t object to. It contained objects which. in the place into which the third on the left-hand row was fitted. revealed the existence of a smaller receptacle. but for the odd chance of little Sidney Ryves’s having hammered on the outside at the moment he himself happened to have his head in the desk. he listened and measured again. for he had been right in guessing that the chamber was not empty. with the happy result of discovering at last. he inspected every joint and crevice. This apparently would have been a loss. of different sizes. there were six in number. but Peter couldn’t find the spring. He took them out again and examined more minutely the condition of their sockets. Baron. with the effect of becoming surer still of the existence of a chamber and of making up his mind that his davenport was a rarity. immediately felt that. which yielded with a click when he pressed it and which instantly produced a loosening of one of the pieces of the shelf forming the highest part of the davenport—pieces adjusted to each other with the most deceptive closeness. but there was distinctly something in the compartment! Perhaps it was a lost manuscript—a nice. in the false back. like a flat button. for it had occurred to him that he had perhaps not sufficiently visited the small drawers. a narrow. but if it couldn’t hold many things it might hold precious ones. old-fashioned story that Mr. whether precious or not. of which. This particular piece proved to be. Peter returned to the charge. inserted sideways into that portion of the structure which formed part of the support of the desk.

which he had many a time paid before. an impossible tantalising wisdom. he was in the presence of something interesting. felt them curiously and snuffed in their vague. He looked at them all narrowly. Standing there before his ambiguous treasure and losing himself for 244 . something like honour or kindness or justice. but he was careful not to loosen them. which affected him with the melancholy of some smothered human accent. but had he given money for these buried papers? He paid by a growing consciousness that a nameless chill had stolen into the air the penalty. of the shape of packets of letters. and he wondered uncomfortably whether the contents of the secret compartment would be held in equity to be the property of the people in the King’s Road. something indeed perhaps even finer still—a difficult deciphering of duty. It was the perception of the danger. but they plainly contained old letters. which caused to remain in abeyance any impulse he might have felt to break one of the seals. They told some old. As Peter Baron held his discoveries successively in his hands he became conscious of a queer emotion which was not altogether elation and yet was still less pure pain. of different sizes. sorted and matched according to dates or to authorship. but it somehow added to his responsibility. the paper looked old—it had turned faintly sallow. He had made a find. He had given money for the davenport. the packets might have been there for ages. It was as if an occasion had insidiously arisen for a sacrifice— a sacrifice for the sake of a fine superstition. he turned them over and over.Sir Dominick Ferrand tion of small fiat parcels. mechanically figured. The little bundles were neither named nor numbered—there was not a word of writing on any of the covers. The seals. for instance. Baron counted them—there were nine in all. bore the impress neither of arms nor of initials. wrapped in white paper and neatly sealed. musty smell. of being made of sensitive stuff. dead story—they were the ashes of fires burned out. but (in a manner he couldn’t have defined) this circumstance suddenly constituted a danger.

He hastily laid a big book over the place and then went and opened his door. The levity was for Peter Baron.Henry James the moment in the sense of a dawning complication. leaving the door ajar. however.” 245 . Then he answered “One moment. irresistible impulse— that of thanking him for it in person and without delay. “and I can’t tell you what pleasure you give me. The visitor came in. Her agitation was so visible that he thought at first that something dreadful had happened to her child—that she had rushed up to ask for help. to help her. quick tap at the door of his sitting-room. “It was the impulse of a kind nature. It offered him a sight none the less agreeable for being unexpected—the graceful and agitated figure of Mrs. and he had not time to work back the spring.” he said. and if. he charged her with the purpose of telling him that he ought to be ashamed to send her down such rubbish. and after a minute during which. she had been guilty of a departure from rigid custom. Ryves. pushing forward the seat of honour and repeating that he rejoiced in such a visit. please!” and slipped the little heap of packets into the biggest of the drawers of the davenport. she was at least conscious of the enormity of the step and incapable of treating it with levity. he was startled by a light. which happened to be open. before answering. Then he perceived that it was probably connected with the desperate verses he had transmitted to her a quarter of an hour before. The aperture of the false back was still gaping. She looked frightened and pretty. she recovered herself sufficiently to stammer out that his song was exactly what she had been looking for and that after reading it she had been seized with an extraordinary. for she had his open manuscript in one hand and was nervously pulling it about with the other. to beg him to go for the doctor. he listened an instant—he was in the attitude of a miser surprised while counting his hoard. in invading the privacy of a fellowlodger. who endeavoured. Instinctively. to clothe his familiarity with respect.

and when her eyes met his own they struck him as anxious and appealing. She looked confusedly at the place in which she found herself. For an instant he felt found out. I wondered if there might be. I think.” his visitor repeated.” “It’s absurd. and now I must go. and it was only his quick second thought that told him how little the incident of which the packet was a sequel was an affair of Mrs. Good-by!” said Mrs.” she answered. Ryves’s. “I shall have to think it over.” said Baron. “I don’t want any—if you’re all right. I only wanted you to know. I’m all right. and evidently wished to appear to have come but for a few seconds. I’m not a bit busy. “What are the words you want changed?” Baron asked. But your sudden fancies are inspirations. His own glanced in the same direction and he saw that in his hurry to shuffle away the packets found in the davenport he had overlooked one of them.” “There isn’t.” “Charming of you. But I like it. and that’s all I wanted to say. “Well. Again she looked at him with a troubled intensity. as if he had been concerned in something to be ashamed of. but on his hearthrug she lingered with such an odd helplessness that he felt almost sorry for her. Good-by. rather absently.” said Baron. Her conscious eyes came back 246 . fixing her eyes an instant on an object on his desk that had caught them. which lay with its seals exposed. You must excuse me.” she added. “Perhaps I can improve it if you find it doesn’t go. and that. I had a sudden fancy. She was evidently not thinking of his song. then suddenly she demanded: “Is there anything the matter with you?” “The matter with me?” “I mean like being ill or worried. “I’m so delighted to do anything for you I can. indeed. though she said three or four times over that it was beautiful. is really why I came up. Ryves. to live with it a little.Sir Dominick Ferrand She declined to sit down.” “There may be a word or two that might be changed.

with the rarest alertness. about giving them back. had been her real motive. and this gave him a lively desire. “What do you advise?” She herself smiled now. Some secret sympathy had made her vibrate—had touched her with the knowledge that he had brought something to light. to appear to have nothing to conceal.” “What are they?” murmured Mrs.” “You’re extraordinary.Henry James to his as if they were sounding them. with her eyes on the sealed parcel. happy desire. “Back to whom?” 247 .” said Mrs. she had guessed something and that her guess (it seemed almost supernatural). “Yes. a grateful. in a secret compartment of my writing-table. “A lot of other things like that. Ryves. holding it before her eyes.” Peter Baron stood smiling at her and rapping his packet on the palm of his hand. They’re sealed.” “You haven’t broken the seals?” She had come further back.” “Are you in a quandary?” the visitor asked. more gaily now. down two flights of stairs. I never heard of anything so miraculous. it determined her still more to put an end to her momentary visit. still looking earnest and asking: “What have you found?” “Some ancient family papers. Ryves. After an instant he saw that she also divined the very reflection he was then making. “I haven’t the least idea. and suddenly this instinct of keeping his discovery to himself was succeeded by a really startled inference that.” And he took up the packet he had left out.” “I knew it. it only happened ten minutes ago. But before she had passed to the door he exclaimed: “All right? How can a fellow be anything else who has just had such a find?” She paused at this. “What did you know?” “That you were in some predicament. “I haven’t had time. For herself.

But I can ascertain by breaking a seal.” Peter Baron reflected. “It has a queer. They didn’t— therefore let them take the consequences. “Charming? It’s horrid.” “Ah then. “The table had been in the place for years. diverted by her intensity. “I haven’t the least idea.Sir Dominick Ferrand “The man of whom I bought the table. he had no idea (from his own point of view it was stupid of him). turning his packet over. They’re yours as much as the people’s of the shop.” She handed him back the packet. they’re not from your family?” “No indeed. and the people had every opportunity to find them out. “It’s rather tantalising—it’s a bit of a problem.” 248 . Ought I to go and tell him? It’s rather a nice question. Mrs.” “Is it honest to keep them?” “Certainly.” he said. that there was a hidden chamber or that mysterious documents were buried there. the piece of furniture in which they were hidden is not an ancestral possession. saying again more emphatically “Don’t!” “Don’t break a seal?” “Don’t give back the papers.” “Are the papers of value?” Mrs. with eyes almost ardent. She looked grave again. charming old fragrance. with much expression.” “That proves the things haven’t been missed. and she looked at it and held it for an instant to her nose. Ryves inquired. Ryves hesitated. Ryves.” Baron went on. “Will you show me what you have in your hand?” He gave her the packet. Obviously the man who sold it to me sold me more than he meant. She was pale. I bought it at second hand—you see it’s old—the other day in the King’s Road.” “Don’t!” said Mrs. They were in the hidden chamber when the table came to the shop.

in their little blank. Ryves went on. Baron’s acquaintance. one way or the other. advanced many steps in the treatment of this question. “Neither can I. and she retorted that at any rate they have other perceptions more delicate than those of men. to which she replied that this was exactly why he ought to be quiet.” he rejoined. an element of friendly candour made its way into their discussion of it. simply because it would please her. I see now that this was why the spirit moved me to come up—to save them. and she conceded that nothing was more probable. that now she had saved them she must really go.” he argued. if I mayn’t break the seals?” Baron asked. his agreeable relations with her. I’ll say nothing at the shop. their ownership. yet when he offered to settle the point off-hand she caught him by the wrist. moving away. She was greatly interested. the rest of which. She added. “To save them for what. “They might be traced—their history. he placed in a row before her. He admitted that the papers might be rubbish. absurd as it was. acknowledging that. and he exhibited the ingenious recess and the working of the curious spring. Finally she put the whole thing on the ground of his just doing her a favour. if it will give you any pleasure. and I’m very grateful. He declared that women had not the smallest sense of honour.Henry James “Let me show you how they were concealed. “I can’t make out why it matters to you.” “That’s charming of you. “I don’t know—for a generous sacrifice. She asked him to retain the papers. to be silent about them. nor why you should think it worth talking about.” 249 .” “Certainly. impenetrable covers.” the young man reasoned.” Mrs. she appealed to him again not to do anything so foolish as to give up the papers. That would be reason enough. It’s just a whim. she was nervous. she grew excited and became familiar.

Burn them up!” she exclaimed with shining eyes. coming out to the landing. in addition. another day was lost for work—the dreadful job to be performed for Mr. returned to his room. Goodby.” “That’s delightful as far as it goes. quick to feel. amused and. leaning against the baluster and smiling up at him.Sir Dominick Ferrand “Why should it be generous? What’s at stake?” Peter demanded. “I don’t know what.. quick to act. but I feel as if something or other were in peril. I won’t ask more than I ought. leaning against the doorpost as she stood on the landing. it was the way he liked women to be. Ryves considered a moment. inflammable. She was delicate. The vivacity of her interest in a question in which she had discoverably nothing at stake mystified. He didn’t complain of it. “Ah. and Baron. imaginative. 250 . and I’m much obliged to you for your promise to be quiet. Locket was still further off.” “You ought to reward my discretion. but he was not impelled for the hour to commit the sealed packets to the flames. But what will you do for me if I burn the papers?” Mrs. He dropped them again into their secret well. “Burn them first and you’ll see!” On this she went rapidly downstairs. I trust to your discretion. He felt restless and excited. you ask too much—I’m so curious about them!” “Well.” said Baron. She had partly descended the staircase and she stopped. irresistibly charmed him. to whom the answer appeared inadequate and the proposition indeed in that form grossly unfair. and after that he went out. “Surely you’ve had your reward in the honour of my visit.

had intimated respectfully that it was a case in which both practice and principle rebelled. irrelevantly. Ryves’s visit he paid by appointment another call on the editor of the Promiscuous.” Mr. you know the family’s extinct. surrounded with all the emblems of his office—a litter of papers. He had armed himself for a struggle. gave it air after discovering that poor Baron had come to tell him something more interesting than that he couldn’t after all patch up his tale. but the Promiscuous didn’t even protest. Locket himself however who presently made the interview spacious. as he got up from his chair: “Do you happen to be at all interested in Sir Dominick Ferrand?” Mr. looked over his glasses. It was Mr. and there would have been nothing for him but to go away with the prospect of never coming again had he not chanced to say abruptly. He found him in the little wainscoted Chelsea house. had felt weak and slightly silly. a hedge of encyclopaedias. and then. a photographic gallery of popular contributors—and he promised at first to consume very few of the moments for which so many claims competed. perceiving how little Mr. Locket. Locket was affected by his audacity. Locket shot his young friend another sharp glance. “The late Sir Dominick?” “The only one. left with his heroism on his hands. a silent retort to the glibness of this information. which had to Peter’s sense the smoky brownness of an old pipebowl. “Very extinct indeed. Peter had begun with this. who had also got up. I’m 251 .Henry James CHAPTER III TEN DAYS AFTER Mrs.

he was unable to repress an unattenuated “You?” “I have some new material.” Mr.” “Are you very sure?” Baron asked. it was therefore easy for him after an instant to bend a little further and to sink into his chair with a movement of his hand toward the seat Baron had occupied. had kept his body at the bowing angle. but meeting the young man’s eyes again he asked: “Are you—a—thinking of proposing an article upon him?” “Not exactly proposing it—because I don’t yet quite see my way. It’s often only another tombstone. Locket leaned forward a little. However.” Peter added. Locket. “That often freshens up an old story. in the attitude of giving permission to retire. Locket emitted the safe assertion that this eminent statesman had been a striking figure in his day. still on his feet. and the conversation took a fresh start on a basis which such an extension of privilege could render but little less hu252 .” He was silent a minute.” Mr.Sir Dominick Ferrand afraid the subject today would scarcely be regarded as attractive. Locket stared again.” “That depends upon what it is.” said the young man. with his fingertips on his table. “I think I could make him one.” Mr. but the idea rather appeals to me. then he added: “Have you been studying him?” “I’ve been dipping into him.” Peter Baron declared.” said Mr. Locket.” “It buries it sometimes. hesitating. in a way that relegated poor Peter to the general. colouring a little. Mr. “Do you allude to—a—revelations?” “Very curious ones. “the documents I speak of would be a crushing monument. “I might consider the question in a special connection. Mr. Locket. shot another glance under his glasses.” “I’m afraid he’s scarcely a question of the hour. shuffling papers together. Baron resumed possession of this convenience.

” 253 . He wanted an opinion. he could take the measure of that himself as he spoke. But he added in a moment more dryly: “You know they ought to be seen by an expert. If you don’t care to do that without a further guarantee I’ll copy you out some passages. they’ve been seen by nobody.” “Select a few of the worst!” Mr. He was in fact too nervous to decide. His story was very queer. and if on the one hand he had by no means made up his mind not to mention his strange knowledge. “I’ve no doubt that’s what many people will say.” “You may have it if you’ll come to my rooms.” said Mr. I felt nervous about bringing them out. He had indeed during the past days—days of painful indecision—appealed in imagination to the editor of the Promiscuous. I should have liked the testimony of my eyes. and he had really come out to make him conscientiously that other announcement as to which it appeared that so much artistic agitation had been wasted. the impression of somebody else. Over Baron’s distressing information he had become quite human and genial. Locket. as he had appealed to other sources of comfort.” “That’s a pity. Locket at last.” “Have you got any of them with you?” “No. but his scruples turned their face upon him from quarters high as well as low. but wouldn’t this very circumstance qualify it for the Promiscuous? “Of course the letters may be forgeries. He had matured no plan of confiding his secret to Mr. he had still more left to the determination of the moment the question of how he should introduce the subject. Locket laughed. he felt relieved of half his burden. he only felt that he needed for his peace of mind to communicate his discovery. five minutes after he had begun to tell his queer story. and even in this intensely professional presence.” “Have they been seen by any expert?” “No indeed.Henry James miliating to our young man.

” Mr. Locket considered. worried with a paper-knife the crevice of a drawer. “How much will they be worth to me if they are?” Mr. “They’ll be worth nothing to me if they’re not.” “I do feel tempted to turn my attention to real heroes. that would be the task of the writer introducing them to the public.” Again Mr. I repudiate the possibility of forgery.” “Certainly. “I should require to look at them before answering that question. No sign of genuineness is wanting.” “I’ve been to the British museum—there are many of his letters there. and I’ve compared everything carefully. down to the very postmarks. then with a smile he looked up. there are details. “It’s very odd.” Peter replied. Locket exclaimed.” “Lord. I’ve obtained permission to see them. “It will be one of the strangest post-mortem revelations of which history preserves the record. too—twentyseven in all.” said Peter. Besides. what an ass!” Mr. Locket.” “Do you mean because it will pay better?” “For you. that no forger could have invented. “You had better give up original composition and take to buying old furniture. whose interest could it conceivably have been? A labor of unspeakable difficulty. “I’m bound to declare that Sir Dominick Ferrand was never one 254 . grave now. I should think. But to be worth anything such documents should be subjected to a searching criticism—I mean of the historical kind. The creative faculty’s so rare.” Peter communed with his innermost spirit. original composition couldn’t pay worse. Locket turned in his study-chair.Sir Dominick Ferrand “That’s exactly what I dread. and all for what advantage? There are so many letters.

Henry James of mine. especially when it became apparent how much we had the best of the bargain. that his private life had its weak spots. These were both matters that no one really cared a straw about.” said Baron. that alone was remarkable for a man dying at forty-four. but his voice—the voice. who took Europe. which was usually nothing at all. moreover. the nation rose to the way he played his trumps—it was uncommon. which it’s the fashion still. Flashy. on account of other things his early success and early death. who had simply become to him (he had been “reading up” feverishly for a week) a very curious subject of psychological study. What therefore will the country think when it learns he was venal?” Peter Baron himself was not angry with Sir Dominick Ferrand. but he made every one feel as if they cared. of his prestige—is scarcely audible now. his political ‘cheek’ and wit. The rest of the world considered that they knew in any case exactly what we would do. to say had passed away with him. he’s still a high name. He was one of the few men we’ve had. made them jump a bit. which took Europe so by surprise and by which she felt injured. Then the sudden.” “He speaks to the people of this country. partly also. or took America. He was a mere flash in the pan. but he could easily put himself in the place of that portion of the public 255 . second-rate—that’s how I’ve always read him. “He did. unexpected show of force by which he imposed on the United States our interpretation of that tiresome treaty—I could never make out what it was about. He had been twice at the Foreign Office. no doubt. his very appearance—he certainly was handsome—and the possibilities (of future personal supremacy) which it was the fashion at the time. It was never a secret. in our period. Say what you like. and the country liked his doing it—it was a pleasant change. in the Mediterranean. by surprise. I mean. crafty.” “They’re still proud of some of the things he did at the Foreign Office—the famous ‘exchange’ with Spain.

on the writer’s part. the chatter would be immense. would be a calculable blow to the retrospective mind. Baron saw vividly that if these relics should be made public the scandal.Sir Dominick Ferrand whose memory was long enough for their patriotism to receive a shock. of the fact that he had availed himself of official opportunities to promote enterprises (public works and that sort of thing) in which he had a pecuniary stake. but the extraordinary documents concealed (of all places in the world—it was as fantastic as a nightmare) in a “bargain” picked up at second-hand by an obscure scribbler.” said Peter Baron.” “They all have this in common. They are addressed to a woman. He had felt for several days (and it was exactly what had made him so nervous) as if he held in his hand the key to public attention. in relation to exposure—the exposure in the one case. “There are too many things to explain. How did they get into your davenport.” 256 . It was some time fortunately since the conduct of public affairs had wanted for men of disinterested ability. and how long had they been there? What hands secreted them? what hands had. the rectification of history. the parties to the nefarious transactions? You say the transactions appear to be of two distinct kinds—some of them connected with public business and others involving obscure personal relations. in some instances of painful alarm. so incredibly. “and the singular provenance of your papers would count almost overwhelmingly against them even if the other objections were met. from whom he had evidently received money. The dread of the light in the other connection is evidently different. clung to them and preserved them? Who are the persons mentioned in them? who are the correspondents.” Mr. Immense would be also the contribution to truth. as you call it. There would be a perfect and probably a very complicated pedigree to trace. and these letters are the earliest in date. as I gather. the horror. Locket went on. “that they constitute evidence of uneasiness.

