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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

the personal accent was now making its appearance. I suppose. in her telling him she would stop “teasing” him if he would promise her solemnly to come down to Rome in the winter. He declared that. at last. She seemed to him. in all this. His companion. It sounded very distinctly.” “I don’t want you to come for your aunt. “I want you to come for me. ceased to pay any attention to the curiosities of Chillon or the beauties of the lake. 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. and he was divided between amazement at the rapidity of her induction and amusement at the frankness of her persiflage. “My aunt has taken an apartment in Rome for the winter and has already asked me to come and see her. the young girl was very quiet. After this Daisy stopped teasing. Do wait over till Friday. “Does she never allow you more than three days at a time?” asked Daisy ironically. “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. Costello that he 34 .” said Winterbourne. at any rate.Daisy Miller done him the honor to be so agitated by the announcement of his movements. and they drove back to Vevey in the dusk. if you stay another day. after this. he would certainly come. In the evening Winterbourne mentioned to Mrs. If he had missed the personal accent. was quite unable to discover. an extraordinary mixture of innocence and crudity.” And this was the only allusion that the young man was ever to hear her make to his invidious kinswoman. Winterbourne took a carriage. 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. who denied the existence of such a person. “That’s not a difficult promise to make. How did Miss Daisy Miller know that there was a charmer in Geneva? Winterbourne.” said Daisy. she’ll come after you in the boat.

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

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

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

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

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

with eloquence.” cried Winterbourne. she has made a great number of acquaintances. I want to tell you something.” said Mrs. and she declared that Daisy was quite carried away. we’ve got to turn the right way some time. they have taken her right in. “You wouldn’t do anything. I must say they have been very sociable.” interposed Randolph. she thinks there’s nothing like Rome. 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.” By this time Daisy had turned her attention again to Winterbourne. “Mrs. “have I come all the way to Rome to encounter your reproaches?” “Just hear him say that!” said Daisy to her hostess. “Why. Walker how mean you were!” the young girl announced. “It’s on account of the society—the society’s splendid. fingering 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. with his rough ends to his 40 . “Well. And then she knows a great many gentlemen. “And what is the evidence you have offered?” asked Winterbourne.” said Daisy. Of course.” “Mother-r. He remembered that a cynical compatriot had once told him that American women—the pretty ones. Of course she goes round more than I do. giving a twist to a bow on this lady’s dress. Walker. Walker in the tone of a partisan of Winterbourne. I don’t know. She goes round everywhere.Daisy Miller “Well. You wouldn’t stay there when I asked you. “I’ve been telling Mrs. “Did you ever hear anything so quaint?” “So quaint. Winterbourne expressed the hope that her daughter at least found some gratification in Rome. it’s a great deal pleasanter for a young lady if she knows plenty of gentlemen. Walker’s ribbons. simply because of a certain sentimental impatience. you were awfully mean at Vevey. my dear?” murmured Mrs. Oh. Miller with a little laugh.” said Daisy.” “My dearest young lady.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and it was this perhaps that had put me into the frame of foreseeing how we should all. These excellent people might indeed have been content to give the circle of hospitality a diameter of six 71 . Whatever impression I then received of the. alone in the compartment (from Wimbledon to Waterloo. 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. Saltram. amount of this total. I won’t pretend to have taken his vast measure on that first occasion. He had been a great experience. 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. have the honour of dealing with him as a whole.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. but later on. He was to stay all the winter: Adelaide dropped it in a tone that drew the sting from the inevitable emphasis. I had a full enough vision of the patience of the Mulvilles. sooner or later.

and I dare say I tried to be droll on this point in accepting their invitation. to fear no snatching.The Coxon Fund months. and I afterwards took credit to myself for not having even in primal bewilderments made a mistake about the essence of the man. but theirs was a fidelity which needed no help from competition to make them proud. but the Mulvilles were still in the stage of supposing that he might be snatched from them by higher bidders. He had an incomparable gift. you inevitably pronounced Frank Saltram. At a later time they grew. however—I hasten to declare it—that compared to this specimen their other phoenixes had been birds of inconsiderable feather. 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. thank heaven. 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. I remember that at dinner that evening he wore slippers. of some queer carpet-stuff. in 72 . I never was blind to it—it dazzles me still. 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. On finding myself in the presence of their latest discovery I had not at first felt irreverence droop—and. inserting a jewel here and there or giving a twist to a plume. Saltram’s company. They had sent for me from Wimbledon to come out and dine. 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. new and predominantly purple. I have never been absolutely deprived of that alternative in Mr. I saw. poor dears. I had never known them not be in a “state” about somebody. Wonderful indeed as. for I’m not unaware that for so rare a subject the imagination goes to some expense. when all was said.

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

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

in a manner. I had at that time a lodging in Ebury Street. and it was to be seen that he was of an age to outweather George Gravener. I had much to say to him. “It leaves itself!” I could recollect devoutly replying. let me parenthesise. come home with me for a talk. about my visit to the Mulvilles. as it were. and also that several years were to elapse before it was to extend to a second chapter. I duly remember. in London. even in our devastating set. and George Gravener’s story may be said to have begun with my making him. his intellectual power had seemed to me almost awful. and this other—they equally began. I hadn’t said Mr. at Buckingham Gate. since before we got to Ebury Street I was struck with the fact that. and Gravener was staying at his brother’s empty house in Eaton Square. the night I came back from Wimbledon so agitated with a new sense of life that. five years before. I overtook. Some one had once asked me privately. I could only walk home. Saltram was old. whom he more indifferently knew. the first night of my acquaintance with Frank Saltram. Walking and swinging my stick. I could smile at present for this remembrance. 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. save in 75 . George Gravener. what it was then that after all such a mind as that left standing. as our paths lay together. for the very thrill of it. none the less. At Cambridge. that it was still more that of another person. with blanched cheeks.

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

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.” “Clear ‘enough’ is just what it isn’t. but it might have been a strange foreknowledge. and I said. it was at any rate something that led him to go on after a moment: “I only ask one thing—it’s perfectly simple. “Because the Kent Mulvilles have invented him.” I replied. and that I might depend upon discovering—since I had had the levity not already to have enquired—that my shining light proceeded. “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.” I answered.” His vehemence was doubtless an accident. Is a man. I forget what protest I dropped. He took an instant to circumvent my trap and come blandly out the other side.” 77 . in a given case.” Gravener presently added. All their geese are swans. but it’s clear enough he’s a humbug. 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. they like it. I confess I was struck with his insistence. 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. they cry for it. they don’t know anything from anything. after reflexion: “It may be—I admit it may be. Gravener was profound enough to remark after a moment that in the first place he couldn’t be anything but a Dissenter. They were born to be duped. from a Methodist cheesemonger.Henry James “Of course I’ve never seen the fellow. “if I didn’t reflect that they don’t rave about me. They’ve an infallible hand for frauds.” “Don’t be too sure! I’ll grant that he’s a gentleman. and they disgust one—luckily perhaps!—with Christian charity. a real gentleman?” “A real gentleman. a generation back. “if you’ll admit that he’s a scamp.

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

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

” “Trust me then to try to be good at any price!” I laughed as I went with him to the door. “I declare I will be. Perhaps it was what he did mean. if I have to be horrible!” 80 .” He had his watch still in his palm. and I reproached him with unfair play in having ascertained beforehand that it was now the hour at which I always gave in. “The only thing that really counts for one’s estimate of a person is his conduct. “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.The Coxon Fund that neither of them mattered if a man wasn’t a real gentleman. he deprived me however of the exultation of being right by putting the truth in a slightly different way.

Repetition. of my exaltations. 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. it was impossible not to feel that two failures were a large order. 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. orchestral. in our arduous attempt to set him on his feet as a lecturer. for a short course of five. It was I. as we said. They set in mainly at this season and were magnificent. elemental. but none the less. This was the second time. four years later. and of course one would never have seen him at his finest if one hadn’t seen him in his remorses. that was one of my great discomposures. standing up there for an odious lamplit moment to explain to half a 81 . there was another. the other time. a muster unprecedented and really encouraging.Henry James CHAPTER III IF THAT FIRST NIGHT was one of the liveliest. and it was past nine o’clock. By the time the Saltrams. 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. who had been forced into the breach. or at any rate was the freshest. was the secret of Saltram’s power to alienate. I was quite aware that one of these atmospheric disturbances was now due. I well knew by this time. of different sizes. the audience.

