by Henry James
It was in the early days of April; Bernard Longueville had been
spending the winter in Rome. He had travelled northward with the
consciousness of several social duties that appealed to him from the
further side of the Alps, but he was under the charm of the Italian
spring, and he made a pretext for lingering. He had spent five days at
Siena, where he had intended to spend but two, and still it was
impossible to continue his journey. He was a young man of a
contemplative and speculative turn, and this was his first visit to
Italy, so that if he dallied by the way he should not be harshly
judged. He had a fancy for sketching, and it was on his conscience to
take a few pictorial notes. There were two old inns at Siena, both of
them very shabby and very dirty. The one at which Longueville had
taken up his abode was entered by a dark, pestiferous arch-way,
surmounted by a sign which at a distance might have been read by the
travellers as the Dantean injunction to renounce all hope. The other
was not far off, and the day after his arrival, as he passed it, he
saw two ladies going in who evidently belonged to the large fraternity
of Anglo-Saxon tourists, and one of whom was young and carried herself
very well. Longueville had his share--or more than his share--of
gallantry, and this incident awakened a regret. If he had gone to the
other inn he might have had charming company: at his own
establishment there was no one but an aesthetic German who smoked bad
tobacco in the dining-room. He remarked to himself that this was
always his luck, and the remark was characteristic of the man; it was
charged with the feeling of the moment, but it was not absolutely
just; it was the result of an acute impression made by the particular
occasion; but it failed in appreciation of a providence which had
sprinkled Longueville's career with happy accidents--accidents,
especially, in which his characteristic gallantry was not allowed to
rust for want of exercise. He lounged, however, contentedly enough
through these bright, still days of a Tuscan April, drawing much
entertainment from the high picturesqueness of the things about him.
Siena, a few years since, was a flawless gift of the Middle Ages to
the modern imagination. No other Italian city could have been more
interesting to an observer fond of reconstructing obsolete manners.
This was a taste of Bernard Longueville's, who had a relish for
serious literature, and at one time had made several lively excursions
into mediaeval history. His friends thought him very clever, and at
the same time had an easy feeling about him which was a tribute to his
freedom from pedantry. He was clever indeed, and an excellent
companion; but the real measure of his brilliancy was in the success
with which he entertained himself. He was much addicted to conversing
with his own wit, and he greatly enjoyed his own society. Clever as
he often was in talking with his friends, I am not sure that his best
things, as the phrase is, were not for his own ears. And this was not
on account of any cynical contempt for the understanding of his
fellow-creatures: it was simply because what I have called his own
society was more of a stimulus than that of most other people. And
yet he was not for this reason fond of solitude; he was, on the
contrary, a very sociable animal. It must be admitted at the outset
that he had a nature which seemed at several points to contradict
itself, as will probably be perceived in the course of this narration.
He entertained himself greatly with his reflections and meditations
upon Sienese architecture and early Tuscan art, upon Italian
street-life and the geological idiosyncrasies of the Apennines. If he
had only gone to the other inn, that nice-looking girl whom he had
seen passing under the dusky portal with her face turned away from him
might have broken bread with him at this intellectual banquet. Then
came a day, however, when it seemed for a moment that if she were
disposed she might gather up the crumbs of the feast. Longueville,
every morning after breakfast, took a turn in the great square of
Siena-- the vast piazza, shaped like a horse-shoe, where the market
is held beneath the windows of that crenellated palace from whose
overhanging cornice a tall, straight tower springs up with a movement
as light as that of a single plume in the bonnet of a captain. Here
he strolled about, watching a brown contadino disembarrass his donkey,
noting the progress of half an hour's chaffer over a bundle of
carrots, wishing a young girl with eyes like animated agates would let
him sketch her, and gazing up at intervals at the beautiful, slim
tower, as it played at contrasts with the large blue air. After he had
spent the greater part of a week in these grave considerations, he
made up his mind to leave Siena. But he was not content with what he
had done for his portfolio. Siena was eminently sketchable, but he had
not been industrious. On the last morning of his visit, as he stood
staring about him in the crowded piazza, and feeling that, in spite
of its picturesqueness, this was an awkward place for setting up an
easel, he bethought himself, by contrast, of a quiet corner in another
part of the town, which he had chanced upon in one of his first
walks--an angle of a lonely terrace that abutted upon the city-wall,
where three or four superannuated objects seemed to slumber in the
sunshine-- the open door of an empty church, with a faded fresco
exposed to the air in the arch above it, and an ancient beggar-woman
sitting beside it on a three-legged stool. The little terrace had an
old polished parapet, about as high as a man's breast, above which was
a view of strange, sad-colored hills. Outside, to the left, the wall
of the town made an outward bend, and exposed its rugged and rusty
complexion. There was a smooth stone bench set into the wall of the
church, on which Longueville had rested for an hour, observing the
composition of the little picture of which I have indicated the
elements, and of which the parapet of the terrace would form the
foreground. The thing was what painters call a subject, and he had
promised himself to come back with his utensils. This morning he
returned to the inn and took possession of them, and then he made his
way through a labyrinth of empty streets, lying on the edge of the
town, within the wall, like the superfluous folds of a garment whose
wearer has shrunken with old age. He reached his little grass-grown
terrace, and found it as sunny and as private as before. The old
mendicant was mumbling petitions, sacred and profane, at the church
door; but save for this the stillness was unbroken. The yellow
sunshine warmed the brown surface of the city-wall, and lighted the
hollows of the Etruscan hills. Longueville settled himself on the
empty bench, and, arranging his little portable apparatus, began to
ply his brushes. He worked for some time smoothly and rapidly, with
an agreeable sense of the absence of obstacles. It seemed almost an
interruption when, in the silent air, he heard a distant bell in the
town strike noon. Shortly after this, there was another interruption.
The sound of a soft footstep caused him to look up; whereupon he saw
a young woman standing there and bending her eyes upon the graceful
artist. A second glance assured him that she was that nice girl whom
he had seen going into the other inn with her mother, and suggested
that she had just emerged from the little church. He suspected,
however--I hardly know why--that she had been looking at him for some
moments before he perceived her. It would perhaps be impertinent to
inquire what she thought of him; but Longueville, in the space of an
instant, made two or three reflections upon the young lady. One of
them was to the effect that she was a handsome creature, but that she
looked rather bold; the burden of the other was that--yes,
decidedly--she was a compatriot. She turned away almost as soon as
she met his eyes; he had hardly time to raise his hat, as, after a
moment's hesitation, he proceeded to do. She herself appeared to feel
a certain hesitation; she glanced back at the church door, as if under
the impulse to retrace her steps. She stood there a moment longer--
long enough to let him see that she was a person of easy attitudes--
and then she walked away slowly to the parapet of the terrace. Here
she stationed herself, leaning her arms upon the high stone ledge,
presenting her back to Longueville, and gazing at rural Italy.
Longueville went on with his sketch, but less attentively than
before. He wondered what this young lady was doing there alone, and
then it occurred to him that her companion--her mother,
presumably--was in the church. The two ladies had been in the church
when he arrived; women liked to sit in churches; they had been there
more than half an hour, and the mother had not enough of it even yet.
The young lady, however, at present preferred the view that
Longueville was painting; he became aware that she had placed herself
in the very centre of his foreground. His first feeling was that she
would spoil it; his second was that she would improve it. Little by
little she turned more into profile, leaning only one arm upon the
parapet, while the other hand, holding her folded parasol, hung down
at her side. She was motionless; it was almost as if she were standing
there on purpose to be drawn. Yes, certainly she improved the
picture. Her profile, delicate and thin, defined itself against the
sky, in the clear shadow of a coquettish hat; her figure was light;
she bent and leaned easily; she wore a gray dress, fastened up as was
then the fashion, and displaying the broad edge of a crimson
petticoat. She kept her position; she seemed absorbed in the view.
"Is she posing--is she attitudinizing for my benefit?" Longueville
asked of himself. And then it seemed to him that this was a needless
assumption, for the prospect was quite beautiful enough to be looked
at for itself, and there was nothing impossible in a pretty girl
having a love of fine landscape. "But posing or not," he went on, "I
will put her into my sketch. She has simply put herself in. It will
give it a human interest. There is nothing like having a human
interest." So, with the ready skill that he possessed, he introduced
the young girl's figure into his foreground, and at the end of ten
minutes he had almost made something that had the form of a likeness.
"If she will only be quiet for another ten minutes," he said, "the
thing will really be a picture." Unfortunately, the young lady was
not quiet; she had apparently had enough of her attitude and her view.
She turned away, facing Longueville again, and slowly came back, as
if to re-enter the church. To do so she had to pass near him, and as
she approached he instinctively got up, holding his drawing in one
hand. She looked at him again, with that expression that he had
mentally characterized as "bold," a few minutes before--with dark,
intelligent eyes. Her hair was dark and dense; she was a strikingly
"I am so sorry you moved," he said, confidently, in English. "You
were so--so beautiful."
She stopped, looking at him more directly than ever; and she
looked at his sketch, which he held out toward her. At the sketch,
however, she only glanced, whereas there was observation in the eye
that she bent upon Longueville. He never knew whether she had blushed;
he afterward thought she might have been frightened. Nevertheless, it
was not exactly terror that appeared to dictate her answer to
"I am much obliged to you. Don't you think you have looked at me
"By no means. I should like so much to finish my drawing."
"I am not a professional model," said the young lady.
"No. That 's my difficulty," Longueville answered, laughing. "I
can't propose to remunerate you."
The young lady seemed to think this joke in indifferent taste. She
turned away in silence; but something in her expression, in his
feeling at the time, in the situation, incited Longueville to higher
play. He felt a lively need of carrying his point.
"You see it will be pure kindness," he went on,--"a simple act of
charity. Five minutes will be enough. Treat me as an Italian beggar."
She had laid down his sketch and had stepped forward. He stood
there, obsequious, clasping his hands and smiling.
His interruptress stopped and looked at him again, as if she
thought him a very odd person; but she seemed amused. Now, at any
rate, she was not frightened. She seemed even disposed to provoke him
"I wish to go to my mother," she said.
"Where is your mother?" the young man asked.
"In the church, of course. I did n't come here alone!"
"Of course not; but you may be sure that your mother is very
contented. I have been in that little church. It is charming. She is
just resting there; she is probably tired. If you will kindly give me
five minutes more, she will come out to you."
"Five minutes?" the young girl asked.
"Five minutes will do. I shall be eternally grateful."
Longueville was amused at himself as he said this. He cared
infinitely less for his sketch than the words appeared to imply; but,
somehow, he cared greatly that this graceful stranger should do what
he had proposed.
The graceful stranger dropped an eye on the sketch again.
"Is your picture so good as that?" she asked.
"I have a great deal of talent," he answered, laughing. "You shall
see for yourself, when it is finished."
She turned slowly toward the terrace again.
"You certainly have a great deal of talent, to induce me to do what
you ask." And she walked to where she had stood before. Longueville
made a movement to go with her, as if to show her the attitude he
meant; but, pointing with decision to his easel, she said--
"You have only five minutes." He immediately went back to his
work, and she made a vague attempt to take up her position. "You must
tell me if this will do," she added, in a moment.
"It will do beautifully," Longueville answered, in a happy tone,
looking at her and plying his brush. "It is immensely good of you to
take so much trouble."
For a moment she made no rejoinder, but presently she said--
"Of course if I pose at all I wish to pose well."
"You pose admirably," said Longueville.
After this she said nothing, and for several minutes he painted
rapidly and in silence. He felt a certain excitement, and the
movement of his thoughts kept pace with that of his brush. It was very
true that she posed admirably; she was a fine creature to paint. Her
prettiness inspired him, and also her audacity, as he was content to
regard it for the moment. He wondered about her-- who she was, and
what she was--perceiving that the so-called audacity was not vulgar
boldness, but the play of an original and probably interesting
character. It was obvious that she was a perfect lady, but it was
equally obvious that she was irregularly clever. Longueville's little
figure was a success--a charming success, he thought, as he put on the
last touches. While he was doing this, his model's companion came
into view. She came out of the church, pausing a moment as she looked
from her daughter to the young man in the corner of the terrace; then
she walked straight over to the young girl. She was a delicate little
gentlewoman, with a light, quick step.
Longueville's five minutes were up; so, leaving his place, he
approached the two ladies, sketch in hand. The elder one, who had
passed her hand into her daughter's arm, looked up at him with clear,
surprised eyes; she was a charming old woman. Her eyes were very
pretty, and on either side of them, above a pair of fine dark brows,
was a band of silvery hair, rather coquettishly arranged.
"It is my portrait," said her daughter, as Longueville drew near.
"This gentleman has been sketching me."
"Sketching you, dearest?" murmured her mother. "Was n't it rather
"Very sudden--very abrupt!" exclaimed the young girl with a laugh.
"Considering all that, it 's very good," said Longueville,
offering his picture to the elder lady, who took it and began to
examine it. "I can't tell you how much I thank you," he said to his
"It 's very well for you to thank me now," she replied. "You
really had no right to begin."
"The temptation was so great."
"We should resist temptation. And you should have asked my leave."
"I was afraid you would refuse it; and you stood there, just in my
line of vision."
"You should have asked me to get out of it."
"I should have been very sorry. Besides, it would have been
The young girl looked at him a moment.
"Yes, I think it would. But what you have done is ruder."
"It is a hard case!" said Longueville. "What could I have done,
"It 's a beautiful drawing," murmured the elder lady, handing the
thing back to Longueville. Her daughter, meanwhile, had not even
glanced at it.
"You might have waited till I should go away," this argumentative
young person continued.
Longueville shook his head.
"I never lose opportunities!"
"You might have sketched me afterwards, from memory."
Longueville looked at her, smiling.
"Judge how much better my memory will be now!"
She also smiled a little, but instantly became serious.
"For myself, it 's an episode I shall try to forget. I don't like
the part I have played in it."
"May you never play a less becoming one!" cried Longueville. "I
hope that your mother, at least, will accept a memento of the
occasion." And he turned again with his sketch to her companion, who
had been listening to the girl's conversation with this enterprising
stranger, and looking from one to the other with an air of earnest
confusion. "Won't you do me the honor of keeping my sketch?" he said.
"I think it really looks like your daughter."
"Oh, thank you, thank you; I hardly dare," murmured the lady, with
a deprecating gesture.
"It will serve as a kind of amends for the liberty I have taken,"
Longueville added; and he began to remove the drawing from its paper
"It makes it worse for you to give it to us," said the young girl.
"Oh, my dear, I am sure it 's lovely!" exclaimed her mother. "It
's wonderfully like you."
"I think that also makes it worse!"
Longueville was at last nettled. The young lady's perversity was
perhaps not exactly malignant; but it was certainly ungracious. She
seemed to desire to present herself as a beautiful tormentress.
"How does it make it worse?" he asked, with a frown.
He believed she was clever, and she was certainly ready. Now,
however, she reflected a moment before answering.
"That you should give us your sketch," she said at last.
"It was to your mother I offered it," Longueville observed.
But this observation, the fruit of his irritation, appeared to have
no effect upon the young girl.
"Is n't it what painters call a study?" she went on. "A study is
of use to the painter himself. Your justification would be that you
should keep your sketch, and that it might be of use to you."
"My daughter is a study, sir, you will say," said the elder lady
in a little, light, conciliating voice, and graciously accepting the
"I will admit," said Longueville, "that I am very inconsistent.
Set it down to my esteem, madam," he added, looking at the mother.
"That 's for you, mamma," said his model, disengaging her arm from
her mother's hand and turning away.
The mamma stood looking at the sketch with a smile which seemed to
express a tender desire to reconcile all accidents.
"It 's extremely beautiful," she murmured, "and if you insist on
my taking it--"
"I shall regard it as a great honor."
"Very well, then; with many thanks, I will keep it." She looked
at the young man a moment, while her daughter walked away.
Longueville thought her a delightful little person; she struck him as
a sort of transfigured Quakeress--a mystic with a practical side. "I
am sure you think she 's a strange girl," she said.
"She is extremely pretty."
"She is very clever," said the mother.
"She is wonderfully graceful."
"Ah, but she 's good!" cried the old lady.
"I am sure she comes honestly by that," said Longueville,
expressively, while his companion, returning his salutation with a
certain scrupulous grace of her own, hurried after her daughter.
Longueville remained there staring at the view but not especially
seeing it. He felt as if he had at once enjoyed and lost an
opportunity. After a while he tried to make a sketch of the old
beggar-woman who sat there in a sort of palsied immobility, like a
rickety statue at a church-door. But his attempt to reproduce her
features was not gratifying, and he suddenly laid down his brush. She
was not pretty enough-- she had a bad profile.
Two months later Bernard Longueville was at Venice, still under
the impression that he was leaving Italy. He was not a man who made
plans and held to them. He made them, indeed--few men made more--but
he made them as a basis for variation. He had gone to Venice to spend
a fortnight, and his fortnight had taken the form of eight enchanting
weeks. He had still a sort of conviction that he was carrying out his
plans; for it must be confessed that where his pleasure was concerned
he had considerable skill in accommodating his theory to his practice.
His enjoyment of Venice was extreme, but he was roused from it by a
summons he was indisposed to resist. This consisted of a letter from
an intimate friend who was living in Germany--a friend whose name was
Gordon Wright. He had been spending the winter in Dresden, but his
letter bore the date of Baden-Baden. As it was not long, I may give
"I wish very much that you would come to this place. I think you
have been here before, so that you know how pretty it is, and how
amusing. I shall probably be here the rest of the summer. There are
some people I know and whom I want you to know. Be so good as to
arrive. Then I will thank you properly for your various Italian
rhapsodies. I can't reply on the same scale-- I have n't the time.
Do you know what I am doing? I am making love. I find it a most
absorbing occupation. That is literally why I have not written to you
before. I have been making love ever since the last of May. It takes
an immense amount of time, and everything else has got terribly
behindhand. I don't mean to say that the experiment itself has gone
on very fast; but I am trying to push it forward. I have n't yet had
time to test its success; but in this I want your help. You know we
great physicists never make an experiment without an 'assistant'--a
humble individual who burns his fingers and stains his clothes in the
cause of science, but whose interest in the problem is only indirect.