Locket. and he left no brothers and no sisters. though of course my inquiries have had to be very rapid and superficial. rather vexed with himself for having been led on to advertise his treasure (it was his interlocutor’s perfectly natural scepticism that produced this effect). “I have no theory. At least there are none perceptible at present.” “I see. He can have had no heirs and no executors to speak of. while his visitor pursued: “So far as I can ascertain. in the second place they’re compromising. Sir Dominick Ferrand had no children. “But I don’t think I should care much for your article. Locket’s studied detachment the fermentation of impulses from which. who would be likely to suffer from any steps in the direction of publicity. Locket. descendants. At this Mr. Locket remained seated. In the first place the papers in my possession are genuine. Locket wiped his glasses. Mr. hut I’ve gone into that a little.” 257 . executors to consider.’’ said Mr. He left a largeish mass of debt. I see. Locket got up. directly or indirectly related to the personage in question. “Of course. but she died ten years ago. There are heirs. and they are the essential ones. unsuccessful as he was. It happens to be a rare instance of a life that had. lots of gaps I can’t fill. lots of identities I can’t establish. of course.” “In some degree perhaps. there is no one now living. the question would come up of whose property today such documents would legally he. There are lots of questions I can’t answer. But as to two points I’m clear. for he felt that he was putting himself in a false position.” ‘’That’s to his honour and against your theory. he himself prayed to be delivered. as it were. no loose ends. His wife survived him.” With this Peter Baron rose again. “What woman?” “I haven’t the least idea.” said Mr. He detected in Mr.Henry James Mr. he watched Baron go across the room for his hat and umbrella. for he left no property.” Peter Baron added.

to which he would not have signalled had it appeared. as if he had been looking out for a stray hansom.” the caustic editor rejoined. Locket seemed to have other things to do.” “To what end.” With this Peter Baron took his departure. And then he bade his host good-by.” “I should like to see the secret compartment.” said Mr. “When should I find you at home?” “Don’t come. “I daresay I should like to look at them. “Don’t trouble yourself.” the editor hinted. if there’s no question of their being of use to you?” “I don’t say that—I might like the letters themselves. I shall probably destroy them. embodying this new matter.” “They’d sell your number!” Baron laughed.” Mr. I don’t say that I think there’s nothing in it. He thought Mr. 258 .” “Themselves?” “Not as the basis of a paper. Locket. but just to publish—for a sensation. Locket might hurry after him. in the street near the house. “Mind you. Locket conceded after a moment.Sir Dominick Ferrand “What article?” “The one you seem to wish to write. “Good-by.” said the young man.” “You would think there was something in it if you were to see my documents. waiting however just afterwards.” “Oh.” “I might make you one. “I make you no offer. and Peter Baron returned on foot to Jersey Villas. “Copy me out some extracts. I don’t wish to write it!” Peter exclaimed. but Mr.

of his interesting neighbour of the parlours. looking out of his window for something that didn’t happen. Bundy.Henry James CHAPTER IV ON THE EVENING that succeeded this apparently pointless encounter he had an interview more conclusive with Mrs. on its next peregrination. upon which he had addressed himself mechanically to the task of doing up his dishonoured manuscript—the ingenious fiction about which Mr. ineffective afternoon. but had been told she was absent for the hour. Ryves had suddenly flown off to Dover) was such as to create in him a desire for moral support. and he forgot even to dine. arriving at last with his lamp. from an absence more disappointing even than Mrs. and there was a kind of domestic determination in Mrs. he let his fire go out. found him extended moodily 259 . Locket and now the return. even to the good woman herself. He was too nervous to eat. The situation at Jersey Villas (Mrs. in general. Bundy’s. Bundy which seemed. Bundy. a considerable relish. for whose shrewd and philosophic view of life he had several times expressed. He was so nervous and so depressed that he was unable even to fix his mind on the composition of the note with which. he forgot to light his candles. He had asked for her on coming in. He passed a restless. it was necessary that his manuscript should be accompanied. asking himself if his genius were a horrid delusion. and it was in the melancholy chill of the late dusk that Mrs. to advertise it. Locket had been so stupid—for further adventures and not improbable defeats. something that seemed now to be the advent of a persuasive Mr.

Amplified. one of them congenital and consisting of the fact that it had sprung essentially from the virginal brain of Miss Teagle. embellished by the richer genius of Mrs. He had a strong disposition to “draw” his landlady on the subject of Mrs. for it was this fine principle that broke down the barriers after he had reflected reassuringly that it was not meddling with Mrs. She had been informed that he wished to speak to her. Ryves’s affairs to try and find out if she struck such an observer as happy. my dear sir. Bundy’s version of this experience. even a little blushingly. sat equally heavy (they were indeed but different phases of the same). Bundy. The young man rose from his couch. He left out of account however Mrs. who had incorporated with it and now 260 . abruptly. though it had its infirmities. to discuss her with their bustling hostess resembled too much for his taste a gossip with a tattling servant about an unconscious employer. Bundy’s knowledge of the human heart. and which the good woman answered with expression when she ejaculated: “Think it a liberty for you to run down for a few hours? If she do. Crudely. and as she placed on the malodorous luminary an oily shade of green pasteboard she expressed the friendly hope that there was nothing wrong with his ‘ealth. just send her to me to talk to!” As regards happiness indeed she warned Baron against imposing too high a standard on a young thing who had been through so much. he put the direct question to Mrs.Sir Dominick Ferrand upon his sofa. It was an interesting picture. on his spirit. without the responsibility of choice. and this led tolerably straight to another question. Bundy. and before he knew it he found himself. Ryves. edited. pulling himself together sufficiently to reply that his health was well enough but that his spirits were down in his hoots. as well as a vivid conviction that she constituted a theme as to which Mrs. in submissive receipt of Mrs. At the same time he hated to appear to pry into the secrets of his absent friend. which. Bundy would require little pressure to tell him even more than she knew.

his roamings had been neither far enough nor frequent enough to make the cockneyfied coast insipid. shrinkingly proud. The place. “Now that he isn’t there to make them. On the other hand she could tell him (he knew it already) that she had passed many years of her life in the acquisition of accomplishments at a seat of learning no less remote than Boulogne. He had been long enough shut up in London to be conscious of refreshment in the mere act of turning his face to Paris. so unrelated. He sounded this note experimentally in Mrs. and she was therefore unable to estimate the points in respect to which his actual impression was irritating. and that Miss Teagle had been intimately acquainted with the late Mr. She had no idea of the picture it would have been natural for him to desire that Mrs. so nervously. Baron was not prepared to say that she could. He wandered off to the pier in company with happier tourists and. it gave Peter Baron much food for meditation. seemed bright and breezy to him. not making any year less than his clear twelve hundred. She had indeed no adequate conception of the intellectual requirements of a young man in love. She couldn’t tell him why their faultless friend was so isolated. Ryves should present to him. the next day. Bundy had of course given him the address he needed. Everard Ryves. watched enviously the 261 . who was a “most rising” young man in the city. and on emerging from the station he was on the point of asking what direction he should take. Bundy’s ear. in the train which rattled him down to Dover. His attention however at this moment was drawn away by the bustle of the departing boat.Henry James liberally introduced copious interleavings of Miss Teagle’s own romance. at the same time that it only half relieved his curiosity about the causes of the charming woman’s underlying strangeness. leaning on a rail. but it was easy to see that it didn’t reverberate in her fancy. but he thought of another way she might live as he sat. as he approached it. his mourning widow can’t live as she had then. Bundy asked. can she?” Mrs. Mrs.

On putting him down the pilgrim from Jersey Villas stood confronted with a sensibly severe Miss Teagle. and in doing so perceived that in another part of the pier two ladies and a little boy were gathered with something of the same wistfulness. and he was thankful for the happy effect of being dragged by his jubilant friend in the very direction in which he had tended for so many hours. Ryves turned once more as he came near. strained smile with which she asked him if he were on his way to France. it was (and very properly. when was he to have the very draught? He turned away as he dropped this interrogative sigh. whom Miss Teagle artfully endeavoured to wrest from him—a policy in which he was aided by Sidney’s own rough but instinctive loyalty.” Mrs. Mrs. the agitation of foreign travel.Sir Dominick Ferrand preparation. to whom. He bounded forward with irrepressible cries of “Geegee!” and Peter lifted him aloft for an embrace. he saw that if she had been angry at his having followed her she had quickly got over it. Mrs. I’m not crossing. The little boy indeed happened to look round for a moment. for Mrs. he recognised in our young man a source of pleasures from which he lately had been weaned. ah. and that’s why I hurried down—to catch you before you were off. Ryves had not advanced an inch. It was for some minutes a foretaste of adventure. but. “No. we can’t go—more’s the pity. who had followed her little charge. on the part of a loyal suivante) the same complaint as that of her employer. upon which. with the keenness of the predatory age. kept hold of the child. and then. but why. but it came over me that you might be. he flourished his hat as she stood looking at him with a face that he imagined rather white.” “Oh. if we could. Whatever it was. from the sweet. from a distance. Peter Baron. 262 . “What’s the matter with the old woman?” he asked himself as he offered her a hand which she treated as the merest detail. however. Ryves’s response to this salutation was to shift her position in such a manner as to appear again absorbed in the Calais boat.

Let me walk with you and talk with you and lunch with you—I go back this afternoon.” The emission of steam from the French packet made such an uproar that Baron could breathe his passion into the young woman’s ear without scandalising the spectators. She had however to retire without Sidney. Oh. so that the rest of the episode was seasoned. hanging 263 . Ryves demanded. without asking your leave first to pay you this little visit—that and the intense desire for another bout of horseplay with Sidney. to which he replied that he would tell her all about it if she would send Miss Teagle off with Sidney. by the importunate twitch of the child’s little. and the charm which little by little it scattered over his fleeting visit proved indeed to be the collective influence of the conditions he had put into words. drain the cup like a man who hasn’t been out of London for months and months. The day’s lovely. who was always anticipating her cue. cool hand. “and I won’t make any secret of the fact that I expect you to resign yourself gracefully to the trial and give me all your time. had already begun ostentatiously to gaze at the distant shores of France and was easily enough induced to take an earlier start home and rise to the responsibility of stopping on her way to contend with the butcher. and I’m ready to declare that the place is as good as the day. plump. I’ve come to see you. “That’s really why I determined last night. Let me drink deep of these things.” Peter Baron went on. tremulous. so that they may live in my memory as one of the sweetest occasions of life. Miss Teagle. to Baron’s sense. Give me all your hours in short. who clung to his recovered prey. something that may take some time. The friends wandered together with a conjugal air and Sidney not between them. it had been nervous.” He saw now that her embarrassment had really not been resentful. as they stood there together. “should you wish to prevent it?” “Because I’ve something to ask you first. “What is it you wish to ask me?” Mrs.Henry James Ryves inquired. as the emotion of an unexpected pleasure might have been.

I went out on some business and when I returned you had quitted the house. It had all the look of my having offended you. in spite of your advice. I couldn’t imagine—as I vow I can’t imagine now—why such a matter should appear so closely to touch you. Ryves got up from her scat and asked him. She coloured a little and looked troubled. and she sat down at the end while the breeze. Peter Baron presently told his companion what it was he had taken a journey to ask. The presence of the boy moreover was no hindrance to their talking in a manner that they made believe was very frank. you will remember. saying nothing. not to allude again to his discovery. of your wishing to get away from me.Sir Dominick Ferrand wistfully. as it moved rumbling away. as a particular favour. ruffled the purple sea. You didn’t even give me time to tell you how it was that. I went straight downstairs to confess to you. warmed by the sunshine. and after an instant she repeated interrogatively: “The next moment?” “As soon as I told you what I had done. to the extent of leaving the house the next moment. in a spell of silence which seemed to confess—especially when. You must do me justice and hear what determined me. You turned away from me. their eyes met—that it produced the same fond fancy in each. and he had time afterwards to get over his discomfiture at her appearance of having fancied it might be something greater. a moment later. first. “Why. over the lengthened picture of the Calais boat.” Mrs. till they could look after it. I determined to see for myself what my discovery represented. She seemed disappointed (but she was forgiving) on learning from him that he had only wished to know if she judged ferociously his not having complied with her request to respect certain seals. “How ferociously do you suspect me of having judged it?” she inquired.” They were still lingering on the great granite pier when he touched on this matter. It was no concern of 264 . I was scrupulous about this.

and she had said that she should probably stay at Dover another week. while he laughed out. They came out again and. waiting for something that didn’t de265 . and they took their course to her lodgings with such pleasant little pauses and excursions by the way as permitted her to show him the objects of interest at Dover. Fortunately the incident didn’t spoil the hour. they partook. in which there were other sources of satisfaction. though he was really bewildered. who had fixed her hopes on a fly and a ladylike visit to the castle. the sails of the ships were white in the purple distance. Baron had his eye on his watch—he had to think of his train and the dismal return and many other melancholy things. together with a pudding invented by Miss Teagle. which. as they hypocritically swallowed it. in its order. at the endless capriciousness of women. and she had no warrant for prying into his secrets. an immediate reoccupation of the wonderful parlours.Henry James hers at all. while Sidney grubbed in the gravel of the shore. that she was vague and. Baron saw that she had no plan. Bundy. in secret. Saying this she walked on with a charming colour in her cheek. or only return to wind up her connection with Mrs. She let him stop at a wine-merchant’s and buy a bottle for luncheon. the Channel was crowded. made them look at each other in an intimacy of indulgence. and if Miss Teagle could go up for some things she should probably be able to manage an extension. no real reasons. but it was doing the child all the good in the world. sat selfishly on the Parade. It was dreadfully expensive. but the sea in the afternoon light was a more appealing picture. She was very sorry to have been for a moment so absurd as to appear to do so. and she humbly begged his pardon for her meddling. of which. to the disappointment of Miss Teagle. The young man had asked his companion (he had asked her before) when she was to come back to Jersey Villas. worried and nervous. Earlier in the day she had said that she perhaps wouldn’t return to Jersey Villas at all. the wind had gone down. At another moment she had spoken of an early date.

It had come over me in the small hours in the shape of an obsession.’ So you broke the other seals?” Mrs. Ryves looked at him with the strange apprehension he had seen in her eyes when she appeared at his door the moment after his discovery. the former possessor of the confounded davenport. I had lain awake all night threshing about. your superstition (what is it?) but at last they got the better of me. This conviction made my hand so uncontrollable that that morning before breakfast I broke one of the seals. if you had come to tell me you had destroyed them—” “Those terrible papers? I like the way you talk about ‘destroying!’ You don’t even know what they are. that there was nothing in the ridiculous relics and that my exaggerated scruples were making a fool of me. early one morning. I had told you I wouldn’t touch them. It took me but a few minutes to perceive that the contents were not rubbish.” “I don’t want to know.” “What sort of a state?” “I don’t know. ‘private and confidential. that they had been even a practical joke on the part of some weak-minded gentleman of leisure. they haunt me. suddenly. to which Mrs. I had deferred to your whim. they put me into a state.” “I know—I know. but without completing her sentence: “Oh. a fixed idea.” “They haunted me. the little bundle contained old letters— very curious old letters. that was why. they were empty. I couldn’t keep my hands off them. 266 . my capacity to work was gone. It made me ill. my own nerves (as I may say) were irritated. and the sooner I exposed their insignificance the sooner I should get back to my usual occupations. Ryves put an end by exclaiming abruptly. It was ten to one they were rubbish. they were vain. A silence of several minutes had fallen upon them while they watched the shining sails. itching with curiosity. The longer I hovered about them with such precautions the longer I was taken in.Sir Dominick Ferrand pend on herself.

” “I only divine what I want.” Baron argued. and the young man was on the other side of her. it’s dif267 . it’s none of my business.” Mrs. but had shown him at the moment how she had been conscious of it an hour before. She hesitated. “I don’t want to know it. and had had to exert extraordinary self-command not to rush up to his rooms while the study of the open packets was going on. at this. Ryves. “No. Ryves. because I told you an hour later. but she appeared able to guess everything. They moved toward the station—she had offered to go part of the way.” “No. as he met this queer gaze.” “It must be for someone else—the other person concerned. that’s all. I don’t know that I do. you wouldn’t let me tell you that person’s name.” “I told you that that was what was present to me the day I came up to see you. for she reminded him that she had not had to wait that morning till he came downstairs to know what had happened above. I don’t think it is.” Baron. “I feel what takes place at a distance. She had Sidney by the hand now. to whom Sidney had presently come round again. walking with her along the Parade. laughing. but you don’t like me so much as that. smiled hard at her to prevent her guessing that he smarted with the fine reproach conveyed in the tone of her last words. The other day. being thus in the dark. fortunately.” “One would think somebody you liked was in danger.” said Mrs.” Baron declared. of course. had passed on her side the same tormented night as he.” Baron rejoined. “Only. “You’re so sensitively organised and you’ve such mysterious powers that you re uncanny.Henry James “You know. “But with your miraculous gift it’s a wonder you haven’t divined. rose quickly. “That’s very convenient!” exclaimed Peter.” “Oh. however. though you would let me tell you very little.

as he had already asked himself after making in spirit other awkward dashes in the same direction—of what but his poverty. but to catch up Sidney and squeeze him till he uttered a little shriek. and he wanted immensely to be able to reply: “I’ll do anything you like if you’ll love me.” He looked at his watch. Therefore he didn’t put the question in the words it would have pleased him most to hear himself utter. his obscurity. Ryves stopped short. where their shadows were long in the afternoon light.Sir Dominick Ferrand ficult to see your motive for wishing the papers destroyed.” at Dover. taking the hand she held out to him. with an angry young pang. Poor as he was he hated the sordid (he knew she didn’t love it). She drew it away quickly. however. “You’ll miss your train. and this time she turned on him the clouded clearness of her eyes. and nothing then was left him. “I thought you might do it to oblige me.” Mrs. is reasonable?” Mrs. looking fixedly at the ground. but he compromised. Ryves meditated. was not yet). “What do you mean to do with them?” It was Peter Baron’s turn to meditate. his attempts that had come to nothing. On the way back to town the situation struck him as grotesque. He was under such a charm as he had never known.” “Does it strike you that such an expectation. which he did. “I can promise nothing—oh. I can’t promise! We must part now. would have represented a responsibility and have constituted what was vulgarly termed an offer. Ryves was not exactly a success. and said to her: “What will you do for me if I put an end to them?” She shook her head sadly—it was always her prettiest movement. on the empty asphalt of the Parade (the “season. formed in such conditions. and he felt small for talking of marriage. no. 268 . his abilities for which there was nothing to show? Mrs. but she was a greater success than Peter Baron.” she added. An offer of what? he quickly asked himself here.” These words. before hurrying to the station.

yet she could tell him of no good that would come to him from the doing. Locket. remarked as soon as he had got into the room or rather while he still panted on the second flight and the smudged little slavey held open Baron’s door. What disturbed it still further was that he received early in the day a visit from Mr. Why didn’t she set up at once as a professional clairvoyant and eke out her little income more successfully? In purely private life such a gift was disconcerting. Peter drew them forth with a promptitude intended to show that he recognised the commercial character of the call and without attenuating the inconsequence of this depar269 .Henry James CHAPTER V IT TORMENTED HIM so the next morning that after threshing it out a little further he felt he had something of a grievance. and he asked himself why he should be the sport of her moods and her mysteries. it appeared. She should either have had less to say or have been willing to say more. her divinations. yet she held herself aloof as a participant. Ryves’s intervention had made him acutely uncomfortable. Mrs. She had imposed herself as an influence. her evasions disturbed at any rate his own tranquillity. who. recognising on his part an equal right. there were things she looked to him to do for her. but it was just this apparent infallibility that he resented. that he had taken up his young friend’s invitation to look at Sir Dominick Ferrand’s letters for himself. leaving him under no illusion as to the grounds of such an honour. He perceived her knack of punctual interference to be striking. for she had taken the attitude of exerting pressure without.

somehow. Locket was unable to keep a warmer light out of his judicial eye as he said to Baron at last with sociable brevity—a tone that took many things for granted: “I’ll take them home with me—they require much attention. suddenly apprehensive. as an object darkly editorial. while the cautious editor sat silent and handled the papers. It made our young man. Baron. “Do you think they’re genuine?” He didn’t mean to be mocking. Mr. he couldn’t have said why. Locket took decidedly too many things for granted. he meant not to be. while he spoke. and he could see that they produced that effect on Mr. who viewed it askance. and on the other he himself. but the words sounded so to his own ear. He asked his visitor to what end he wished to remove the letters. as their owner. the advantage of which he had just been conscious was about to be transferred by a quiet process of legerdemain to a person who already had advantages enough. I shall have to go into them at my leisure. Locket. in short. had a thousand insurmountable scruples about putting them into circulation. Mr. with the air of being preliminary to that of thrusting them into a little black bag which he had brought with him and which. He showed his visitor the davenport and the hidden recess. resting on the shelf of the davenport. since on the one hand there was no question now of the article in the Promiscuous which was to reveal their existence. and the explorer of Sir Dominick Ferrand’s irregularities remembered afresh how clear he had been after all about his indisposition to traffic in them. struck Peter. For all his caution Mr. and he smoked a cigarette. Locket looked over his spectacles as over the battlements of a 270 .Sir Dominick Ferrand ture from the last determination he had expressed to Mr.” He had shuffled the papers together with a movement charged. and that’s why I ask you to lend them to me. felt a deep pang of anxiety.” The young man looked at him a moment. with a sense of unwonted advantage and triumph. Locket. humming softly. “I can’t in the least determine.