I found myself sitting. where earnest brows were virtuously void of anything so cynical as a suspicion. I put the case.The Coxon Fund dozen thin benches. at the best. Our philosopher’s “tail” was deplorably limp. This visitor was the only person who looked at her ease. of which I possess an almost complete collection. whenever he was to address such a company—some accident had disabled or delayed him. Saltram. for he never. He was doing better than we hoped. only relieving myself in response to a direct appeal from a young lady next whom. and her presence spoke. The meditative walks were a fiction. 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. are the solemn ghosts of generations never born. My position was an accident. of a sudden extension of Saltram’s sphere of influence. to succumb to heaven knew which of his fond infirmities. that we couldn’t so much as put a finger on Mr. It didn’t make her more fathomable to pass in a few minutes from this to the certitude that she was 82 . but I admit I had been angry. This time therefore I left the excuses to his more practised patience. She herself might perhaps have been a foreign countess. presumably a waiting-maid. She seemed to carry amusement in her handsome young head. prepared anything but a magnificent prospectus. of all occasions. a little mystifyingly. for meditation. in the hall. and he had chosen such an occasion. and Kent Mulville was shocked at my want of public optimism. as it seemed to me. hence his circulars and programmes. that any one could discover. 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. and had on her other hand a companion of obscurer type. 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. The young lady produced an impression of auburn hair and black velvet. who had come a little in the spirit of adventure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

however. Saltram had made her acquaintance through mutual friends. the irritating effect of a mind incapable of a generalisation. and indeed it had introduced her to some excellent society. a Bath-chair and a fernery. but she had a stubborn little way of challenging them one after the other. My friend of the other evening. One might doubtless have overdone the idea that there was a general licence for such a man. and above all she had sympathy. 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. Mrs. She triumphed in what she told me and she may have triumphed still more in what she withheld. I’m bound to say he didn’t criticise his benefactors. though practically he got tired of them. Lady Coxon. They were all flowers of his character. This vagueness caused me to feel how much I was out of it and how large an inde89 . as if she never suspected that he had a character. such as it was. and the warm confidence with which he had laid his length upon them was a pressure gentle compared with her stiffer persuadability. She had a house in the Regent’s Park. She offered the odd spectacle of a spirit puffed up by dependence. 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.Henry James band had in the long run done most for herself. had been established here for years in consequence of her marriage with the late Sir Gregory of that name. the aunt. had but lately come to England. had the highest standards about eleemosynary forms. or that deficiencies might be organic. 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. pearls strung on an endless thread. Miss Anvoy. but if this had happened it would have been through one’s feeling that there could be none for such a woman. she.

Saltram. and she had. The great thing of all for Mrs. of endless indulgences and dollars. What had happened I didn’t know. on my leading her up to it. Saltram had at her command. rather as to persons in her debt for favours received. 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. She had pretty clothes and pretty manners. 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. Saltram was always sympathy. Saltram had fatigued by overpressure the spring of the sympathy of which she boasted. besides being immensely clever. moreover. I found something secretly to like. in whose very name. a man. besides which she would lack occasion to repeat her experiment. A few months later indeed. when they had come back. but I felt I should know most by not depriving her of her advantage.The Coxon Fund pendent circle Mrs. The girl at any rate would forget the small adventure. For the present.. what was prettier still. was an heiress. over there. delivered without an 90 . as she might have mysterious means of depriving me of my knowledge. The niece. take a husband. Mrs. and I founded this reticence on the easy supposition that Mrs. the only daughter and the light of the eyes of some great American merchant. Lady Coxon having in fact gone abroad accompanied by her niece. I gathered with surprise that she had not communicated to his wife the story of her attempt to hear Mr. this experience was stayed. her tone perceptibly changed: she alluded to them. the great thing of all. and she spoke as if during the absence of these ladies she mightn’t know where to turn for it. be distracted. when I learnt it. We clung to the idea of the brilliant course. 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. I should have been glad to know more about the disappointed young lady.

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

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

I never forgot our little discussion in Ebury Street. and all his movements and postures were calculated for the favouring angle. that we had already voted and that our candidate had no antagonist but himself. being in view most from the tall steeple of Clockborough. His immediate ambition was to occupy e lui seul the field of vision of that smokily-seeing city. already quite in view but still hungry and frugal. however. with the difference to our credit. but there were sacrifices I declined to make. but it would have cost me much to confide to the friend of my youth. 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. 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. had naturally enough more ambition than charity. He had sharp aims for stray sovereigns. 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. 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. He took more pains to swing his censer than I had 93 . and I never passed the hat to George Gravener.Henry James CHAPTER V I WAS DOUBTLESS often a nuisance to my friends in those years. that the character of the “real gentleman” wasn’t an attribute of the man I took such pains for.

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

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

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

it appeared. and the news was two months old. certain noble conceptions. Saltram to the journals of the day. But the light it gave me just showed me how much more I wanted. I sacrificed to propriety by simply putting them away. and lo it continued to twinkle. one day as my absence drew to an end. The allusion was to Miss Anvoy. though quite aware her embarrassments couldn’t but be now of the gravest. 97 . George Gravener. I had lighted my little taper at his smoky lamp. Yet when I at last wrote her that I was coming home and would discharge my accumulated burden by seeing her. while I rummaged in my desk for another paper. A direct question of Mrs. was caught by a name on a leaf that had detached itself from the packet. and this is how. I but remarked in regard to her question that she must really put it to Miss Anvoy. I was pursued of course by letters from Mrs.Henry James unmistakeably. 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. my eye. was engaged to be married to Mr. 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. who. Saltram which I didn’t scruple not to read.

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

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

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

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

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

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

compunctions and condonations alike unutterable. The member for 104 . 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. an early Victorian landau. Saltram was reinstated. I met Miss Anvoy at tea at the House of Commons. hired. one of the dear woman’s own. Adelaide drove gently into London in a one-horse greenish thing. and amid silences deep and exhaustive. 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. However. imaginatively. 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. Her account of the introduction I had in its order.The Coxon Fund CHAPTER VII ONE OF THE CONSEQUENCES. This was his position and I dare say his costume when on an afternoon in July she went to return Miss Anvoy’s visit. for the Mulvilles. under Gravener’s auspices. near at hand. but she was incorrigibly capable of liking him to be conspicuous in the landau while she was in shops or with her acquaintance. very late in the season. but before that. 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. The wheel of fate had now revolved.