I want you to be my assistant, and I will guarantee that your burns
and stains shall not be dangerous. She is an extremely interesting
girl, and I really want you to see her--I want to know what you think
of her. She wants to know you, too, for I have talked a good deal
about you. There you have it, if gratified vanity will help you on the
way. Seriously, this is a real request. I want your opinion, your
impression. I want to see how she will affect you. I don't say I ask
for your advice; that, of course, you will not undertake to give. But
I desire a definition, a characterization; you know you toss off those
things. I don't see why I should n't tell you all this--I have always
told you everything. I have never pretended to know anything about
women, but I have always supposed that you knew everything. You
certainly have always had the tone of that sort of omniscience. So
come here as soon as possible and let me see that you are not a
humbug. She 's a very handsome girl."
Longueville was so much amused with this appeal that he very soon
started for Germany. In the reader, Gordon Wright's letter will,
perhaps, excite surprise rather than hilarity; but Longueville thought
it highly characteristic of his friend. What it especially pointed to
was Gordon's want of imagination-- a deficiency which was a matter of
common jocular allusion between the two young men, each of whom kept a
collection of acknowledged oddities as a playground for the other's
wit. Bernard had often spoken of his comrade's want of imagination as
a bottomless pit, into which Gordon was perpetually inviting him to
lower himself. "My dear fellow," Bernard said, "you must really
excuse me; I cannot take these subterranean excursions. I should lose
my breath down there; I should never come up alive. You know I have
dropped things down--little jokes and metaphors, little fantasies and
paradoxes--and I have never heard them touch bottom!" This was an
epigram on the part of a young man who had a lively play of fancy; but
it was none the less true that Gordon Wright had a firmly-treading,
rather than a winged, intellect. Every phrase in his letter seemed,
to Bernard, to march in stout-soled walking-boots, and nothing could
better express his attachment to the process of reasoning things out
than this proposal that his friend should come and make a chemical
analysis--a geometrical survey--of the lady of his love. "That I
shall have any difficulty in forming an opinion, and any difficulty in
expressing it when formed-- of this he has as little idea as that he
shall have any difficulty in accepting it when expressed." So Bernard
reflected, as he rolled in the train to Munich. "Gordon's mind," he
went on, "has no atmosphere; his intellectual process goes on in the
void. There are no currents and eddies to affect it, no high winds
nor hot suns, no changes of season and temperature. His premises are
neatly arranged, and his conclusions are perfectly calculable."
Yet for the man on whose character he so freely exercised his wit
Bernard Longueville had a strong affection. It is nothing against the
validity of a friendship that the parties to it have not a mutual
resemblance. There must be a basis of agreement, but the structure
reared upon it may contain a thousand disparities. These two young men
had formed an alliance of old, in college days, and the bond between
them had been strengthened by the simple fact of its having survived
the sentimental revolutions of early life. Its strongest link was a
sort of mutual respect. Their tastes, their pursuits were different;
but each of them had a high esteem for the other's character. It may
be said that they were easily pleased; for it is certain that neither
of them had performed any very conspicuous action. They were highly
civilized young Americans, born to an easy fortune and a tranquil
destiny, and unfamiliar with the glitter of golden opportunities. If
I did not shrink from disparaging the constitution of their native
land for their own credit, I should say that it had never been very
definitely proposed to these young gentlemen to distinguish
themselves. On reaching manhood, they had each come into property
sufficient to make violent exertion superfluous. Gordon Wright,
indeed, had inherited a large estate. Their wants being tolerably
modest, they had not been tempted to strive for the glory of building
up commercial fortunes--the most obvious career open to young
Americans. They had, indeed, embraced no career at all, and if
summoned to give an account of themselves would, perhaps, have found
it hard to tell any very impressive story. Gordon Wright was much
interested in physical science, and had ideas of his own on what is
called the endowment of research. His ideas had taken a practical
shape, and he had distributed money very freely among the
investigating classes, after which he had gone to spend a couple of
years in Germany, supposing it to be the land of laboratories. Here
we find him at present, cultivating relations with several learned
bodies and promoting the study of various tough branches of human
knowledge, by paying the expenses of difficult experiments. The
experiments, it must be added, were often of his own making, and he
must have the honor of whatever brilliancy attaches, in the estimation
of the world, to such pursuits. It was not, indeed, a brilliancy that
dazzled Bernard Longueville, who, however, was not easily dazzled by
anything. It was because he regarded him in so plain and direct a
fashion, that Bernard had an affection for his friend--an affection to
which it would perhaps be difficult to assign a definite cause.
Personal sympathies are doubtless caused by something; but the causes
are remote, mysterious to our daily vision, like those of the
particular state of the weather. We content ourselves with remarking
that it is fine or that it rains, and the enjoyment of our likes and
dislikes is by no means apt to borrow its edge from the keenness of
our analysis. Longueville had a relish for fine quality--superior
savour; and he was sensible of this merit in the simple, candid,
manly, affectionate nature of his comrade, which seemed to him an
excellent thing of its kind. Gordon Wright had a tender heart and a
strong will-- a combination which, when the understanding is not too
limited, is often the motive of admirable actions. There might
sometimes be a question whether Gordon's understanding were
sufficiently unlimited, but the impulses of a generous temper often
play a useful part in filling up the gaps of an incomplete
imagination, and the general impression that Wright produced was
certainly that of intelligent good-nature. The reasons for
appreciating Bernard Longueville were much more manifest. He pleased
superficially, as well as fundamentally. Nature had sent him into the
world with an armful of good gifts. He was very good-looking--tall,
dark, agile, perfectly finished, so good-looking that he might have
been a fool and yet be forgiven. As has already been intimated,
however, he was far from being a fool. He had a number of talents,
which, during three or four years that followed his leaving college,
had received the discipline of the study of the law. He had not made
much of the law; but he had made something of his talents. He was
almost always spoken of as "accomplished;" people asked why he did n't
do something. This question was never satisfactorily answered, the
feeling being that Longueville did more than many people in causing it
to be asked. Moreover, there was one thing he did constantly-- he
enjoyed himself. This is manifestly not a career, and it has been
said at the outset that he was not attached to any of the recognized
professions. But without going into details, he was a charming
fellow--clever, urbane, free-handed, and with that fortunate quality
in his appearance which is known as distinction.
He had not specified, in writing to Gordon Wright, the day on
which he should arrive at Baden-Baden; it must be confessed that he
was not addicted to specifying days. He came to his journey's end in
the evening, and, on presenting himself at the hotel from which his
friend had dated his letter, he learned that Gordon Wright had betaken
himself after dinner, according to the custom of Baden-Baden, to the
grounds of the Conversation-house. It was eight o'clock, and
Longueville, after removing the stains of travel, sat down to dine.
His first impulse had been to send for Gordon to come and keep him
company at his repast; but on second thought he determined to make it
as brief as possible. Having brought it to a close, he took his way to
the Kursaal. The great German watering-place is one of the prettiest
nooks in Europe, and of a summer evening in the gaming days,
five-and-twenty years ago, it was one of the most brilliant scenes.
The lighted windows of the great temple of hazard (of as chaste an
architecture as if it had been devoted to a much purer divinity)
opened wide upon the gardens and groves; the little river that issues
from the bosky mountains of the Black Forest flowed, with an air of
brook-like innocence, past the expensive hotels and lodging-houses;
the orchestra, in a high pavilion on the terrace of the Kursaal,
played a discreet accompaniment to the conversation of the ladies and
gentlemen who, scattered over the large expanse on a thousand little
chairs, preferred for the time the beauties of nature to the shuffle
of coin and the calculation of chance; while the faint summer stars,
twinkling above the vague black hills and woods, looked down at the
indifferent groups without venturing to drop their light upon them.
Longueville, noting all this, went straight into the gaming-rooms;
he was curious to see whether his friend, being fond of experiments,
was trying combinations at roulette. But he was not to be found in any
of the gilded chambers, among the crowd that pressed in silence about
the tables; so that Bernard presently came and began to wander about
the lamp-lit terrace, where innumerable groups, seated and strolling,
made the place a gigantic conversazione. It seemed to him very
agreeable and amusing, and he remarked to himself that, for a man who
was supposed not to take especially the Epicurean view of life, Gordon
Wright, in coming to Baden, had certainly made himself comfortable.
Longueville went his way, glancing from one cluster of talkers to
another; and at last he saw a face which brought him to a stop. He
stood a moment looking at it; he knew he had seen it before. He had an
excellent memory for faces; but it was some time before he was able to
attach an identity to this one. Where had he seen a little elderly
lady with an expression of timorous vigilance, and a band of hair as
softly white as a dove's wing? The answer to the question presently
came-- Where but in a grass-grown corner of an old Italian town? The
lady was the mother of his inconsequent model, so that this mysterious
personage was probably herself not far off. Before Longueville had
time to verify this induction, he found his eyes resting upon the
broad back of a gentleman seated close to the old lady, and who,
turning away from her, was talking to a young girl. It was nothing
but the back of this gentleman that he saw, but nevertheless, with
the instinct of true friendship, he recognized in this featureless
expanse the robust personality of Gordon Wright. In a moment he had
stepped forward and laid his hand upon Wright's shoulder.
His friend looked round, and then sprang up with a joyous
exclamation and grasp of the hand.
"My dear fellow--my dear Bernard! What on earth--when did you
While Bernard answered and explained a little, he glanced from his
friend's good, gratified face at the young girl with whom Wright had
been talking, and then at the lady on the other side, who was giving
him a bright little stare. He raised his hat to her and to the young
girl, and he became conscious, as regards the latter, of a certain
disappointment. She was very pretty; she was looking at him; but she
was not the heroine of the little incident of the terrace at Siena.
"It 's just like Longueville, you know," Gordon Wright went on;
"he always comes at you from behind; he 's so awfully fond of
surprises." He was laughing; he was greatly pleased; he introduced
Bernard to the two ladies. "You must know Mrs. Vivian; you must know
Miss Blanche Evers."
Bernard took his place in the little circle; he wondered whether
he ought to venture upon a special recognition of Mrs. Vivian. Then
it seemed to him that he should leave the option of this step with the
lady, especially as he had detected recognition in her eye. But Mrs.
Vivian ventured upon nothing special; she contented herself with soft
generalities--with remarking that she always liked to know when people
would arrive; that, for herself, she never enjoyed surprises.
"And yet I imagine you have had your share," said Longueville, with
a smile. He thought this might remind her of the moment when she came
out of the little church at Siena and found her daughter posturing to
an unknown painter.
But Mrs. Vivian, turning her benignant head about, gave but a
"Oh, I have had my share of everything, good and bad. I don't
complain of anything." And she gave a little deprecating laugh.
Gordon Wright shook hands with Bernard again; he seemed really
very glad to see him. Longueville, remembering that Gordon had
written to him that he had been "making love," began to seek in his
countenance for the ravages of passion. For the moment, however, they
were not apparent; the excellent, honest fellow looked placid and
contented. Gordon Wright had a clear gray eye, short, straight,
flaxen hair, and a healthy diffusion of color. His features were
thick and rather irregular; but his countenance--in addition to the
merit of its expression-- derived a certain grace from a powerful
yellow moustache, to which its wearer occasionally gave a martial
twist. Gordon Wright was not tall, but he was strong, and in his
whole person there was something well-planted and sturdy. He almost
always dressed in light-colored garments, and he wore round his neck
an eternal blue cravat. When he was agitated he grew very red. While
he questioned Longueville about his journey and his health, his
whereabouts and his intentions, the latter, among his own replies,
endeavored to read in Wright's eyes some account of his present
situation. Was that pretty girl at his side the ambiguous object of
his adoration, and, in that case, what was the function of the elder
lady, and what had become of her argumentative daughter? Perhaps this
was another, a younger daughter, though, indeed, she bore no
resemblance to either of Longueville's friends. Gordon Wright, in
spite of Bernard's interrogative glances, indulged in no optical
confidences. He had too much to tell. He would keep his story till
they should be alone together. It was impossible that they should
adjourn just yet to social solitude; the two ladies were under
Gordon's protection. Mrs. Vivian--Bernard felt a satisfaction in
learning her name; it was as if a curtain, half pulled up and stopped
by a hitch, had suddenly been raised altogether--Mrs. Vivian sat
looking up and down the terrace at the crowd of loungers and talkers
with an air of tender expectation. She was probably looking for her
elder daughter, and Longueville could not help wishing also that this
young lady would arrive. Meanwhile, he saw that the young girl to
whom Gordon had been devoting himself was extremely pretty, and
appeared eminently approachable. Longueville had some talk with her,
reflecting that if she were the person concerning whom Gordon had
written him, it behooved him to appear to take an interest in her.
This view of the case was confirmed by Gordon Wright's presently
turning away to talk with Mrs. Vivian, so that his friend might be at
liberty to make acquaintance with their companion.
Though she had not been with the others at Siena, it seemed to
Longueville, with regard to her, too, that this was not the first time
he had seen her. She was simply the American pretty girl, whom he had
seen a thousand times. It was a numerous sisterhood, pervaded by a
strong family likeness. This young lady had charming eyes (of the
color of Gordon's cravats), which looked everywhere at once and yet
found time to linger in some places, where Longueville's own eyes
frequently met them. She had soft brown hair, with a silky-golden
thread in it, beautifully arranged and crowned by a smart little hat
that savoured of Paris. She had also a slender little figure, neatly
rounded, and delicate, narrow hands, prettily gloved. She moved about
a great deal in her place, twisted her little flexible body and tossed
her head, fingered her hair and examined the ornaments of her dress.
She had a great deal of conversation, Longueville speedily learned,
and she expressed herself with extreme frankness and decision. He
asked her, to begin with, if she had been long at Baden, but the
impetus of this question was all she required. Turning her charming,
conscious, coquettish little face upon him, she instantly began to
"I have been here about four weeks. I don't know whether you call
that long. It does n't seem long to me; I have had such a lovely time.
I have met ever so many people here I know--every day some one turns
up. Now you have turned up to-day."
"Ah, but you don't know me," said Longueville, laughing.
"Well, I have heard a great deal about you!" cried the young girl,
with a pretty little stare of contradiction. "I think you know a
great friend of mine, Miss Ella Maclane, of Baltimore. She 's
travelling in Europe now." Longueville's memory did not instantly
respond to this signal, but he expressed that rapturous assent which
the occasion demanded, and even risked the observation that the young
lady from Baltimore was very pretty. "She 's far too lovely," his
companion went on. "I have often heard her speak of you. I think you
know her sister rather better than you know her. She has not been out
very long. She is just as interesting as she can be. Her hair comes
down to her feet. She 's travelling in Norway. She has been
everywhere you can think of, and she 's going to finish off with
Finland. You can't go any further than that, can you? That 's one
comfort; she will have to turn round and come back. I want her
dreadfully to come to Baden-Baden."
"I wish she would," said Longueville. "Is she travelling alone?"
"Oh, no. They 've got some Englishman. They say he 's devoted to
Ella. Every one seems to have an Englishman, now. We 've got one
here, Captain Lovelock, the Honourable Augustus Lovelock. Well, they
're awfully handsome. Ella Maclane is dying to come to Baden-Baden. I
wish you 'd write to her. Her father and mother have got some idea in
their heads; they think it 's improper--what do you call it?--immoral.
I wish you would write to her and tell her it is n't. I wonder if
they think that Mrs. Vivian would come to a place that 's immoral.
Mrs. Vivian says she would take her in a moment; she does n't seem to
care how many she has. I declare, she 's only too kind. You know I 'm
in Mrs. Vivian's care. My mother 's gone to Marienbad. She would let
me go with Mrs. Vivian anywhere, on account of the influence--she
thinks so much of Mrs. Vivian's influence. I have always heard a great
deal about it, have n't you? I must say it 's lovely; it 's had a
wonderful effect upon me. I don't want to praise myself, but it has.
You ask Mrs. Vivian if I have n't been good. I have been just as
good as I can be. I have been so peaceful, I have just sat here this
way. Do you call this immoral? You 're not obliged to gamble if you
don't want to. Ella Maclane's father seems to think you get drawn in.
I 'm sure I have n't been drawn in. I know what you 're going to
say--you 're going to say I have been drawn out. Well, I have,
to-night. We just sit here so quietly-- there 's nothing to do but to
talk. We make a little party by ourselves--are you going to belong to
our party? Two of us are missing--Miss Vivian and Captain Lovelock.
Captain Lovelock has gone with her into the rooms to explain the
gambling--Miss Vivian always wants everything explained. I am sure I
understood it the first time I looked at the tables. Have you ever
seen Miss Vivian? She 's very much admired, she 's so very unusual.
Black hair 's so uncommon--I see you have got it too-- but I mean for
young ladies. I am sure one sees everything here. There 's a woman
that comes to the tables--a Portuguese countess-- who has hair that is
positively blue. I can't say I admire it when it comes to that shade.
Blue 's my favorite color, but I prefer it in the eyes," continued
Longueville's companion, resting upon him her own two brilliant little
specimens of the tint.
He listened with that expression of clear amusement which is not
always an indication of high esteem, but which even pretty chatterers,
who are not the reverse of estimable, often prefer to masculine
inattention; and while he listened Bernard, according to his wont,
made his reflections. He said to himself that there were two kinds of
pretty girls-- the acutely conscious and the finely unconscious. Mrs.
Vivian's protege was a member of the former category; she belonged to
the genus coquette. We all have our conception of the indispensable,
and the indispensable, to this young lady, was a spectator; almost any
male biped would serve the purpose. To her spectator she addressed,
for the moment, the whole volume of her being--addressed it in her
glances, her attitudes, her exclamations, in a hundred little
experiments of tone and gesture and position. And these rustling
artifices were so innocent and obvious that the directness of her
desire to be well with her observer became in itself a grace; it led
Bernard afterward to say to himself that the natural vocation and
metier of little girls for whom existence was but a shimmering
surface, was to prattle and ruffle their plumage; their view of life
and its duties was as simple and superficial as that of an Oriental
bayadere. It surely could not be with regard to this transparent
little flirt that Gordon Wright desired advice; you could literally
see the daylight--or rather the Baden gaslight-- on the other side of
her. She sat there for a minute, turning her little empty head to and
fro, and catching Bernard's eye every time she moved; she had for the
instant the air of having exhausted all topics. Just then a young
lady, with a gentleman at her side, drew near to the little group, and
Longueville, perceiving her, instantly got up from his chair.