Mr. The tension was quickly relieved however by the surprised flush which mantled on Mr. Locket admitted the justice of the demand. Locket to begin stuffing the papers into his bag. his little arrangements for removing it discreetly. With this perception he came quickly closer and. He fell back a few steps with an injured dignity that might have been a protest against physical violence.” “Oh. your attitude is tantamount to an accusation of intended bad faith. When he was ready. with Peter’s assistance. “Really. A few glances have assured me that such documents ought to be submitted to some competent eye. almost in the attitude of combat. in due acknowledgment of services rendered. laying his hand on the gaping receptacle. my dear young sir. “You may think me presumptuous. assured him he would restore the property within three days. it would be interesting. in a manner which. “Oh. a pledge of every precaution against accident. In this way the two men stood for a few seconds. There would be no question of his publishing Sir Dominick Ferrand. Locket’s brow. “How long would it be your idea to retain them?” he inquired. but the eye that I venture to allude to in those terms—” “Is the eye now fixed so terribly on me?” Peter laughingly interrupted. “I’m not thinking of the end—I’m thinking of the beginning. to know how they strike a man of your acuteness!” It had occurred to him that by such a concession he might endear himself to a literary umpire hitherto implacable. and completed. he immediately became aware. Do you think I want to steal the confounded things?” In reply to such a challenge Peter could only hastily declare that he was guilty of no discourteous suspicion— he only wanted a limit named. I confess. form the habit of publishing Peter Baron. you mustn’t show them to anyone!” Baron exclaimed. lightly drew its two lips together. was what incited Mr. touching. his treacherous reticule distended with 271 . but he might. looking hard into each other’s eyes.Henry James fortress.

as his visitor hurried downstairs. mocking musical signs which had no sense for her correspondent. I simply accept the mystery. She had scrawled. he received. by the last delivery.Sir Dominick Ferrand its treasures. “That would be thought a cheap escape if you were to put it into a story. a letter that was not from Miss Teagle. she had in a moment of inspiration got hold of the tail of a really musical idea—a perfect accompaniment for the song he had so kindly given her. which he did that night before going to bed. Locket smiled. The whole letter testified to a restless but rather pointless desire to remain in communication with him. I shall be impatient till I see my papers again. I shouldn’t offer the story to you. and to let him know that the evening before.” said Peter. to express regret at any appearance the writer might have had of meddling with what didn’t concern her. as a specimen. “It’s how they ever got into that thing that puzzles one’s brain!” “There was some concatenation of circumstances that would doubtless seem natural enough if it were explained. that Baron principally expatiated. It was a slightly confused but altogether friendly note. it was on this bright possibility of their collaboration. as he was about to settle himself to tasks for some time terribly 272 . In answering her. He spoke of this future with an eloquence of which he would have defended the sincerity.” Mr. he gave a lingering look at the inscrutable davenport. but that one would have to remount the stream of time to ascertain. To one course I have definitely made up my mind: not to make any statement or any inquiry at the shop. The next morning. and drew of it a picture extravagantly rich. the ostensible purpose of which was to thank him for the amiability of his visit. its advantages for the future of each of them. written that morning after breakfast. “Yes. however. mystic.” the young man called out. after he had left her. a few bars at the end of her note. That evening. under the Dover postmark. rather grandly.

he was agitated by the arrival of a telegram which proved to be an urgent request from Mr. Locket was on the hearthrug. of emancipation that might reside in a hundred pounds. that minute. in the white flash of certain words just brought out by his host. What surprised him most was to find Mr. This represented. under the influence of his sudden ultimatum. rather weakly. A hundred pounds would be paid him that day. Locket that he would immediately come down and see him. as he became conscious it moved on a pivot. had dropped. Locket’s own table—so much nobler an expanse than the slippery slope of the davenport— considering with quick intensity. for poor Baron. Yes. an offence that can’t be remedied.” the editor of the Promiscuous repeated. the quantity of happiness. and no questions would be either asked or answered.Henry James neglected. “Hush it all up. I take all the risks. The letters were out on the table. with a sense that after all it was rather a relief not to be sitting so close to Sir Dominick Ferrand. “I take all the risks. that was what it meant: Mr. whose funds were very low. Locket. Locket’s own chair at Mr. Locket taking exactly the line about the expediency of publication which he would have expected Mr. feeling she was really ashamed to take it. he whirled round so as to enable himself to look at his tempter with an eye intended to be cold. at the very moment at which he habitually addressed his preliminary invocation to the muse. in the twenty-four hours. He had some of the plasticity of the raw contributor. like an orator on a platform. another morning sacrificed. and Peter. but somehow it didn’t even occur to him that he might impose his own time upon the editor of the Promiscuous. is the thing in the 273 . and in course of time found himself in Mr. He gave the muse another holiday. Locket not to take. had discovered so much in Sir Dominick’s literary remains that his visitor found him primed with an offer. who had become dreadfully distracting. the keeper of the keys of renown. a barren scandal. Mr. into the seat which happened to be nearest and which.

Locket had put it before him that he had a high responsibility—that he might vindicate the disfigured truth. Locket to reiterate to his young friend his phrase about their making a sensation. took a long walk on the Embankment. if given to the world in the pages of the Promiscuous. thinking how the series (he would spread it into three numbers) would be the talk of the town.” the hungry little editor had declared. contribute a chapter to the history of England. If Peter had money he might treat himself to ardour. He sighed as he took no note of the pictures made by barges—sighed because it all might mean money. His impressions were at war with each other—he was flurried by possibilities of which he yet denied the existence. A hundred pounds were not this gentleman’s last word. Locket with the papers a day or two longer. to a work of the most disinterested art. till he should have thought out the terms on which he might—in the event of certain occurrences—be induced to dispose of them. Mr.Sir Dominick Ferrand world that least justifies an airing—” some such line as that was the line he would have thought natural to a man whose life was spent in weighing questions of propriety and who had only the other day objected. But the author of that incorruptible masterpiece had put his finger on the place in saying to his interlocutor on the occasion of his last visit that. no doubt justly enough. That formula of Baron’s covered all the ground. Peter left the letters behind him and. Mr. He needed money bitterly. and one edition was a low estimate of the probable performance of the magazine. on withdrawing from the editorial presence. “You haven’t a right to suppress such momentous facts. Locket had said.” as theatrical people said. It was not necessary for Mr. he owed it in disquieting quarters. Sir Dominick’s aberrations would sell the edition. to bliss. nor perhaps was mere unreasoning intractability Peter’s own. in the light of this virtue. it was not to protect a celebrated name or to lock them up in a cupboard. 274 . He had consented to trust Mr. If he wished to purchase the “rights.

the sum “down. It was to be remembered that the papers were discredited.” in other words. The explanation of this anomaly was of course that the editor shrewdly saw a dozen ways of getting his money back. that he was not such a fool as not to know how Mr. this reconstruction. embarrassments. the making of a book in large type—the book of the hour. There would be in the “sensation. the feeble ingenuity of a third-rate novelist. as he had hinted before. These questions. dangers—the danger. of the croppingup of some lurking litigious relative—he would take over unreservedly and bear the brunt of dealing with. Nothing could help it on better with the public than the impenetrability of the secret attached to it. If Mr. before an impartial posterity. Locket should only be able to kick up dust enough over the circumstances that had guided his hand his fortune would literally be made. of a great historical humbug. suggesting. It was therefore altogether an opportunity of dealing at first hand with the lively publisher that 275 . such a preposterous origin. was a thing he should have to place himself at the positive disadvantage of being silent about. taunting things the daily and weekly papers would say? Peter Baron had his guileless side. He would rather give no account of the matter at all than expose himself to the ridicule that such a story would infallibly excite. figured vividly in Mr.” at a later stage. Peter thought a hundred pounds a low bid. for instance. yet he wondered how the Promiscuous could bring itself to offer such a sum—so large it loomed in the light of literary remuneration as hitherto revealed to our young man. Locket would “work” the mystery of his marvellous find. if one preferred the name. that any lively publisher would give for it. Locket’s calculations. vitiated by their childish pedigree. as he worried with a stick that betrayed him the granite parapets of the Thames. Couldn’t one see them in advance. the clever. but he felt.Henry James that there were ever so many questions one would have to meet should one venture to play so daring a game. and the profits of this scandalous volume or.

Peter gave a masterful laugh. rejoicing in his heart that. in the repaire he had lately quitted. on the spot. he mentally added as he turned his face homeward. he had not been tempted by a figure that would have approximately represented the value of his property. 276 . It was a good job. that there was so little likelihood of his having to struggle with that particular pressure.Sir Dominick Ferrand Peter was invited to forego.

Mrs. she suddenly asked: “Where have you come from now?” 277 . She saw him look round and. Ryves’s preparations for departure were not striking. as yet at least.” “You’ll see when you get back that my letter is charming.” “I daresay. standing in front of the fireless grate with her hands behind her. Ryves. upon which it appeared that after all she was not. “You didn’t mention in yours that you were coming up.Henry James CHAPTER VI WHEN. “I wrote you last night a charming letter in answer to yours. He offered to go and look for one. where she let him know that within a couple of days she had seen clearer what was best. looked out from it as if she were expecting something—as if she had been passing to and fro to watch. he noticed that the house-door was open.” Baron had observed that the room was not. as she had intimated. she had determined to quit Jersey Villas and had come up to take away her things. It hadn’t arrived when I came away. as he reached the gate. in need. he approached Jersey Villas. Yet when he had expressed to her that it was a delightful welcome she replied that she had only thought there might possibly be a cab in sight. He went back with her into her sitting-room. then. saw it make a frame for an unexpected presence. HALF AN HOUR LATER. in confusion—Mrs. which she had just been packing and getting together.” “It wasn’t your answer that brought me.” Baron said. in her bonnet and jacket.

The subject was a profitless riddle—a 278 .” “Is he a publisher?” “He’s an editor. with a sentiment of which the very first notes thrilled him.” “I was sure of it! No matter—it’s all right!” she added. “And what’s that?” “Oh. the accompaniment of his song. the hanging of his picture. She herself was pacified—trouble was a false note. of the young artist in the presence for the first time of “production”—the proofs of his book. We’ve fallen out—we don’t agree. irrecoverable ever after in its freshness. Later he was on the point of asking her how she knew the objects she had mentioned were not in the house. smoothed out the creases of his spirit. on which she took off her hat and jacket and. they’re not in the house. and he lounged there. gave him.” “What are you concocting between you?” “Nothing at all.Sir Dominick Ferrand “From an interview with a literary friend. it did him such a world of good. seating herself at her piano. the rehearsal of his play. but. kept him quiet and safe. whatever it is. at the piano. She phrased the words with her sketchy sweetness. I’ll tell you when he has done it!” Baron begged her to let him hear the “musical idea” she had mentioned in her letter. but he let it pass.” “Well. throbbing with the emotion. She dropped her own experiments and gave him immortal things. I don’t know what he wants. feeling the mean little room grow large and vague and happy possibilities come back. don’t do it.” “He must do what I want!” said Baron. When she had finished he asked again for the same delight. and he sat there as if he had been held in a velvet vise. Abruptly. pacified and charmed. she called out to him: “Those papers of yours—the letters you found—are not in the house?” “No. I’m glad you don’t agree. and then for more music and for more.

so supremely depleted had the hour of Bohemia left him. in cheap places. On the way back Peter Baron turned something over in his mind as he had never turned anything before. for instance. to a jolly little place in Soho. at the proper moment. and Mrs. which was indeed. Even Bohemia was too expensive. and yet in the course of the day his whole temper on the subject of certain fitnesses had changed. yes. a return to ugliness and truth. They went afterwards to the theatre. scratching a light for her glimmering taper. had said: “Oh. after the brilliances of the evening. He felt on this point a passion of suspense and impatience. became increasingly confidential. at the jolly little place. Besides. in their deadly respectable lives. with their little emptied coffee-cups pushed away and the young man’s cigarette lighted by her command. just for an hour of Bohemia. and came home in “busses” and under umbrellas. in particular the question of her putting off her return to Dover till the morrow and dispensing meanwhile with the valuable protection of Sidney. in her precarious parlour. and yet for what would it be but to tell her how poor he was? This was literally the moment to say it. she had shown him that she had extraordinary senses—her explanation would have been stranger than the fact. but in fact. like some monstrosity seen in the darkness. At Jersey Villas (it was near midnight. face to face. Ryves declined to have her life abused. This was indeed but another face of the question of her dining with him somewhere that evening (where else should she dine?)—accompanying him. at the end.Henry James puzzle that grew grotesquely bigger. Ryves. to which she did accompany him—it dealt in macaroni and Chianti—the pair put their elbows on the crumpled cloth and. He closed his eyes—he wanted another vision. come in for a minute if you like!”). she let him stand while he 279 . as one opened one’s eyes to it. Moreover they had other things to talk about. Mrs. it was the question of whether. she would let him come into her sitting-room for five minutes.

if she would only hear him out. She had liked him—if she hadn’t she wouldn’t have let him think so!— but she protested that she had not. Moreover she couldn’t talk of such things in that place. But there was something in his whimsical neighbour that struck him as terribly invulnerable. in the dull. and a sort of uncomplaining ache for the ruin of a friendship that had been happy. Ryves heard him out or not is a circumstance as to which this chronicle happens to be silent. should one add to the hardness of the conditions by giving up the dream which. and she begged him not to make her regret her good-nature in staying over. and afterwards. with a cold. She got rid of him with kind and confused words. he felt that he had been put in his place. would make just the blessed difference? Whether Mrs. Women in her situation. humiliated night. usually lived on into the new dawns in which old ghosts steal away. Why. but that youth and love and faith and energy— to say nothing of her supreme dearness—were all on his side. “encouraged” him. Her procrastinating head-shake was prettier than ever. independences and pieties. at that hour. but after he had got possession of both her hands and breathed into her face for a moment all the intensity of his tenderness—in the relief and joy of utterance he felt it carry him like a rising flood—she checked him with better reasons.Sir Dominick Ferrand explained that he had certainly everything in the way of fame and fortune still to gain. 280 . if one’s beginnings were rough. yet it had never meant so many fears and pains—impossibilities and memories. women who after having really loved and lost. sweet afterthought in which he felt there was something deep. considerations insurmountable. There were peculiarities in her position. in the odious vulgar sense.

attended by Mrs. was placed well in view. with Mrs. below his breath and with inflections that for his own sake he endeavoured to make humorous: “Three hundred—three hundred. behind his curtain. 3. with his hands in his pockets. stood at the door of No. Bundy. Jersey Villas the next morning had had the privilege of again receiving the editor of the Promiscuous. Ryves’s luggage upon it. in his dressing-gown and slippers. and he sat once more at the davenport. a pardonable peep. but he wanted to prove to himself that he was gallant—was made. Mrs.Henry James CHAPTER VII “I’VE HAD TIME TO LOOK a little further into what we’re prepared to do.” Peter Baron. in general and in particular. who kept bobbing at the window of the cab an endlessly moralising old head. and take her place in the modest vehicle. he saw the mistress of his thoughts come out of the house. After this his eyes rested for a long time on the sprigged cotton back of the landlady. for he felt poor and sore and disappointed. I must positively assure you. “We shall see our way to offering you three hundred. Ryves had really taken flight—he had made Jersey Villas 281 . The first thing he had been aware of on stepping into his front room was that a fourwheeled cab. see it a single step further. crept softly about the room. Locket.” His state of mind was far from hilarious. in the shape of a large. where the bone of contention. Permitting himself. and I find the case is one in which I should consider the advisability of going to an extreme length. but we shouldn’t.” said Mr. repeating. of undiscourageable stuff. loose heap of papers that showed how much they had been handled.