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

smiled. and it was afterwards confirmed at Wimbledon: poor Miss Anvoy was in trouble—great disasters in America had suddenly summoned her home. the same help I myself had once had.” She stared. 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. “Moi pas comprendre!” I commented on this. Her father. in New York. Mulville let me know what was already said: she was charming. Of course he’d follow her as soon as he was free to make her his wife. but really these American fathers—! What was a man to do? Mr. She would do so doubtless again and again. explained that she supposed he simply meant that the thing was to use it. lost so much money that it was really vexatious as showing how much he had had. “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. 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. News of the catastrophe first came to me from Mrs. “To take it. this American girl. according to Mrs. don’t you know? but not to think too much about it. in resisting its tendency to make one cross. though I heard the very next month that this fine faculty had undergone a temporary eclipse. Saltram. in rejoinder to which Adelaide. but not to thank you for it?” I still more profanely enquired. had suffered reverses. For a quarter of 106 . It was Adelaide who told me she had gone off alone at less than a week’s notice. 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. Saltram. Mulville. Mrs. “What help do you mean?” “That of the member for Clockborough. with her beautiful sympathy.The Coxon Fund would have help however.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I take it. that she infected him with it. of judges. “The real history of the matter. the perfect mixture of genius and chill penury. what becomes of the money?” I demanded. to do him justice. “It goes back to his family. She came to England forty years ago. To begin with.” “The sole tribunal is Lady Coxon?” “And any one she chooses to invite.” “But she has invited you.’ as anything but an original sign of grace. was that it should lapse if exactly the right person.” I found all this quite thrilling—I took it in with avidity. Besides.” 114 . she hasn’t. but it’s precisely what makes her cling to the notion of the ‘Fund’—cling to it as to a link with the ideal. His idea. with the life she has led?—her husband’s intention has come very near lapsing. “I’m not competent—I hate the thing. She can’t! As she has never yet caught her hare.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. if she hasn’t made some other disposition of it. should fail to turn up. is that the inspiration was originally Lady Coxon’s own. She feels indeed that she has become very British—as if that. a thin transcendental Bostonian. as a ‘Werden. and that the flattering option left her is simply his tribute to her beautiful. “That’s precisely the question. and even her odd happy frumpy Clockborough marriage never really materialised her.” “How can she cling if she’s dying?” “Do you mean how can she act in the matter?” Gravener asked. Ah the poor dear woman’s very particular—she says there must be no mistake. never spied out her lucky impostor—how should she.” my friend went on. “And if she dies without doing anything. as a process. fancy constituting an endowment without establishing a tribunal—a bench of competent people. were conceivable.” I noted. her aboriginal enthusiasm.

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

to my private amusement. in dread of a coercion that she had begun already to feel. I feel that now. I greatly enjoyed this discovery and was sure that had that question alone been involved she would have stirred no step. alone in the lodging Mrs. my interpretation of her very looks and tones. However. extravagantly perhaps. even in thus roughly evoking the occasion. though deeply interested. have found means to rejoin her. 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. In this case doubtless Gravener would. It was plainly not the question of her marriage that had brought her back. but this is incommunicable. in spite of the House of Commons. She would show as little as possible before she should be ready to show 121 . I’m bound to say. while that other night I listened to George Gravener in the railway-carriage. about the way her behaviour. I had come up to town with her the next day and had been convinced that. she should have in any degree the air of waiting for her fate. ministered to the image that had taken birth in my mind. Mulville had put before me as dreary. 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. Now that she was unfortunate and relatively poor. If she was in England at all while the engagement stood the only proper place for her was under Lady Maddock’s wing. It afterwards made me uncomfortable for her that. What I got out of it is the only morsel of the total experience that is quite my own. I watched her in the light of this queer possibility—a formidable thing certainly to meet—and I was aware that it coloured. she was immensely on her guard. and it takes something from my pride of clearness. The others were shared. There would be much to say. so that I was presently relieved at hearing of her having gone to stay at Coldfield. if I had space. At Wimbledon for instance it had appeared to me she was literally afraid of Saltram. as I caught gleams of it.

I didn’t fail to ask myself why. Mulville was still reduced to wonder what she had come out again for if she hadn’t come as a conciliatory bride. Having for family reasons to spend some time that spring in the west of England. 122 .The Coxon Fund everything. 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. It would have been exciting to be approached by her. If there was really a present rigour in the situation of which Gravener had sketched for me the elements. 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. It was in part my suspense that was responsible for this. But I saw 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 had a reproachful note about something or other from Mrs. I should think so much about her. That she had come in some other character was the only thing that fitted all the appearances. There was something I wanted so little to have to say that my prudence surmounted my curiosity. on whom her eyes had been much less fixed since the recent untoward events. since I couldn’t help her. I waited impatiently to see whether she wouldn’t have told Mrs. but it contained no mention of Lady Coxon’s niece. she would have to get out of her difficulty by herself. Saltram. appealed to by her for advice. I only wondered if Ruth Anvoy talked over the idea of The Coxon Fund with Lady Maddock. but I prayed to heaven I mightn’t find myself in such a predicament.

” To which my friend added: “Of course she’s thinking of Mr. the only happy manner.” I gave a quick cry at this. But she hadn’t come to see me only to tell me Miss Anvoy loved her: that was quite sufficiently established. “How very awful!” 123 .” Then on my also hesitating she added: “A condition he makes. where in the innocence of his heart he had originally brought her himself. returning to London. He had protested at least against her being at Wimbledon.” “The Coxon Fund?” I panted. “He has mentioned to her his having told you about it. which. he called on her to put an end to their engagement in the only proper. “And why in the world doesn’t she do do?” I asked. “What in the name of maidenly modesty is she staying in England for?” “Because she loves me so!” cried Adelaide gaily. “She says you know.Henry James CHAPTER X POOR ADELAIDE’S SILENCE was fully explained later—practically explained when in June.” “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. As soon as she arrived I guessed everything. and what was much more to the point was that Mr. Saltram. in its violence. I was honoured by this admirable woman with an early visit. 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. Gravener had now raised an objection to it. made my visitor turn pale.

if not his own. among them. even expressed feebly the power of the things he said to haunt the mind. with genuine immediate horror. Besides. but it’s still clearer to her conscience that the original condition. Adelaide. I hope!” and my emphasis brought back the blood with a rush to poor Adelaide’s face. definite. She regarded Mr. and that’s the whole difficulty?” “The difficulty that brought her back.” “And Gravener does. 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. I mean. He had influenced her.The Coxon Fund “Awful?” “Why. Saltram naturally as a tremendous force for good. “Rich enough. but the only explanation my bewildered friend could give me was that she was so clever. if I would. It’s clear that by Lady Coxon’s will she may have the money. had to have a mind. This made me. is attached to the use of it. but is she. How could she.” 124 . It’s for the Endowment or it’s for nothing. to have anything to do with such an idea one’s self.P. exclaim: “You haven’t influenced her. Mulville tossed her head. help it if Miss Anvoy’s mind was haunted? I demanded with a groan what right a pretty girl engaged to a rising M. as he did every one who had a soul: that word. as we knew. rich enough?” I demanded. She was intelligent enough to understand him and generous enough to admire. intensely implied on her uncle’s part. she doesn’t in the least consider it so. to which she opposed a sound almost as contentious as my own had been. yes: she had absolutely to see her poor aunt’s solicitor. to sacrifice such a lot of good money?” “That’s for herself to judge. it’s not her own money. “She’s many things enough. She can only take one view of it.” “I’m sure you needn’t!” and Mrs.

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

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

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

embarrassed me. 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. that she left me to throw was a sufficient implication of the weight HE had thrown in vain. “Why not have the courage of one’s forgiveness. in their position—would it even have been to be desired? Yes.” she asked. “gives me an extraordinary notion of the point your enthusiasm has reached. to some aberration of sensibility.” She considered this remark an instant with her eyes on mine. 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. for suspended pedantry—for letting one side. Such a manifestation. as the result of any word of mine. hooked their uniform noses at the tail of governess Conduct. At least I couldn’t interpret otherwise the sudden flash that came into her face. never. some perversion of taste. for clever charity. All the weight. and that one couldn’t entertain any plan for making merit comfortable without running the gauntlet of that terrible procession of interrogation-points which. however. never an exception. like a young ladies’ school out for a walk. and I divined that it struck her I might possibly intend it as a reference to some personal subjection to our fat philosopher. never.The Coxon Fund were they absolutely candid? Could they indeed be. “as well as the enthusiasm of one’s adhesion?” “Seeing how wonderfully you’ve threshed the whole thing out. but while I was thinking how to reassure her the flush passed away 128 .” I evasively replied. in short. never an occasion for liberal acceptance. Saltram. the effect of a determination that people shouldn’t know from herself that her relations with the man she was to marry were strained. Oh she knew the question of character was immense. outbalance another? When Miss Anvoy threw off this appeal I could have embraced her for so delightfully emphasising her unlikeness to Mrs.

with this. 129 . 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. 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. The probable sincerity. it also rings in my ear to-day as the purest of all our praises. 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. like her. pardonably enough. This was the hidden reason of her alienation. 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. he didn’t. in spite of the illiberality. But with what quick response of fine pity such a relegation of the man himself made me privately sigh “Ah poor Saltram!” She instantly. Then. too proud to show me why he was disappointed.Henry James in a smile of exquisite good nature. “Oh you see one forgets so wonderfully how one dislikes him!” she said. with what rage in his heart the man himself might! He wasn’t. grasp the lift Frank Saltram had given her interest in life. I was to see. took the measure of all I didn’t believe. as for his alienation. and if her tone simply extinguished his strange figure with the brush of its compassion.