"There 's a beauty of the unconscious class!" he said to himself.
He knew her face very well; he had spent half an hour in copying it.
"Here comes Miss Vivian!" said Gordon Wright, also getting up, as
if to make room for the daughter near the mother.
She stopped in front of them, smiling slightly, and then she
rested her eyes upon Longueville. Their gaze at first was full and
direct, but it expressed nothing more than civil curiosity. This was
immediately followed, however, by the light of recognition--
recognition embarrassed, and signalling itself by a blush.
Miss Vivian's companion was a powerful, handsome fellow, with a
remarkable auburn beard, who struck the observer immediately as being
uncommonly well dressed. He carried his hands in the pockets of a
little jacket, the button-hole of which was adorned with a blooming
rose. He approached Blanche Evers, smiling and dandling his body a
little, and making her two or three jocular bows.
"Well, I hope you have lost every penny you put on the table!"
said the young girl, by way of response to his obeisances.
He began to laugh and repeat them.
"I don't care what I lose, so long--so long--"
"So long as what, pray?"
"So long as you let me sit down by you!" And he dropped, very
gallantly, into a chair on the other side of her.
"I wish you would lose all your property!" she replied, glancing
"It would be a very small stake," said Captain Lovelock. "Would
you really like to see me reduced to misery?"
While this graceful dialogue rapidly established itself, Miss
Vivian removed her eyes from Longueville's face and turned toward her
mother. But Gordon Wright checked this movement by laying his hand on
Longueville's shoulder and proceeding to introduce his friend.
"This is the accomplished creature, Mr. Bernard Longueville, of
whom you have heard me speak. One of his accomplishments, as you see,
is to drop down from the moon."
"No, I don't drop from the moon," said Bernard, laughing. "I drop
from--Siena!" He offered his hand to Miss Vivian, who for an
appreciable instant hesitated to extend her own. Then she returned his
salutation, without any response to his allusion to Siena.
She declined to take a seat, and said she was tired and preferred
to go home. With this suggestion her mother immediately complied,
and the two ladies appealed to the indulgence of little Miss Evers,
who was obliged to renounce the society of Captain Lovelock. She
enjoyed this luxury, however, on the way to Mrs. Vivian's lodgings,
toward which they all slowly strolled, in the sociable Baden fashion.
Longueville might naturally have found himself next Miss Vivian, but
he received an impression that she avoided him. She walked in front,
and Gordon Wright strolled beside her, though Longueville noticed that
they appeared to exchange but few words. He himself offered his arm
to Mrs. Vivian, who paced along with a little lightly-wavering step,
making observations upon the beauties of Baden and the respective
merits of the hotels.
Which of them is it?" asked Longueville of his friend, after they
had bidden good-night to the three ladies and to Captain Lovelock,
who went off to begin, as he said, the evening. They stood, when
they had turned away from the door of Mrs. Vivian's lodgings, in the
little, rough-paved German street.
"Which of them is what?" Gordon asked, staring at his companion.
"Oh, come," said Longueville, "you are not going to begin to play
at modesty at this hour! Did n't you write to me that you had been
making violent love?"
"The more shame to you! Has your love-making been feeble?"
His friend looked at him a moment rather soberly.
"I suppose you thought it a queer document--that letter I wrote
"I thought it characteristic," said Longueville smiling.
"Is n't that the same thing?"
"Not in the least. I have never thought you a man of oddities."
Gordon stood there looking at him with a serious eye, half appealing,
half questioning; but at these last words he glanced away. Even a
very modest man may wince a little at hearing himself denied the
distinction of a few variations from the common type. Longueville made
this reflection, and it struck him, also, that his companion was in a
graver mood than he had expected; though why, after all, should he
have been in a state of exhilaration? "Your letter was a very natural,
interesting one," Bernard added.
"Well, you see," said Gordon, facing his companion again, "I have
been a good deal preoccupied."
"Obviously, my dear fellow!"
"I want very much to marry."
"It 's a capital idea," said Longueville.
"I think almost as well of it," his friend declared, "as if I had
invented it. It has struck me for the first time."
These words were uttered with a mild simplicity which provoked
Longueville to violent laughter.
"My dear fellow," he exclaimed, "you have, after all, your little
Singularly enough, however, Gordon Wright failed to appear
flattered by this concession.
"I did n't send for you to laugh at me," he said.
"Ah, but I have n't travelled three hundred miles to cry!
Seriously, solemnly, then, it is one of these young ladies that has
put marriage into your head?"
"Not at all. I had it in my head."
"Having a desire to marry, you proceeded to fall in love."
"I am not in love!" said Gordon Wright, with some energy.
"Ah, then, my dear fellow, why did you send for me?"
Wright looked at him an instant in silence.
"Because I thought you were a good fellow, as well as a clever
"A good fellow!" repeated Longueville. "I don't understand your
confounded scientific nomenclature. But excuse me; I won't laugh. I
am not a clever fellow; but I am a good one." He paused a moment, and
then laid his hand on his companion's shoulder. "My dear Gordon, it
's no use; you are in love."
"Well, I don't want to be," said Wright.
"Heavens, what a horrible sentiment!"
"I want to marry with my eyes open. I want to know my wife. You
don't know people when you are in love with them. Your impressions are
"They are supposed to be, slightly. And you object to color?"
"Well, as I say, I want to know the woman I marry, as I should know
any one else. I want to see her as clearly."
"Depend upon it, you have too great an appetite for knowledge; you
set too high an esteem upon the dry light of science."
"Ah!" said Gordon promptly; "of course I want to be fond of her."
Bernard, in spite of his protest, began to laugh again.
"My dear Gordon, you are better than your theories. Your
passionate heart contradicts your frigid intellect. I repeat it--you
are in love."
"Please don't repeat it again," said Wright.
Bernard took his arm, and they walked along.
"What shall I call it, then? You are engaged in making studies
"I don't in the least object to your calling it that. My studies
are of extreme interest."
"And one of those young ladies is the fair volume that contains
the precious lesson," said Longueville. "Or perhaps your text-book
is in two volumes?"
"No; there is one of them I am not studying at all. I never could
do two things at once."
"That proves you are in love. One can't be in love with two women
at once, but one may perfectly have two of them--or as many as you
please-- up for a competitive examination. However, as I asked you
before, which of these young ladies is it that you have selected?"
Gordon Wright stopped abruptly, eying his friend.
"Which should you say?"
"Ah, that 's not a fair question," Bernard urged. "It would be
invidious for me to name one rather than the other, and if I were to
mention the wrong one, I should feel as if I had been guilty of a
rudeness towards the other. Don't you see?"
Gordon saw, perhaps, but he held to his idea of making his
companion commit himself.
"Never mind the rudeness. I will do the same by you some day, to
make it up. Which of them should you think me likely to have taken a
fancy to? On general grounds, now, from what you know of me?" He
proposed this problem with an animated eye.
"You forget," his friend said, "that though I know, thank heaven,
a good deal of you, I know very little of either of those girls. I
have had too little evidence."
"Yes, but you are a man who notices. That 's why I wanted you to
"I spoke only to Miss Evers."
"Yes, I know you have never spoken to Miss Vivian." Gordon Wright
stood looking at Bernard and urging his point as he pronounced these
words. Bernard felt peculiarly conscious of his gaze. The words
represented an illusion, and Longueville asked himself quickly whether
it were not his duty to dispel it. The answer came more slowly than
the question, but still it came, in the shape of a negative. The
illusion was but a trifling one, and it was not for him, after all,
to let his friend know that he had already met Miss Vivian. It was
for the young girl herself, and since she had not done so-- although
she had the opportunity--Longueville said to himself that he was bound
in honor not to speak. These reflections were very soon made, but in
the midst of them our young man, thanks to a great agility of mind,
found time to observe, tacitly, that it was odd, just there, to see
his "honor" thrusting in its nose. Miss Vivian, in her own good time,
would doubtless mention to Gordon the little incident of Siena. It
was Bernard's fancy, for a moment, that he already knew it, and that
the remark he had just uttered had an ironical accent; but this
impression was completely dissipated by the tone in which he
added--"All the same, you noticed her."
"Oh, yes; she is very noticeable."
"Well, then," said Gordon, "you will see. I should like you to
make it out. Of course, if I am really giving my attention to one to
the exclusion of the other, it will be easy to discover."
Longueville was half amused, half irritated by his friend's own
relish of his little puzzle. " 'The exclusion of the other' has an
awkward sound," he answered, as they walked on. "Am I to notice that
you are very rude to one of the young ladies?"
"Oh dear, no. Do you think there is a danger of that?"
"Well," said Longueville, "I have already guessed."
Gordon Wright remonstrated. "Don't guess yet--wait a few days. I
won't tell you now."
"Let us see if he does n't tell me," said Bernard, privately. And
he meditated a moment. "When I presented myself, you were sitting
very close to Miss Evers and talking very earnestly. Your head was
bent toward her--it was very lover-like. Decidedly, Miss Evers is the
For a single instant Gordon Wright hesitated, and then--"I hope I
have n't seemed rude to Miss Vivian!" he exclaimed.
Bernard broke into a light laugh. "My dear Gordon, you are very
much in love!" he remarked, as they arrived at their hotel.
Life at baden-baden proved a very sociable affair, and Bernard
Longueville perceived that he should not lack opportunity for the
exercise of those gifts of intelligence to which Gordon Wright had
appealed. The two friends took long walks through the woods and over
the mountains, and they mingled with human life in the crowded
precincts of the Conversation-house. They engaged in a ramble on the
morning after Bernard's arrival, and wandered far away, over hill and
dale. The Baden forests are superb, and the composition of the
landscape is most effective. There is always a bosky dell in the
foreground, and a purple crag embellished with a ruined tower at a
proper angle. A little timber-and-plaster village peeps out from a
tangle of plum-trees, and a way-side tavern, in comfortable
recurrence, solicits concessions to the national custom of frequent
refreshment. Gordon Wright, who was a dogged pedestrian, always
enjoyed doing his ten miles, and Longueville, who was an incorrigible
stroller, felt a keen relish for the picturesqueness of the country.
But it was not, on this occasion, of the charms of the landscape or
the pleasures of locomotion that they chiefly discoursed. Their talk
took a more closely personal turn. It was a year since they had met,
and there were many questions to ask and answer, many arrears of
gossip to make up. As they stretched themselves on the grass on a
sun-warmed hill-side, beneath a great German oak whose arms were quiet
in the blue summer air, there was a lively exchange of impressions,
opinions, speculations, anecdotes. Gordon Wright was surely an
excellent friend. He took an interest in you. He asked no idle
questions and made no vague professions; but he entered into your
situation, he examined it in detail, and what he learned he never
forgot. Months afterwards, he asked you about things which you
yourself had forgotten. He was not a man of whom it would be
generally said that he had the gift of sympathy; but he gave his
attention to a friend's circumstances with a conscientious fixedness
which was at least very far removed from indifference. Bernard had the
gift of sympathy--or at least he was supposed to have it; but even he,
familiar as he must therefore have been with the practice of this
charming virtue, was at times so struck with his friend's fine faculty
of taking other people's affairs seriously that he constantly
exclaimed to himself, "The excellent fellow--the admirable nature!"
Bernard had two or three questions to ask about the three persons
who appeared to have formed for some time his companion's principal
society, but he was indisposed to press them. He felt that he should
see for himself, and at a prospect of entertainment of this kind, his
fancy always kindled. Gordon was, moreover, at first rather shy of
confidences, though after they had lain on the grass ten minutes there
was a good deal said.
"Now what do you think of her face?" Gordon asked, after staring
a while at the sky through the oak-boughs.
"Of course, in future," said Longueville, "whenever you make use
of the personal pronoun feminine, I am to understand that Miss Vivian
"Her name is Angela," said Gordon; "but of course I can scarcely
call her that."
"It 's a beautiful name," Longueville rejoined; "but I may say, in
answer to your question, that I am not struck with the fact that her
face corresponds to it."
"You don't think her face beautiful, then?"
"I don't think it angelic. But how can I tell? I have only had a
glimpse of her."
"Wait till she looks at you and speaks--wait till she smiles,"
"I don't think I saw her smile--at least, not at me, directly. I
hope she will!" Longueville went on. "But who is she-- this
beautiful girl with the beautiful name?"
"She is her mother's daughter," said Gordon Wright. "I don't
really know a great deal more about her than that."
"And who is her mother?"
"A delightful little woman, devoted to Miss Vivian. She is a
widow, and Angela is her only child. They have lived a great deal in
Europe; they have but a modest income. Over here, Mrs. Vivian says,
they can get a lot of things for their money that they can't get at
home. So they stay, you see. When they are at home they live in New
York. They know some of my people there. When they are in Europe
they live about in different places. They are fond of Italy. They
are extremely nice; it 's impossible to be nicer. They are very fond
of books, fond of music, and art, and all that. They always read in
the morning. They only come out rather late in the day."
"I see they are very superior people," said Bernard. "And little
Miss Evers--what does she do in the morning? I know what she does in
"I don't know what her regular habits are. I have n't paid much
attention to her. She is very pretty."
"Wunderschon!" said Bernard. "But you were certainly talking to
her last evening."
"Of course I talk to her sometimes. She is totally different from
Angela Vivian--not nearly so cultivated; but she seems very charming."
"A little silly, eh?" Bernard suggested.
"She certainly is not so wise as Miss Vivian."
"That would be too much to ask, eh? But the Vivians, as kind as
they are wise, have taken her under their protection."
"Yes," said Gordon, "they are to keep her another month or two.
Her mother has gone to Marienbad, which I believe is thought a dull
place for a young girl; so that, as they were coming here, they
offered to bring her with them. Mrs. Evers is an old friend of Mrs.
Vivian, who, on leaving Italy, had come up to Dresden to be with her.
They spent a month there together; Mrs. Evers had been there since
the winter. I think Mrs. Vivian really came to Baden-Baden--she would
have preferred a less expensive place--to bring Blanche Evers. Her
mother wanted her so much to come."
"And was it for her sake that Captain Lovelock came, too?" Bernard
Gordon Wright stared a moment.
"I 'm sure I don't know!"
"Of course you can't be interested in that," said Bernard smiling.
"Who is Captain Lovelock?"
"He is an Englishman. I believe he is what 's called
aristocratically connected--the younger brother of a lord, or
something of that sort."
"Is he a clever man?"
"I have n't talked with him much, but I doubt it. He is rather
rakish; he plays a great deal."
"But is that considered here a proof of rakishness?" asked Bernard.
"Have n't you played a little yourself?"
Gordon hesitated a moment.
"Yes, I have played a little. I wanted to try some experiments. I
had made some arithmetical calculations of probabilities, which I
wished to test."
Bernard gave a long laugh.
"I am delighted with the reasons you give for amusing yourself!
"I assure you they are the real reasons!" said Gordon, blushing a
"That 's just the beauty of it. You were not afraid of being
'drawn in,' as little Miss Evers says?"
"I am never drawn in, whatever the thing may be. I go in, or I
stay out; but I am not drawn," said Gordon Wright.
"You were not drawn into coming with Mrs. Vivian and her daughter
from Dresden to this place?"
"I did n't come with them; I came a week later."
"My dear fellow," said Bernard, "that distinction is unworthy of
your habitual candor."
"Well, I was not fascinated; I was not overmastered. I wanted to
come to Baden."
"I have no doubt you did. Had you become very intimate with your
friends in Dresden?"
"I had only seen them three times."
"After which you followed them to this place? Ah, don't say you
were not fascinated!" cried Bernard, laughing and springing to his
That evening, in the gardens of the Kursaal, he renewed
acquaintance with Angela Vivian. Her mother came, as usual, to sit
and listen to the music, accompanied by Blanche Evers, who was in turn
attended by Captain Lovelock. This little party found privacy in the
crowd; they seated themselves in a quiet corner in an angle of one of
the barriers of the terrace, while the movement of the brilliant Baden
world went on around them. Gordon Wright engaged in conversation with
Mrs. Vivian, while Bernard enjoyed an interview with her daughter.
This young lady continued to ignore the fact of their previous
meeting, and our hero said to himself that all he wished was to know
what she preferred--he would rigidly conform to it. He conformed to
her present programme; he had ventured to pronounce the word Siena the
evening before, but he was careful not to pronounce it again. She had
her reasons for her own reserve; he wondered what they were, and it
gave him a certain pleasure to wonder. He enjoyed the consciousness of
their having a secret together, and it became a kind of entertaining
suspense to see how long she would continue to keep it. For himself,
he was in no hurry to let the daylight in; the little incident at
Siena had been, in itself, a charming affair; but Miss Vivian's
present attitude gave it a sort of mystic consecration. He thought she
carried it off very well--the theory that she had not seen him before;
last evening she had been slightly confused, but now she was as
self-possessed as if the line she had taken were a matter of
conscience. Why should it be a matter of conscience? Was she in love
with Gordon Wright, and did she wish, in consequence, to forget--and
wish him not to suspect--that she had ever received an expression of
admiration from another man? This was not likely; it was not likely,
at least, that Miss Vivian wished to pass for a prodigy of innocence;
for if to be admired is to pay a tribute to corruption, it was
perfectly obvious that so handsome a girl must have tasted of the tree
of knowledge. As for her being in love with Gordon Wright, that of
course was another affair, and Bernard did not pretend, as yet, to
have an opinion on this point, beyond hoping very much that she might
He was not wrong in the impression of her good looks that he had
carried away from the short interview at Siena. She had a charmingly
chiselled face, with a free, pure outline, a clear, fair complexion,
and the eyes and hair of a dusky beauty. Her features had a firmness
which suggested tranquillity, and yet her expression was light and
quick, a combination-- or a contradiction--which gave an original
stamp to her beauty. Bernard remembered that he had thought it a
trifle "bold"; but he now perceived that this had been but a vulgar
misreading of her dark, direct, observant eye. The eye was a charming
one; Bernard discovered in it, little by little, all sorts of things;
and Miss Vivian was, for the present, simply a handsome, intelligent,
smiling girl. He gave her an opportunity to make an allusion to
Siena; he said to her that his friend told him that she and her mother
had been spending the winter in Italy.