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impossible for her—but Mrs. Bundy, with a magnanimity unprecedented in the profession, seemed to express a belief in the purity of her motives. Baron felt that his own separation had been, for the present at least, effected; every instinct of delicacy prompted him to stand back. Mr. Locket talked a long time, and Peter Baron listened and waited. He reflected that his willingness to listen would probably excite hopes in his visitor—hopes which he himself was ready to contemplate without a scruple. He felt no pity for Mr. Locket and had no consideration for his suspense or for his possible illusions; he only felt sick and forsaken and in want of comfort and of money. Yet it was a kind of outrage to his dignity to have the knife held to his throat, and he was irritated above all by the ground on which Mr. Locket put the question—the ground of a service rendered to historical truth. It might be—he wasn’t clear; it might be—the question was deep, too deep, probably, for his wisdom; at any rate he had to control himself not to interrupt angrily such dry, interested palaver, the false voice of commerce and of cant. He stared tragically out of the window and saw the stupid rain begin to fall; the day was duller even than his own soul, and Jersey Villas looked so sordidly hideous that it was no wonder Mrs. Ryves couldn’t endure them. Hideous as they were he should have to tell Mrs. Bundy in the course of the day that he was obliged to seek humbler quarters. Suddenly he interrupted Mr. Locket; he observed to him: “I take it that if I should make you this concession the hospitality of the Promiscuous would be by that very fact unrestrictedly secured to me.” Mr. Locket stared. “Hospitality—secured?” He thumbed the proposition as if it were a hard peach. “I mean that of course you wouldn’t—in courtsey, in gratitude— keep on declining my things.” “I should give them my best attention—as I’ve always done in the past.” Peter Baron hesitated. It was a case in which there would have 282

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seemed to be some chance for the ideally shrewd aspirant in such an advantage as he possessed; but after a moment the blood rushed into his face with the shame of the idea of pleading for his productions in the name of anything but their merit. It was as if he had stupidly uttered evil of them. Nevertheless be added the interrogation: “Would you for instance publish my little story?” “The one I read (and objected to some features of ) the other day? Do you mean—a—with the alteration?” Mr. Locket continued. “Oh, no, I mean utterly without it. The pages you want altered contain, as I explained to you very lucidly, I think, the very raison d’etre of the work, and it would therefore, it seems to me, be an imbecility of the first magnitude to cancel them.” Peter had really renounced all hope that his critic would understand what he meant, but, under favour of circumstances, he couldn’t forbear to taste the luxury, which probably never again would come within his reach, of being really plain, for one wild moment, with an editor. Mr. Locket gave a constrained smile. “Think of the scandal, Mr. Baron.” “But isn’t this other scandal just what you’re going in for?” “It will be a great public service.” “You mean it will be a big scandal, whereas my poor story would be a very small one, and that it’s only out of a big one that money’s to be made.” Mr. Locket got up—he too had his dignity to vindicate. “Such a sum as I offer you ought really to be an offset against all claims.” “Very good—I don’t mean to make any, since you don’t really care for what I write. I take note of your offer,” Peter pursued, “and I engage to give you to-night (in a few words left by my own hand at your house) my absolutely definite and final reply.” Mr. Locket’s movements, as he hovered near the relics of the eminent statesman, were those of some feathered parent fluttering over 283

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a threatened nest. If he had brought his huddled brood back with him this morning it was because he had felt sure enough of closing the bargain to be able to be graceful. He kept a glittering eye on the papers and remarked that he was afraid that before leaving them he must elicit some assurance that in the meanwhile Peter would not place them in any other hands. Peter, at this, gave a laugh of harsher cadence than he intended, asking, justly enough, on what privilege his visitor rested such a demand and why he himself was disqualified from offering his wares to the highest bidder. “Surely you wouldn’t hawk such things about?” cried Mr. Locket; but before Baron had time to retort cynically he added: “I’ll publish your little story.” “Oh, thank you!” “I’ll publish anything you’ll send me,” Mr. Locket continued, as he went out. Peter had before this virtually given his word that for the letters he would treat only with the Promiscuous. The young man passed, during a portion of the rest of the day, the strangest hours of his life. Yet he thought of them afterwards not as a phase of temptation, though they had been full of the emotion that accompanies an intense vision of alternatives. The struggle was already over; it seemed to him that, poor as he was, he was not poor enough to take Mr. Locket’s money. He looked at the opposed courses with the self-possession of a man who has chosen, but this selfpossession was in itself the most exquisite of excitements. It was really a high revulsion and a sort of noble pity. He seemed indeed to have his finger upon the pulse of history and to be in the secret of the gods. He had them all in his hand, the tablets and the scales and the torch. He couldn’t keep a character together, but he might easily pull one to pieces. That would be “creative work” of a kind—he could reconstruct the character less pleasingly, could show an unknown side of it. Mr. Locket had had a good deal to say about responsibility; and responsibility in truth sat there with him all the 284

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morning, while he revolved in his narrow cage and, watching the crude spring rain on the windows, thought of the dismalness to which, at Dover, Mrs. Ryves was going back. This influence took in fact the form, put on the physiognomy of poor Sir Dominick Ferrand; he was at present as perceptible in it, as coldly and strangely personal, as if he had been a haunting ghost and had risen beside his own old hearthstone. Our friend was accustomed to his company and indeed had spent so many hours in it of late, following him up at the museum and comparing his different portraits, engravings and lithographs, in which there seemed to be conscious, pleading eyes for the betrayer, that their queer intimacy had grown as close as an embrace. Sir Dominick was very dumb, but he was terrible in his dependence, and Peter would not have encouraged him by so much curiosity nor reassured him by so much deference had it not been for the young man’s complete acceptance of the impossibility of getting out of a tight place by exposing an individual. It didn’t matter that the individual was dead; it didn’t matter that he was dishonest. Peter felt him sufficiently alive to suffer; he perceived the rectification of history so conscientiously desired by Mr. Locket to be somehow for himself not an imperative task. It had come over him too definitely that in a case where one’s success was to hinge upon an act of extradition it would minister most to an easy conscience to let the success go. No, no—even should he be starving he couldn’t make money out of Sir Dominick’s disgrace. He was almost surprised at the violence of the horror with which, as he shuffled mournfully about, the idea of any such profit inspired him. What was Sir Dominick to him after all? He wished he had never come across him. In one of his brooding pauses at the window—the window out of which never again apparently should he see Mrs. Ryves glide across the little garden with the step for which he had liked her from the first—he became aware that the rain was about to intermit and the 285

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sun to make some grudging amends. This was a sign that he might go out; he had a vague perception that there were things to be done. He had work to look for, and a cheaper lodging, and a new idea (every idea he had ever cherished had left him), in addition to which the promised little word was to be dropped at Mr. Locket’s door. He looked at his watch and was surprised at the hour, for he had nothing but a heartache to show for so much time. He would have to dress quickly, but as he passed to his bedroom his eye was caught by the little pyramid of letters which Mr. Locket had constructed on his davenport. They startled him and, staring at them, he stopped for an instant, half-amused, half-annoyed at their being still in existence. He had so completely destroyed them in spirit that he had taken the act for granted, and he was now reminded of the orderly stages of which an intention must consist to be sincere. Baron went at the papers with all his sincerity, and at his empty grate (where there lately had been no fire and he had only to remove a horrible ornament of tissue-paper dear to Mrs. Bundy) he burned the collection with infinite method. It made him feel happier to watch the worst pages turn to illegible ashes—if happiness be the right word to apply to his sense, in the process, of something so crisp and crackling that it suggested the death-rustle of bank-notes. When ten minutes later he came back into his sitting-room, he seemed to himself oddly, unexpectedly in the presence of a bigger view. It was as if some interfering mass had been so displaced that he could see more sky and more country. Yet the opposite houses were naturally still there, and if the grimy little place looked lighter it was doubtless only because the rain had indeed stopped and the sun was pouring in. Peter went to the window to open it to the altered air, and in doing so beheld at the garden gate the humble “growler” in which a few hours before he had seen Mrs. Ryves take her departure. It was unmistakable—he remembered the knockkneed white horse; but this made the fact that his friend’s luggage 286

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no longer surmounted it only the more mystifying. Perhaps the cabman had already removed the luggage—he was now on his box smoking the short pipe that derived relish from inaction paid for. As Peter turned into the room again his ears caught a knock at his own door, a knock explained, as soon as he had responded, by the hard breathing of Mrs. Bundy. “Please, sir, it’s to say she’ve come back.” “What has she come back for?” Baron’s question sounded ungracious, but his heartache had given another throb, and he felt a dread of another wound. It was like a practical joke. “I think it’s for you, sir,” said Mrs. Bundy. “She’ll see you for a moment, if you’ll be so good, in the old place.” Peter followed his hostess downstairs, and Mrs. Bundy ushered him, with her company flourish, into the apartment she had fondly designated. “I went away this morning, and I’ve only returned for an instant,” said Mrs. Ryves, as soon as Mrs. Bundy had closed the door. He saw that she was different now; something had happened that had made her indulgent. “Have you been all the way to Dover and back?” “No, but I’ve been to Victoria. I’ve left my luggage there—I’ve been driving about.” “I hope you’ve enjoyed it.” “Very much. I’ve been to see Mr. Morrish.” “Mr. Morrish?” “The musical publisher. I showed him our song. I played it for him, and he’s delighted with it. He declares it’s just the thing. He has given me fifty pounds. I think he believes in us,” Mrs. Ryves went on, while Baron stared at the wonder—too sweet to be safe, it seemed to him as yet—of her standing there again before him and speaking of what they had in common. “Fifty pounds! fifty pounds!” she exclaimed, fluttering at him her happy cheque. She had come 287

but Baron. She had only come to tell him the good news— she repeated this assurance more than once. to Victoria. ever so much more. natural. the origin really of their intimacy. and Baron could think of nothing but this confirmed vision of their being able to work fruitfully together that would account for so rapid a change. on her side. the remarkable sacrifice he had just achieved. in consequence of an extraordinary conversation that he had with her. to tell him. when it came to be a question of his permanent attitude. and Peter Baron never boasted of what he had done with them. They talked of it so profoundly that it drove everything else for the time out of his head— his duty to Mr. religiously. jubilant. for she had consented to his getting in with her and driving. as if with one of her famous divinations. He was silent for a while. or rather certain things it represented. and even the odd coincidence. at the very moment the trumpery papers. This conversation took place at Dover. when he went down to give her the money for which. from curiosity to see if her fine nerves had really given her a hint. had made somehow all the difference in their relations. she chattered like a happy woman. The difference was huge. and then later. She didn’t talk of impossibilities now—she didn’t seem to want to stop him off. Morrish’s bank. But she. this time in earnest. the first thing. only when. he had exchanged the cheque she had left with him. That cheque. She said they must do more. of her having reverted to the house again. at Mr. had ceased to exist. and of course his share of the money would be the half. she couldn’t leave the others alone. he was silent. also had evidently forgotten the trumpery papers: she never mentioned them again. Morrish had practically promised he would take anything that was as good as that. tremulously silent. the day following his arrival at Dover with the 288 . prodigiously. appreciated its pace. Mr. She had kept her cab because she was going to Dover. matching with the oddity of all the others. Locket. It was a vehicle infirm and inert.Sir Dominick Ferrand back. after a little. She was rosy.

of my own? I was only a poor girl. nothing at all. He did—I think it was the only happiness she ever knew. a hideous. in a great surge of pity. which felt as cold as her hard duty. touched.” “Oh. There dawned in her face as she approached the subject a light of warning that frightened him. This flash of ugly possibilities passed however. he returned to the question over which they had had their little scene the night they dined together—on this occasion (he had brought a portmanteau and he was staying) she mentioned that there was something very particular she had it on her conscience to tell him before letting him commit himself. to continue: “She was a poor girl—she was only a governess. that he answered: “Tell me everything—tell me!” “You must know what I am—who I am. checked indeed by the grave. no relations. in all the world. I’m so glad you tell me—it’s so grand of you!” Baron mur289 . “My mother—my poor mother. she thought he loved her. Ryves. It’s not my fault! Others have known. no friends. piecing dimly together what she meant. But she died of it. she was alone. distressed. and through gathering tears her eyes met his as if to plead with him to understand. important way she held up a finger. “Don’t you see I’ve no belongings. She paused with this. I’ve had to speak of it—it has made a great difference in my life. but she kept herself free still. cruel name. and drew her closer. and it was with the gesture of taking still tenderer possession of her.” said Mrs. letting him now take her hand.” “A poor girl?” Baron was mystified. Surely you must have guessed!” she went on.Henry James fifty pounds (he had after all to agree to share them with her—he couldn’t expect her to take a present of money from him). that it was only something more to love her for. but feeling. He understood. you must know especially what I’m not! There’s a name for it. it was charged with something so strange that for an instant he held his breath. with the thinnest quaver of irony.

Think of it. It was all misery and folly—he was married. Ryves. who he was. but you had to know. she added quickly. Now that you know. you can’t judge. something that helps me now.” she added. “Never—never. as if with his hands on old wounds. Ryves. I think of him with a strange pity—I see him!” said Mrs. gently and gravely. with the faint past in her eyes.” she went on. “You must work for yourself. I remember him. his wife knew—a lady who came to see me once after his death. however. for that. and you must give me time. though I didn’t know then. how I shall work for you!” he exclaimed. and he remained looking at her a moment. I must have time myself.” 290 . oh I must! Yes. He wasn’t happy—there were good reasons.” “You must wait. for he has only made it more of a rapture to care for you. “Ah. think of it. and she added. with a tired smile which had the effect of putting the whole story further and further away. That’s the only good thing. I’ll help you. but I remember many things. you must believe me. “You can’t tell. you must let it settle. I was a very little girl.Sir Dominick Ferrand mured. “I don’t care a straw. I know it from a person who’s dead. perhaps. “Then—your father?” He hesitated. we must wait together. who he was. Doesn’t it make us better friends?” asked Mrs. I believe. “You mustn’t say anything against him. you must think. The next moment. and leave it so. smiling confidently.” Her eyes had met his eyes again. “He had his own troubles. as a little girl.” Baron shook his head. thinking: “You had better know. but he was kind to her. later. I think.” She turned away from him. What he could he did—something that helped me afterwards. oh you will. as if with the sense that it couldn’t be far enough: “You don’t know. He was very kind to me. hesitating. Everyone is dead now—it’s too far off. He put me with some very good people—he did what he could for me. I know it from letters. it’s all right.

He was more patient than she could guess. that she had seen something in his. She made him nervous. for clandestine meditation. some of which. the curiosity they had had the queer privilege of exciting in her had lapsed with the event as irresponsibly as they had arisen. as depression produced by the long probation she succeeded in imposing on him. But the blood rushed back to its courses with his still quicker consciousness of safety. to his knowledge. then turned pale. the confused horror of having dealt a blow. as he had just found her. the agitation and several of the odd incidents that accompanied them. as he recovered his balance. my beloved!” which lost itself as he drew her close and held her long. You’ve often heard of him. when she asked him casually. with his hidden face: “Ah. The sensibility. in a few seconds. she only learned. she must never. or rather to attribute now to other causes. it’s you.” “He was a high celebrity.Henry James “I do—a little. It took more than a minute for him to say over to himself often enough. He was cold for an instant. was noted by his friend and interpreted. with all her guessing. in spite of the pains he took not to be caught. never know!” She never knew.” Baron wondered an instant. with the sense of danger. He gave a muffled murmur: “Ah. It came back to him again and again that if the 291 . and he could make out. that he had in fact destroyed the old documents she had had such a comic caprice about. “I’ve no doubt you’re a princess!” he said with a laugh. it had the effect of a powerful shock. much food. He knew that he stared. indeed. They naturally gave Peter Baron rather more to think about.” “There must indeed have been some good in him. He was Sir Dominick Ferrand. in the intensity of his embrace and the wonder of his escape. that his emotion struck her simply as a violent surprise. He was a great man.” Baron saw in her face. and she appeared to have forgotten. for if he was put to the proof she herself was not left undissected. “I’m not ashamed of him.

He sometimes wondered. Morrish’s patronage. Morrish’s protection—his affection was a quantity still less to be neglected. The woman he loved was the daughter of her father. This periodical published in due course a highly eulogistic study of the remarkable career of Sir Dominick Ferrand.Sir Dominick Ferrand documents he had burned proved anything they proved that Sir Dominick Ferrand’s human errors were not all of one order. That piece of furniture is still almost as useful to him as Mr. and his offerings are now not always declined by the magazines. But he has never approached the Promiscuous again. in the light of her general straightness (their marriage had brought out even more than he believed there was of it) whether the relics in the davenport were genuine. What was more to the point was that as he came to know her better and better—for they did work together under Mr. he couldn’t get over that. as this gentlemen calls it. on several of their songs. Baron nevertheless still tries his hand also at prose. 292 . There is a tremendous run.

I had been strolling with a friend. but it seemed no easy matter to find a mate for it. the open windows of the Kursaal sent long shafts of unnatural light into the dusky woods. with his feet 293 . I had captured one. and proposing an adjournment to the silken ottomans of the Kursaal. in the intervals of the music. for the crowd was equally dense in the gaming-rooms around the tables. rather. or half the world. and now and then. The night was perfect. the season was at its height. one might almost hear the clink of the napoleons and the metallic call of the croupiers rise above the watching silence of the saloons. Everywhere the crowd was great. however. Chairs. several years ago. when I observed a young man lounging back on one of the objects of my quest. before the gam-ing had been suppressed. were scarce. and all the world was gathered on the terrace of the Kursaal and the esplanade below it to listen to the excellent orchestra. I was on the point of giving up in despair. and we at last prepared to sit down.Henry James Eugene Pickering by Henry James CHAPTER I IT WAS AT Homburg. The evening was very warm.

with his hands in his pockets. when. but Weber’s lovely music only deepened the blank of memory. I saw that my young man had departed. how to make itself comfortable. Who the deuce was he? where. He was watching the game. the look of familiarity quite faded from his face. When the music ceased we left our places. “that I must beg you to surrender this second one. but what is odder still is that I have seen him before. so that I could not look at him again. His hands were locked round his long legs. that his face is familiar to me. and yet that I can’t place him. as I seated myself beside her. looking round. saw my puzzling friend stationed opposite to me. and I promptly approached him. “Yes. who had watched me. with rather a foolish air. and his mouth was half open.” He started. he is odd-looking. stared. and murmured something about not having noticed that he had it. Gradually I filtered through to the inner edge.” I said. but something in his appearance suggested that his present attitude was the result of inadvertence rather than of egotism. which were near by. and I turned into the gaming-rooms and hovered about the circle at roulette. near the table. We had our backs turned to him. This was more than his share of luxury. In passing. and.” The orchestra was playing the Prayer from Der Freischutz. pushed the chair away with awkward alacrity. how. and I went to consign my friend to her mamma on the terrace. “What an odd-looking youth!” said my companion. at home and abroad. blushed. What had made us 294 . He was staring at the conductor of the orchestra and listening intently to the music. I concluded that he only strikingly resembled some one I knew. now that I observed him at my leisure. But who in the world was it he resembled? The ladies went off to their lodgings. but singularly enough. He evidently belonged to the race which has the credit of knowing best.Eugene Pickering supported on the rounds of another. had I known him? It seemed extraordinary that a face should be at once so familiar and so strange. “There are so few chairs.

and he was having his first glimpse of life. vaporous beauty. and. his long. She had a charming gray eye and a good deal of yellow hair disposed in picturesque disorder. and I presently observed that she was trying to catch his eye. and pretty rather than plain. He was the verdant offshoot. she gave one a sense of sentimental. She was dressed in white muslin very much puffed and filled. when I saw her smile. I was curious to see whether he would put anything on the table. I guessed aright. Though at Homburg. unconscious absorption in the scene before him. a 295 . he evidently felt the temptation. indeed. I said to myself. crumpled. I conceived. as people said. rigid stem. but before long I noticed a lady who evidently had an eye for her neighbours as well as for the table. certainly. and though her features were meagre and her complexion faded. but he seemed paralysed by chronic embarrassment. as a rule. but he looked peculiarly amiable and if his overt wonderment savoured a trifle of rurality. somehow. “one could never be sure. and his ingenuous. as I had seen imagined in literature. white neck. was a German— such a German. inexpressive masks about him.” I yet doubted whether this lady were one of those whose especial vocation it was to catch a gentleman’s eye. it was an agreeable contrast to the hard. artificial gracefulness. He stood gazing at the chinking complexity of losses and gains. I thought her wonderfully pretty. but a trifle the worse for wear. a few minutes later. She was seated about half-way between my friend and me. prominent eyes. and every now and then passing his hand nervously over his eyes.Henry James call his appearance odd was his great length and leanness of limb. a muse. I used to flatter myself on guessing at people’s nationality by their faces. a correspondent of philosophers. shaking his loose gold in his pocket. She was youthful rather than elderly. Was she not a friend of poets. of some ancient. his blue. relieved here and there by a pale blue ribbon. Most of the spectators were too attentive to the play to have many thoughts for each other. he had been brought up in the quietest of homes. This faded. He was not handsome.