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

instead of going straight to the station. 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. and I felt myself responding to it with a sort of guilty grimace. I stopped short as he turned his face to me. for I felt less the irregularity of Saltram’s getting the money than that of this exalted young woman’s giving it up. She looked graver at this than she had looked at all. as I have hinted. 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. There was a worry for me to work off. This brought back his attention in a smile which expressed for me a cheerful weary patience. in Miss Anvoy’s phrase. very restless—made me. 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. for I declined even to admit to myself that I had. and I told her so before I went away. It made me. saying she hoped such a preference wouldn’t make me dishonest. or rather keep at a distance. I had told Miss Anvoy 131 . It was charged with experience as the sky is charged with light. there was projected across this clearness the image of a massive middle-aged man seated on a bench under a tree. and in fact contribute to. with sad far-wandering eyes and plump white hands folded on the head of a stick—a stick I recognised. at the end of twenty minutes. been saddled with it. not the source of solicitude it ought perhaps to have been. I wanted her to have it for herself.Henry James however. Doubtless I was rendered peculiarly sensitive to it by something in the way I had been giving him up and sinking him. fidget a little about that many-coloured Common which gives Wimbledon horizons. 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. was at that hour. to begin with. a stout gold-headed staff that I had given him in devoted days. and of yet liking better to face a continuance of that trouble than see.

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

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

” “And why should that prevent?” Again my visitor faltered. “Why don’t they send it to her directly?” Mrs. 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. conscious as they were in their own virtue of an exposed place in which Saltram could have planted a blow. I never doubted they had a strong case. “There’s something for me too to deliver. 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 . As I held Mrs. It also contains an enclosure. and Mrs. Saltram hung fire. I knew. This was above all what I wanted. 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. and I began to reflect on the grotesque. It was a question with them whether a man who had himself so much to cover up would dare his blow. “Wheels within wheels!” I exclaimed.” “So they tell me—to Miss Anvoy. “You’ll have to open the letter. I felt a certain thrill. “I don’t want to know the worst. “Because she’s staying with Mr. that their allegations had gone as yet only as far as their courage. 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 I had been from the first for not defending him—reasoning that if they weren’t contradicted they’d perhaps subside. Mulville.” I stared.” I felt it—it was fat and uncanny. the unconscious perversity of her action.” I presently declared. kept up the nastiest fire.The Coxon Fund gulf. that is I divined. Saltram’s letter in my hand it was distinctly communicated to me that the day had come—they had ceased to be afraid. so that these vessels of rancour were in a manner afraid of each other.

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

” I at any rate soon responded. capable of grabbing it to send it back to him. unopened. 136 . a thing you’ll profoundly regret. “It’s best you should take my view of my safety. Saltram as to think I might by some diplomacy restore the Pudneys to a quieter vigilance. 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 bringing me this letter. from my pocket to a drawer which I double-locked would have amounted. after I had made two or three more remarks of studiously bewildering effect. and I fear I must add my confusion. I felt. at which her eyes followed so hungrily the little flourish of the letter with which I emphasised them that I instinctively slipped Mr.” My tone had a significance which. I could see. in her embarrassed annoyance.The Coxon Fund erable emotion. When I saw she didn’t know what I meant by this I added: “You may turn out to have done. I presently should have been as glad to frighten Mrs. did make her uneasy. after she had gone. to some such pledge. and there was a moment. with which. for an initiated observer. at any rate. quickly deepened. Pudney’s communication into my pocket. The passionate movement. in solitude. She looked. My emotion. I transferred the whole thing. as if I had almost given her my word I wouldn’t deliver the enclosure.

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

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

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

Its magnificence.” “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.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. 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. it was the begin140 . but. had begun to draw the magnificent income. The Pudneys approached her again pressingly. with a grand abstracted gesture.” I went back.” Gravener took up his hat. “Hand it to the devil!” he broke out.” “I’d marry her the next day!” my visitor cried. Saltram’s visit.” There was another great silence. “If I send Miss Anvoy the letter I speak of she may give up her idea. while we gathered about. It’s at home. Saltram. at Wimbledon. and then she said “Go back and destroy it. when I had told her the story of Mrs. He drew it as he had always drawn everything. turning it mechanically round he stood looking a moment hard at its unruffled perfection. quite quenched him. Then very angrily honestly and gallantly.” I said. as all the world now knows. but long enough to make me nervous. “Yes. as it were. The Coxon Fund had already become an operative benefit and a general amaze: Mr. She debated for a time probably of the briefest. If you give it me. with which he clapped the hat on his head and left me. “I’ll engage to hand her the letter before night. locked up. “Have you brought it with you?” “No indeed. when I burnt it unread. prompt as they were. but I didn’t destroy it till after Saltram’s death. to watch the manna descend. alas. “Will you read it or not?” I said to Ruth Anvoy.

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

Young as I was I had been in a manner taken over from Mr. who had been owner as well as editor. but as I had my way to make I found matter enough for complacency in being on a “staff. Pinhorn was my “chief. I rather resented the practice of fathering all flatness on my late protector. It was Mr.” At the same time I 142 . Pinhorn. Deedy. mainly plant and office-furniture.The Death of the Lion The Death of the Lion by Henry James CHAPTER I I HAD SIMPLY. which poor Mrs. in her bereavement and depression. Deedy who had let the thing down so dreadfully: he was never mentioned in the office now save in connexion with that misdemeanour. who was in his unhonoured grave. parted with at a rough valuation. a change of heart.” as he was called in the office: he had the high mission of bringing the paper up. I suppose. which had been supposed to be almost past redemption when he took hold of it. Deedy. forming part of a promiscuous lot. I could account for my continuity but on the supposition that I had been cheap. Mr. This was a weekly periodical. and it must have begun when I received my manuscript back from 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. I remember how he looked at me—quite. But you must remember that that’s the way we do things NOW.” This argument was effective and Mr. who indeed at that moment was by no means in the centre of the heavens. for he hasn’t been touched. as if he had never heard of this celebrity. he considered a moment and then returned: “I see—you want to write him up.Henry James was aware of my exposure to suspicion as a product of the old lowering system.” “And what’s your inducement?” “Bless my soul—my admiration!” Mr.” Then he added: “But where can you do it?” “Under the fifth rib!” Mr. “Very well. Pinhorn with another dig 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. “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. to begin with. Deedy. “I don’t ‘want’ anything—the proposal’s your own. Pinhorn stared. Pinhorn that I should lay my lean hands on Neil Paraday. Pinhorn responded. touch him. and even when I had knowingly explained he expressed but little confidence in the demand for any such stuff.” said Mr. This made me feel I was doubly bound to have ideas. 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 . Pinhorn pursed up his mouth. “Is there much to be done with him?” “Whatever there is we should have it all to ourselves.” “Call it that if you like.

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

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

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

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.Henry James as he had notified me he should need to be. I walked out and posted my little packet before luncheon. and on the Wednesday his book came out. 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. There was nothing he loved so much as to print on the right occasion a thing he hated. I don’t mean to deny of course that I was aware it was much too good for Mr. I committed to paper the main heads of my impression. Pinhorn by my celerity. with a second-class ticket) approached the subject of our enterprise only to stand off so helplessly. Then thinking to commend myself to Mr. Pinhorn’s purpose couldn’t well be imagined. I had begun my visit to the great man on a Monday. and it made my mistake immense to me. Such as this mistake was I could now only look it in the face and accept it. Pinhorn. That was the meaning of the question. That night my manuscript came back from Mr. For myself. but I was equally conscious that Mr. if not exactly its form. but it was exactly where I couldn’t have succeeded. and he let me go out into the garden with it immediately after breakfast. 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 how a miracle—as pretty as some old miracle of legend—had been wrought on the spot to 147 . Anything less relevant to Mr. and in the evening he asked me to remain with him the rest of the week and over the Sunday. I read it from beginning to end that day. I knew but too well what had happened. Once my paper was written I was free to stay on. Pinhorn. A copy of it arrived by the first post. 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. and he was visibly angry at my having (at his expense. I knew where I had failed.