"Oh yes," said Angela Vivian; "we were in the far south; we were
five months at Sorrento."
"And nowhere else?"
"We spent a few days in Rome. We usually prefer the quiet places;
that is my mother's taste."
"It was not your mother's taste, then," said Bernard, "that brought
you to Baden?"
She looked at him a moment.
"You mean that Baden is not quiet?"
Longueville glanced about at the moving, murmuring crowd, at the
lighted windows of the Conversation-house, at the great orchestra
perched up in its pagoda.
"This is not my idea of absolute tranquillity."
"Nor mine, either," said Miss Vivian. "I am not fond of absolute
"How do you arrange it, then, with your mother?"
Again she looked at him a moment, with her clever, slightly mocking
"As you see. By making her come where I wish."
"You have a strong will," said Bernard. "I see that."
"No. I have simply a weak mother. But I make sacrifices too,
"What do you call sacrifices?"
"Well, spending the winter at Sorrento."
Bernard began to laugh, and then he told her she must have had a
very happy life--"to call a winter at Sorrento a sacrifice."
"It depends upon what one gives up," said Miss Vivian.
"What did you give up?"
She touched him with her mocking smile again.
"That is not a very civil question, asked in that way."
"You mean that I seem to doubt your abnegation?"
"You seem to insinuate that I had nothing to renounce. I gave up--
I gave up--" and she looked about her, considering a little--"I gave
"I am glad you remember what it was," said Bernard. "If I have
seemed uncivil, let me make it up. When a woman speaks of giving up
society, what she means is giving up admiration. You can never have
given up that--you can never have escaped from it. You must have found
it even at Sorrento."
"It may have been there, but I never found it. It was very
respectful-- it never expressed itself."
"That is the deepest kind," said Bernard.
"I prefer the shallower varieties," the young girl answered.
"Well," said Bernard, "you must remember that although shallow
admiration expresses itself, all the admiration that expresses itself
is not shallow."
Miss Vivian hesitated a moment.
"Some of it is impertinent," she said, looking straight at him,
Bernard hesitated about as long.
"When it is impertinent it is shallow. That comes to the same
The young girl frowned a little.
"I am not sure that I understand--I am rather stupid. But you see
how right I am in my taste for such places as this. I have to come
here to hear such ingenious remarks."
"You should add that my coming, as well, has something to do with
"Everything!" said Miss Vivian.
"Everything? Does no one else make ingenious remarks? Does n't my
"Mr. Wright says excellent things, but I should not exactly call
them ingenious remarks."
"It is not what Wright says; it 's what he does. That 's the
charm!" said Bernard.
His companion was silent for a moment. "That 's not usually a
charm; good conduct is not thought pleasing."
"It surely is not thought the reverse!" Bernard exclaimed.
"It does n't rank--in the opinion of most people--among the things
that make men agreeable."
"It depends upon what you call agreeable."
"Exactly so," said Miss Vivian. "It all depends on that."
"But the agreeable," Bernard went on--"it is n't after all,
fortunately, such a subtle idea! The world certainly is agreed to
think that virtue is a beautiful thing."
Miss Vivian dropped her eyes a moment, and then, looking up,
"Is it a charm?" she asked.
"For me there is no charm without it," Bernard declared.
"I am afraid that for me there is," said the young girl.
Bernard was puzzled--he who was not often puzzled. His companion
struck him as altogether too clever to be likely to indulge in a silly
affectation of cynicism. And yet, without this, how could one account
for her sneering at virtue?
"You talk as if you had sounded the depths of vice!" he said,
laughing. "What do you know about other than virtuous charms?"
"I know, of course, nothing about vice; but I have known virtue
when it was very tiresome."
"Ah, then it was a poor affair. It was poor virtue. The best
virtue is never tiresome."
Miss Vivian looked at him a little, with her fine discriminating
"What a dreadful thing to have to think any virtue poor!"
This was a touching reflection, and it might have gone further had
not the conversation been interrupted by Mrs. Vivian's appealing to
her daughter to aid a defective recollection of a story about a
Spanish family they had met at Biarritz, with which she had undertaken
to entertain Gordon Wright. After this, the little circle was joined
by a party of American friends who were spending a week at Baden, and
the conversation became general.
But on the following evening, Bernard again found himself seated
in friendly colloquy with this interesting girl, while Gordon Wright
discoursed with her mother on one side, and little Blanche Evers
chattered to the admiring eyes of Captain Lovelock on the other.
"You and your mother are very kind to that little girl," our hero
said; "you must be a great advantage to her."
Angela Vivian directed her eyes to her neighbors, and let them rest
a while on the young girl's little fidgeting figure and her fresh,
coquettish face. For some moments she said nothing, and to
Longueville, turning over several things in his mind, and watching
her, it seemed that her glance was one of disfavor. He divined, he
scarcely knew how, that her esteem for her pretty companion was small.
"I don't know that I am very kind," said Miss Vivian. "I have done
nothing in particular for her."
"Mr. Wright tells me you came to this place mainly on her account."
"I came for myself," said Miss Vivian. "The consideration you
speak of perhaps had weight with my mother."
"You are not an easy person to say appreciative things to,"
Bernard rejoined. "One is tempted to say them; but you don't take
The young girl colored as she listened to this observation.
"I don't think you know," she murmured, looking away. Then, "Set
it down to modesty," she added.
"That, of course, is what I have done. To what else could one
possibly attribute an indifference to compliments?"
"There is something else. One might be proud."
"There you are again!" Bernard exclaimed. "You won't even let me
praise your modesty."
"I would rather you should rebuke my pride."
"That is so humble a speech that it leaves no room for rebuke."
For a moment Miss Vivian said nothing.
"Men are singularly base," she declared presently, with a little
smile. "They don't care in the least to say things that might help a
person. They only care to say things that may seem effective and
"I see: you think that to say agreeable things is a great
"It comes from their vanity," Miss Vivian went on, as if she had
not heard him. "They wish to appear agreeable and get credit for
cleverness and tendresse, no matter how silly it would be for another
person to believe them."
Bernard was a good deal amused, and a little nettled.
"Women, then," he said, "have rather a fondness for producing a
bad impression--they like to appear disagreeable?"
His companion bent her eyes upon her fan for a moment as she
opened and closed it.
"They are capable of resigning themselves to it--for a purpose."
Bernard was moved to extreme merriment.
"For what purpose?"
"I don't know that I mean for a purpose," said Miss Vivian; "but
for a necessity."
"Ah, what an odious necessity!"
"Necessities usually are odious. But women meet them. Men evade
them and shirk them."
"I contest your proposition. Women are themselves necessities;
but they are not odious ones!" And Bernard added, in a moment, "One
could n't evade them, if they were!"
"I object to being called a necessity," said Angela Vivian. "It
diminishes one's merit."
"Ah, but it enhances the charm of life!"
"For men, doubtless!"
"The charm of life is very great," Bernard went on, looking up at
the dusky hills and the summer stars, seen through a sort of mist of
music and talk, and of powdery light projected from the softly lurid
windows of the gaming-rooms. "The charm of life is extreme. I am
unacquainted with odious necessities. I object to nothing!"
Angela Vivian looked about her as he had done--looked perhaps a
moment longer at the summer stars; and if she had not already proved
herself a young lady of a contradictory turn, it might have been
supposed she was just then tacitly admitting the charm of life to be
"Do you suppose Miss Evers often resigns herself to being
disagreeable-- for a purpose?" asked Longueville, who had glanced at
Captain Lovelock's companion again.
"She can't be disagreeable; she is too gentle, too soft."
"Do you mean too silly?"
"I don't know that I call her silly. She is not very wise; but
she has no pretensions--absolutely none--so that one is not struck
with anything incongruous."
"What a terrible description! I suppose one ought to have a few
"You see one comes off more easily without them," said Miss Vivian.
"Do you call that coming off easily?"
She looked at him a moment gravely.
"I am very fond of Blanche," she said.
"Captain Lovelock is rather fond of her," Bernard went on.
The girl assented.
"He is completely fascinated--he is very much in love with her."
"And do they mean to make an international match?"
"I hope not; my mother and I are greatly troubled."
"Is n't he a good fellow?"
"He is a good fellow; but he is a mere trifler. He has n't a
penny, I believe, and he has very expensive habits. He gambles a
great deal. We don't know what to do."
"You should send for the young lady's mother."
"We have written to her pressingly. She answers that Blanche can
take care of herself, and that she must stay at Marienbad to finish
her cure. She has just begun a new one."
"Ah well," said Bernard, "doubtless Blanche can take care of
For a moment his companion said nothing; then she exclaimed--
"It 's what a girl ought to be able to do!"
"I am sure you are!" said Bernard.
She met his eyes, and she was going to make some rejoinder; but
before she had time to speak, her mother's little, clear, conciliatory
voice interposed. Mrs. Vivian appealed to her daughter, as she had
done the night before.
"Dear Angela, what was the name of the gentleman who delivered
that delightful course of lectures that we heard in Geneva, on-- what
was the title?--'The Redeeming Features of the Pagan Morality.' "
Angela flushed a little.
"I have quite forgotten his name, mamma," she said, without looking
"Come and sit by me, my dear, and we will talk them over. I wish
Mr. Wright to hear about them," Mrs. Vivian went on.
"Do you wish to convert him to paganism?" Bernard asked.
"The lectures were very dull; they had no redeeming features,"
said Angela, getting up, but turning away from her mother. She stood
looking at Bernard Longueville; he saw she was annoyed at her mother's
interference. "Every now and then," she said, "I take a turn through
the gaming-rooms. The last time, Captain Lovelock went with me. Will
you come to-night?"
Bernard assented with expressive alacrity; he was charmed with her
not wishing to break off her conversation with him.
"Ah, we 'll all go!" said Mrs. Vivian, who had been listening, and
she invited the others to accompany her to the Kursaal.
They left their places, but Angela went first, with Bernard
Longueville by her side; and the idea of her having publicly braved
her mother, as it were, for the sake of his society, lent for the
moment an almost ecstatic energy to his tread. If he had been tempted
to presume upon his triumph, however, he would have found a check in
the fact that the young girl herself tasted very soberly of the sweets
of defiance. She was silent and grave; she had a manner which took the
edge from the wantonness of filial independence. Yet, for all this,
Bernard was pleased with his position; and, as he walked with her
through the lighted and crowded rooms, where they soon detached
themselves from their companions, he felt that peculiar satisfaction
which best expresses itself in silence. Angela looked a while at the
rows of still, attentive faces, fixed upon the luminous green circle,
across which little heaps of louis d'or were being pushed to and fro,
and she continued to say nothing. Then at last she exclaimed simply,
"Come away!" They turned away and passed into another chamber, in
which there was no gambling. It was an immense apartment, apparently
a ball-room; but at present it was quite unoccupied. There were green
velvet benches all around it, and a great polished floor stretched
away, shining in the light of chandeliers adorned with innumerable
glass drops. Miss Vivian stood a moment on the threshold; then she
passed in, and they stopped in the middle of the place, facing each
other, and with their figures reflected as if they had been standing
on a sheet of ice. There was no one in the room; they were entirely
"Why don't you recognize me?" Bernard murmured quickly.
"Why do you seem to forget our meeting at Siena?"
She might have answered if she had answered immediately; but she
hesitated, and while she did so something happened at the other end of
the room which caused her to shift her glance. A green velvet porti;
agere suspended in one of the door-ways-- not that through which our
friends had passed--was lifted, and Gordon Wright stood there, holding
it up, and looking at them. His companions were behind him.
"Ah, here they are!" cried Gordon, in his loud, clear voice.
This appeared to strike Angela Vivian as an interruption, and
Bernard saw it very much in the same light.
He forbore to ask her his question again--she might tell him at
her convenience. But the days passed by, and she never told him--
she had her own reasons. Bernard talked with her very often;
conversation formed indeed the chief entertainment of the quiet
little circle of which he was a member. They sat on the terrace and
talked in the mingled starlight and lamplight, and they strolled in
the deep green forests and wound along the side of the gentle Baden
hills, under the influence of colloquial tendencies. The Black Forest
is a country of almost unbroken shade, and in the still days of
midsummer the whole place was covered with a motionless canopy of
verdure. Our friends were not extravagant or audacious people, and
they looked at Baden life very much from the outside--they sat aloof
from the brightly lighted drama of professional revelry. Among
themselves as well, however, a little drama went forward in which each
member of the company had a part to play. Bernard Longueville had been
surprised at first at what he would have called Miss Vivian's
approachableness-- at the frequency with which he encountered
opportunities for sitting near her and entering into conversation. He
had expected that Gordon Wright would deem himself to have established
an anticipatory claim upon the young lady's attention, and that, in
pursuance of this claim, he would occupy a recognized place at her
side. Gordon was, after all, wooing her; it was very natural he
should seek her society. In fact, he was never very far off; but
Bernard, for three or four days, had the anomalous consciousness of
being still nearer. Presently, however, he perceived that he owed
this privilege simply to his friend's desire that he should become
acquainted with Miss Vivian--should receive a vivid impression of a
person in whom Gordon was so deeply interested. After this result
might have been supposed to be attained, Gordon Wright stepped back
into his usual place and showed her those small civilities which were
the only homage that the quiet conditions of their life rendered
possible--walked with her, talked with her, brought her a book to
read, a chair to sit upon, a couple of flowers to place in the bosom
of her gown, treated her, in a word, with a sober but by no means
inexpressive gallantry. He had not been making violent love, as he
told Longueville, and these demonstrations were certainly not violent.
Bernard said to himself that if he were not in the secret, a
spectator would scarcely make the discovery that Gordon cherished an
even very safely tended flame. Angela Vivian, on her side, was not
strikingly responsive. There was nothing in her deportment to
indicate that she was in love with her systematic suitor. She was
perfectly gracious and civil. She smiled in his face when he shook
hands with her; she looked at him and listened when he talked; she let
him stroll beside her in the Lichtenthal Alley; she read, or appeared
to read, the books he lent her, and she decorated herself with the
flowers he offered. She seemed neither bored nor embarrassed, neither
irritated nor oppressed. But it was Bernard's belief that she took no
more pleasure in his attentions than a pretty girl must always take in
any recognition of her charms. "If she 's not indifferent," he said
to himself, "she is, at any rate, impartial--profoundly impartial."
It was not till the end of a week that Gordon Wright told him
exactly how his business stood with Miss Vivian and what he had reason
to expect and hope--a week during which their relations had been of
the happiest and most comfortable cast, and during which Bernard,
rejoicing in their long walks and talks, in the charming weather, in
the beauty and entertainment of the place, and in other things besides,
had not ceased to congratulate himself on coming to Baden. Bernard,
after the first day, had asked his friend no questions. He had a great
respect for opportunity, coming either to others or to himself, and he
left Gordon to turn his lantern as fitfully as might be upon the
subject which was tacitly open between them, but of which as yet only
the mere edges had emerged into light. Gordon, on his side, seemed
content for the moment with having his clever friend under his hand;
he reserved him for final appeal or for some other mysterious use.
"You can't tell me you don't know her now," he said, one evening
as the two young men strolled along the Lichtenthal Alley--"now that
you have had a whole week's observation of her."
"What is a week's observation of a singularly clever and
complicated woman?" Bernard asked.
"Ah, your week has been of some use. You have found out she is
complicated!" Gordon rejoined.
"My dear Gordon," Longueville exclaimed, "I don't see what it
signifies to you that I should find Miss Vivian out! When a man 's in
love, what need he care what other people think of the loved object?"
"It would certainly be a pity to care too much. But there is some
excuse for him in the loved object being, as you say, complicated."
"Nonsense! That 's no excuse. The loved object is always
Gordon walked on in silence a moment.
"Well, then, I don't care a button what you think!"
"Bravo! That 's the way a man should talk," cried Longueville.
Gordon indulged in another fit of meditation, and then he said--
"Now that leaves you at liberty to say what you please."
"Ah, my dear fellow, you are ridiculous!" said Bernard.
"That 's precisely what I want you to say. You always think me
"Well, I go back to my first assertion. I don't know Miss Vivian--
I mean I don't know her to have opinions about her. I don't suppose
you wish me to string you off a dozen mere banalites--'She 's a
charming girl--evidently a superior person--has a great deal of
"Oh no," said Gordon; "I know all that. But, at any rate," he
added, "you like her, eh?"
"I do more," said Longueville. "I admire her."
"Is that doing more?" asked Gordon, reflectively.
"Well, the greater, whichever it is, includes the less."
"You won't commit yourself," said Gordon. "My dear Bernard," he
added, "I thought you knew such an immense deal about women!"
Gordon Wright was of so kindly and candid a nature that it is
hardly conceivable that this remark should have been framed to make
Bernard commit himself by putting him on his mettle. Such a view would
imply indeed on Gordon's part a greater familiarity with the uses of
irony than he had ever possessed, as well as a livelier conviction of
the irritable nature of his friend's vanity. In fact, however, it may
be confided to the reader that Bernard was pricked in a tender place,
though the resentment of vanity was not visible in his answer.
"You were quite wrong," he simply said. "I am as ignorant of
women as a monk in his cloister."
"You try to prove too much. You don't think her sympathetic!" And
as regards this last remark, Gordon Wright must be credited with a
certain ironical impulse.
Bernard stopped impatiently.
"I ask you again, what does it matter to you what I think of her?"
"It matters in this sense--that she has refused me."
"Refused you? Then it is all over, and nothing matters."
"No, it is n't over," said Gordon, with a positive head-shake.
"Don't you see it is n't over?"
Bernard smiled, laid his hand on his friend's shoulder and patted
it a little.
"Your attitude might almost pass for that of resignation."
"I 'm not resigned!" said Gordon Wright.
"Of course not. But when were you refused?"