in desperation. The gesture was executed with a sort of practised coolness. she had no little pile of gold before her. put it into his hand. and bade him place it on a number of his own choosing. Suddenly. as it was immediately repeated with a good deal of intensity. unable to suppose that the invitation was addressed to him. covered altogether with bluegemmed rings—turquoises. but he shrank from the hazard. and. looked up at him with the same smile. By the time he reached it he was crimson. She caught his eye at last. and he was saying no. sapphires. he blushed to the roots of his hair. a Rahel? My conjectures.Eugene Pickering priestess of aesthetics—something in the way of a Bettina. interrogatively. she had determined to make him serve her turn. He was evidently filled with a sort of delightful trouble. to give up her chair to a rustling friend to whom she had promised it. there was anything but indifference in her pale. wavered awkwardly. Old players have a fancy that when luck has turned her back on them they can put her into goodhumour again by having their stakes placed by a novice. Our young man’s physiognomy had seemed to his new acquaintance to express the perfection of inexperience. rather blankly. to which he replied by a shake of the head. but she drew from her pocket a double napoleon. My attention was diverted at this moment by my having to make way for a lady with a great many flounces. and said something. evidently. She was asking him. I would have staked the coin on its being his companion’s last. were speedily merged in wonderment as to what my diffident friend was making of her. pretty face. Unlike most of her neighbours. and raising an ungloved hand. for although she still smiled intently as she watched his hesitation. laid two fingers on his sleeve. like a practical woman. he enjoyed the adventure. She tilted back. then. and accompanied with an appealing smile. he reached over and laid the piece on the table. and wiping his forehead with his pocket-handkerchief. and at last made his way to the lady’s chair. He stared a moment. before me. and lapis—she beckoned him to come to her. if he had ever played. when I again looked 296 . however.

still blushing a good deal. was a lady in a white dress. had kindled a smile in my own face. at the Homburg tables. she left her chair.Henry James across at the lady in white muslin. Now that luck had faced about again. Before going home I took a turn on the terrace and looked down on the esplanade. and proceeded to bury them in the folds of her muslin. He had innocence enough left. Pickering had staked nothing for himself. but. At last she seemed disposed to rest on her gains. and seemed to bid him put it up again. hand over hand. “I told you so. One of these figures. but he. She gave the young man a little nod which seemed to say. were equally undemonstrative. in the midst of which his eyes encountered my own. pressed her with awkward ardour. I had no intention of letting Pickering go without reminding him of our old acquaintance. A moment later the croupier was raking it in. Stupid fellow that I was. to look round the table with a gleeful. I looked for him 297 .” he glanced round the table again and laughed. I suppose my smile had ceased to be boyish. she was drawing in a very goodly pile of gold with her little blue-gemmed claw. Recognition. Good luck and bad. but the warm starlight vaguely illumined a dozen figures scattered in couples. his companion played for herself—played and won. looked at him a moment fixedly. but as he saw her prepare to withdraw he offered her a double napoleon and begged her to place it. however. He had been a very singular boy. and this happy adventuress rewarded her young friend for the sacrifice of his innocence with a single. The lamps were out. rapid. I thought. less fortunate than he. upward smile. and he made a way for her through the crowd. and laid it on a number. conscious laugh. it was the boyish laugh of a boyhood’s friend. and she at last took it from him. She shook her head with great decision. Then suddenly the familiar look which had vanished from his face flickered up unmistakably. I had been looking at Eugene Pickering! Though I lingered on for some time longer he failed to recognise me. I think. and I was curious to see what had become of his singularity.

Eugene Pickering the next morning at two or three of the hotels. When he perceived me he jerked himself forward.” I said. and kicking his heels towards a patch of blue sky. He looked as if he had been lounging there for some time. The umbrageous gardens of the Kursaal mingle with the charming Hardtwald. he had gone to walk an hour before. Then I remembered that poor Pickering had been. before he saw me. and Pickering. and I stood looking at him without introducing myself—purposely. the waiter said. Suddenly. apparently. on the grass near him. to give him a chance to recognise me. “Why. his hair was tossed about as if he had been sleeping. My step was so noiseless on the turf that. I went my way. beside his hat and stick. eh?” he answered. it’s but fifteen years since you used to do my Latin exercises for me. in those Latin 298 . on the grassy margin of a by-path. But he was out. Then he jumped up and grasped my hands. and at last I discovered his whereabouts. ending with a demand as to how in the world I had known him. One of the charms of Homburg is the fact that of a hot day you may walk about for a whole afternoon in unbroken shade. “and after all. which in turn melts away into the wooded slopes of the Taunus Mountains. To the Hardtwald I bent my steps. and yet speaking with a sort of ingenuous dismay. He put on his glasses. being awkwardly near-sighted. It was the rule with the Homburg world to spend its evenings at the Kursaal. lay a sealed letter. I had time to recognise Pickering again.” “Not changed. and stared up at me with an air of general trustfulness. and began a dozen random questions. you are not changed so utterly. and strolled for an hour through mossy glades and the still. confident that I should meet him in the evening. and stared and blushed and laughed. I came upon a young man stretched at his length in the sun-checkered shade. had already discovered a good reason for not being an exception. still smiling. So at last I introduced myself. perpendicular gloom of the firwoods. but without a sign of knowing me.

I wondered whether the old nurse with the bushy eyebrows had remained attached to his person up to a recent period. “I am rather dazed. jack-knives and Chinese puzzles. an old nurse with bushy eyebrows came and fetched him away in a carriage. He had made but a short stay at school—not because he was tormented. which suggested a vague analogy with the sleeping-potion in the tragedy. This he imparted to me in confidence at the time. and threw up his head. half an hour before the rest of us were liberated. you know. I hastened to say to Pickering that I hoped he was still the same good fellow who used to do my Latin for me.” he said. For you know.” And he jerked back his shoulders nervously. “We were capital friends. “then and afterwards.” I went on. Certainly Romeo’s sweetheart hardly suffered more. Remembering these things. and his bottle of medicine.Henry James days. his nurse. He used to bring a bottle of medicine to school and take a dose in a glass of water before lunch. and rummaged out a heap of childish playthings—tin soldiers and torn story-books. It was as if we had stumbled upon an ancient cupboard in some dusky corner. as a boy. but because his father thought he was learning bad manners. at least. and we sat down on the grass together and overhauled our old memories. This is what we remembered between us. and I 299 . nor as a man either.” “Yes. I never had many friends. a victim of juvenile irony. caused him to be called Juliet. passing his hand over his eyes. as if to settle himself in an unwonted position. we were very good friends.” he added. she was not. We had the whole summer day before us. rather bewildered at finding myself for the first time—alone. “and that makes it the stranger I shouldn’t have known you. You see. virtually at least. His extremely fair complexion. and every day at two o’clock. for he thought it so fine to be at school at all that he held his tongue at home about the sufferings incurred through the medicine-bottle. a standing joke in Verona. she had. and discovered presently that.

After that I never saw Eugene. I think. Mr. The choice. while I got all the questions and the raps with the ruler. mysteriously. His father went to live in the country. born as I was under quite another star. but my envy of these luxuries was tempered by a vague compassion which left me free to be generous. and sit up till I was sleepy. at eight o’clock. very large whiskers. and striking up. Pickering was a widower—a fact which seemed to produce in him a sort of preternatural concentration of parental dignity. on experiment. A tutor was provided for him. He was a majestic man. fell on me. he was to be a “gentleman”. School-life. at any rate—should be brought up. sent me back to school at the end of six months. I could button my jacket myself. And yet I remember never being jealous of my happier comrade. to be moulded into urbanity beneath the parental eye. or spend half an hour in the garden without a formal report of it when he came in. must have been rather a snob. I could go out to play alone. for the time. My parents. that he was always to wear a muffler and gloves. in reminiscence. and Eugene faded. and notions of his own as to how a boy— or his boy. chiefly. a keen dark eye. He had a watch and a pony and a great store of picture-books. and a single select companion was prescribed. Poor Pickering could never take a step without asking leave. Pickering. who had appeared to me in glimpses as a sort of high priest of the proprieties. to protect the lad’s morals. for Eugene was treated like a prince. First and foremost. The tutor. and indeed began gradually 300 . my parents were appealed to. one of those friendships of childhood. I think I vaguely supposed that he would melt into thin air. which seemed to mean. who had no desire to see me inoculated with importunate virtues. seemed hostile to these observances. with a hooked nose. and be sent to bed. and Eugene was taken home again. and I was allowed for a few months to have my lessons with Eugene.Eugene Pickering remember how it increased my oppressive awe of Mr. after a supper of bread and milk. into a pale image of the depressing effects of education.

“It’s nearly fifteen years. as I looked at him and met his transparent blue eye. that I could almost tell their history 301 . Our present meeting was my first assurance that he had really survived all that muffling and coddling. his whole organism trembled with a dawning sense of unsuspected possibilities of feeling. that the world had already wrought a certain work upon him and roused him to a restless. gradually. now that he stood on the threshold of the great world. and to regard him as one of the foolish things one ceased to believe in as one grew older. wiping a light perspiration from his forehead. This appealing tremor was indeed outwardly visible. and I saw that I was likely to profit by a certain overflow of sentimental fermentation. as you say. in a fashion. It had found him evidently a very compliant. I trembled for the unwarned innocence of such a soul. That’s a long time to give an account of.” he began. I became aware. Everything about him pointed to an experience from which he had been debarred. Our sudden meeting had greatly excited him. his gentle affectionate spirit was not one of those that need to be broken. for all this trepidation filled me with a great friendliness. “since you used to call me ‘butter-fingers’ for always missing the ball. I could do so with a good conscience. troubled selfconsciousness.Henry James to doubt of his existence. monotonous years. for me. as certain young monks I had seen in Italy. yielding subject. He kept shifting himself about on the grass. unsophisticated cloister face. such eventless. thrusting his hands through his hair. It had bequeathed him. I observed him now with a good deal of interest. His education had been really almost monastic. breaking out to say something and rushing off to something else. for he was a rare phenomenon—the fruit of a system persistently and uninterruptedly applied. he had the same candid. He struck me. an extraordinary freshness of impression and alertness of desire. and yet they have been. and I confess that. It seemed natural that I should have no more news of him.

302 . and a duller life for a young man grown. I don’t think that in fifteen years we spent half a dozen hours apart. “I am a regular garden plant. have had all kinds of adventures and travelled over half the world. piece by piece. and yet with something of the irony of vain regret. to my sense. seeing but three or four people. You. I have been watched and watered and pruned. Some three years ago my father’s health broke down. I had a succession of tutors. So. he thought the usual American laisser-aller in education was a very vulgar practice.” He spoke of his father at some length. but my education. and as I grew up. for climbing the garden fence to get the ball when I had let it fly over. it seems that I bore an extraordinary likeness to her. He took a fancy to it at first through his intense affection for my mother and the sort of worship he paid her memory. and he was kept very much within doors. my father had a great many theories. I remember you had a turn for deeds of daring. Besides. Mr. and with a respect which I privately declined to emulate. but I never knew it. I suppose. We lived in the country. Pickering had been. From those boyish days up to his death we were always together. a frigid egotist. and if there is any virtue in tending I ought to take the prize at a flower show. I was perfectly happy.” said my friend. I climbed no fences then or since. and that children were not to grow up like dusty thorns by the wayside. in detail. smiling and blushing. You remember my father. I used to think you a little Captain Cook in roundabouts. “I know I have been strangely brought up. and a library to browse about in. winter and summer. I suppose. as it were.” Pickering went on. I assure you I am a tremendous scholar. “So you see. and the great care he took of me? I lost him some five months ago. he prided himself on his conservative opinions. “and that the result is something grotesque. became one of my father’s personal habits. She died at my birth. unable to conceive of any larger vocation for his son than to strive to reproduce so irreproachable a model. It was a dull life for a growing boy.Eugene Pickering in ten words.

He had severe attacks of neuralgia. I imagined he had read a great deal. but it appeared to him dimly. After he died I missed him greatly. and his natural faculties were excellent.” Again he hesitated. “Yes.” He uttered all this with a frank eagerness which increased as he talked. and when I was out in the garden he used to watch me with it. “I have not sailed round the world. I must begin with Homburg. “but I confess I envy you the novelties you are going to behold. and here I am. and there was a singular contrast between the meagre experience he described and a certain radiant intelligence which I seemed to perceive in his glance and tone. A few days before his death I was twenty-seven years old. Evidently he was a clever fellow. he took up the letter which was lying beside him. on the continent. I suppose. as if he were going to add something about the scene at the Kursaal but suddenly. in a sort of dull stupor. I landed but a fortnight ago. I came to Bremen in the steamer with a very friendly German. and yet as if I didn’t know how to take hold of it. and he used to sit at his window. nervously. who undertook to initiate me into the glories and mysteries of the Fatherland. the freedom he was condemned to ignore in practice. in some degree. and recovered. Coming to Homburg you have plunged in medias res. At this season. he said. I know it. He kept an opera-glass at hand. and hesitated a moment. looked hard at the seal with a 303 . I lived altogether at home.” I said. basking in the sun.Henry James although I was a man grown. It seemed as if life offered itself to me for the first time. If I was out of his sight for a quarter of an hour he sent some one after me. Opportunity was now offering a meaning to the empty forms with which his imagination was stored.” He glanced at me to see if my remark contained an allusion. evidently with no intention of making an epigram. and the most innocent youth. “I stayed at home. in restless intellectual conjecture. as you suppose. through the veil of his personal diffidence.” Pickering continued.

“And where shall you go—what shall you do?” “Everywhere.” I answered. I should like to tell you everything!” “Tell me everything. either. At last he suddenly laid his hand on my arm. smiling. But not so long—now!” And he let his eyes wander to the letter again. “Six months I supposed when I came. It’s not easy. with possible convictions—even with what I never dreamed of. and cried. a possible will of my own! I find there is a world to know. sentient. I am filled with this feverish sense of liberation. a life to lead.” “Ah. will you understand it? No matter. with desires. I should have said yesterday. but I saw that he had suddenly become preoccupied. I find I am an active. you think me a queer fellow already. it’s true. “How long do you expect to be in Europe?” I asked. and he gravely picked it up and put it into his pocket. It was not life. and then flung it back on the grass with a sigh. then came back rapidly and flung himself on the grass again. I was like a poodle-dog that is led about by a blue ribbon. looked at me a moment appealingly. “I desire nothing better than to lie here in the shade and hear everything. “I said just now I always supposed I was happy. everything. intelligent creature. but the question is. by all means.Eugene Pickering troubled frown. but now that my eyes are open. that he was apparently weighing an impulse to break some last barrier of reserve. and in that sense I have lived more in the past six weeks than in all the years that preceded them. life is learning to know one’s self. and scoured and combed and fed on slops. We talked for a while longer. I see I was only stultified. “Upon my word. with passions. to tell you what I feel—not easy for so queer a fellow as I to tell you in how many ways he is queer!” He got up and walked away a moment. passing his hand over his eyes. men and women to form a thousand 304 . it keeps rising to my head like the fumes of strong wine.” I glanced at the letter—interrogatively. But now it is different.

The world beckons and smiles and calls. when I have learned so well how to stand aside and let them pass.” he went on gravely. but a nameless influence from the past. It all lies there like a great surging sea. I am sure I shall not prosper in it. ‘and much good may it do you. and I ask myself why I should wantonly measure myself with merciless forces.Henry James relations with. he wants to taste whatever sweetness there may be in paying for the knowledge. I stand shivering here on the brink. seems to hold me back. I am full of impulses. soundless country life.’ I don’t know whether you are laughing at my scruples or at what possibly strikes you as my depravity. that I can neither wholly obey nor wholly resist. “whether I have an inclination toward wrong-doing. fixing me with his excited eyes. charmed by the smell of the brine and yet afraid of the water. in Heaven’s name. I doubt. Pleasure and pain are empty words to me. if I have. But it isn’t that I think of. Life seems inspiring at certain moments. where we must plunge and dive and feel the breeze and breast the waves. playing with suffering. impersonal precept. wondering. to go where liberty leads me. So it is that it comes back—this irresistible impulse to take my plunge—to let myself swing. staring.” He paused a moment. I honestly believe I may safely take out a license to amuse myself. “‘Swing ahead. and long days spent among old books? But if a man IS weak. somehow. any more than I dream of. Why shouldn’t I turn my back upon it all and go home to—what awaits me?—to that sightless. but it seems terrible and unsafe. colourless. longing. what I long for is knowledge—some other knowledge than comes to us in formal. he doesn’t want to assent beforehand to his weakness. To break a window and let in light and air—I feel as if at last I must act!” 305 . You would understand all this better if you could breathe for an hour the musty in-door atmosphere in which I have always lived. and perhaps perceived in my own an irrepressible smile at his perplexity. I am not full of strength. but.’ you want to say.

and I imagine that once upon a time he found himself in a financial strait and was helped through it 306 . by all means. and come and tell me whether you have found the pearl of wisdom. honest love in the most convenient concentration of experience! I advise you to fall in love. “What is it?” I asked.” he said at last. I stopped smiling. on his side. and shook it solemnly. “It will remind you of an old-fashioned romance. now or ever. Vernor was largely engaged in business. “is love. I hope!” “Of marriage. as if he thought my sympathy a trifle meagre. and was bringing up his daughter. in the same severe seclusion in which I was spending my days. Such as I sit here.” “With whom?” “With a person I don’t love.” I answered. Mr. A man with as good a head and heart as yours has a very ample world within himself. I am engaged. “But don’t take things too hard. “The pearl of wisdom. “It is the singular part of my story. but drew from his pocket the letter of which I have spoken. my destiny is settled and sealed. and begged him to explain. nor in what’s called ‘life’ for life’s sake. held it up. when you have a chance.” I cried. talking in this wild way. I shook him by the hand and laughed.” This was serious. To this day I am unacquainted with the origin of the bond of union between our respective progenitors. Your long confinement makes you think the world better worth knowing than you are likely to find it. when I was a boy. Nevertheless. years ago.Eugene Pickering “Act. and I am no believer in art for art. take your plunge.” He frowned a little. and tossing off provocations to destiny. “It is my sentence!” “Not of death. he was also a widower.” He gave me no smile in response. now and always. I am given in marriage. It’s a bequest of the past—the past I had no hand in! The marriage was arranged by my father. The young girl’s father was his particular friend.

It’s not every young man who finds. She is a good deal my junior. Mr. parentally. I never suspected this superior conspiracy till something less than a year ago.” He related all this calmly enough. I have not seen my betrothed since she was a very plain-faced little girl in a sticky pinafore.” “You are joking. and has been living these many years at Smyrna. I wonder you don’t post off to Smyrna. a wife kept in a box of rose-leaves for him. he was sure to adhere to it. wishing to provide against his death. A thousand to one Miss Vernor is charming. His little daughter was the apple of his eye. and we have been educated for each other. with a sort of emotion which varied only in degree from that with which I could have hailed the announcement that he had ordered me a set 307 . hugging a one-armed doll—of the male sex. I received it. “and I heartily congratulate you. Vernor is in what is called the Eastern trade. got on his feet. he could offer no security but his word.Henry James by my father’s coming forward with a heavy loan. “and I am terribly serious. What is more. when she is eighteen we are to marry. drily rather and doggedly. “It’s a romance. So our fate was fixed. with a wounded air. I believe. Vernor. without the accent of complaint. for these dull days. informed me of it very solemnly. on which. Let me tell you the rest.” he answered. and vowed my father an eternal gratitude. paid his debt. six months ago she was seventeen. and he pledged himself to bring her up to be the wife of his benefactor’s son. I was neither elated nor depressed. as if he were weary of thinking of it. Mr. My father.” I said. in his situation. on reaching the marrying age. He was a man of dogmas. between her father and her governess. Of this my father was quite capable. as I remember. I believe—as big as herself. Isabel has grown up there in a white-walled garden. in an orange grove. indeed. and he was sure to have a rule of life—as clear as if it had been written out in his beautiful copper-plate hand—adapted to the conduct of a gentleman toward a friend in pecuniary embarrassment.