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

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

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

the celebrated author. and then. let us hope. “Dead—passe encore.” “Don’t I meet that condition in having just published a book?” “Adequately. The Empire of that morning. in London. The idea of his security became supremely dear to me. ‘successful. is again in the enjoyment of excellent health. One never knows what a living artist may do—one has mourned so many. He allowed half his income to his wife. However. But couldn’t you bear even to see I was dying or dead?” my host enquired. It looks well in the newspapers. some card or note. I sat down there to the letters. there’s nothing so safe. It 151 . ‘We are happy to announce that Mr. on a tray. I’m not in the least celebrated—my obscurity protects me. who offered him. Paraday down to dinner.’ Somehow I shouldn’t like to see it.” “You won’t see it. Paraday. You must be as dead as you can. and the frisk of petticoats. which were a brief business. agitated. with a timorous “Sherry. one must make the worst of it. while.” 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. I had a general faith in his having behaved well. sir?” was about his modest mahogany. It was the journal of highest renown. and the woman—the second London post had come in—had placed my letters and a newspaper on a bench. excited. took the paper from its envelope. from whom he had succeeded in separating without redundancy of legend.’ 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. He now turned to speak to the maid. for the book’s verily a masterpiece. 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.’ as the newspapers say.Henry James me yesterday. When I retraced my steps he had gone into the house. taken Mrs. I wandered to the end of the precinct. and I had once. without heeding the address.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Death of the Lion ingly.” 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. seemed to say in a glance intelligible enough: “Oh I’m not ill. Pinhorn. 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 .

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

” Mr. These pages overflow with the testimony we want: let us read them and taste them and interpret them. after a minute. It tells you with a perfection that seems to me quite final all the author thinks. Paraday’s is full of revelations. You’ll of course have perceived for yourself that one scarcely does read Neil Paraday till one reads him aloud. This last book of Mr. disengage the answer—those are the real acts of homage. he gives out to the ear an extraordinary full tone.” “Revelations?” panted Mr. and this is the place to observe him. refers us. Have you exhausted it. and with such pathetic confidence. and so. did I. and it’s only when you expose it confidently to that test that you really get near his style. my dear sir? Had you exhausted it when you came down here? It seems to me in our time almost wholly neglected. I may confide to you. My dear sir. “Ah but you mustn’t take me for a reviewer. for instance. “The only kind that count. Take up your book again and let me listen. and something should surely be done to restore its ruined credit. Morrow. whom I had forced again into his chair. about the advent of the ‘larger latitude.” Mr.” “Heaven forbid I should take you for anything so dreadful! You came down to perform a little act of sympathy.’” “Where does it do that?” asked Mr. It’s the course to which the artist himself at every step. Let us perform our little act together. while you pay it 160 . “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. Morrow good-humouredly protested. the best interviewer is the best reader. tossed the book away. What he has to tell us he tells us with this perfection. “Everywhere—in the whole treatment of his case.The Death of the Lion life’s his work. Morrow. Morrow. Extract the opinion. who had picked up the second volume and was insincerely thumbing it.

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

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

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

and all I asked of her for our tractable friend was not to do him to death. the animals rub shoulders freely with the spectators and the lions sit down for whole evenings with the lambs. It had been ominously clear to me from the first that in Neil Paraday this lady. the pious illumination of the missal in the convent cell were things of the gathered 164 . but which I let her notice with perfect impunity. I had a special fear—the impression was ineffaceable of the hour when. one of the most inevitable of these being that in which he found himself to Mrs. his old ideal even had to be changed. was tremendous fun. Say what one would. It was evidently all right. for her conscience was that of a romping child. Paraday heeded it. the result of the agitation wrought in him by this forcing open of a new period. Nothing could exceed her enthusiasm over her capture. His old programme. after Mr. and nothing could exceed the confused apprehensions it excited in me. but my thoughts were fixed on the day he should resume his shape or at least get back into his box. Weeks Wimbush. He had consented for a time to be of india-rubber. 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. I had found him on the sofa in his study. He had felt a pang of his old pain. considered that she had secured a prime attraction.The Death of the Lion tions. as all the world agreed. 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. She was constructed of steel and leather. The monastic life. I had an instinctive fear of her which I tried without effect to conceal from her victim. on occasions when the crush is great. success was a complication and recognition had to be reciprocal. as everybody knows. It was difficult to say what she conduced to but circulation. wife of the boundless brewer and proprietress of the universal menagerie. Morrow’s departure. a creature of almost heraldic oddity. but I should be glad when it was well over. In this establishment. but she never did. who.

and she was always on the spot to see that he did it. It didn’t engender despair. were drawn up before the house. She further made his health her special business. the lady of the barouche would. point the moral of my sweet solicitude. Weeks Wimbush. postponing the pleasure of seeing how. 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.Henry James past. and all I had as yet achieved was to find 165 . She made appointments with him to discuss the best means of economising his time and protecting his privacy. I went into the dining-room first. would have rushed round immediately after her own repast. 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. at such a crisis. sir—waiting: I think a foreigner. who had come to the door in answer to my knock. 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. on my arrival.” “And in the dining-room?” “A young lady. but at least it required adjustment. One day in Sloane Street I found myself questioning Paraday’s landlord. Pinhorn) because I had nothing. Weeks Wimbush) I should represent the interest in his work—or otherwise expressed in his absence. I gave up nothing (I don’t count Mr. and I doubt. didn’t the dear man lunch out? Mrs. Wimbush. Two vehicles. however. sir? Mrs. upstairs. and on days when Paraday didn’t lunch out he attached a value to these appropriated hours. These two interests were in their essence opposed. “In the drawing-room. as youth is fleeting. Let whoever would represent the interest in his presence (I must have had a mystical prevision of Mrs. Before I left him on that occasion we had passed a bargain. a barouche and a smart hansom. On which days.” It was three o’clock.

but I had only got domesticated and wedged. 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 had dashed in to save my friend.The Death of the Lion myself also in the menagerie.

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

She considered a little. The confidence of young Americans was notorious. “Enough to have come from America for the purpose. so that one’s honour would be concerned in guiding her straight. I foresaw at that moment that it would make her my peculiar charge. however. her innocence.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. As a trick of this bold and sensitive girl. and I speedily arrived at a conviction that no impulse could have been more generous than the impulse that had operated here. I could imagine she had lost parents.” She looked at me a moment—her face was sweet and gay. at the instant I had scepticism enough to observe to her. just as circumstances had made Neil Paraday. that her net had all the same caught many a big fish. I was at a pass of my own fortunes when keeping hansoms at doors seemed to me pure swagger.” She was interesting. but if it will make me more seductive I’ll confess that I’m quite by myself. She appeared to have had fruitful 168 . her errand. “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. “All alone?” “I don’t see that that’s exactly your business.” “Do you want very much to see him?” It seemed ungracious to catechise so charming a creature. natural protectors—could conceive even she had inherited money. but it wouldn’t make me see him. but somehow I had never yet taken my duty to the great author so seriously. Paraday should write his name in it. These things became clearer to me later on.” I stared. “That’s very well. She would be another person to look after. as I turned the pages of her volume. it became romantic—a part of the general romance of her freedom. I had to come alone or not come at all.