Gordon stood a minute with his eyes fixed on the ground. Then, at
last looking up,
"Three weeks ago--a fortnight before you came. But let us walk
along," he said, "and I will tell you all about it."
"I proposed to her three weeks ago," said Gordon, as they walked
along. "My heart was very much set upon it. I was very hard hit--I
was deeply smitten. She had been very kind to me--she had been
charming-- I thought she liked me. Then I thought her mother was
pleased, and would have liked it. Mrs. Vivian, in fact, told me as
much; for of course I spoke to her first. Well, Angela does like me--
or at least she did--and I see no reason to suppose she has changed.
Only she did n't like me enough. She said the friendliest and
pleasantest things to me, but she thought that she knew me too little,
and that I knew her even less. She made a great point of that-- that
I had no right, as yet, to trust her. I told her that if she would
trust me, I was perfectly willing to trust her; but she answered that
this was poor reasoning. She said that I was trustworthy and that she
was not, and--in short, all sorts of nonsense. She abused herself
roundly--accused herself of no end of defects."
"What defects, for instance?"
"Oh, I have n't remembered them. She said she had a bad temper--
that she led her mother a dreadful life. Now, poor Mrs. Vivian says
she is an angel."
"Ah yes," Bernard observed; "Mrs. Vivian says that, very freely."
"Angela declared that she was jealous, ungenerous, unforgiving--
all sorts of things. I remember she said 'I am very false,' and I
think she remarked that she was cruel."
"But this did n't put you off," said Bernard.
"Not at all. She was making up."
"She makes up very well!" Bernard exclaimed, laughing.
"Do you call that well?"
"I mean it was very clever."
"It was not clever from the point of view of wishing to discourage
"Possibly. But I am sure," said Bernard, "that if I had been
present at your interview--excuse the impudence of the hypothesis-- I
should have been struck with the young lady's--" and he paused a
"With her what?"
"With her ability."
"Well, her ability was not sufficient to induce me to give up my
idea. She told me that after I had known her six months I should
"I have no doubt she could make you do it if she should try. That
's what I mean by her ability."
"She calls herself cruel," said Gordon, "but she has not had the
cruelty to try. She has been very reasonable--she has been perfect.
I agreed with her that I would drop the subject for a while, and that
meanwhile we should be good friends. We should take time to know each
other better and act in accordance with further knowledge. There was
no hurry, since we trusted each other--wrong as my trust might be.
She had no wish that I should go away. I was not in the least
disagreeable to her; she liked me extremely, and I was perfectly free
to try and please her. Only I should drop my proposal, and be free to
take it up again or leave it alone, later, as I should choose. If she
felt differently then, I should have the benefit of it, and if I
myself felt differently, I should also have the benefit of it."
"That 's a very comfortable arrangement. And that 's your present
situation?" asked Bernard.
Gordon hesitated a moment.
"More or less, but not exactly."
"Miss Vivian feels differently?" said Bernard.
"Not that I know of."
Gordon's companion, with a laugh, clapped him on the shoulder
"Admirable youth, you are a capital match!"
"Are you alluding to my money?"
"To your money and to your modesty. There is as much of one as of
the other-- which is saying a great deal."
"Well," said Gordon, "in spite of that enviable combination, I am
"I thought you seemed pensive!" Bernard exclaimed. "It 's you,
then, who feel differently."
Gordon gave a sigh.
"To say that is to say too much."
"What shall we say, then?" his companion asked, kindly.
Gordon stopped again; he stood there looking up at a certain
particularly lustrous star which twinkled--the night was cloudy-- in
an open patch of sky, and the vague brightness shone down on his
honest and serious visage.
"I don't understand her," he said.
"Oh, I 'll say that with you any day!" cried Bernard. "I can't
help you there."
"You must help me;" and Gordon Wright deserted his star. "You must
keep me in good humor."
"Please to walk on, then. I don't in the least pity you; she is
very charming with you."
"True enough; but insisting on that is not the way to keep me in
good humor-- when I feel as I do."
"How is it you feel?"
"Puzzled to death--bewildered--depressed!"
This was but the beginning of Gordon Wright's list; he went on to
say that though he "thought as highly" of Miss Vivian as he had ever
done, he felt less at his ease with her than in the first weeks of
their acquaintance, and this condition made him uncomfortable and
"I don't know what 's the matter," said poor Gordon. "I don't know
what has come between us. It is n't her fault-- I don't make her
responsible for it. I began to notice it about a fortnight
ago--before you came; shortly after that talk I had with her that I
have just described to you. Her manner has n't changed and I have no
reason to suppose that she likes me any the less; but she makes a
strange impression on me--she makes me uneasy. It 's only her nature
coming out, I suppose--what you might call her originality. She 's
thoroughly original--she 's a kind of mysterious creature. I suppose
that what I feel is a sort of fascination; but that is just what I
don't like. Hang it, I don't want to be fascinated-- I object to
This little story had taken some time in the telling, so that the
two young men had now reached their hotel.
"Ah, my dear Gordon," said Bernard, "we speak a different language.
If you don't want to be fascinated, what is one to say to you?
'Object to being fascinated!' There 's a man easy to satisfy!
"Well, see here now," said Gordon, stopping in the door-way of the
inn; "when it comes to the point, do you like it yourself?"
"When it comes to the point?" Bernard exclaimed. "I assure you I
don't wait till then. I like the beginning--I delight in the approach
of it-- I revel in the prospect."
"That's just what I did. But now that the thing has come--I don't
revel. To be fascinated is to be mystified. Damn it, I like my
liberty-- I like my judgment!"
"So do I--like yours," said Bernard, laughing, as they took their
Bernard talked of this matter rather theoretically, inasmuch as to
his own sense, he was in a state neither of incipient nor of absorbed
fascination. He got on very easily, however, with Angela Vivian, and
felt none of the mysterious discomfort alluded to by his friend. The
element of mystery attached itself rather to the young lady's mother,
who gave him the impression that for undiscoverable reasons she
avoided his society. He regretted her evasive deportment, for he
found something agreeable in this shy and scrupulous little woman, who
struck him as a curious specimen of a society of which he had once
been very fond. He learned that she was of old New England stock, but
he had not needed this information to perceive that Mrs. Vivian was
animated by the genius of Boston. "She has the Boston temperament,"
he said, using a phrase with which he had become familiar and which
evoked a train of associations. But then he immediately added that if
Mrs. Vivian was a daughter of the Puritans, the Puritan strain in her
disposition had been mingled with another element. "It is the Boston
temperament sophisticated," he said; "perverted a little--perhaps even
corrupted. It is the local east-wind with an infusion from climates
less tonic." It seemed to him that Mrs. Vivian was a Puritan grown
worldly--a Bostonian relaxed; and this impression, oddly enough,
contributed to his wish to know more of her. He felt like going up to
her very politely and saying, "Dear lady and most honored compatriot,
what in the world have I done to displease you? You don't approve of
me, and I am dying to know the reason why. I should be so happy to
exert myself to be agreeable to you. It 's no use; you give me the
cold shoulder. When I speak to you, you look the other way; it is
only when I speak to your daughter that you look at me. It is true
that at those times you look at me very hard, and if I am not greatly
mistaken, you are not gratified by what you see. You count the words I
address to your beautiful Angela--you time our harmless little
interviews. You interrupt them indeed whenever you can; you call her
away--you appeal to her; you cut across the conversation. You are
always laying plots to keep us apart. Why can't you leave me alone? I
assure you I am the most innocent of men. Your beautiful Angela can't
possibly be injured by my conversation, and I have no designs whatever
upon her peace of mind. What on earth have I done to offend you?"
These observations Bernard Longueville was disposed to make, and
one afternoon, the opportunity offering, they rose to his lips and
came very near passing them. In fact, however, at the last moment,
his eloquence took another turn. It was the custom of the orchestra at
the Kursaal to play in the afternoon, and as the music was often good,
a great many people assembled under the trees, at three o'clock, to
listen to it. This was not, as a regular thing, an hour of re-union
for the little group in which we are especially interested; Miss
Vivian, in particular, unless an excursion of some sort had been
agreed upon the day before, was usually not to be seen in the
precincts of the Conversation-house until the evening. Bernard, one
afternoon, at three o'clock, directed his steps to this small
world-centre of Baden, and, passing along the terrace, soon
encountered little Blanche Evers strolling there under a pink parasol
and accompanied by Captain Lovelock. This young lady was always
extremely sociable; it was quite in accordance with her habitual
geniality that she should stop and say how d' ye do to our hero.
"Mr. Longueville is growing very frivolous," she said, "coming to
the Kursaal at all sorts of hours."
"There is nothing frivolous in coming here with the hope of finding
you," the young man answered. "That is very serious."
"It would be more serious to lose Miss Evers than to find her,"
remarked Captain Lovelock, with gallant jocosity.
"I wish you would lose me!" cried the young girl. "I think I
should like to be lost. I might have all kinds of adventures."
"I 'guess' so!" said Captain Lovelock, hilariously.
"Oh, I should find my way. I can take care of myself!" Blanche
"Mrs. Vivian does n't think so," said Bernard, who had just
perceived this lady, seated under a tree with a book, over the top of
which she was observing her pretty protege. Blanche looked toward her
and gave her a little nod and a smile. Then chattering on to the young
"She 's awfully careful. I never saw any one so careful. But I
suppose she is right. She promised my mother she would be
tremendously particular; but I don't know what she thinks I would do."
"That is n't flattering to me," said Captain Lovelock. "Mrs.
Vivian does n't approve of me--she wishes me in Jamaica. What does she
think me capable of?"
"And me, now?" Bernard asked. "She likes me least of all, and I,
on my side, think she 's so nice."
"Can't say I 'm very sweet on her," said the Captain. "She strikes
me as feline."
Blanche Evers gave a little cry of horror.
"Stop, sir, this instant! I won't have you talk that way about a
lady who has been so kind to me."
"She is n't so kind to you. She would like to lock you up where I
can never see you."
"I 'm sure I should n't mind that!" cried the young girl, with a
little laugh and a toss of her head. "Mrs. Vivian has the most
perfect character-- that 's why my mother wanted me to come with her.
And if she promised my mother she would be careful, is n't she right
to keep her promise? She 's a great deal more careful than mamma ever
was, and that 's just what mamma wanted. She would never take the
trouble herself. And then she was always scolding me. Mrs. Vivian
never scolds me. She only watches me, but I don't mind that."
"I wish she would watch you a little less and scold you a little
more," said Captain Lovelock.
"I have no doubt you wish a great many horrid things," his
companion rejoined, with delightful asperity.
"Ah, unfortunately I never have anything I wish!" sighed Lovelock.
"Your wishes must be comprehensive," said Bernard. "It seems to me
you have a good deal."
The Englishman gave a shrug.
"It 's less than you might think. She is watching us more
furiously than ever," he added, in a moment, looking at Mrs. Vivian.
"Mr. Gordon Wright is the only man she likes. She is awfully fond of
Mr. Gordon Wright."
"Ah, Mrs. Vivian shows her wisdom!" said Bernard.
"He is certainly very handsome," murmured Blanche Evers, glancing
several times, with a very pretty aggressiveness, at Captain Lovelock.
"I must say I like Mr. Gordon Wright. Why in the world did you come
here without him?" she went on, addressing herself to Bernard. "You
two are so awfully inseparable. I don't think I ever saw you alone
"Oh, I have often seen Mr. Gordon Wright alone," said Captain
Lovelock--"that is, alone with Miss Vivian. That 's what the old
lady likes; she can't have too much of that."
The young girl, poised for an instant in one of her pretty
attitudes, looked at him from head to foot.
"Well, I call that scandalous! Do you mean that she wants to make
"I mean that the young man has six thousand a year."
"It 's no matter what he has--six thousand a year is n't much! And
we don't do things in that way in our country. We have n't those
horrid match-making arrangements that you have in your dreadful
country. American mothers are not like English mothers."
"Oh, any one can see, of course," said Captain Lovelock, "that Mr.
Gordon Wright is dying of love for Miss Vivian."
"I can't see it!" cried Blanche.
"He dies easier than I, eh?"
"I wish you would die!" said Blanche. "At any rate, Angela is not
dying of love for Mr. Wright."
"Well, she will marry him all the same," Lovelock declared.
Blanche Evers glanced at Bernard.
"Why don't you contradict that?" she asked. "Why don't you speak
up for your friend?"
"I am quite ready to speak for my friend," said Bernard, "but I am
not ready to speak for Miss Vivian."
"Well, I am," Blanche declared. "She won't marry him."
"If she does n't, I 'll eat my hat!" said Captain Lovelock. "What
do you mean," he went on, "by saying that in America a pretty girl's
mother does n't care for a young fellow's property?"
"Well, they don't--we consider that dreadful. Why don't you say
so, Mr. Longueville?" Blanche demanded. "I never saw any one take
things so quietly. Have n't you got any patriotism?"
"My patriotism is modified by an indisposition to generalize,"
said Bernard, laughing. "On this point permit me not to generalize.
I am interested in the particular case--in ascertaining whether Mrs.
Vivian thinks very often of Gordon Wright's income."
Miss Evers gave a little toss of disgust.
"If you are so awfully impartial, you had better go and ask her."
"That 's a good idea--I think I will go and ask her," said Bernard.
Captain Lovelock returned to his argument.
"Do you mean to say that your mother would be indifferent to the
fact that I have n't a shilling in the world?"
"Indifferent?" Blanche demanded. "Oh no, she would be sorry for
you. She is very charitable--she would give you a shilling!"
"She would n't let you marry me," said Lovelock.
"She would n't have much trouble to prevent it!" cried the young
Bernard had had enough of this intellectual fencing.
"Yes, I will go and ask Mrs. Vivian," he repeated. And he left
his companions to resume their walk.
It had seemed to him a good idea to interrogate Mrs. Vivian; but
there are a great many good ideas that are never put into execution.
As he approached her with a smile and a salutation, and, with the air
of asking leave to take a liberty, seated himself in the empty chair
beside her, he felt a humorous relish of her own probable dismay
which relaxed the investigating impulse. His impulse was now simply
to prove to her that he was the most unobjectionable fellow in the
world-- a proposition which resolved itself into several ingenious
observations upon the weather, the music, the charms and the drawbacks
of Baden, the merits of the volume that she held in her lap. If Mrs.
Vivian should be annoyed, should be fluttered, Bernard would feel very
sorry for her; there was nothing in the world that he respected more
than the moral consciousness of a little Boston woman whose view of
life was serious and whose imagination was subject to alarms. He held
it to be a temple of delicacy, where one should walk on tiptoe, and he
wished to exhibit to Mrs. Vivian the possible lightness of his own
step. She herself was incapable of being rude or ungracious, and now
that she was fairly confronted with the plausible object of her
mistrust, she composed herself to her usual attitude of refined
liberality. Her book was a volume of Victor Cousin.
"You must have an extraordinary power of abstracting your mind,"
Bernard said to her, observing it. "Studying philosophy at the Baden
Kursaal strikes me as a real intellectual feat."
"Don't you think we need a little philosophy here?"
"By all means--what we bring with us. But I should n't attempt
the use of the text-book on the spot."
"You should n't speak of yourself as if you were not clever," said
Mrs. Vivian. "Every one says you are so very clever."
Longueville stared; there was an unexpectedness in the speech and
an incongruity in Mrs. Vivian's beginning to flatter him. He needed to
remind himself that if she was a Bostonian, she was a Bostonian
"Ah, my dear madam, every one is no one," he said, laughing.
"It was Mr. Wright, in particular," she rejoined. "He has always
told us that."
"He is blinded by friendship."
"Ah yes, we know about your friendship," said Mrs. Vivian. "He has
told us about that."
"You are making him out a terrible talker!"
"We think he talks so well--we are so very fond of his
"It 's usually excellent," said Bernard. "But it depends a good
deal on the subject."
"Oh," rejoined Mrs. Vivian, "we always let him choose his
subjects." And dropping her eyes as if in sudden reflection, she began
to smooth down the crumpled corner of her volume.
It occurred to Bernard that--by some mysterious impulse-- she was
suddenly presenting him with a chance to ask her the question that
Blanche Evers had just suggested. Two or three other things as well
occurred to him. Captain Lovelock had been struck with the fact that
she favored Gordon Wright's addresses to her daughter, and Captain
Lovelock had a grotesque theory that she had set her heart upon
seeing this young lady come into six thousand a year. Miss Evers's
devoted swain had never struck Bernard as a brilliant reasoner, but
our friend suddenly found himself regarding him as one of the
inspired. The form of depravity into which the New England conscience
had lapsed on Mrs. Vivian's part was an undue appreciation of a
possible son-in-law's income! In this illuminating discovery
everything else became clear. Mrs. Vivian disliked her humble servant
because he had not thirty thousand dollars a year, and because at a
moment when it was Angela's prime duty to concentrate her thoughts
upon Gordon Wright's great advantages, a clever young man of paltry
fortune was a superfluous diversion.
"When you say clever, everything is relative," he presently
observed. "Now, there is Captain Lovelock; he has a certain kind of
cleverness; he is very observant."
Mrs. Vivian glanced up with a preoccupied air.
"We don't like Captain Lovelock," she said.
"I have heard him say capital things," Bernard answered.
"We think him brutal," said Mrs. Vivian. "Please don't praise
"Oh, I only want to be just."
Mrs. Vivian for a moment said nothing.
"Do you want very much to be just?" she presently asked.
"It 's my most ardent desire."
"I 'm glad to hear that--and I can easily believe it," said Mrs.
Bernard gave her a grateful smile, but while he smiled, he asked
himself a serious question. "Why the deuce does she go on flattering
me?--You have always been very kind to me," he said aloud.
"It 's on Mr. Wright's account," she answered demurely.
In speaking the words I have just quoted, Bernard Longueville had
felt himself, with a certain compunction, to be skirting the edge of
clever impudence; but Mrs. Vivian's quiet little reply suggested to
him that her cleverness, if not her impudence, was almost equal to his
own. He remarked to himself that he had not yet done her justice.
"You bring everything back to Gordon Wright," he said, continuing
Mrs. Vivian blushed a little.