The fumes of unrighteous pride may rise into your brain and tempt you. indeed. After this his health failed rapidly. who has a pretty. ‘but since the foundation is laid.’ He was talking of death. intensely. But. and anything but grief at that moment was doubtless impious and monstrous. ‘I shall not live to see you married. my son. and what was my father but a divinity? Novels and poems. I believe I may trust the salutary force of your respect for my memory. face. But I must remember that when I am removed you will stand here alone. in his dimly-lighted room. with a wife approved by my judgment. face to face with a hundred nameless temptations to perversity. I believe in your docility. and I have never thought of myself but in you. on my going to him—’I feel that I shall not last long. in its main outline. I said nothing. it would be a selfish pleasure. in the interest of a vulgar theory which it will call your independence. but novels and poems were one thing and life was another.’ he said. and in a moment he beckoned to me. but happening to look at him I saw his eyes wide open. To foresee your future. to shatter the edifice I have so laboriously constructed. as I habitually sat for hours.Eugene Pickering of new shirts. near his bed. He had not spoken for some time. and fixed on me strangely. that little signifies. So I must ask 308 . but an extremely inanimate. to which he had been confined for a week. ‘but I am willing to die when I think how comfortably I have arranged your future. One night I was sitting. and he thought my silence was all sorrow. A short time afterwards he introduced me to a photograph of my predestined. but there came into my heart for the first time a throbbing sense of being over-governed.’ he went on. I supposed that was the way that all marriages were made. and I supposed he was asleep. I wish to clear this bright vision from the shadow of a doubt. Then. to know to a certainty that you will be safely domiciled here. He was smiling benignantly. cultivating the moral fruit of which I have sown the seed—this will content me. talked about falling in love. I had heard of their being made in heaven.

somehow. But this morning comes this memento!” And he held up his letter again. nor do I mean to.’ This was pretty ‘steep. ‘You will follow the path I have marked. I felt the reproach. I wish I could say as much for my own. I will obey.” “I see you have not yet broken the seal.” “I want to forget my situation.” “No. you will marry Isabel Vernor. for the present.” “What do you call bad news?” “News that I am expected in Smyrna in three weeks. you are living now. I promised! And even now I don’t regret my promise nor complain of my father’s tenacity. He sat up in his bed and looked at me with eyes which seemed to foresee a lifetime of odious ingratitude. I feel it now. I feel.Henry James you for a promise—the solemn promise you owe my condition.’ as we used to say at school. News that Mr. It contains bad news. I drew away my hand and asked to be trusted without any such terrible vow. My reluctance startled my father into a suspicion that the vulgar theory of independence had already been whispering to me. as if the seeds of ultimate repose had been sown in those unsuspecting years—as if after many days I might gather the mellow fruit. I was frightened. I want to spend three months without thinking of the past or the future.’ And he grasped my hand. Yesterday I thought I was in a fair way to sail with the tide.” 309 . you will be faithful to the young girl whom an influence as devoted as that which has governed your own young life has moulded into everything amiable. grasping whatever the present offers me. All this passionate consciousness of your situation is a very ardent life. Vernor disapproves of my roving about the world. but I want to live first!” “My dear fellow. News that his daughter is standing expectant at the altar. But after many days! I will keep my promise. “What is it?” “A letter from Smyrna.

The sigh was natural. Will you do me a favour? Pick up the letter. and keep it till I ask you for it. and when it had disappeared gave a soft sigh of relief. possibly.” I said.” He shook his head. and I have contemplated it mentally in every possible light. you may know that I am at my rope’s end. “curiosity would make me open it. by no fault of his own.” “To-morrow if you say so. “If I were to open it and read my summons. but I do fear something from conscience. When I do. and yet it set me thinking. I fear nothing from that side. but safe conjecture. put it into your pocket. that was fantastic. you had better open it. To say that I was disposed to humour the poor fellow would seem to be saying that I thought his request fantastic. “I have no curiosity! For a long time now the idea of my marriage has ceased to be a novelty. smiling. I want my hands tied. therefore.” “In your place. Meanwhile. and not stop till I arrived. do you know what I should do? I should march home and ask the Oberkellner how one gets to Smyrna. it would be the fascination of habit. “And how long is your rope to be? The Homburg season doesn’t last for ever. and I am sure you will find it’s tarry not!!” And he flung the letter on the grass. His general recoil from an immediate responsibility 310 .” I said. Look at the device on the seal. and he was only trying to be natural. It was his situation. take my ticket. As soon as I looked at the letter something smote me at the heart.” “Does it last a month? Let that be my season! A month hence you will give it back to me. to wander to my rope’s end is to leave the letter unread. He watched me put away the letter. pack my trunk. I know I should. “Upon my word. The only way. let it rest in peace!” And I consigned it to the most sacred interstice of my pocket-book.Eugene Pickering “Is not this pure conjecture?” “Conjecture.” I took the letter.

but he met my eyes with the same clear goodhumour. in spite of herself.” 311 . She confessed. so I told him. of his exploits at roulette. Then I walked home with her.” “She did herself injustice. afterwards. When it came to losing your money for you. she does what she chooses. that I had been an undiscovered spectator. Now. The world began to call her so. “Ah. though she remarked that in a general way she did not stand upon ceremony. I was with her—for nearly an hour. you noticed that too?” cried Pickering. abruptly. but if there was an old grievance on one side. I saw her afterwards. she made you insist. she is a lady with no reputation to lose!” Pickering seemed puzzled. indeed. I imagine she was not alone.” “Well. still quite unconfused. she said. “I have not yet found out Madame Blumenthal.” “No. was there not possibly a new-born delusion on the other? It would be unkind to withhold a reflection that might serve as a warning.” “Ah. “Is not that what you say of bad women?” “Of some—of those who are found out. you saw that wonderful lady?” “Wonderful she was indeed.” “In other words. before she ever dreamed of it. and at last finding that she had the reputation. still smiling. He blushed deeply. sitting on the terrace in the starlight.” “If that’s her name. however. that she is very eccentric. she resolved to enjoy its privileges.” “Ah! And did you go in?” “No. she said it was too late to ask me. I suppose she’s German.” he said.Henry James imposed by others might be wholesome enough. he smiled a little. then. the night before. but her manner was so gracious and reassuring that I supposed she was doing nothing unusual. too. “I felt as if the whole table were staring at me.

” I laughed involuntarily at the conjunction of these facts. “Amen!” I answered.” He seemed to ponder my question. “You have been so bluntly frank with me. Let us begin with the Hardtwald. does she interest you?” “Very much!” he cried. at last. Her husband is dead. whose husband is dead. whether this clever Madame Blumenthal. and we strolled away into the forest. if you can. there is no time to lose. has given a point to your desire for a suspension of communication with Smyrna. She is very clever. In a word. but gravely took out his pocket-book and drew forth a small photograph. talking of lighter things. I have known Madame Blumenthal for less than twenty-four hours. my dear fellow. But when you found this letter of yours on your place at breakfast. sat down on a fallen log. joyously. It represented. or anywhere in the neighbourhood. I was meditating on his queer biography. I asked him if he had it with him. He said nothing. and letting my wonderment wander away to Smyrna.” he said. “that I too must be frank. and looked out across an interval of meadow at the long wooded waves of the Taunus. jumping up with a laugh. Suddenly I remembered that he possessed a portrait of the young girl who was waiting for him there in a white-walled garden. unshrinkingly. What my friend was thinking of I can’t say. as the poet says. “I think not. if we are to see the world in a month. Tell me. but she speaks English so well that you wouldn’t know it. “And now. a simple maiden in her flower—a slight young girl. and Pickering’s clear glance seemed to question my mirth. with a certain childish 312 .” Pickering rose. “I have had the desire for three months.” I said.” “Very true.Eugene Pickering “Yes. did you seem for a moment to see Madame Blumenthal sitting opposite?” “Opposite?” “Opposite. At last we reached the edge of the wood.

“something that your saying that Madame Blumenthal has no reputation to lose has made me half afraid to tell you.” 313 . There was no ease in her posture. she was standing. as if with an effort to be perfectly just. and little by little he blushed. and in her timid gaze there seemed to lurk the questioning gleam of childhood. “I should take some satisfaction in seeing you immediately leave Homburg. Madame Blumenthal has asked you to come and play her game for her again. she looks a little wiser. her arms hung at her sides and her hands were clasped in front. stiffly and shyly. her head was bent downward a little.” he said. She has asked me to come and take tea with her this evening. abruptly—“My dear fellow. “She is very sweet!” “Yes.Henry James roundness of contour. I suppose. “What is this for?” her charming eyes appeared to ask. “By this time. she wore a short-waisted white dress. But her awkwardness was as pretty as that of some angular seraph in a mediaeval carving.” “Not at all!” cried Pickering. At last. very gravely. with a smile of triumph. for her likeness.” “Ah. We were silent for some moments. “why have I been dressed up for this ceremony in a white frock and amber beads?” “Gracious powers!” I said to myself. “of course you can’t leave Homburg.” “I think I can guess it. then.” I said. “She says that she means to play no more for the present.” He looked at me. she is very sweet—no doubt!” And he put the thing away without looking at it.” “Not much. poor girl. surprised.” I said. as I gave it back. “what an enchanting thing is innocence!” “That portrait was taken a year and a half ago. I hope. “There is something I have not told you.” “Immediately?” “To-day—as soon as you can get ready.” I said.” said Pickering. and her dark eyes fixed.

I found no company. the speeches were very long.” And we walked back through the woods. I opened it. it’s a tragedy. He rather avoided meeting my eye. feathering the shaft with a harmless expletive. stood before me. we will go and listen to the band play Schubert under the lindens.” “Indeed! Has she written a grammar?” “It’s not a grammar. He greeted me heartily. and on knocking. so I presently introduced myself. “Say it’s my duty—that I must. towards the end of the play. was surprised to hear the sound of a loud voice within.” I didn’t quite understand him. and struck the ground with his stick. I stay!” I made him a mock bow for his energy. entitled “Cleopatra. at his inn. My knock remained unnoticed. threw his book on the table. Here it is. and there was an inordinate number of soliloquies by the heroine. “Madame Blumenthal.” I said. began in this fashion— 314 .” he said in a moment. with a very large margin. One of them. “That’s very fine. I told him that unless he followed my advice I would never speak to him again. and beheld. but looked askance at me. as he answered. glancing at the book. I went to see Pickering the next day.” And he handed me the book.” There were a great many marginal corrections and annotations. I remember. as if he were expecting me to laugh. “Good!” he cried.Eugene Pickering He answered nothing. an Historisches Trauerspiel in five acts. “Urge it strongly. but I discovered my friend walking up and down the room and apparently declaiming to himself from a little volume bound in white vellum. “but now. He got up. after an instant’s delay. apparently from the author’s hand. as directed. “And who is your teacher?” I asked. in delicate type. “I wanted an occasion to break a rule—to leap a barrier. to put you in a proper mood for Madame Blumenthal’s tea. at his door. but. and said that he was taking a German lesson.

but it seemed to me an unmistakable sign of his being under the charm. and 315 . and betrayed no sense of this being a confession that he had taken his plunge and was floating with the current. He was preoccupied. to the fashion. He only remembered that I had spoken slightingly of the lady. Pickering and I conformed. that this information was very soberly offered. and that she herself undertook the part of the heroine. in his consciousness. the advent of Adelina Patti.Henry James “What. Mozart and Beethoven. I had received the day before so strong an impression of a sort of spiritual fastidiousness in my friend’s nature. as we had done the day before. and observing how the echoes of the past were immediately quenched in its music. after all. he was irresponsive to my experimental observations on vulgar topics—the hot weather. and sensation but deception?—reality that pales before the light of one’s dreams as Octavia’s dull beauty fades beside mine? But let me believe in some intenser bliss. “Has the tragedy ever been acted?” “Never in public. but Madame Blumenthal tells me that she had it played at her own house in Berlin. and seek it in the arms of death!” “It seems decidedly passionate. uttering his thoughts. and he now hinted that it behoved me to amend my opinion.” Pickering’s unworldly life had not been of a sort to sharpen his perception of the ridiculous. the inn. is life but sensation. No doubt Madame Blumenthal was a clever woman.” I said. that on hearing now the striking of a new hour. It is a good German custom at Homburg to spend the hour preceding dinner in listening to the orchestra in the Kurgarten. I said to myself that it had certainly taken a delicate hand to wind up that fine machine. as it were. He seemed to have quite forgotten our long talk in the Hartwaldt. are a vigorous stimulus to the appetite. he announced that Madame Blumenthal had proved to be an extraordinarily interesting woman. At last. for organisms in which the interfusion of soul and sense is peculiarly mysterious.

to measure people by my narrow precedents. and her own venerable mother originally taught her the rules of the game. smiling.” “That’s a polite way of calling me a fool. and yet make them harmonious and beautiful. It is a recognised source of subsistence for decent people with small means.” “Madame Blumenthal. I have always said to myself that if my heart were ever to be captured it would be by a sort of general grace—a sweetness of motion and tone—on which one could count for soothing impressions. and it’s not for me. he began to expatiate on his friend’s merits. says Madame Blumenthal. You will know her. yet a while. and it seems the more perfect that it keeps order and harmony in a character really passionately ardent and active. “to me every one seems eccentric. Madame Blumenthal has it—this grace that soothes and satisfies. But I confess Madame Blumenthal might do worse things than play at roulette. and supposed that a gambler was of necessity some dusky villain with an evil eye. people play at roulette as they play at billiards. and I leave you to judge whether she does seem so! She has every gift. and yet what I should most envy you would be.” I said. “might be the loveliest woman in the world. what reaches the observer—the admirer—is simply a sort of fragrant emanation of intelligence and sympathy. What goes on in her mind I of course can’t say. In Germany. With her eager nature and her innumerable accomplishments nothing would be easier than that she should seem restless and aggressive. and culture has done everything for each. but your beautiful imagination. and you the object of her choicest favours. not your peerless friend. as one counts on a musical instrument that is perfectly in tune. I never saw a gaming table in my life before. “You are 316 .Eugene Pickering when we were seated under the trees. I have never been in the habit of thinking positive beauty the most excellent thing in a woman.” said Pickering.” he said. “I don’t know whether she is eccentric or not.

and I think it possible I may have made her listen to a great deal of nonsense. She listens even better than she talks. “owing to my peculiar circumstances.” “You will make the journey fast if you travel by express trains. and declared that Madame Blumenthal’s eyes had something in them that he had never seen in any others. “they must have seemed to her great rubbish. and friend. they came swarming to my lips.” “Madame Blumenthal. Last evening. philosopher. like fog-lamps at sea. and now she understands!” “She told you. have you ventured to intimate to Madame Blumenthal your high opinion of her?” “I don’t know what I may have said. but I felt the wiser and the stronger. I imagine. that she understood you as if she had made you. on the contrary. and of seeing her lovely eyes shining through it opposite to me. if I remember rightly. somehow. I have.” he went on.” “Exactly so—the greatest! She has felt and suffered. Very likely I poured them all out.” I surmised. in truth. a satirist! I hope I shall be a long time coming to that.” And here. I have a sense of having enshrouded myself in a sort of mist of talk. Pickering broke off into an ardent parenthesis.Henry James a sceptic. a cynic.” “She spoke to me.” he added in a moment. But pray tell me. “It was a jumble of crudities and inanities. after a pause.” Pickering answered. I suppose. sitting there before that charming woman. “as I had 317 . For after the first few words I exchanged with her I was conscious of an extraordinary evaporation of all my old diffidence. for having fired off all my guns—they could hurt nobody now if they hit— and I imagine I might have gone far without finding another woman in whom such an exhibition would have provoked so little of mere cold amusement. and she offered to be your guide. “entered into your situation with warmth. a great accumulated fund of unuttered things of all sorts to get rid of.

Afterwards she kindly offered to read German aloud with me. but now I stammered and bungled. though we met at the Kursaal and strolled occasionally in the park. I had had plenty to say before. “I was very much moved. but I couldn’t. in spite of my desire to let him alone. I suppose.” I was neither a cynic nor a satirist. very much excited. For some days I saw little of him. but even if I had been. before we parted. in especial. ‘With this!’ I said. I confess I was curious to see her.” “Meanwhile she had dropped her tragedy into your pocket!” “Not at all. and at last I bolted out of the room. Among the foolish things which. and gave me in a dozen ways an impression of increased self-confidence and maturity. I tried to say something. for I wished to let Pickering work out his destiny alone. were some generous words in my praise. all the offices of a woman’s friendship. but allow me to say I don’t care!” Pickering spoke with an air of genial defiance which was the most inoffensive thing in the world. formally. ‘What shall we begin with?’ she asked. And she let me take it to look it over. for the signs and portents of the world’s action upon him—of that portion of the world. I was 318 . according to his own account. two or three times a week. and held up the book. He seemed very happy. to which she had civilly replied. to make it bright and fine. for the accent. I had seen it on the table before she came in.Eugene Pickering never been spoken to before. that Madame Blumenthal wished to know me and expected him to introduce me.” “Which you as formally accepted?” “To you the scene sounds absurd. His mind was admirably active. and always. and she offered me. he had uttered. I might have been disarmed by Pickering’s assurance. I asked myself what experience could really do. after a quarter of an hour’s talk with him. of which Madame Blumenthal had constituted herself the agent. that innocence had not done. but I begged that the introduction should not be immediate. I watched. in fact. I was.

Henry James struck with his deep enjoyment of the whole spectacle of foreign life—its novelty. a coming to moral manhood. and not of a sentimental spendthrift dangling about some supreme incarnation of levity. Pickering had the air of an ingenuous young philosopher sitting at the feet of an austere muse. but he let me know generally that he saw her often. and continued to admire her. 319 . in spite of preconceptions. its light and shade—and with the infinite freedom with which he felt he could go and come and rove and linger and observe it all. an awakening. she must be a very superior woman. its picturesqueness. It was an expansion. I was forced to admit to myself. that if she were really the ruling star of this happy season. Each time I met him he spoke a little less of Madame Blumenthal.

one evening at the opera. to have abjured the Kursaal. She reappeared. as it always was when he was interested. where from my chair I perceived her in a box. and the studious mind prefers seclusion. his eyes were following her covert indications. but on looking round when it fell for the entr’acte. I was glad that. apparently. for it very soon occurred to me that Niedermeyer would be just the man to give me a fair prose version of Pickering’s 320 . having her back to him. No doubt she was saying sharp things. and after the rising of the curtain I was occupied with the stage.Eugene Pickering CHAPTER II MADAME BLUMENTHAL SEEMED. slowly moving her fan to and fro and letting her eye wander over the house. but Pickering was not laughing. Recognition and mutual greetings followed. Adelina Patti was singing. He was sitting a little behind her. and I was forced to postpone my visit to Madame Blumenthal. at last. Her young friend. whom in a moment I perceived to be an old acquaintance. looking over her shoulder and listening. and I never caught a glimpse of her. leaning forward. however. I saw that the authoress of “Cleopatra” had been joined by her young admirer. was an interesting study. his mouth was half open. for the time. looking extremely pretty. I was not sorry. she was unable to see how he looked. was apparently talking of this person and that. It seemed the proper moment to present myself and make her my bow. came to occupy the next chair. he looked intensely serious. but just as I was about to leave my place a gentleman. while she.