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

” “An appeal?” Her face lighted as if with the chance of some great sacrifice. 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. “Ah that dreadful word ‘personally’!” I wailed. People expect him to give them his time. Know him only by what’s best in him and spare him for the same sweet sake. That will be far better. “Why. his golden time. 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.” She turned it over.” “So that he can’t give himself up to his beautiful imagination?” “He’s beset. 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. and in a moment I mentioned it. who wouldn’t themselves give five shillings for one of his books. “He hasn’t any disfigurement?” “Nothing to speak of!” “Do you mean that social engagements interfere with his occupations?” “That but feebly expresses it. then turned visibly pale. for you women bring it out with murderous effect.The Death of the Lion “One of the enthusiasts? Of course I am!” “Oh there are enthusiasts who are quite of the wrong. If she was ready for one it was only waiting for her. “Give up this crude purpose of seeing him! Go away without it. 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.” 170 . “we’re dying of it.” My young lady continued to look at me in confusion and mistrust.” She looked mystified. badgered.

“The more you get into his writings the less you’ll want to.” She looked at me without resentment or spite. on which she presently laid her hands as if to take it away. “Then how does she talk—?” “Without ceasing. Two-thirds of those who approach him only do it to advertise themselves. and who yet hasn’t read.” “Oh I express it badly.Henry James “Five? I’d give five thousand!” “Give your sympathy—give your forbearance. I was afterwards happy to remember that she must have gathered from my face the liveliness of my interest in herself. “I think I see what you mean. I only mention her as a single case.” My visitor’s wide eyes grew tenderer. “Don’t force him to have to take account of you. you know—and study the thoughts and style a little more. credulity. “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. but I should be delighted if you’d let me come to see you—to explain it better. cultivate him at a distance and secretly appropriate his message. and at the truth I had put before her with candour. Do you want to know how to show a superlative consideration? Simply avoid him.” 171 . and her thoughtful eyes fell on the big album. pity. “There’s a lady with him now who’s a terrible complication. Do you want to know.” “Avoid him?” she despairingly breathed. “I did use to say out West that they might write a little less for autographs—to all the great poets. warming to my idea. “It’s the first time I was ever called crude!” she laughed. ten pages he ever wrote. I’m sure.” “Why it’s too bad!” the girl exclaimed with the face of an angel. admire him in silence. and you’ll be immensely sustained by the thought of the good you’re doing him.” She made no response to this. I followed up my advantage.” I continued.

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

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

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

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

and her establishment was a huge machine in which the tiniest and the biggest wheels went round to the same treadle. for I found his reticence his worst symptom. of ponderous parties. I intimated that he was too unwell for hospitality without a nuance. for the most part. I had a battle with Mrs. She played her victims against each other with admirable ingenuity. at the end of July. and another over the question of a certain week. He hadn’t told me he was ill again that he had had a warning. I protested against this visit. 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 Death of the Lion was naturally to write something somewhere about the young artist. I begged he might rather take the time in some restorative way. with the comedy of his queer fate: the tragedy was in the spectacles through which 176 . A sultry air of promises. The people I was perhaps angriest with were the editors of magazines who had introduced what they called new features. that Mr. Paraday appeared to have contracted to spend with her in the country. hung over his August. 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. and he would greatly profit by the interval of rest. 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. but I hadn’t needed this. 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. 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. Wimbush over the artist she protected. 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. for caresses without imagination.

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

178 . 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. 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.The Death of the Lion near the master. a young lady whom. I confess.

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

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

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

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

so she gave me a chance first. I remember now—it was very stupid of me to have forgotten. ‘She didn’t have time. 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. But what’s the use of being a Princess—‘ “‘If you can’t dissemble your love?’ I asked as Lady Augusta was vague.’ “‘She spoke. and at this she looked a little disconcerted. ‘I dare say it’s all right. you mean. because unfortunately I go tomorrow to Bigwood. Paraday’s greatest admirer. 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.’ said Lady Augusta. and I’m hoping 183 . I suggested that the ‘man.’ “‘Of course he gave it back to my maid—or else his man did.’ “‘I dare say she is—she’s so awfully clever. the author wouldn’t have something else to read that would do just as well. and her ladyship wanted to know whether. as if it were the morning paper?’ “Lady Augusta stared—my irony was lost on her. they’ve only time to kick it about the house.Henry James “‘Poor dear.’ “The conscience of these people is like a summer sea. she has the Princess to guard! Mr. “‘Three hours! Oh the Princess will get up!’ said Lady Augusta. 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. had perhaps kept the work for his own perusal.’ fired with a noble emulation. The piece in question was very long—it would keep them three hours. “‘I thought she was Mr. Paraday lent her the manuscript to look over. They haven’t time to look over a priceless composition.’ “‘And your chance has only proved a chance to lose it?’ “‘I haven’t lost it.’ “‘And Lord Dorimont went away directly after luncheon.

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

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

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

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

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

189 . 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. The privilege was withheld indeed from Dora Forbes.Henry James have always treated women. Wimbush. however. it’s true. Wimbush and has sat for his portrait to the young artists she protects. under the Doctor’s rule. began to take place in the evening? His rule was soothing to behold. Little country practitioner as he was. She departed as promptly as if a revolution had broken out. for she was fundamentally disappointed in him. let alone invited the Princess. a fortunate circumstance doubtless. He decreed in the interest of his patient an absolutely soundless house and a consequent break-up of the party. This was so little. Wimbush kept her latest capture temporarily concealed. at the present hour. her usual way of dealing with her eminent friends that a couple of days of it exhausted her patience. what is to be said of that general scatter of the company which. Day by day I saw him sink. is immensely pushed by Mrs. What happened at Prestidge later in the day is of course contemporary history. This was not the kind of performance for which she had invited him to Prestidge. If the interruption I had whimsically sanctioned was almost a scandal. after a brief improvement. so Mrs. taken on the third night raised an obstacle to her seeing him before her retreat. sat for it not only in oils but in monumental alabaster. and Guy Walsingham emigrated with her. 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. and I roamed alone about the empty terraces and gardens. and she went up to town with him in great publicity. I was kindly permitted to remain. His wife never came near him. and this was not denied even to Mrs. He took advantage to the utmost of the singular favour. Dora Forbes. The sudden turn for the worse her afflicted guest had. small comfort as I was to have at the end.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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

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“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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and yet her manner has always been so charming to me! She is truly an accomplished woman! MAY 4TH. 6TH.—I have stayed away from Casa Salvi for a week. “she’s an accomplished woman!” And it is indeed very clever of her to take that tone. she has guessed them for herself. 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. as I finished it in mine. She declares that she has a good conscience. “She has begged me to listen to everything you may say against her. does curiosity reduce a man!) Let him finish the story in his own way. it is open war.” said I.The Diary of a Man of Fifty “Has she told you so?” Stanmer hesitated. 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. after all. She must hate me intensely. why.” “Ah. Under the circumstances. we naturally shouldn’t meet very cordially. She is as free to use every possible art to entangle poor Stanmer more closely as I am to clip her fine-spun meshes. But as regards her meshes. by the way. but I have lingered on in Florence. under a mixture of impulses. There need be no scruples on either side. It is the same story. a quarter of a century later. however.—Ah. should it have the same denoument? Let him make his own denoument. I should like to see how he would agree with her after she had devoured him—(to what vulgar imagery. but why. 5TH. I don’t want the poor boy to be miserable. should I clip them? It would really be very interesting to see Stanmer swallowed up. however. but did my denoument then prove such a happy one? 218 .—Hang it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He raised the lid and looked lovingly into the deep interior. but the davenport arrived that evening at Jersey Villas. 236 . raised. He felt rather vulgar. Bundy’s he had to write on an insincere cardtable. A davenport was a compromise. There was a strange. 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. This specimen had visibly seen service. 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). hallowed things had once been put away there. but as the shopman pushed up a chair for him and he sat down with his elbows on the gentle slope of the large. When he took his head out of it he said to the shopman: “I don’t mind meeting you halfway. but what was all life but a compromise? He could beat down the dealer. but it had an old-time solidity and to Peter Baron it unexpectedly appealed. contracted conveniences known immemorially to the knowing as davenports. faint odour in the receptacle. He would have said in advance that such an article was exactly what he didn’t want. on a sort of retreating pedestal which is fitted with small drawers. he reflected on the economy of having a literary altar on which one could really kindle a fire. 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. as if fragrant. he felt that such a basis for literature would be half the battle.” He had been told by knowing people that that was the right thing. with the aid of front legs.Sir Dominick Ferrand one of those square substantial desks of old mahogany. firm lid.