"It is because he is really at the foundation of everything that
is pleasant for us here. When we first came we had some very
disagreeable rooms, and as soon as he arrived he found us some
excellent ones--that were less expensive. And then, Mr. Longueville,"
she added, with a soft, sweet emphasis which should properly have
contradicted the idea of audacity, but which, to Bernard's awakened
sense, seemed really to impart a vivid color to it, "he was also the
cause of your joining our little party."
"Oh, among his services that should never be forgotten. You should
set up a tablet to commemorate it, in the wall of the Kursaal!-- The
wicked little woman!" Bernard mentally subjoined.
Mrs. Vivian appeared quite unruffled by his sportive sarcasm, and
she continued to enumerate her obligations to Gordon Wright.
"There are so many ways in which a gentleman can be of assistance
to three poor lonely women, especially when he is at the same time so
friendly and so delicate as Mr. Wright. I don't know what we should
have done without him, and I feel as if every one ought to know it.
He seems like a very old friend. My daughter and I quite worship him.
I will not conceal from you that when I saw you coming through the
grounds a short time ago without him I was very much disappointed. I
hope he is not ill."
Bernard sat listening, with his eyes on the ground.
"Oh no, he is simply at home writing letters."
Mrs. Vivian was silent a moment.
"I suppose he has a very large correspondence."
"I really don't know. Just now that I am with him he has a smaller
one than usual."
"Ah yes. When you are separated I suppose you write volumes to
each other. But he must have a great many business letters."
"It is very likely," said Bernard. "And if he has, you may be sure
he writes them."
"Order and method!" Mrs. Vivian exclaimed. "With his immense
property those virtues are necessary."
Bernard glanced at her a moment.
"My dear Lovelock," he said to himself, "you are not such a fool as
you seem.-- Gordon's virtues are always necessary, doubtless," he went
on. "But should you say his property was immense?"
Mrs. Vivian made a delicate little movement of deprecation. "Oh,
don't ask me to say! I know nothing about it; I only supposed he was
"He is rich; but he is not a Croesus."
"Oh, you fashionable young men have a standard of luxury!" said
Mrs. Vivian, with a little laugh. "To a poverty-stricken widow such a
fortune as Mr. Wright's seems magnificent."
"Don't call me such horrible names!" exclaimed Bernard. "Our
friend has certainly money enough and to spare."
"That was all I meant. He once had occasion to allude to his
property, but he was so modest, so reserved in the tone he took about
it, that one hardly knew what to think."
"He is ashamed of being rich," said Bernard. "He would be sure to
represent everything unfavorably."
"That 's just what I thought!" This ejaculation was more eager
than Mrs. Vivian might have intended, but even had it been less so,
Bernard was in a mood to appreciate it. "I felt that we should make
allowances for his modesty. But it was in very good taste," Mrs.
"He 's a fortunate man," said Bernard. "He gets credit for his
good taste-- and he gets credit for the full figure of his income as
"Ah," murmured Mrs. Vivian, rising lightly, as if to make her words
appear more casual, "I don't know the full figure of his income. "
She was turning away, and Bernard, as he raised his hat and
separated from her, felt that it was rather cruel that he should let
her go without enlightening her ignorance. But he said to himself that
she knew quite enough. Indeed, he took a walk along the Lichtenthal
Alley and carried out this line of reflection. Whether or no Miss
Vivian were in love with Gordon Wright, her mother was enamored of
Gordon's fortune, and it had suddenly occurred to her that instead of
treating the friend of her daughter's suitor with civil mistrust, she
would help her case better by giving him a hint of her state of mind
and appealing to his sense of propriety. Nothing could be more natural
than that Mrs. Vivian should suppose that Bernard desired his friend's
success; for, as our thoughtful hero said to himself, what she had
hitherto taken it into her head to fear was not that Bernard should
fall in love with her daughter, but that her daughter should fall in
love with him. Watering-place life is notoriously conducive to
idleness of mind, and Bernard strolled for half an hour along the
overarched avenue, glancing alternately at these two insupposable
A few days afterward, late in the evening, Gordon Wright came to
his room at the hotel.
"I have just received a letter from my sister," he said. "I am
afraid I shall have to go away."
"Ah, I 'm sorry for that," said Bernard, who was so well pleased
with the actual that he desired no mutation.
"I mean only for a short time," Gordon explained. "My poor sister
writes from England, telling me that my brother-in-law is suddenly
obliged to go home. She has decided not to remain behind, and they are
to sail a fortnight hence. She wants very much to see me before she
goes, and as I don't know when I shall see her again, I feel as if I
ought to join her immediately and spend the interval with her. That
will take about a fortnight."
"I appreciate the sanctity of family ties and I project myself
into your situation," said Bernard. "On the other hand, I don't envy
you a breathless journey from Baden to Folkestone."
"It 's the coming back that will be breathless," exclaimed Gordon,
"You will certainly come back, then?"
"Most certainly. Mrs. Vivian is to be here another month."
"I understand. Well, we shall miss you very much."
Gordon Wright looked for a moment at his companion.
"You will stay here, then? I am so glad of that."
"I was taking it for granted; but on reflection--what do you
"I recommend you to stay."
"My dear fellow, your word is law," said Bernard.
"I want you to take care of those ladies," his friend went on. "I
don't like to leave them alone."
"You are joking!" cried Bernard. "When did you ever hear of my
'taking care' of any one? It 's as much as I can do to take care of
"This is very easy," said Gordon. "I simply want to feel that they
have a man about them."
"They will have a man at any rate--they have the devoted Lovelock."
"That 's just why I want them to have another. He has only an eye
to Miss Evers, who, by the way, is extremely bored with him. You look
after the others. You have made yourself very agreeable to them, and
they like you extremely."
"Ah," said Bernard, laughing, "if you are going to be coarse and
flattering, I collapse. If you are going to titillate my vanity, I
"It won't be so disagreeable," Gordon observed, with an intention
"Oh no, it won't be disagreeable. I will go to Mrs. Vivian every
morning, hat in hand, for my orders."
Gordon Wright, with his hands in his pockets and a meditative
expression, took several turns about the room.
"It will be a capital chance," he said, at last, stopping in front
of his companion.
"A chance for what?"
"A chance to arrive at a conclusion about my young friend."
Bernard gave a gentle groan.
"Are you coming back to that? Did n't I arrive at a conclusion
long ago? Did n't I tell you she was a delightful girl?"
"Do you call that a conclusion? The first comer could tell me
that at the end of an hour."
"Do you want me to invent something different?" Bernard asked. "I
can't invent anything better."
"I don't want you to invent anything. I only want you to observe
her-- to study her in complete independence. You will have her to
yourself-- my absence will leave you at liberty. Hang it, sir,"
Gordon declared, "I should think you would like it!"
"Damn it, sir, you 're delicious!" Bernard answered; and he broke
into an irrepressible laugh. "I don't suppose it 's for my pleasure
that you suggest the arrangement."
Gordon took a turn about the room again.
"No, it 's for mine. At least, it 's for my benefit."
"For your benefit?"
"I have got all sorts of ideas--I told you the other day. They are
all mixed up together and I want a fresh impression."
"My impressions are never fresh," Bernard replied.
"They would be if you had a little good-will--if you entered a
little into my dilemma." The note of reproach was so distinct in
these words that Bernard stood staring. "You never take anything
seriously," his companion went on.
Bernard tried to answer as seriously as possible.
"Your dilemma seems to me of all dilemmas the strangest."
"That may be; but different people take things differently. Don't
you see," Gordon went on with a sudden outbreak of passion--"don't you
see that I am horribly divided in mind? I care immensely for Angela
Vivian--and yet--and yet--I am afraid of her."
"Afraid of her?"
"I am afraid she 's cleverer than I--that she would be a difficult
wife; that she might do strange things."
"What sort of things?"
"Well, that she might flirt, for instance."
"That 's not a thing for a man to fear."
"Not when he supposes his wife to be fond of him--no. But I don't
suppose that--I have given that up. If I should induce Angela Vivian
to accept me she would do it on grounds purely reasonable. She would
think it best, simply. That would give her a chance to repent."
Bernard sat for some time looking at his friend.
"You say she is cleverer than you. It 's impossible to be cleverer
"Oh, come, Longueville!" said Gordon, angrily.
"I am speaking very seriously. You have done a remarkably clever
thing. You have impressed me with the reality, and with--what shall I
term it?-- the estimable character of what you call your dilemma. Now
this fresh impression of mine--what do you propose to do with it when
you get it?"
"Such things are always useful. It will be a good thing to have."
"I am much obliged to you; but do you propose to let anything
depend upon it? Do you propose to take or to leave Miss Vivian--that
is, to return to the charge or to give up trying--in consequence of my
Gordon seemed perfectly unembarrassed by this question, in spite
of the ironical light which it projected upon his sentimental
"I propose to do what I choose!" he said.
"That 's a relief to me," Bernard rejoined. "This idea of yours
is, after all, only the play of the scientific mind."
"I shall contradict you flat if I choose," Gordon went on.
"Ah, it 's well to warn me of that," said Bernard, laughing. "Even
the most sincere judgment in the world likes to be notified a little
of the danger of being contradicted."
"Is yours the most sincere judgment in the world?" Gordon
"That 's a very pertinent question. Does n't it occur to you that
you may have reason to be jealous--leaving me alone, with an open
field, with the woman of your choice?"
"I wish to heaven I could be jealous!" Gordon exclaimed. "That
would simplify the thing--that would give me a lift."
And the next day, after some more talk, it seemed really with a
hope of this contingency--though, indeed, he laughed about it-- that
he started for England.
For the three or four days that followed Gordon Wright's departure,
Bernard saw nothing of the ladies who had been committed to his
charge. They chose to remain in seclusion, and he was at liberty to
interpret this fact as an expression of regret at the loss of Gordon's
good offices. He knew other people at Baden, and he went to see them
and endeavored, by cultivating their society, to await in patience the
re-appearance of Mrs. Vivian and her companions. But on the fourth
day he became conscious that other people were much less interesting
than the trio of American ladies who had lodgings above the
confectioner's, and he made bold to go and knock at their door. He
had been asked to take care of them, and this function presupposed
contact. He had met Captain Lovelock the day before, wandering about
with a rather crest-fallen aspect, and the young Englishman had
questioned him eagerly as to the whereabouts of Mrs. Vivian.
"Gad, I believe they 've left the place--left the place without
giving a fellow warning!" cried Lovelock.
"Oh no, I think they are here still," said Bernard. "My friend
Wright has gone away for a week or two, but I suspect the ladies are
simply staying at home."
"Gad, I was afraid your friend Wright had taken them away with him;
he seems to keep them all in his pocket. I was afraid he had given
them marching orders; they 'd have been sure to go--they 're so
awfully fond of his pocket! I went to look them up yesterday--upon my
word I did. They live at a baker's in a little back-street; people do
live in rum places when they come abroad! But I assure you, when I
got there, I 'm damned if I could make out whether they were there or
not. I don't speak a word of German, and there was no one there but
the baker's wife. She was a low brute of a woman--she could n't
understand a word I said, though she gave me plenty of her own tongue.
I had to give it up. They were not at home, but whether they had left
Baden or not--that was beyond my finding out. If they are here, why
the deuce don't they show? Fancy coming to Baden-Baden to sit moping
at a pastry-cook's!"
Captain Lovelock was evidently irritated, and it was Bernard's
impression that the turn of luck over yonder where the gold-pieces
were chinking had something to do with the state of his temper. But
more fortunate himself, he ascertained from the baker's wife that
though Mrs. Vivian and her daughter had gone out, their companion,
"the youngest lady--the little young lady"-- was above in the
Blanche Evers was sitting at the window with a book, but she
relinquished the volume with an alacrity that showed it had not been
absorbing, and began to chatter with her customary frankness.
"Well, I must say I am glad to see some one!" cried the young girl,
passing before the mirror and giving a touch to her charming tresses.
"Even if it 's only me," Bernard exclaimed, laughing.
"I did n't mean that. I am sure I am very glad to see you-- I
should think you would have found out that by this time. I mean I 'm
glad to see any one--especially a man. I suppose it 's improper for me
to say that--especially to you! There--you see I do think more of you
than of some gentlemen. Why especially to you? Well, because you
always seem to me to want to take advantage. I did n't say a base
advantage; I did n't accuse you of anything dreadful. I 'm sure I
want to take advantage, too--I take it whenever I can. You see I take
advantage of your being here--I 've got so many things to say. I have
n't spoken a word in three days, and I 'm sure it is a pleasant
change--a gentleman's visit. All of a sudden we have gone into
mourning; I 'm sure I don't know who 's dead. Is it Mr. Gordon
Wright? It 's some idea of Mrs. Vivian's--I 'm sure it is n't mine.
She thinks we have been often enough to the Kursaal. I don't know
whether she thinks it 's wicked, or what. If it 's wicked the harm 's
already done; I can't be any worse than I am now. I have seen all the
improper people and I have learnt all their names; Captain Lovelock
has told me their names, plenty of times. I don't see what good it
does me to be shut up here with all those names running in my ears. I
must say I do prefer society. We have n't been to the Kursaal for four
days--we have only gone out for a drive. We have taken the most
interminable drives. I do believe we have seen every old ruin in the
whole country. Mrs. Vivian and Angela are so awfully fond of
scenery--they talk about it by the half-hour. They talk about the
mountains and trees as if they were people they knew--as if they were
gentlemen! I mean as if the mountains and trees were gentlemen. Of
course scenery 's lovely, but you can't walk about with a tree. At any
rate, that has been all our society--foliage! Foliage and women; but I
suppose women are a sort of foliage. They are always rustling about
and dropping off. That 's why I could n't make up my mind to go out
with them this afternoon. They 've gone to see the Waterworths--the
Waterworths arrived yesterday and are staying at some hotel. Five
daughters-- all unmarried! I don't know what kind of foliage they
are; some peculiar kind--they don't drop off. I thought I had had
about enough ladies' society--three women all sticking together! I
don't think it 's good for a young girl to have nothing but ladies'
society--it 's so awfully limited. I suppose I ought to stand up for
my own sex and tell you that when we are alone together we want for
nothing. But we want for everything, as it happens! Women's talk is
limited--every one knows that. That 's just what mamma did n't want
when she asked Mrs. Vivian to take charge of me. Now, Mr.
Longueville, what are you laughing at?-- you are always laughing at
me. She wanted me to be unlimited-- is that what you say? Well, she
did n't want me to be narrowed down; she wanted me to have plenty of
conversation. She wanted me to be fitted for society--that 's what
mamma wanted. She wanted me to have ease of manner; she thinks that if
you don't acquire it when you are young you never have it at all. She
was so happy to think I should come to Baden; but she would n't
approve of the life I 've been leading the last four days. That 's no
way to acquire ease of manner--sitting all day in a small parlor with
two persons of one's own sex! Of course Mrs. Vivian's influence--that
's the great thing. Mamma said it was like the odor of a flower. But
you don't want to keep smelling a flower all day, even the sweetest;
that 's the shortest way to get a headache. Apropos of flowers, do
you happen to have heard whether Captain Lovelock is alive or dead?
Do I call him a flower? No; I call him a flower-pot. He always has
some fine young plant in his button-hole. He has n't been near me
these ten years--I never heard of anything so rude!"
Captain Lovelock came on the morrow, Bernard finding him in Mrs.
Vivian's little sitting-room on paying a second visit. On this
occasion the two other ladies were at home and Bernard was not
exclusively indebted to Miss Evers for entertainment. It was to this
source of hospitality, however, that Lovelock mainly appealed,
following the young girl out upon the little balcony that was
suspended above the confectioner's window. Mrs. Vivian sat writing at
one of the windows of the sitting-room, and Bernard addressed his
conversation to Angela.
"Wright requested me to keep an eye on you," he said; "but you seem
very much inclined to keep out of my jurisdiction."
"I supposed you had gone away," she answered--"now that your friend
"By no means. Gordon is a charming fellow, but he is by no means
the only attraction of Baden. Besides, I have promised him to look
after you-- to take care of you."
The girl looked at him a moment in silence--a little askance.
"I thought you had probably undertaken something of that sort,"
she presently said.
"It was of course a very natural request for Gordon to make."
Angela got up and turned away; she wandered about the room and went
and stood at one of the windows. Bernard found the movement abrupt
and not particularly gracious; but the young man was not easy to snub.
He followed her, and they stood at the second window--the long window
that opened upon the balcony. Miss Evers and Captain Lovelock were
leaning on the railing, looking into the street and apparently amusing
themselves highly with what they saw.
"I am not sure it was a natural request for him to make," said
"What could have been more so--devoted as he is to you?"
She hesitated a moment; then with a little laugh--
"He ought to have locked us up and said nothing about it."
"It 's not so easy to lock you up," said Bernard. "I know Wright
has great influence with you, but you are after all independent
"I am not an independent being. If my mother and Mr. Wright were
to agree together to put me out of harm's way they could easily manage
"You seem to have been trying something of that sort," said
Bernard. "You have been so terribly invisible."
"It was because I thought you had designs upon us; that you were
watching for us--to take care of us."
"You contradict yourself! You said just now that you believed I
had left Baden."
"That was an artificial--a conventional speech. Is n't a lady
always supposed to say something of that sort to a visitor by way of
pretending to have noticed that she has not seen him?"
"You know I would never have left Baden without coming to bid you
good-bye," said Bernard.
The girl made no rejoinder; she stood looking out at the little
sunny, slanting, rough-paved German street.
"Are you taking care of us now?" she asked in a moment. "Has the
operation begun? Have you heard the news, mamma?" she went on. "Do
you know that Mr. Wright has made us over to Mr. Longueville, to be
kept till called for? Suppose Mr. Wright should never call for us!"
Mrs. Vivian left her writing-table and came toward Bernard,
smiling at him and pressing her hands together.
"There is no fear of that, I think," she said. "I am sure I am
very glad we have a gentleman near us. I think you will be a very good
care-taker, Mr. Longueville, and I recommend my daughter to put great
faith in your judgment." And Mrs. Vivian gave him an intense--a
pleading, almost affecting-- little smile.