” I said.” “Who?” he answered. It’s extraordinary how those women last!” “You don’t mean. and he spoke the language almost without accent.” “Perhaps I should not. England especially he had often visited.’ that Madame Blumenthal is not embalmed. His knowledge on social matters generally had the quality of all German science. it was copious. and after looking a while.’ Poor fellow! he’s not the first. you will find her charming. Don’t ask me for 321 . it’s easily done. for duration. Then. he knew a little something about every one.Henry James lyric tributes to his friend. She looks wonderfully well. like sitting too straight in a fauteuil. when you talk about ‘those women. The attitude of upright virtue is unbecoming. as we stood looking round the house. I take it. in a certain infusion of respectability?” “Yes and no. “Madame Blumenthal! What! It would take long to say. and I don’t think he is yet able to give a coherent account of her. My friend there has known her a week. exhaustive. and about some people everything. and had formerly lived about Europe a great deal in a series of small diplomatic posts. “I am afraid your friend is a little—what do you call it?—a little ‘soft. But some women are never at their ease till they have given some damnable twist or other to their position before the world. with the young man sitting behind her. minute. “who and what is the lady in white. I had once spent three rainy days with him in the house of an English friend in the country. and a good deal of a gossip. you will tell me what she is. “Do tell me. Be introduced. dropping his glass. He was a sharp observer. There is no reason in her antecedents that people should drop their voice when they speak of her. I have never known this lady that she has not had some eligible youth hovering about in some such attitude as that.” He raised his glass again. from here. The atmosphere that surrounds her is entirely of her own making. He was an Austrian by birth. after a week. undergoing the softening process.

Her talk is much better than her writing. when she turned a head as well set on its shoulders as this one!” And Niedermeyer tapped his forehead. twice her own age. however. in summer one often sees her across the green table at Ems and Wiesbaden. and her cleverness has spoiled her. I remember her mother. She has been a widow these six or eight years. content yourself with a few facts and with an anecdote. with principles marshalled out like Frederick the Great’s grenadiers. in fact. 322 . however. declared that at last she could breathe the sacred air of freedom. in the George Sand manner—beating the drum to Madame Sand’s trumpet. No doubt she was very unhappy. She tossed her head. She’s very clever. in rather a hand-to-mouth fashion. But she has been admired also by a great many really clever men. and when she came to the end of her yarn she found that society had turned its back. and her principles were an insufficient dowry for Anastasia. Since then she has published a lot of literature—novels and poems and pamphlets on every conceivable theme. A year after her marriage she published a novel.Eugene Pickering opinions. from the conversion of Lola Montez to the Hegelian philosophy. He was supposed to have money. I suppose she is some six or eight and thirty years of age. In winter one hears of her in Berlin. and has lived. Blumenthal was an old beast. Hegelian philosophers and Hungarian pianists. giving little suppers to the artistic rabble there. She had a taste for spinning fine phrases. an old Westphalian Grafin. she drove her shuttle. with her views on matrimony. or else that his pretty young wife spent it very fast. and formally announced that she had embraced an ‘intellectual’ life. This meant unlimited camaraderie with scribblers and daubers. there was a time. and very well born. Her conjugophobia—I can’t call it by any other name—made people think lightly of her at a time when her rebellion against marriage was probably only theoretic. I imagine. Madame Blumenthal is Prussian. but I am afraid he had less than was nominated in the bond. She was poor. who was married very young to a vicious Jew.

when put forth in pink covers. Yet for all that. I am not going near her box.” “This is my anecdote. I am going to leave her to say. I am not going to speak to her. but he knew by hearsay that Madame Blumenthal’s literature. she confided to him. and it was promised to a publisher. A year ago a friend of mine made her acquaintance in Berlin. well and good. It’s a proof of Anastasia’s charm that such a man should have got into the habit of going to see her every day of his life. and though he was no longer a young man. she was writing a novel. but not an anecdote. it is that there is something sinister about the woman. but there have been two or three. She used to bid him sit down and hold his tongue for a quarter of an hour. If you land on your feet you are so much the wiser. but I am good-natured enough for it to pain me.Henry James “She has a great charm. Her quarrel with society has brought her no happiness. that I too have gone over to the Philistines. I know no harm of her. But the moment you let it flag. she’s radiant. if she does me the honour to observe the omission. and her outward charm is only the mask of a dangerous discontent. But the major was in love. who have almost broken their necks in the fall. or next door to it! Every day that he called he found her scribbling away at a little ormolu table on a lot of half-sheets of note-paper. a trifle severe. till she had finished her chapter. a man every way firm in the faith of his fathers. The major. grave. I believe. she is capable of dropping you without a pang. He’s a major in the Prussian artillery—grizzled. was the name of the injured heroine. was subversive of several respectable institutions. Clorinda.” I said. It’s not that. Be323 . simply. Her imagination is lodged where her heart should be! So long as you amuse it. he took a great fancy to Madame Blumenthal. had never read a work of fiction in his life. and. I imagine. literally. I am too old for it to frighten me. “and giving me an opinion.” “You are reversing your promise. and had never been what is called a susceptible one.

and the major assured me it made her look uncommonly pretty. Madame Blumenthal flung down her pen and announced in triumph that she had finished her novel. ‘that I write from an inner need. declared that her novel was immoral rubbish. You call my poor efforts coquetry. and then proceeds to thump vigorously at the lady’s door. as I say. and from that day to the day three months 324 . that he loved her in spite of her follies. vanity. was mingled with Anastasia’s wrath. Left alone and recovering his wits. and the first thing he knows she is sweeping him a great curtsey and bidding him farewell for ever.Eugene Pickering sides. And yet she was not such a woman as he could easily ask to marry him. one day. by way of congratulating her. however. I don’t know how much pleasure. But it never opened. I write to unburden my heart. on this occasion. he didn’t believe in women knowing how to write at all. The major stands staring. and learned enough when she could read him the newspapers. I don’t know. and it irritated him to see this inky goddess correcting proof-sheets under his nose—irritated him the more that. Clorinda had expired in the arms of—some one else than her husband. The major. ‘I have told you before. he fishes out Clorinda from the embers.’ she says. to satisfy my conscience. and that her love of vicious paradoxes was only a peculiarly depraved form of coquetry. the desire to produce a sensation. They say that women like to be snubbed by military men. The result of all this was that he fell into the way of railing at her intellectual pursuits and saying he should like to run his sword through her pile of papers. At last. and not the world’s more or less flattering attention to it!’ And seizing the history of Clorinda she thrust it into the fire. But her wrath was very quiet. I’m sure. He added. I can prove to you that it is the quiet labour itself I care for. A woman was clever enough when she could guess her husband’s wishes. and that if she would formally abjure them he would as formally offer her his hand. he was in love with her and that he ventured to believe she had a kindness for his years and his honours.

” “By Jove. “Ay.” “And last?” I asked. She picks her up. and I found. “Sophronia. but. somewhat to my surprise. and found Clorinda tumbled upon the floor. of course. my dear fellow. “This is another anecdote. on the whole. and sends her to the printer. is simply Clorinda renamed by the baptism of fire. Unter den Linden. but poor Clorinda?” I objected. First (what I was careful not to tell my friend). “But the question is. but half availed to divert me from my quickened curiosity to behold Madame Blumenthal face to face. The other day. I saw on a bookseller’s counter a little pink-covered romance— ’Sophronia. he had not beheld her again.” “Well. it’s a striking story. I observed an extraordinary abuse of asterisks. His glowing smile seemed to say to me. I shall not whisper to him that the urn is empty. that her prettiness lost nothing on a nearer view.” Even Adelina Patti’s singing. Wherever the flames had burnt a hole she swings a constellation! But if the major is prepared to drop a penitent tear over the ashes of Clorinda. more frightened than hurt. a good deal scorched. brushes her off. third. crossed with a row of stars. and adore!” Nothing could have been more gracious than the lady’s greeting. look for yourself. Her eyes indeed were the 325 .’ by Madame Blumenthal. second. The fair author came back. that Madame Blumenthal cared for him a trifle more than he supposed. that he cares for her more than ever. Glancing through it. As soon as the curtain had fallen again I repaired to her box and was ushered in by Pickering with zealous hospitality. that the performance was a master-stroke. and that her allowing him to force an interview upon her again is only a question of time. for the next half-hour.” I said. as Niedermeyer paused. every two or three pages the narrative was adorned with a portentous blank.Henry James ago when he told me the tale. what does it prove?” “Several things.

I was born in the lap of feudalism. “Really?” she suddenly said. her movements. who stood behind us. then meeting her charming eyes. as Pickering had said. turning short round upon Pickering. of the fine things I had heard about her from my friend. as I took my seat beside her. I said. especially when she laughed. and in a little while I complimented her on her excellent English. she spoke English admirably. and exaggerate a little. the fogs. and she indulged while she talked in a superabundance of restless. “with the aristocracy! I am a fierce democrat—I am not ashamed of it. the smoke.Eugene Pickering finest I have ever seen—the softest. We talked after this of various matters. I should never get on with the—” I wondered what she was going to say. it was then I observed how sweet her voice was in laughter. with her fine eyes fixed full upon me. or whist with sixpenny stakes?—”I should never get on. “I have never been there and wish never to go. and the tone of her voice. I told her. Not for a long time. her smile. “Heaven forbid!” she cried. letting me go on some time. But I am a revolutionist! I have a passion for freedom—my idea of happiness is to die on a great barricade! It’s to your great country I should like to go. She was very clever. I am a daughter of the crusaders. I hold opinions which would make my ancestors turn in their graves. She looked at you very hard with her radiant gray eyes. and she listened. the deepest. the most intensely responsive.” she said. and asked if she had learnt it in England. and looking at him in the same way. as if to make you take her meaning in a certain very particular and superfine sense. I should like to see the wonderful spectacle of a great people free 326 . and. I wondered whether after a while this might not fatigue one’s attention. In spite of something faded and jaded in her physiognomy. She suddenly began to laugh. and I repented. “Is that the way you talk about me?” He blushed to his eyes. had an almost girlish frankness and spontaneity. rather affected little gestures.

if a young man is innocent he’s a fool.Henry James to do everything it chooses. “I call them inspired solecisms. doubtless. “No matter. Remember that when I next laugh at you!” Glancing at Pickering. “You must know that in music. modestly. for in the midst of the explanation the curtain rose again. it was meagre. her gestures. and yet never doing anything wrong!” I replied. nodding at him. I think of it as a sort of Arcadia—a land of the golden age. he has no brains. her voice and glance. he’s not a bit interesting. and I think them over for a week. He looked at me with eyes that seemed to say. “Did you ever hear such wit? Did you ever see such grace?” It seemed to me that he was but vaguely conscious of the meaning of her words. But Mr. “I should like to see the country which produced that wonderful young man. too. There is something painful in the spectacle of absolute enthralment. Pickering says the freshest things. and after I have laughed five minutes at their freshness it suddenly occurs to me that they are very wise. but I cannot answer for it. it was trivial. and I treasure them up. even to an excellent cause. as became a “revolutionist. “You can’t be a great artist without a great passion!” Madame Blumenthal was affirming. no matter!” she cried. both our freedom and our good conduct had their limits.” she said. but made some remark upon the charm of Adelina Patti’s singing. “I think for myself!” And she began with a great many flourishes of her fan to explain what it was she thought. “True!” she went on. Remarkable things. I gave no response to Pickering’s challenge. made an absorbing harmony. They were equally hers. that. 327 . and she turned quickly about and shook her fan with a dramatic gesture at Pickering. they were links alike in the golden chain. I was prompted to believe that he was in a state of beatific exaltation which weighed Madame Blumenthal’s smiles and frowns in an equal balance. after all. it lacked soul. He’s so delightfully innocent! In this stupid old Germany. Madame Blumenthal.” was obliged to confess that she could see no charm in it.

of course. “But it’s about him I want to talk. that I don’t trust my own impressions. “Ah. I answered. that she had given me leave. and my companion seized the opportunity. and rained down its silver notes. If he were really in love. and we bade her farewell at her carriage door. I promised to come and compare notes with her. They have misled me more than once!” And she gave a little tragic shudder. as she said. Distances are short in Homburg.” I whispered. my imagination is so lively. She looked at me a moment with that extraordinary gaze of hers which seemed so absolutely audacious in its candour. I had not taken many steps before I became aware that I was beside a man in the very extremity of love. walking up and down the long glazed gallery of the Kursaal. It was for a particular reason! It was reason enough for me.” she said. “I want to ask you many things. I stood ready to confess to large possibilities of fascination on Madame Blumenthal’s part. “and I will leave you your passion!” And I departed for my own place in the orchestra. and he was taking her to her carriage. “Isn’t she wonderful?” he asked. as the theatre was emptying itself. she should not walk home. Pickering and I remained a while. I wondered afterwards whether the speech had seemed rude. and rejoined that I paid more compliments than our young friend there. He interests me.Eugene Pickering Before I had time to assent Madame Patti’s voice rose wheeling like a skylark. now that I had seen her. She was on Pickering’s arm. but the night was rainy. and inferred that it had not on receiving a friendly nod from the lady. Pickering left us together a moment while he went to hail the vehicle. but you see my sympathies are so intense. give me that art. well and good! For although. in the lobby. but that she was sure I was not half so sincere. and Madame Blumenthal exhibited a very pretty satin-shod foot as a reason why. I want you to tell me all about him. and even to cer328 . though but a penniless widow. with an implicit confidence in my sympathy which it cost me some ingenuity to elude. to beg me to be so very kind as to come and see her.

“we drove to Konigstein. but I desired to know before we separated what he had done with that troublesome conscience of his.” he said. breaking off little bits of stone and letting them drop down into the valley. it’s like hearing the opening tumult of one of Beethoven’s symphonies as it loses itself in a triumphant harmony of beauty and faith!” I could only lift my eyebrows. with rapture. the hours like minutes. “nothing to what she sometimes is in the way of brilliancy— in the way of repartee. If you could only hear her when she tells her adventures!” “Adventures?” I inquired.Henry James tain possibilities of sincerity of which my appreciation was vague.” I said. I resolved to hold my tongue and let him run his course. about the days passing like hours. my dear fellow.” he continued. “ I went to drive with her. looking at me. “that you are simply in love. At last she got up 329 . I suppose. When I listen to her reminiscences. as if he were delighted to hear it—”So Madame Blumenthal told me only this morning!” And seeing. and while she sat on an ivied stone. to see the old castle.” He replied with a brightening eye. and about Madame Blumenthal being a “revelation. “I suppose you know. “She hasn’t vegetated. Something in the solemn stillness of the place unloosed my tongue. I stood there and made a speech.” “She was nothing to-night. She listened to me. “Has she had adventures?” “Of the most wonderful sort!” cried Pickering. We scrambled up into the heart of the ruin and sat for an hour in one of the crumbling old courts. That’s what they happen to call your state of mind. like me! She has lived in the tumult of life. He had a great deal to say about his happiness. yet it seemed to me less ominous that he should be simply smitten than that his admiration should pique itself on being discriminating. on the edge of the plunging wall. It was on his fundamental simplicity that I counted for a happy termination of his experiment. that I was slightly puzzled. and the former of these alternatives seemed to me the simpler.

It has been proved that there are. but she was afraid that if she took me at my word she would be taking advantage of my inexperience. I told her that I was not afraid of preferring any woman in the world to her.Eugene Pickering and nodded at me two or three times silently. in the world. One side of it was occupied by an open piano. Buried in an arm-chair. ‘It’s a perfect case!’ And for some time she said nothing more. and then she repeated. more innocent. She had impugned my sincerity the 330 . I must know her longer and find them out. Even if this clever lady enjoyed poor Pickering’s bedazzlement. certain characters who cultivate fictitious emotions in perfect good faith. I had known few women. you are in love!’” I called upon Madame Blumenthal a couple of days later. as if she were applauding me for a solo on the violin. they seemed to me to exhale the pure aroma of Pickering’s devotion. many of which I saw at a glance were French. she would listen to me again. here and there. I was too easily pleased. She thanked me heartily. and her offer to abide by the result of hazardous comparison with other women was a finer stroke than her reputation had led me to expect. I must compare her with other women— women younger. with a smile. taking vanity and charity together. ‘Happy man. I thought her better than she really was. She received me in a shabby little sitting-room littered with uncut books and newspapers. more ignorant. simpler.’ she said. it was conceivable that. happy man! you are in love. she should care more for his welfare than for her own entertainment. But before we left the place she told me that she owed me an answer to my speech. The purpose of my visit was not to admire Madame Blumenthal on my own account. She had great faults. and then if I still did her the honour to think well of her. ‘You are in love. in some agitation of thought. They perfumed the air. but to ascertain how far I might safely leave her to work her will upon my friend. the object of this devotion was reading the Revue des Deux Mondes. surmounted by a jar full of white roses. such people as sincere impostors.

“I know you are his confidant. and that until we met at Homburg I had not seen him since he was a boy. indeed. and so pretty withal. and not to place her on her guard against my penetration. in memory. had lodged her imagination in the place of her heart than were dreamt of in my philosophy. Yet. and I was careful on this occasion to abstain from compliments. She was certainly a wonderful woman. as Niedermeyer said. his antecedents. He has told me certainly a great many things.Henry James evening of the opera. The result of it was to prove that there were many more things in the composition of a woman who. which might have almost provoked me to invent a good opinion. I have had several friendships in my life—thank Heaven! but I have had none 331 . “But he talks to you freely. and his character. and it was expressed with an air of charmed solicitude. She sat there so questioning. so perceptive. She had said she wished me to tell her everything about our friend. to tell the perfect truth. but I always feel as if he were keeping something back. All this was natural in a woman who had received a passionate declaration of love. I might deepen her conviction to disinterested ecstasy. that I was quite ready at the end of half an hour to subscribe to the most comprehensive of Pickering’s rhapsodies. and that if I chose to be explicit. I felt like a very competent philosopher. and showing me only one hand at once. and she questioned me as to his family. a radiant confidence that there was really no mistake about his being a most distinguished young man. so genial. I told her that she really knew Pickering better than I did. so generous. if I had not had one ready made. I was punished for my rash attempt to surprise her by a temporary eclipse of my own perspicacity. as I sat there stroking my hat and balancing the account between nature and art in my affable hostess. on that half-hour. I have never liked to linger.” she answered. He seems often to be hovering on the edge of a secret. his fortune. It is needless to narrate our interview in detail. as if he were holding something behind him.

she would ask nothing indiscreet! Yes. and if she had invented it herself. it was a marvellous story.Eugene Pickering more dear to me than this one. In as few words as possible I told her that Pickering stood pledged by filial piety to marry a young lady at Smyrna. Yet in the midst of it I have the painful sense of my friend being half afraid of me. waiting there for the young Western prince like the heroine of an Eastern tale! She would give the world to see her photograph. people would have said it was absurdly improbable. did I think Mr. and. And the poor little girl at Smyrna.” She left her seat and took several turns about the room. his engagement to Miss Vernor. Madame Blumenthal’s professions seemed a virtual promise to agree with me. How much better I might play providence over Pickering’s experiments with life if I could engage the fine instincts of this charming woman on the providential side! Pickering’s secret was. Poor me! If he only knew what a plain good soul I am. when I had finished it there was a faint flush of excitement in each of her cheeks. She listened intently to my story. smiling to herself. I said that my friend had. it was natural enough that he should have been unable to bring himself to talk of it to Madame Blumenthal. Pickering would show it to her? But never fear. I could not rid myself of the suspicion that in going further Pickering might fare much worse. of course. strange. no wonder he wished to put off the day of submission. after some hesitation. The simple sweetness of this young girl’s face had not faded from my memory. She broke out into a dozen exclamations of admiration and compassion. perhaps a trifle out of my wits. a substantial secret. “What a wonderful tale—what a romantic situation! No wonder poor Mr. and how I only want to know him and befriend him!” These words were full of a plaintive magnanimity which made mistrust seem cruel. in fact. and that perhaps I might do him a good turn by putting her in possession of it. and uttering little German cries of 332 . of his thinking me terrible. Pickering seemed restless and unsatisfied.