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

Baron judged that her music. with manuscripts under her arm. but she occupied a pinnacle for Miss Teagle. a frequent feature of which was an adventurous visit. 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. too. He was capable of a shyness of curiosity about her and of dumb little delicacies of consideration. it would hardly help to fill a concert-room. like Baron himself. The young man’s window. even though lovely. Mrs. still more like Baron. she almost always came back with them. Peter Baron’s window had always. Sidney haunted the doorstep of No. for the little boy had been almost as great a help as the piano. he was sufficiently enlightened. upstairs. through a starched muslin curtain it kept his neighbour before him. indeed. looked out on their acquaintance. Very soon. Ryves sometimes went out. made him almost more aware of her comings and goings than he felt he had a right to be. who was also ancient and who came humbly enough to governess the infant of the parlours. and. and had established independent relations with Peter. 238 . She had almost no visitors. who had lived on—and from a noble nursery—into a period of diplomas and humiliation.Sir Dominick Ferrand her lovely music. she tried to compose—to produce songs that would make a hit. only a decent old lady or two. 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. She did give a few lessons. to picture books criticised for not being all geegees and walking sticks happily more conformable. and. 3 he was eminently sociable. Ryves was a struggler (Baron scarcely liked to think of it). every day. it all went fast. they were essentially local. poor dingy Miss Teagle. and he ended by knowing more or less what she went out for and what she came in from. looked out on a good deal of life. Mrs. to his sense. was a frail dependence. Her vain approaches were to the music-sellers.

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

The experiments would be pleasant enough for him if they were pleasant for his inscrutable neighbour. to guess how much there was still to learn. Poor Peter actually flushed with pain as he recognised that this was not success. for some days. yet in these days there was 240 . As he sat there. To spend his mornings over cheap rhymes for her was certainly to shirk the immediate question. Locket and trying his hand at the sort of twaddle that Mrs. He had not ventured to show her anything yet. in the profession of letters. but it might very well become a labour of love. to whom he had sacrificed barley-sugar (it had no attraction for his own lips. for he had learned enough about her. biting his pen and wondering what was meant by the “rewards” of literature. If the sense was not confused it was because the sound was so familiar. reflecting that he might quite as well perish by the sword as by famine. he generally ended by tossing away the composition deflowered by Mr. 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. The truth about his luckless tale was now the more bitter from his having managed. between sound and sense. at a moment when her little boy was in his room. but one morning. and more discretion if he had had more practice. He might in truth have had less pride if he had had more skill. Humility. Besides. by an inspiration. 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. it seemed to him that. baffled and sombre. little by little. Success in these experiments wouldn’t be a reward of literature. to taste it as sweet. Ryves might be able to set to music. and resignation was half of success. he had arrived at the happy middle course (it was an art by itself ). He had said to the child. Ryves’s accompaniments would give a circulation. but there were hours when he judged this question to be altogether too arduous.Sir Dominick Ferrand or if he were simply not abject enough to rewrite his story. That was the way he thought of her now. was half of practice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

which had to Peter’s sense the smoky brownness of an old pipebowl. had felt weak and slightly silly. “Very extinct indeed. Ryves’s visit he paid by appointment another call on the editor of the Promiscuous. Locket. It was Mr. as he got up from his chair: “Do you happen to be at all interested in Sir Dominick Ferrand?” Mr. irrelevantly. Locket was affected by his audacity. and then. He had armed himself for a struggle. who had also got up. Locket himself however who presently made the interview spacious. a silent retort to the glibness of this information. 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. had intimated respectfully that it was a case in which both practice and principle rebelled.Henry James CHAPTER III TEN DAYS AFTER Mrs. you know the family’s extinct.” Mr. Peter had begun with this. I’m 251 . 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. looked over his glasses. He found him in the little wainscoted Chelsea house. a photographic gallery of popular contributors—and he promised at first to consume very few of the moments for which so many claims competed. Locket shot his young friend another sharp glance. perceiving how little Mr. surrounded with all the emblems of his office—a litter of papers. left with his heroism on his hands. a hedge of encyclopaedias. “The late Sir Dominick?” “The only one.

had kept his body at the bowing angle. colouring a little. still on his feet.” “That depends upon what it is. “I think I could make him one. It’s often only another tombstone. Locket leaned forward a little. Locket.” “Are you very sure?” Baron asked.” He was silent a minute. Mr. Baron resumed possession of this convenience. “That often freshens up an old story.” said the young man.” “It buries it sometimes. Locket stared again.Sir Dominick Ferrand afraid the subject today would scarcely be regarded as attractive.” Mr.” Mr. 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. then he added: “Have you been studying him?” “I’ve been dipping into him. and the conversation took a fresh start on a basis which such an extension of privilege could render but little less hu252 . in the attitude of giving permission to retire. “Do you allude to—a—revelations?” “Very curious ones. he was unable to repress an unattenuated “You?” “I have some new material. “the documents I speak of would be a crushing monument. hesitating. shot another glance under his glasses. Locket. shuffling papers together. but the idea rather appeals to me. 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.” “I’m afraid he’s scarcely a question of the hour. in a way that relegated poor Peter to the general. However.” Peter added. “I might consider the question in a special connection. with his fingertips on his table. Mr.” Peter Baron declared.” Mr. Locket.” said Mr. Locket emitted the safe assertion that this eminent statesman had been a striking figure in his day.

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

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

to say had passed away with him. his very appearance—he certainly was handsome—and the possibilities (of future personal supremacy) which it was the fashion at the time. but he could easily put himself in the place of that portion of the public 255 . which was usually nothing at all. 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.Henry James of mine. second-rate—that’s how I’ve always read him. the nation rose to the way he played his trumps—it was uncommon. crafty. who took Europe. that alone was remarkable for a man dying at forty-four.” “He speaks to the people of this country. or took America. he’s still a high name. He had been twice at the Foreign Office. “He did. moreover.” “They’re still proud of some of the things he did at the Foreign Office—the famous ‘exchange’ with Spain. especially when it became apparent how much we had the best of the bargain. of his prestige—is scarcely audible now. He was one of the few men we’ve had. Flashy. 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 was a mere flash in the pan. made them jump a bit. partly also. that his private life had its weak spots. in our period. I mean. who had simply become to him (he had been “reading up” feverishly for a week) a very curious subject of psychological study. The rest of the world considered that they knew in any case exactly what we would do. which took Europe so by surprise and by which she felt injured. by surprise. which it’s the fashion still. but his voice—the voice. Say what you like. These were both matters that no one really cared a straw about. on account of other things his early success and early death. in the Mediterranean. and the country liked his doing it—it was a pleasant change. his political ‘cheek’ and wit.” said Baron. no doubt. Then the sudden. It was never a secret.

” Mr.” said Peter Baron. Immense would be also the contribution to truth. the horror. the rectification of history. They are addressed to a woman. clung to them and preserved them? Who are the persons mentioned in them? who are the correspondents. as you call it. in some instances of painful alarm. How did they get into your davenport. 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. 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. There would be a perfect and probably a very complicated pedigree to trace. 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. and how long had they been there? What hands secreted them? what hands had. “There are too many things to explain. from whom he had evidently received money. It was some time fortunately since the conduct of public affairs had wanted for men of disinterested ability.” “They all have this in common. as I gather. “and the singular provenance of your papers would count almost overwhelmingly against them even if the other objections were met. 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. the chatter would be immense. Locket went on. so incredibly. The dread of the light in the other connection is evidently different. would be a calculable blow to the retrospective mind. in relation to exposure—the exposure in the one case. and these letters are the earliest in date. 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. “that they constitute evidence of uneasiness. on the writer’s part.” 256 .