"I am greatly touched by your confidence and I shall do everything
I can think of to merit it," said the young man.
"Ah, mamma's confidence is wonderful!" Angela exclaimed. "There
was never anything like mamma's confidence. I am very different; I
have no confidence. And then I don't like being deposited, like a
parcel, or being watched, like a curious animal. I am too fond of my
"That is the second time you have contradicted yourself," said
Bernard. "You said just now that you were not an independent being."
Angela turned toward him quickly, smiling and frowning at once.
"You do watch one, certainly! I see it has already begun." Mrs.
Vivian laid her hand upon her daughter's with a little murmur of
tender deprecation, and the girl bent over and kissed her. "Mamma will
tell you it 's the effect of agitation," she said--"that I am nervous,
and don't know what I say. I am supposed to be agitated by Mr.
Wright's departure; is n't that it, mamma?"
Mrs. Vivian turned away, with a certain soft severity.
"I don't know, my daughter. I don't understand you."
A charming pink flush had come into Angela's cheek and a noticeable
light into her eye. She looked admirably handsome, and Bernard
frankly gazed at her. She met his gaze an instant, and then she went
"Mr. Longueville does n't understand me either. You must know
that I am agitated," she continued. "Every now and then I have
moments of talking nonsense. It 's the air of Baden, I think; it 's
too exciting. It 's only lately I have been so. When you go away I
shall be horribly ashamed."
"If the air of Baden has such an effect upon you," said Bernard,
"it is only a proof the more that you need the solicitous attention
of your friends."
"That may be; but, as I told you just now, I have no confidence--
none whatever, in any one or anything. Therefore, for the present, I
shall withdraw from the world--I shall seclude myself. Let us go on
being quiet, mamma. Three or four days of it have been so charming.
Let the parcel lie till it 's called for. It is much safer it should
n't be touched at all. I shall assume that, metaphorically speaking,
Mr. Wright, who, as you have intimated, is our earthly providence, has
turned the key upon us. I am locked up. I shall not go out, except
upon the balcony!" And with this, Angela stepped out of the long
window and went and stood beside Miss Evers.
Bernard was extremely amused, but he was also a good deal puzzled,
and it came over him that it was not a wonder that poor Wright should
not have found this young lady's disposition a perfectly decipherable
page. He remained in the room with Mrs. Vivian--he stood there looking
at her with his agreeably mystified smile. She had turned away, but
on perceiving that her daughter had gone outside she came toward
Bernard again, with her habitual little air of eagerness mitigated by
discretion. There instantly rose before his mind the vision of that
moment when he had stood face to face with this same apologetic mamma,
after Angela had turned her back, on the grass-grown terrace at Siena.
To make the vision complete, Mrs. Vivian took it into her head to
utter the same words.
"I am sure you think she is a strange girl."
Bernard recognized them, and he gave a light laugh.
"You told me that the first time you ever saw me--in that quiet
little corner of an Italian town."
Mrs. Vivian gave a little faded, elderly blush.
"Don't speak of that," she murmured, glancing at the open window.
"It was a little accident of travel."
"I am dying to speak of it," said Bernard. "It was such a charming
accident for me! Tell me this, at least--have you kept my sketch?"
Mrs. Vivian colored more deeply and glanced at the window again.
"No," she just whispered.
Bernard looked out of the window too. Angela was leaning against
the railing of the balcony, in profile, just as she had stood while he
painted her, against the polished parapet at Siena. The young man's
eyes rested on her a moment, then, as he glanced back at her mother:
"Has she kept it?" he asked.
"I don't know," said Mrs. Vivian, with decision.
The decision was excessive--it expressed the poor lady's distress
at having her veracity tested. "Dear little daughter of the
Puritans-- she can't tell a fib!" Bernard exclaimed to himself. And
with this flattering conclusion he took leave of her.
It was affirmed at an early stage of this narrative that he was a
young man of a contemplative and speculative turn, and he had perhaps
never been more true to his character than during an hour or two that
evening as he sat by himself on the terrace of the Conversation-house,
surrounded by the crowd of its frequenters, but lost in his
meditations. The place was full of movement and sound, but he had
tilted back his chair against the great green box of an orange-tree,
and in this easy attitude, vaguely and agreeably conscious of the
music, he directed his gaze to the star-sprinkled vault of the night.
There were people coming and going whom he knew, but he said nothing
to any one--he preferred to be alone; he found his own company quite
absorbing. He felt very happy, very much amused, very curiously
preoccupied. The feeling was a singular one. It partook of the nature
of intellectual excitement. He had a sense of having received carte
blanche for the expenditure of his wits. Bernard liked to feel his
intelligence at play; this is, perhaps, the highest luxury of a clever
man. It played at present over the whole field of Angela Vivian's
oddities of conduct--for, since his visit in the afternoon, Bernard
had felt that the spectacle was considerably enlarged. He had come to
feel, also, that poor Gordon's predicament was by no means an
unnatural one. Longueville had begun to take his friend's dilemma
very seriously indeed. The girl was certainly a curious study.
The evening drew to a close and the crowd of Bernard's
fellow-loungers dispersed. The lighted windows of the Kursaal still
glittered in the bosky darkness, and the lamps along the terrace had
not been extinguished; but the great promenade was almost deserted;
here and there only a lingering couple-- the red tip of a cigar and
the vague radiance of a light dress-- gave animation to the place.
But Bernard sat there still in his tilted chair, beneath his
orange-tree; his imagination had wandered very far and he was awaiting
its return to the fold. He was on the point of rising, however, when
he saw three figures come down the empty vista of the terrace--
figures which even at a distance had a familiar air. He immediately
left his seat and, taking a dozen steps, recognized Angela Vivian,
Blanche Evers and Captain Lovelock. In a moment he met them in the
middle of the terrace.
Blanche immediately announced that they had come for a midnight
"And if you think it 's improper," she exclaimed, "it 's not my
invention-- it 's Miss Vivian's."
"I beg pardon--it 's mine," said Captain Lovelock. "I desire the
credit of it. I started the idea; you never would have come without
"I think it would have been more proper to come without you than
with you," Blanche declared. "You know you 're a dreadful character."
"I 'm much worse when I 'm away from you than when I 'm with you,"
said Lovelock. "You keep me in order."
The young girl gave a little cry.
"I don't know what you call order! You can't be worse than you
have been to-night."
Angela was not listening to this; she turned away a little,
looking about at the empty garden.
"This is the third time to-day that you have contradicted
yourself," he said. Though he spoke softly he went nearer to her; but
she appeared not to hear him--she looked away.
"You ought to have been there, Mr. Longueville," Blanche went on.
"We have had a most lovely night; we sat all the evening on Mrs.
Vivian's balcony, eating ices. To sit on a balcony, eating ices--
that 's my idea of heaven."
"With an angel by your side," said Captain Lovelock.
"You are not my idea of an angel," retorted Blanche.
"I 'm afraid you 'll never learn what the angels are really like,"
said the Captain. "That 's why Miss Evers got Mrs. Vivian to take
rooms over the baker's--so that she could have ices sent up several
times a day. Well, I 'm bound to say the baker's ices are not bad."
"Considering that they have been baked! But they affect the mind,"
Blanche went on. "They would have affected Captain Lovelock's-- only
he has n't any. They certainly affected Angela's-- putting it into
her head, at eleven o'clock, to come out to walk."
Angela did nothing whatever to defend herself against this
ingenious sally; she simply stood there in graceful abstraction.
Bernard was vaguely vexed at her neither looking at him nor speaking
to him; her indifference seemed a contravention of that right of
criticism which Gordon had bequeathed to him.
"I supposed people went to bed at eleven o'clock," he said.
Angela glanced about her, without meeting his eye.
"They seem to have gone."
Miss Evers strolled on, and her Captain of course kept pace with
her; so that Bernard and Miss Vivian were left standing together. He
looked at her a moment in silence, but her eye still avoided his own.
"You are remarkably inconsistent," Bernard presently said. "You
take a solemn vow of seclusion this afternoon, and no sooner have you
taken it than you proceed to break it in this outrageous manner."
She looked at him now--a long time--longer than she had ever done
"This is part of the examination, I suppose," she said.
Bernard hesitated an instant.
"The one you have undertaken--on Mr. Wright's behalf."
"What do you know about that?"
"Ah, you admit it then?" the girl exclaimed, with an eager laugh.
"I don't in the least admit it," said Bernard, conscious only for
the moment of the duty of loyalty to his friend and feeling that
negation here was simply a point of honor.
"I trust more to my own conviction than to your denial. You have
engaged to bring your superior wisdom and your immense experience to
bear upon me! That 's the understanding."
"You must think us a pretty pair of wiseacres," said Bernard.
"There it is--you already begin to answer for what I think. When
Mr. Wright comes back you will be able to tell him that I am
'outrageous'!" And she turned away and walked on, slowly following her
"What do you care what I tell him?" Bernard asked. "You don't
care a straw."
She said nothing for a moment, then, suddenly, she stopped again,
dropping her eyes.
"I beg your pardon," she said, very gently; "I care a great deal.
It 's as well that you should know that."
Bernard stood looking at her; her eyes were still lowered.
"Do you know what I shall tell him? I shall tell him that about
eleven o'clock at night you become peculiarly attractive."
She went on again a few steps; Miss Evers and Captain Lovelock had
turned round and were coming toward her.
"It is very true that I am outrageous," she said; "it was
extremely silly and in very bad taste to come out at this hour. Mamma
was not at all pleased, and I was very unkind to her. I only wanted to
take a turn, and now we will go back." On the others coming up she
announced this resolution, and though Captain Lovelock and his
companion made a great outcry, she carried her point. Bernard offered
no opposition. He contented himself with walking back to her mother's
lodging with her almost in silence. The little winding streets were
still and empty; there was no sound but the chatter and laughter of
Blanche and her attendant swain. Angela said nothing.
This incident presented itself at first to Bernard's mind as a
sort of declaration of war. The girl had guessed that she was to be
made a subject of speculative scrutiny. The idea was not agreeable to
her independent spirit, and she placed herself boldly on the
defensive. She took her stand upon her right to defeat his purpose by
every possible means-- to perplex, elude, deceive him--in plain
English, to make a fool of him. This was the construction which for
several days Bernard put upon her deportment, at the same time that he
thought it immensely clever of her to have guessed what had been going
on in his mind. She made him feel very much ashamed of his critical
attitude, and he did everything he could think of to put her off her
guard and persuade her that for the moment he had ceased to be an
observer. His position at moments seemed to him an odious one, for he
was firmly resolved that between him and the woman to whom his friend
had proposed there should be nothing in the way of a vulgar
flirtation. Under the circumstances, it savoured both of flirtation
and of vulgarity that they should even fall out with each other-- a
consummation which appeared to be more or less definitely impending.
Bernard remarked to himself that his own only reasonable line of
conduct would be instantly to leave Baden, but I am almost ashamed to
mention the fact which led him to modify this decision. It was simply
that he was induced to make the reflection that he had really
succeeded in putting Miss Vivian off her guard. How he had done so he
would have found it difficult to explain, inasmuch as in one way or
another, for a week, he had spent several hours in talk with her. The
most effective way of putting her off her guard would have been to
leave her alone, to forswear the privilege of conversation with her,
to pass the days in other society. This course would have had the
drawback of not enabling him to measure the operation of so ingenious
a policy, and Bernard liked, of all the things in the world, to know
when he was successful. He believed, at all events, that he was
successful now, and that the virtue of his conversation itself had
persuaded this keen and brilliant girl that he was thinking of
anything in the world but herself. He flattered himself that the civil
indifference of his manner, the abstract character of the topics he
selected, the irrelevancy of his allusions and the laxity of his
attention, all contributed to this result.
Such a result was certainly a remarkable one, for it is almost
superfluous to intimate that Miss Vivian was, in fact, perpetually in
his thoughts. He made it a point of conscience not to think of her,
but he was thinking of her most when his conscience was most lively.
Bernard had a conscience-- a conscience which, though a little
irregular in its motions, gave itself in the long run a great deal of
exercise; but nothing could have been more natural than that, curious,
imaginative, audacious as he was, and delighting, as I have said, in
the play of his singularly nimble intelligence, he should have given
himself up to a sort of unconscious experimentation. "I will leave her
alone--I will be hanged if I attempt to draw her out!" he said to
himself; and meanwhile he was roaming afield and plucking personal
impressions in great fragrant handfuls. All this, as I say, was
natural, given the man and the situation; the only oddity is that he
should have fancied himself able to persuade the person most
interested that he had renounced his advantage.
He remembered her telling him that she cared very much what he
should say of her on Gordon Wright's return, and he felt that this
declaration had a particular significance. After this, of her own
movement, she never spoke of Gordon, and Bernard made up his mind that
she had promised her mother to accept him if he should repeat his
proposal, and that as her heart was not in the matter she preferred to
drop a veil over the prospect. "She is going to marry him for his
money," he said, "because her mother has brought out the advantages of
the thing. Mrs. Vivian's persuasive powers have carried the day, and
the girl has made herself believe that it does n't matter that she
does n't love him. Perhaps it does n't--to her; it 's hard, in such a
case, to put one's self in the woman's point of view. But I should
think it would matter, some day or other, to poor Gordon. She herself
can't help suspecting it may make a difference in his happiness, and
she therefore does n't wish to seem any worse to him than is
necessary. She wants me to speak well of her; if she intends to
deceive him she expects me to back her up. The wish is doubtless
natural, but for a proud girl it is rather an odd favor to ask. Oh
yes, she 's a proud girl, even though she has been able to arrange it
with her conscience to make a mercenary marriage. To expect me to help
her is perhaps to treat me as a friend; but she ought to remember--or
at least I ought to remember-- that Gordon is an older friend than
she. Inviting me to help her as against my oldest friend--is n't
there a grain of impudence in that?"
It will be gathered that Bernard's meditations were not on the
whole favorable to this young lady, and it must be affirmed that he
was forcibly struck with an element of cynicism in her conduct. On
the evening of her so-called midnight visit to the Kursaal she had
suddenly sounded a note of sweet submissiveness which re-appeared
again at frequent intervals. She was gentle, accessible, tenderly
gracious, expressive, demonstrative, almost flattering. From his own
personal point of view Bernard had no complaint to make of this
maidenly urbanity, but he kept reminding himself that he was not in
question and that everything must be looked at in the light of
Gordon's requirements. There was all this time an absurd logical twist
in his view of things. In the first place he was not to judge at all;
and in the second he was to judge strictly on Gordon's behalf. This
latter clause always served as a justification when the former had
failed to serve as a deterrent. When Bernard reproached himself for
thinking too much of the girl, he drew comfort from the reflection
that he was not thinking well. To let it gradually filter into one's
mind, through a superficial complexity of more reverent
preconceptions, that she was an extremely clever coquette--this,
surely, was not to think well! Bernard had luminous glimpses of
another situation, in which Angela Vivian's coquetry should meet with
a different appreciation; but just now it was not an item to be
entered on the credit side of Wright's account. Bernard wiped his pen,
mentally speaking, as he made this reflection, and felt like a
grizzled old book-keeper, of incorruptible probity. He saw her, as I
have said, very often; she continued to break her vow of shutting
herself up, and at the end of a fortnight she had reduced it to
imperceptible particles. On four different occasions, presenting
himself at Mrs. Vivian's lodgings, Bernard found Angela there alone.
She made him welcome, receiving him as an American girl, in such
circumstances, is free to receive the most gallant of visitors. She
smiled and talked and gave herself up to charming gayety, so that
there was nothing for Bernard to say but that now at least she was off
her guard with a vengeance. Happily he was on his own! He flattered
himself that he remained so on occasions that were even more
insidiously relaxing--when, in the evening, she strolled away with him
to parts of the grounds of the Conversation-house, where the music
sank to sweeter softness and the murmur of the tree-tops of the Black
Forest, stirred by the warm night-air, became almost audible; or when,
in the long afternoons, they wandered in the woods apart from the
others-- from Mrs. Vivian and the amiable object of her more avowed
solicitude, the object of the sportive adoration of the irrepressible,
the ever-present Lovelock. They were constantly having parties in
the woods at this time--driving over the hills to points of interest
which Bernard had looked out in the guide-book. Bernard, in such
matters, was extremely alert and considerate; he developed an
unexpected talent for arranging excursions, and he had taken regularly
into his service the red-waistcoated proprietor of a big Teutonic
landau, which had a courier's seat behind and was always at the
service of the ladies. The functionary in the red waistcoat was a
capital charioteer; he was constantly proposing new drives, and he
introduced our little party to treasures of romantic scenery.
More than a fortnight had elapsed, but Gordon Wright had not
re-appeared, and Bernard suddenly decided that he would leave Baden.
He found Mrs. Vivian and her daughter, very opportunely, in the garden
of the pleasant, homely Schloss which forms the residence of the Grand
Dukes of Baden during their visits to the scene of our narrative, and
which, perched upon the hill-side directly above the little town, is
surrounded with charming old shrubberies and terraces. To this garden
a portion of the public is admitted, and Bernard, who liked the place,
had been there more than once. One of the terraces had a high
parapet, against which Angela was leaning, looking across the valley.
Mrs. Vivian was not at first in sight, but Bernard presently
perceived her seated under a tree with Victor Cousin in her hand. As
Bernard approached the young girl, Angela, who had not seen him,
"Don't move," he said. "You were just in the position in which I
painted your portrait at Siena."
"Don't speak of that," she answered.
"I have never understood," said Bernard, "why you insist upon
ignoring that charming incident."
She resumed for a moment her former position, and stood looking at
the opposite hills.
"That 's just how you were--in profile--with your head a little
"It was an odious incident!" Angela exclaimed, rapidly changing
Bernard was on the point of making a rejoinder, but he thought of
Gordon Wright and held his tongue. He presently told her that he
intended to leave Baden on the morrow.
They were walking toward her mother. She looked round at him
"Where are you going?"
"To Paris," he said, quite at hazard; for he had not in the least
determined where to go.
"To Paris--in the month of August?" And she gave a little laugh.
"What a happy inspiration!"