” She had taken one of the roses from the vase and was arranging it in the front of her dress. But more than once the next day I repented of my zeal. I saw him arrive—with no small satisfaction. as I was turning away. as far as pity was concerned. Suddenly. seemed to Madame Blumenthal a reason for prescribing a cooling-term to his passion. but I was indisposed to leave her without obtaining some definite assurance that. In the evening. at any rate. I know nothing. the next moment she buried her face in the great bouquet of roses. but I feel strong enough now to override her reluctance. but that I love her with every pulse of my being—and that everything else has been a hideous 333 . leave it to me!” she cried. I saw that he was too excited to allow me to speak first. Very late.Henry James wonderment. for I had determined to let him know immediately in what way I had attempted to serve him. she pitied the young girl at Smyrna more than the young man at Homburg.” I said. “I am deeply interested!” And with this I had to content myself. But he straightway passed his arm through my own and led me off towards the gardens. I care for nothing. It was time I should go. I have insisted that it’s simple torture for me to wait with this idle view of loving her less. I looked for Pickering. It’s well enough for her to ask it. I wished to interest you in that view of it. Suddenly she stopped before the piano and broke into a little laugh. and the best thing he can do is to marry her. at the Kursaal. and wondered whether a providence with a white rose in her bosom might not turn out a trifle too human. looking up. “I have told her everything. when we were out of earshot of the crowd. “Leave it to me. but he was not visible. rising. “Of course you know what I wished in telling you this. “She is evidently a charming creature. I have cast off the millstone from round my neck. “I am interested!” And with her little bluegemmed hand she tapped her forehead. and I reflected that my revelation had not as yet. “I have burnt my ships!” he cried.

I have a right not to bury myself alive. I have a right to be free. I myself. It may rise in its grave and give me its curse. “You have told her. “Let me perfectly understand. It was not I who promised—I was not born then. “She tells me that 334 . you mean. I have a right to be happy. to let him spend his eloquence. and in spite of what I have at stake. I feel that it would be brutal to press her.” I said at last. without apparent resentment or surprise. my mind. I have broken utterly with the past. “You have asked Madame Blumenthal to be your wife?” “The wife of my intelligent choice!” “And does she consent?” “She asks three days to decide. there was a kind of mocking mystery of knowledge and cleverness about her. But he paused a moment. “It’s not a brilliant offer for such a woman. Pickering was too much in love for false shame.Eugene Pickering dream. my option—all this is but a month old! Ah. and took off his hat and fanned himself. which oppressed me in the midst of my love. from which she may wake me into blissful morning with a single word!” I held him off at arm’s-length and looked at him gravely.” “Call it four! She has known your secret since this morning. my soul.” “So much the better!” cried Pickering. I am bound to let you know I told her.” he went on. of your engagement to Miss Vernor?” “The whole story! I have given it up—I have thrown it to the winds.” “What does she say to your breaking your promise?” I asked in a moment. but it can’t frighten me now. “if you knew the difference it makes—this having chosen and broken and spoken! I am twice the man I was yesterday! Yesterday I was afraid of her. But now I am afraid of nothing but of being too happy!” I stood silent.

” I cried.” said Niedermeyer. on my affirmative. and at last he said suddenly. But I advise the major not to build upon that. He has offered her everything.” He knocked away his ashes. She agrees with me that I have a right to be happy. “and even if you had not told me. and she has not yet refused it. and. He has a rival. and nothing would suit him but a small haystack of white roses. it was not in that fashion that I had expected Madame Blumenthal to make use of my information. We gossiped a while. on whom.” I had handed my visitor a cigar. and all I could do was to bid my companion not work himself into a fever over either fortune. inquired what I thought of her. That is. The next day I had a visit from Niedermeyer.” “Do you mean the soft young man of the other night?” “Pickering is soft. But the matter now was quite out of my hands. “By the way. I hope it was received. and he was puffing it in silence. I went with him the morning of his arrival to choose a nosegay. What I claim is simply freedom to try to be!” Of course I was puzzled. eyeing me askance. “I will not tell you.” I said. I have a sequel to the history of Clorinda. “I saw the lady fairly nestling her head in it. after our talk at the opera. I ask no exemption from the common law. “to be chiefly occupied in sending flowers to Madame Blumenthal.” “I can assure you it was. but his softness seems to have served him. I had left a card.” he said. The major is at Homburg!” “Indeed!” said I.Henry James she loves me too much to find courage to condemn me. if you will. “Since when?” “These three days.” “And what is he doing?” “He seems. “or you’ll call ME soft. At last he abruptly asked if I had been introduced to Madame Blumenthal. I 335 . “I have noticed your friend about. with a laugh.

“Ah. with heat. I was not prepared to take his simple word for this event. It so happened that. and she allows me to accompany her. she will be a very unprincipled little creature!” Niedermeyer shrugged his shoulders. It was a note from Pickering. but the lady has no taste for daylight. he has not everything to offer her. After he has left his adored. Give me your good wishes. or a natural child. and then. P. and in the evening I received a communication which fortified my doubts. She will let him dangle. or contingent heir to great estates? She will read his little story to the end. his face wears for the rest of the day the expression with which he has risen from her feet. Madame Blumenthal goes thither this afternoon to spend a few days. but.” I cried. when he least expects it. and secured a seat beside my own. but she will let him drop!” “Upon my word. and close the book very tenderly and smooth down the cover. or consumptive.” One of the diversions of Homburg for new-comers is to dine in rotation at the different tables d’hote.” “I assure you Pickering is a very interesting fellow. my dear fellow. “if she does.Eugene Pickering should have known he was in love. a couple of days later. “I never said she was a saint!” Shrewd as I felt Niedermeyer to be. but I am to go to Wiesbaden to learn my fate. there it is! Has he not some story or other? Isn’t he an orphan. He evidently is as amiable as the morning. you shall hear of the result. as you would that of a man who has inadvertently come into a drawing-room in his overshoes.” I said. As we took our places I found a letter on my 336 . You say he has offered our friend everything. she will toss it into the dusty limbo of her other romances. and more than once I have felt like touching his elbow. Niedermeyer took pot-luck at my hotel. and it ran as follows:— “My Dear Friend—I have every hope of being happy. E.

not exactly in triumph.” For a whole week more I heard nothing from Pickering—somewhat to my surprise. on his side. I lost no time in opening it. “You look very wise. whereupon. and his silence was possibly an indication that it had been clouded. pocketing my letter. He looked at it much longer than was needful to read it. E. We will have a bottle of Johannisberg. I give it up!” said I. as my next resource. as it was postmarked Wiesbaden. stroking down his beard gravely. “with this document in my hand I am bound to reserve my judgment. It contained but three lines—”I am happy—I am accepted— an hour ago. I can hardly believe it’s your poor friend. I lost no time. and I felt it was not so easy to confute a pupil of the school of Metternich.” “And has the major. where I thought it possible he had left property which he would sooner or later send for. He went by the next train. I repaired to his former lodging at Homburg. I had expected that his bliss would continue to overflow in brief bulletins.” said I.” I placed the note before Niedermeyer. but received no answer.Henry James plate. “Has your friend mentioned Madame Blumenthal’s errand at Wiesbaden?” he asked. At last I wrote to his hotel at Wiesbaden. and. At last. not a little to my discomposure. “She is gone there to make the major follow her. There I learned that he had indeed just telegraphed from Cologne for his luggage. as the days went by. and reached him in the course 337 . and drink to the triumph of virtue. To Cologne I immediately despatched a line of inquiry as to his prosperity and the cause of his silence. and. The next day I received three words in answer—a simple uncommented request that I would come to him. dropped you a line?” “He is not a letter-writer. but with the alacrity of all felicitous confutation. folding the note and handing it back. P.” “Well.

he evidently never was to gush as freely again as he had done during the prosperity of his suit. and I certainly know something I didn’t a month ago.” he said. at least. “It is worth it all. I saw that he was in extreme tribulation. almost. by a naked refusal to see him. taking the stars and the perfumes of the summer night into his confidence. as I came back. and the city was sheeted in a cold autumnal rain. and we made for a while a feeble effort to discuss the picturesqueness of Cologne. and let him take his time. I accepted tacitly his tacit confession of distress. Now. I will give you ten min338 . “I wanted knowledge. and had gone forth in his rapture and roamed about till nearly morning in the gardens of the Conversation-house. he had tasted of the cup of life! I was anxious to know what had turned it so suddenly to bitterness. it contained these words: “Leave me alone to-day. can ever know it but once. Looking at him. with an indifference which was itself a symptom of distress. as he rose on my entrance.” The next morning he had repaired to Madame Blumenthal’s lodging and had been met. No man. his face was five years older. He touched lightly on details. Pickering had stumbled. while I slowly paced the length of the dusky room. He was pale and haggard. He had been accepted one evening. but I spared him all importunate curiosity. He had strode about for a couple of hours—in another mood—and then had returned to the charge. “Well!” he said. The servant handed him a three-cornered note.Eugene Pickering of a few hours. he related the history of the foregoing days. to his amazement. on a certain musty old Mainzerhof. in all conscience. and I found him sitting over a smouldering fire in a vast dingy chamber which looked as if it had grown gray with watching the ennui of ten generations of travellers. It was dark when I arrived. “to have been wound up for an hour to that celestial pitch. I am sure. At last he rose and stood a long time looking into the fire. as if dismay had worn itself out. calmly and succinctly enough.” And herewith. as explicitly as his imagination could desire.

You have thought wonders of me for a month. “I have done with you!” she said. Of course I can’t marry you.” she cried. Her face. let us have it over. I received your visits.” “You have been playing a part. we have reached the denoument. but your good-humour wouldn’t last. that I determined to take good and bad together. Almost before she spoke there had come to him a sense of the depth of his folly in supposing he knew her. But you were such a very curious case of—what shall I call it?—of sincerity. after a pause— ”her face was horrible!” … “I give you ten minutes. I wanted to make you commit yourself unmistakably. thank your fate for it.” he had gasped out. for that matter. You are dismissed—have you nothing to say?” He had stammered some frantic demand for an explanation. “you never cared for me?” “Yes. meaning all the while to do this!” “I led you on. “it’s dead earnest.” he said. “you ought to have done with me! It has all been delightful. tear your hair. I am too old and too wise. So can you.” Of the next thirty-six hours he could give no coherent account. We will close the book and be good friends. I can do better. very pale. brandish your dagger!” And she had sat down and folded her arms. if you will. Well. But now the story’s finished.” she had said. looking at him from head to feet. “Make your scene. “You led me on. in season and out! Sometimes they were very entertaining. It 339 . you are too young and too foolish. I should have preferred not to bring you to this place. and evidently more excited than she wished him to see. it’s one of the stock phrases of romance. “of people removing the mask. till I saw how far you would go. “It’s not a joke. and she had risen and come near him. there she stood with her mask in her hand. “One has heard all one’s days. but there are excellent reasons why it should come to an end. then. with a smile. sometimes they bored me fearfully.” he went on gravely. till I knew you.Henry James utes to-morrow evening.” “To see how far I would go?” he had repeated. but that too was necessary. pointing to the clock. but at the appointed time Madame Blumenthal had received him.

‘Six months hence. ‘I have given you all that you gave me. and. ‘Haven’t I treated you to talk enough?’ I believed I answered. ‘Have you nothing. The next day I came down the Rhine. “I don’t know how I seemed to be taking it. I sat all day on the boat. and when the boat stopped. I have entertained you to the top of your bent. the ground had broken away at his feet. ‘It means that. nothing to say?’ she cried. At last I saw the cathedral towers here looming over the city. I have not slept at night—and yet it has been a week of rest!” It seemed to me that he was in a fair way to recover.” he said. it seemed to me I had seen something infernal.Eugene Pickering seems to me that I have been very good to you. not knowing where I was going. I was sickened. I would have let you down more gently if I could have taken another month to it. except perhaps that I am a little brusque just now. Abuse me. as if she were disappointed. And I went my way. and that he must recoil. even on reflection. where to get off. you will never understand the philosophy of my conduct. when you get home?’ ‘I think not. “but she seemed really to desire— I don’t know why—something in the way of reproach and vituperation. I came ashore. curse me. I will make every allowance!” Pickering listened to all this intently enough to perceive that. have uttered a syllable. I was in a kind of ague of terror. ‘That’s a confession of stupidity. I wanted to get away into the air—to shake her off and come to my senses. But I couldn’t. I have been here a week. ‘You will write to me then. I fancy. in that way. nothing. you will come and see me!’ ‘Never!’ said I. as if by some sudden natural cataclysm.’ ‘I only wish you had told me sooner that you considered it so!’ I exclaimed. while I stood with my hand on the door. you have nothing to complain of. They seemed to say something to me. and that his 340 . but circumstances have forced my hand. ‘Your passion was an affair of the head.’ The word ‘philosophy’ seemed so strange that I verily believe I smiled. He turned away in dumb amazement. if you like.’ said I.’ she went on.’ she answered.

that he had a claim to make upon me. was adequate to the occasion. he seemed intent upon his own thoughts. Half an hour later I returned to the same place. a trifle irritated. before long. I should doubtless have been at a loss to say just what effect I expected the letter from Smyrna to produce. as we were about to separate for the night. But he seemed to have forgotten it. she was using you. and. But before he had spoken I laid my hand on his shoulder and looked at him with a significant smile. later. leaving him to his meditations. I did my friends injustice. and one of the sacristans. with a mixture of assent and humility. Her needs were the more superficial.” he answered. if left to take its time. He slowly bent his head and dropped his eyes.” I said. pacing slowly up and down. I drew forth from where it had lain untouched for a month the letter he had given me to keep. It was diamond cut diamond. hovering about and seeing me looking for Pickering. and she got tired of the game first. in front of a gorgeous window. He sat down beside a pillar near a chapel. I wandered through the church. excited. but his actual aspect surprised me. without your knowing it. After his story was once told I referred to his grievance but once—that evening.” “It is proper I should tell you what is in it. He was flushed. “Suffer me to say that there was some truth in her account of your relations. and of course. “You were using her intellectually. went into the cathedral. “you have read your letter. placed it silently on his knee. and left him to deal with it alone. The next day we strolled about the picturesque old city. to see if he would remember. but without contradicting me. said he thought he had left the church.” 341 . Pickering said little. I found him in his gloomy chamber at the inn. before we parted.” I said.Henry James own philosophy. “When I gave it to you a month ago. and all the while. I waited a few moments.” He frowned and turned uneasily away. but he had gone. When I came back I saw he had something to say. “Evidently.

The young lady considers the arrangement ‘horrible. I have my life before me. and he concludes with the hope that. Mr. Vernor condoles with me handsomely. I may already have amused my fancy with other ‘views. Not a bit of it.” “I was a great fool! It’s a release!” “From your engagement?” “From everything! The letter. She has insisted on my being formally dismissed. is from Mr. and would remain so to the end of the chapter. in spite of this painful occurrence. by any allusions to his daughter’s charms and to the magnitude of my loss. Should my wanderings lead me to the East. he hopes that no false embarrassment will deter me from presenting myself at Smyrna. He desires to let me know at the earliest moment that his daughter. writes Mr.’ He reminds me in a postscript that. I confess I am surprised. he recommends an extensive course of travel. I am free. she pretends at last to have a taste of her own.’ I remember.’ After accepting her duties cut and dried all her life. he naturally shrinks. It’s a very polite letter. and lets me know that the young lady’s attitude has been a great shock to his nerves. He can promise me at least a friendly reception. the son of his most valued friend will always be a welcome visitor at his house. of course. She had resisted every form of persuasion! from compulsion.” Polite as the letter was. positively refuses to be bound by the contract or to assent to my being bound. Vernor. Pickering seemed to find no great exhilaration in having this famous burden so handsomely lifted from his 342 . I had been given to believe that she was stupidly submissive. Vernor. informed for the first time a week before of what had been expected of her. for the comfort of all concerned.Eugene Pickering “You called it a ‘summons. and her father intimates that in case of noncompliance she threatens him with an attack of brain fever. he observes. He adds that he will not aggravate such regret as I may do him the honour to entertain. and had spent it in inconsolable tears. She had been given a week to reflect.

he had thrust it into the fire. The wings of impulse in the poor fellow had of late been terribly clipped. of course. Vernor’s seal.Henry James spirit. that if he had not been so stiffly certain of the matter a month before. the amendment to my friend’s career had been less happy than the rough draught. I saw him looking at the young lady’s photograph. “I am sorry to be saying it just now. he might have escaped the purgatory of Madame Blumenthal’s sub-acid blandishments. It was an obvious reflection. now. to rub it in. “Of course. “but I shouldn’t wonder if Miss Vernor were a charming creature. My thoughts. I would go with him on his way.” “Go and find out.” he went on suddenly. “It ought not to be hard. turning about. Pickering assented without enthusiasm.” he presently added. “that for a poor fellow who asked nothing of fortune but leave to sit down in a quiet corner. gloomily. But don’t you think. Mr. moreover. were following another train. My part is to forget her.” I observed after a while. Presently. I had no desire. “Bad news. he should amuse himself with a long journey. Vernor’s advice was sound. He began to brood over his liberation in a manner which you might have deemed proper to a renewed sense of bondage. “I have no right to keep it!” And before I could ask for another glimpse of it. as the phrase is. I was saying to myself that if to those gentle graces of which her young visage had offered to my fancy the blooming promise. and he certainly had the right to demand a clean page on the book of fate and a fresh start. If it would be any comfort to him. it has been rather a cruel pushing about?” Cruel indeed.” he answered.” he had called his letter originally. and had gone through the form of breaking Mr. now that its contents proved to be in flat contradiction to his foreboding. there was no impulsive voice to reverse the formula and declare the news was good. Miss Vernor added in this striking measure the capacity for magnanimous action.” he said. “The coast is clear. and yet. he had the embarrassed look 343 . But I left him to moralise in private. I declared.

the pendulum had swung right and left in a manner rather trying to the machine.Eugene Pickering of a man who. Taking him with his hopes and fears. and after a fortnight spent among pictures and monuments and antiquities. and that he owed it to himself to banish that woman for ever from his thoughts. but now. and then with a deep blush—”That woman?” he said. I had said to myself that it was merely a question of time. but I let them come and go without remonstrance. One evening. at the end of six weeks of active observation and keen sensation. should find the door suddenly slammed in his face. he came home and treated me to a rhapsody about a certain meek-faced virgin of Hans Memling. having gone to some cost to make a good appearance in a drawing-room. he sat hanging his head in so doleful a fashion that I took the bull by the horns and told him he had by this time surely paid his debt to penitence. Pickering was as fine a fellow as need be. at last. There something happened which I had been confidently expecting. and talked about things with something of the same passionate freshness. He had had a fever. it was working back to an even. We made our way down to Italy and spent a fortnight at Venice. and then he had had a chill. however. natural beat. and came floating back in the glow 344 . because I fancied they always left him a trifle more alert and resolute. staring. “I was not thinking of Madame Blumenthal!” After this I gave another construction to his melancholy. which seemed to me sounder sense than his compliments to Madame Blumenthal. We started on our journey. I felt that I was seeing him for the first time in his best and healthiest mood. He recovered in a measure the generous eloquence with which he had fanned his flame at Homburg. One day when I was laid up at the inn at Bruges with a lame foot. He had his dull days and his sombre moods—hours of irresistible retrospect. however. We had passed the day at Torcello. He was too capable of enjoying fine things to remain permanently irresponsive. He looked up. and little by little his enthusiasm returned.

consciously. “To Smyrna!” A couple of days later he started. “I think I will go!” We had not spoken for an hour. and I naturally asked him.Henry James of the sunset. with measured oar-strokes. As he took my hand he met my eyes. 345 . and it came. Where? His answer was delayed by our getting into the Piazzetta. “I am well on the way.” Pickering said. I had risked the conjecture that Miss Vernor was a charming creature. I stepped ashore first and then turned to help him. and six months afterwards he wrote me that I was right.

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