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

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

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

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. He had a strong disposition to “draw” his landlady on the subject of Mrs. He left out of account however Mrs. Bundy. Ryves’s affairs to try and find out if she struck such an observer as happy. Bundy. 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. Crudely. in submissive receipt of Mrs. and before he knew it he found himself. who had incorporated with it and now 260 . my dear sir. The young man rose from his couch. At the same time he hated to appear to pry into the secrets of his absent friend. on his spirit. pulling himself together sufficiently to reply that his health was well enough but that his spirits were down in his hoots. Bundy’s version of this experience. sat equally heavy (they were indeed but different phases of the same).Sir Dominick Ferrand upon his sofa. for it was this fine principle that broke down the barriers after he had reflected reassuringly that it was not meddling with Mrs. he put the direct question to Mrs. 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. though it had its infirmities. edited. It was an interesting picture. Amplified. Ryves. as well as a vivid conviction that she constituted a theme as to which Mrs. which. without the responsibility of choice. one of them congenital and consisting of the fact that it had sprung essentially from the virginal brain of Miss Teagle. even a little blushingly. embellished by the richer genius of Mrs. and this led tolerably straight to another question. to discuss her with their bustling hostess resembled too much for his taste a gossip with a tattling servant about an unconscious employer. Bundy would require little pressure to tell him even more than she knew. She had been informed that he wished to speak to her. abruptly.

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

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

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. so that they may live in my memory as one of the sweetest occasions of life. to which he replied that he would tell her all about it if she would send Miss Teagle off with Sidney. who was always anticipating her cue. so that the rest of the episode was seasoned. “That’s really why I determined last night.Henry James Ryves inquired. plump. to Baron’s sense. The friends wandered together with a conjugal air and Sidney not between them. Let me drink deep of these things. Oh. “should you wish to prevent it?” “Because I’ve something to ask you first. She had however to retire without Sidney. by the importunate twitch of the child’s little. “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. cool hand. “What is it you wish to ask me?” Mrs. I’ve come to see you. Ryves demanded. The day’s lovely. and I’m ready to declare that the place is as good as the day.” Peter Baron went on. 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. Give me all your hours in short. drain the cup like a man who hasn’t been out of London for months and months. it had been nervous. who clung to his recovered prey. Let me walk with you and talk with you and lunch with you—I go back this afternoon. without asking your leave first to pay you this little visit—that and the intense desire for another bout of horseplay with Sidney.” 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.” He saw now that her embarrassment had really not been resentful. as they stood there together. hanging 263 . tremulous. as the emotion of an unexpected pleasure might have been. Miss Teagle. something that may take some time.

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

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

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

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

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

but it was just this apparent infallibility that he resented.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. 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 . her evasions disturbed at any rate his own tranquillity. who. yet she held herself aloof as a participant. Locket. it appeared. for she had taken the attitude of exerting pressure without. What disturbed it still further was that he received early in the day a visit from Mr. recognising on his part an equal right. He perceived her knack of punctual interference to be striking. Mrs. there were things she looked to him to do for her. that he had taken up his young friend’s invitation to look at Sir Dominick Ferrand’s letters for himself. Ryves’s intervention had made him acutely uncomfortable. and he asked himself why he should be the sport of her moods and her mysteries. 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. her divinations. She should either have had less to say or have been willing to say more. She had imposed herself as an influence. leaving him under no illusion as to the grounds of such an honour. 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. yet she could tell him of no good that would come to him from the doing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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

had made somehow all the difference in their relations. or rather certain things it represented. he was silent. She was rosy. tremulously silent. this time in earnest. of her having reverted to the house again. in consequence of an extraordinary conversation that he had with her. Locket. 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. She didn’t talk of impossibilities now—she didn’t seem to want to stop him off.Sir Dominick Ferrand back. also had evidently forgotten the trumpery papers: she never mentioned them again. she chattered like a happy woman. after a little. But she. Morrish’s bank. the origin really of their intimacy. appreciated its pace. but Baron. They talked of it so profoundly that it drove everything else for the time out of his head— his duty to Mr. The difference was huge. Morrish had practically promised he would take anything that was as good as that. She had kept her cab because she was going to Dover. Mr. It was a vehicle infirm and inert. ever so much more. the first thing. He was silent for a while. to Victoria. prodigiously. This conversation took place at Dover. and Peter Baron never boasted of what he had done with them. as if with one of her famous divinations. he had exchanged the cheque she had left with him. when it came to be a question of his permanent attitude. the day following his arrival at Dover with the 288 . and then later. at the very moment the trumpery papers. from curiosity to see if her fine nerves had really given her a hint. on her side. matching with the oddity of all the others. to tell him. She had only come to tell him the good news— she repeated this assurance more than once. for she had consented to his getting in with her and driving. religiously. and of course his share of the money would be the half. she couldn’t leave the others alone. only when. natural. the remarkable sacrifice he had just achieved. That cheque. jubilant. She said they must do more. when he went down to give her the money for which. at Mr. had ceased to exist. and even the odd coincidence.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. “entered into your situation with warmth. in truth. somehow. and now she understands!” “She told you. and of seeing her lovely eyes shining through it opposite to me. “owing to my peculiar circumstances. For after the first few words I exchanged with her I was conscious of an extraordinary evaporation of all my old diffidence. I have. a satirist! I hope I shall be a long time coming to that. sitting there before that charming woman. Last evening.” I surmised.” Pickering answered.” And here. philosopher. “they must have seemed to her great rubbish. a cynic.” “Madame Blumenthal. Pickering broke off into an ardent parenthesis. they came swarming to my lips. if I remember rightly. a great accumulated fund of unuttered things of all sorts to get rid of. Very likely I poured them all out.” “You will make the journey fast if you travel by express trains. I imagine. I have a sense of having enshrouded myself in a sort of mist of talk.” “She spoke to me. But pray tell me. I suppose. and friend. and I think it possible I may have made her listen to a great deal of nonsense. “as I had 317 . but I felt the wiser and the stronger.Henry James a sceptic. like fog-lamps at sea.” he went on. on the contrary. and she offered to be your guide. She listens even better than she talks.” he added in a moment. that she understood you as if she had made you. and declared that Madame Blumenthal’s eyes had something in them that he had never seen in any others.” “Exactly so—the greatest! She has felt and suffered. “It was a jumble of crudities and inanities. have you ventured to intimate to Madame Blumenthal your high opinion of her?” “I don’t know what I may have said. after a pause.

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

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

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

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

an old Westphalian Grafin. I remember her mother. or else that his pretty young wife spent it very fast. Her talk is much better than her writing. in the George Sand manner—beating the drum to Madame Sand’s trumpet. content yourself with a few facts and with an anecdote. she drove her shuttle. Madame Blumenthal is Prussian. She has been a widow these six or eight years. Since then she has published a lot of literature—novels and poems and pamphlets on every conceivable theme. Hegelian philosophers and Hungarian pianists. and formally announced that she had embraced an ‘intellectual’ life. 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. But she has been admired also by a great many really clever men. Blumenthal was an old beast. This meant unlimited camaraderie with scribblers and daubers. She had a taste for spinning fine phrases. A year after her marriage she published a novel. however. She was poor. when she turned a head as well set on its shoulders as this one!” And Niedermeyer tapped his forehead. and has lived. but I am afraid he had less than was nominated in the bond. In winter one hears of her in Berlin. and her principles were an insufficient dowry for Anastasia. I suppose she is some six or eight and thirty years of age. He was supposed to have money.Eugene Pickering opinions. in rather a hand-to-mouth fashion. and her cleverness has spoiled her. and very well born. however. giving little suppers to the artistic rabble there. in fact. there was a time. who was married very young to a vicious Jew. She’s very clever. No doubt she was very unhappy. 322 . She tossed her head. declared that at last she could breathe the sacred air of freedom. twice her own age. I imagine. and when she came to the end of her yarn she found that society had turned its back. with her views on matrimony. from the conversion of Lola Montez to the Hegelian philosophy. with principles marshalled out like Frederick the Great’s grenadiers. in summer one often sees her across the green table at Ems and Wiesbaden.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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