She gave a little laugh, but she said nothing more, and Bernard
gave no further account of his plan. They went and sat down near Mrs.
Vivian for ten minutes, and then they got up again and strolled to
another part of the garden. They had it all to themselves, and it was
filled with things that Bernard liked--inequalities of level, with
mossy steps connecting them, rose-trees trained upon old brick walls,
horizontal trellises arranged like Italian pergolas, and here and
there a towering poplar, looking as if it had survived from some more
primitive stage of culture, with its stiff boughs motionless and its
leaves forever trembling. They made almost the whole circuit of the
garden, and then Angela mentioned very quietly that she had heard that
morning from Mr. Wright, and that he would not return for another
"You had better stay," she presently added, as if Gordon's
continued absence were an added reason.
"I don't know," said Bernard. "It is sometimes difficult to say
what one had better do."
I hesitate to bring against him that most inglorious of all
charges, an accusation of sentimental fatuity, of the disposition to
invent obstacles to enjoyment so that he might have the pleasure of
seeing a pretty girl attempt to remove them. But it must be admitted
that if Bernard really thought at present that he had better leave
Baden, the observation I have just quoted was not so much a sign of
this conviction as of the hope that his companion would proceed to
gainsay it. The hope was not disappointed, though I must add that no
sooner had it been gratified than Bernard began to feel ashamed of it.
"This certainly is not one of those cases," said Angela. "The
thing is surely very simple now."
"What makes it so simple?"
She hesitated a moment.
"The fact that I ask you to stay."
"You ask me?" he repeated, softly.
"Ah," she exclaimed, "one does n't say those things twice!"
She turned away, and they went back to her mother, who gave Bernard
a wonderful little look of half urgent, half remonstrant inquiry. As
they left the garden he walked beside Mrs. Vivian, Angela going in
front of them at a distance. The elder lady began immediately to talk
to him of Gordon Wright.
"He 's not coming back for another week, you know," she said. "I
am sorry he stays away so long."
"Ah yes," Bernard answered, "it seems very long indeed."
And it had, in fact, seemed to him very long.
"I suppose he is always likely to have business," said Mrs. Vivian.
"You may be very sure it is not for his pleasure that he stays
"I know he is faithful to old friends," said Mrs. Vivian. "I am
sure he has not forgotten us."
"I certainly count upon that," Bernard exclaimed--"remembering him
as we do!"
Mrs. Vivian glanced at him gratefully.
"Oh yes, we remember him--we remember him daily, hourly. At least,
I can speak for my daughter and myself. He has been so very kind to
us." Bernard said nothing, and she went on. "And you have been so
very kind to us, too, Mr. Longueville. I want so much to thank you."
"Oh no, don't!" said Bernard, frowning. "I would rather you should
"Of course," Mrs. Vivian added, "I know it 's all on his account;
but that makes me wish to thank you all the more. Let me express my
gratitude, in advance, for the rest of the time, till he comes back.
That 's more responsibility than you bargained for," she said, with a
little nervous laugh.
"Yes, it 's more than I bargained for. I am thinking of going
Mrs. Vivian almost gave a little jump, and then she paused on the
Baden cobble-stones, looking up at him.
"If you must go, Mr. Longueville--don't sacrifice yourself!"
The exclamation fell upon Bernard's ear with a certain softly
mocking cadence which was sufficient, however, to make this organ
"Oh, after all, you know," he said, as they walked on--"after all,
you know, I am not like Wright--I have no business."
He walked with the ladies to the door of their lodging. Angela
kept always in front. She stood there, however, at the little
confectioner's window until the others came up. She let her mother
pass in, and then she said to Bernard, looking at him--
"Shall I see you again?"
"Some time, I hope."
"I mean--are you going away?"
Bernard looked for a moment at a little pink sugar cherub-- a
species of Cupid, with a gilded bow--which figured among the
pastry-cook's enticements. Then he said--
"I will come and tell you this evening."
And in the evening he went to tell her; she had mentioned during
the walk in the garden of the Schloss that they should not go out. As
he approached Mrs. Vivian's door he saw a figure in a light dress
standing in the little balcony. He stopped and looked up, and then
the person in the light dress, leaning her hands on the railing, with
her shoulders a little raised, bent over and looked down at him. It
was very dark, but even through the thick dusk he thought he perceived
the finest brilliancy of Angela Vivian's smile.
"I shall not go away," he said, lifting his voice a little.
She made no answer; she only stood looking down at him through the
warm dusk and smiling. He went into the house, and he remained at
Baden-Baden till Gordon came back.
Gordon asked him no questions for twenty-four hours after his
return, then suddenly he began:
"Well, have n't you something to say to me?"
It was at the hotel, in Gordon's apartment, late in the afternoon.
A heavy thunder-storm had broken over the place an hour before, and
Bernard had been standing at one of his friend's windows, rather idly,
with his hands in his pockets, watching the rain-torrents dance upon
the empty pavements. At last the deluge abated, the clouds began to
break--there was a promise of a fine evening. Gordon Wright, while the
storm was at its climax, sat down to write letters, and wrote half a
dozen. It was after he had sealed, directed and affixed a
postage-stamp to the last of the series that he addressed to his
companion the question I have just quoted.
"Do you mean about Miss Vivian?" Bernard asked, without turning
round from the window.
"About Miss Vivian, of course." Bernard said nothing and his
companion went on. "Have you nothing to tell me about Miss Vivian?"
Bernard presently turned round looking at Gordon and smiling a
"She 's a delightful creature!"
"That won't do--you have tried that before," said Gordon. "No," he
added in a moment, "that won't do." Bernard turned back to the
window, and Gordon continued, as he remained silent. "I shall have a
right to consider your saying nothing a proof of an unfavorable
judgment. You don't like her!"
Bernard faced quickly about again, and for an instant the two men
looked at each other.
"Ah, my dear Gordon," Longueville murmured.
"Do you like her then?" asked Wright, getting up.
"No!" said Longueville.
"That 's just what I wanted to know, and I am much obliged to you
for telling me."
"I am not obliged to you for asking me. I was in hopes you would
"You dislike her very much then?" Gordon exclaimed, gravely.
"Won't disliking her, simply, do?" said Bernard.
"It will do very well. But it will do a little better if you will
tell me why. Give me a reason or two."
"Well," said Bernard, "I tried to make love to her and she boxed my
"The devil!" cried Gordon.
"I mean morally, you know."
Gordon stared; he seemed a little puzzled.
"You tried to make love to her morally?"
"She boxed my ears morally," said Bernard, laughing out.
"Why did you try to make love to her?"
This inquiry was made in a tone so expressive of an unbiassed
truth-seeking habit that Bernard's mirth was not immediately quenched.
Nevertheless, he replied with sufficient gravity--
"To test her fidelity to you. Could you have expected anything
else? You told me you were afraid she was a latent coquette. You gave
me a chance, and I tried to ascertain."
"And you found she was not. Is that what you mean?"
"She 's as firm as a rock. My dear Gordon, Miss Vivian is as firm
as the firmest of your geological formations."
Gordon shook his head with a strange positive persistence.
"You are talking nonsense. You are not serious. You are not
telling me the truth. I don't believe that you attempted to make love
to her. You would n't have played such a game as that. It would n't
have been honorable."
Bernard flushed a little; he was irritated.
"Oh come, don't make too much of a point of that! Did n't you tell
me before that it was a great opportunity?"
"An opportunity to be wise--not to be foolish!"
"Ah, there is only one sort of opportunity," cried Bernard. "You
exaggerate the reach of human wisdom."
"Suppose she had let you make love to her," said Gordon. "That
would have been a beautiful result of your experiment."
"I should have seemed to you a rascal, perhaps, but I should have
saved you from a latent coquette. You would owe some thanks for
"And now you have n't saved me," said Gordon, with a simple air of
noting a fact.
"You assume--in spite of what I say--that she is a coquette!"
"I assume something because you evidently conceal something. I
want the whole truth."
Bernard turned back to the window with increasing irritation.
"If he wants the whole truth he shall have it," he said to himself.
He stood a moment in thought and then he looked at his companion
"I think she would marry you--but I don't think she cares for you."
Gordon turned a little pale, but he clapped his hands together.
"Very good," he exclaimed. "That 's exactly how I want you to
"Her mother has taken a great fancy to your fortune and it has
rubbed off on the girl, who has made up her mind that it would be a
pleasant thing to have thirty thousand a year, and that her not caring
for you is an unimportant detail."
"I see--I see," said Gordon, looking at his friend with an air of
admiration for his frank and lucid way of putting things.
Now that he had begun to be frank and lucid, Bernard found a charm
in it, and the impulse under which he had spoken urged him almost
"The mother and daughter have agreed together to bag you, and
Angela, I am sure, has made a vow to be as nice to you after marriage
as possible. Mrs. Vivian has insisted upon the importance of that;
Mrs. Vivian is a great moralist."
Gordon kept gazing at his friend; he seemed positively fascinated.
"Yes, I have noticed that in Mrs. Vivian," he said.
"Ah, she 's a very nice woman!"
"It 's not true, then," said Gordon, "that you tried to make love
Bernard hesitated a single instant.
"No, it is n't true. I calumniated myself, to save her reputation.
You insisted on my giving you a reason for my not liking her-- I gave
you that one."
"And your real reason--"
"My real reason is that I believe she would do you what I can't
help regarding as an injury."
"Of course!" and Gordon, dropping his interested eyes, stared for
some moments at the carpet. "But it is n't true, then, that you
discovered her to be a coquette?"
"Ah, that 's another matter."
"You did discover it all the same?"
"Since you want the whole truth--I did!"
"How did you discover it?" Gordon asked, clinging to his right of
"You must remember that I saw a great deal of her."
"You mean that she encouraged you?"
"If I had not been a very faithful friend I might have thought so."
Gordon laid his hand appreciatively, gratefully, on Bernard's
"And even that did n't make you like her?"
"Confound it, you make me blush!" cried Bernard, blushing a little
in fact. "I have said quite enough; excuse me from drawing the
portrait of too insensible a man. It was my point of view; I kept
thinking of you."
Gordon, with his hand still on his friend's arm, patted it an
instant in response to this declaration; then he turned away.
"I am much obliged to you. That 's my notion of friendship. You
have spoken out like a man."
"Like a man, yes. Remember that. Not in the least like an
"I prefer an honest man to all the oracles," said Gordon.
"An honest man has his impressions! I have given you mine-- they
pretend to be nothing more. I hope they have n't offended you."
"Not in the least."
"Nor distressed, nor depressed, nor in any way discomposed you?"
"For what do you take me? I asked you a favor--a service; I
imposed it on you. You have done the thing, and my part is simple
"Thank you for nothing," said Bernard, smiling. "You have asked me
a great many questions; there is one that in turn I have a right to
ask you. What do you propose to do in consequence of what I have told
"I propose to do nothing."
This declaration closed the colloquy, and the young men separated.
Bernard saw Gordon no more that evening; he took for granted he had
gone to Mrs. Vivian's. The burden of Longueville's confidences was a
heavy load to carry there, but Bernard ventured to hope that he would
deposit it at the door. He had given Gordon his impressions, and the
latter might do with them what he chose--toss them out of the window,
or let them grow stale with heedless keeping. So Bernard meditated,
as he wandered about alone for the rest of the evening. It was
useless to look for Mrs. Vivian's little circle, on the terrace of the
Conversation-house, for the storm in the afternoon had made the place
so damp that it was almost forsaken of its frequenters. Bernard spent
the evening in the gaming-rooms, in the thick of the crowd that
pressed about the tables, and by way of a change--he had hitherto been
almost nothing of a gambler--he laid down a couple of pieces at
roulette. He had played but two or three times, without winning a
penny; but now he had the agreeable sensation of drawing in a small
handful of gold. He continued to play, and he continued to win. His
luck surprised and excited him--so much so that after it had repeated
itself half a dozen times he left the place and walked about for half
an hour in the outer darkness. He felt amused and exhilarated, but the
feeling amounted almost to agitation. He, nevertheless, returned to
the tables, where he again found success awaiting him. Again and
again he put his money on a happy number, and so steady a run of luck
began at last to attract attention. The rumor of it spread through the
rooms, and the crowd about the roulette received a large contingent of
spectators. Bernard felt that they were looking more or less eagerly
for a turn of the tide; but he was in the humor for disappointing
them, and he left the place, while his luck was still running high,
with ten thousand francs in his pocket. It was very late when he
returned to the inn--so late that he forbore to knock at Gordon's
door. But though he betook himself to his own quarters, he was far
from finding, or even seeking, immediate rest. He knocked about, as he
would have said, for half the night-- not because he was delighted at
having won ten thousand francs, but rather because all of a sudden he
found himself disgusted at the manner in which he had spent the
evening. It was extremely characteristic of Bernard Longueville that
his pleasure should suddenly transform itself into flatness. What he
felt was not regret or repentance. He had it not in the least on his
conscience that he had given countenance to the reprehensible practice
of gaming. It was annoyance that he had passed out of his own
control-- that he had obeyed a force which he was unable to measure
at the time. He had been drunk and he was turning sober. In spite of
a great momentary appearance of frankness and a lively relish of any
conjunction of agreeable circumstances exerting a pressure to which
one could respond, Bernard had really little taste for giving himself
up, and he never did so without very soon wishing to take himself
back. He had now given himself to something that was not himself, and
the fact that he had gained ten thousand francs by it was an
insufficient salve to an aching sense of having ceased to be his own
master. He had not been playing-- he had been played with. He had
been the sport of a blind, brutal chance, and he felt humiliated by
having been favored by so rudely-operating a divinity. Good luck and
bad luck? Bernard felt very scornful of the distinction, save that
good luck seemed to him rather the more vulgar. As the night went on
his disgust deepened, and at last the weariness it brought with it
sent him to sleep. He slept very late, and woke up to a disagreeable
consciousness. At first, before collecting his thoughts, he could not
imagine what he had on his mind--was it that he had spoken ill of
Angela Vivian? It brought him extraordinary relief to remember that he
had gone to bed in extreme ill-humor with his exploits at roulette.
After he had dressed himself and just as he was leaving his room, a
servant brought him a note superscribed in Gordon's hand--a note of
which the following proved to be the contents.
"Seven o'clock, A.M.
"My dear Bernard: Circumstances have determined me to leave Baden
immediately, and I shall take the train that starts an hour hence. I
am told that you came in very late last night, so I won't disturb you
for a painful parting at this unnatural hour. I came to this decision
last evening, and I put up my things; so I have nothing to do but to
take myself off. I shall go to Basel, but after that I don't know
where, and in so comfortless an uncertainty I don't ask you to follow
me. Perhaps I shall go to America; but in any case I shall see you
sooner or later. Meanwhile, my dear Bernard, be as happy as your
brilliant talents should properly make you, and believe me yours ever,
"P.S. It is perhaps as well that I should say that I am leaving in
consequence of something that happened last evening, but not-- by any
traceable process--in consequence of the talk we had together. I may
also add that I am in very good health and spirits."
Bernard lost no time in learning that his friend had in fact
departed by the eight o'clock train--the morning was now well
advanced; and then, over his breakfast, he gave himself up to
meditative surprise. What had happened during the evening-- what had
happened after their conversation in Gordon's room? He had gone to
Mrs. Vivian's--what had happened there? Bernard found it difficult to
believe that he had gone there simply to notify her that, having
talked it over with an intimate friend, he gave up her daughter, or to
mention to the young lady herself that he had ceased to desire the
honor of her hand. Gordon alluded to some definite occurrence, yet it
was inconceivable that he should have allowed himself to be determined
by Bernard's words--his diffident and irresponsible impression.
Bernard resented this idea as an injury to himself, yet it was
difficult to imagine what else could have happened. There was Gordon's
word for it, however, that there was no "traceable" connection between
the circumstances which led to his sudden departure and the
information he had succeeded in extracting from his friend. What did
he mean by a "traceable" connection? Gordon never used words idly,
and he meant to make of this point an intelligible distinction. It
was this sense of his usual accuracy of expression that assisted
Bernard in fitting a meaning to his late companion's letter. He
intended to intimate that he had come back to Baden with his mind made
up to relinquish his suit, and that he had questioned Bernard simply
from moral curiosity-- for the sake of intellectual satisfaction.
Nothing was altered by the fact that Bernard had told him a sorry
tale; it had not modified his behavior--that effect would have been
traceable. It had simply affected his imagination, which was a
consequence of the imponderable sort. This view of the case was
supported by Gordon's mention of his good spirits. A man always had
good spirits when he had acted in harmony with a conviction. Of
course, after renouncing the attempt to make himself acceptable to
Miss Vivian, the only possible thing for Gordon had been to leave
Baden. Bernard, continuing to meditate, at last convinced himself
that there had been no explicit rupture, that Gordon's last visit had
simply been a visit of farewell, that its character had sufficiently
signified his withdrawal, and that he had now gone away because, after
giving the girl up, he wished very naturally not to meet her again.
This was, on Bernard's part, a sufficiently coherent view of the
case; but nevertheless, an hour afterward, as he strolled along the
Lichtenthal Alley, he found himself stopping suddenly and exclaiming
under his breath--"Have I done her an injury? Have I affected her
prospects?" Later in the day he said to himself half a dozen times
that he had simply warned Gordon against an incongruous union.
Now that gordon was gone, at any rate, gone for good, and not to
return, he felt a sudden and singular sense of freedom. It was a
feeling of unbounded expansion, quite out of proportion, as he said to
himself, to any assignable cause. Everything suddenly appeared to have
become very optional; but he was quite at a loss what to do with his
liberty. It seemed a harmless use to make of it, in the afternoon, to
go and pay another visit to the ladies who lived at the
confectioner's. Here, however, he met a reception which introduced a
fresh element of perplexity into the situation that Gordon had left
behind him. The door was opened to him by Mrs. Vivian's maid-servant,
a sturdy daughter of the Schwartzwald, who informed him that the
ladies--with much regret--were unable to receive any one.
"They are very busy--and they are ill," said the young woman, by
way of explanation.
Bernard was disappointed, and he felt like arguing the case.
"Surely," he said, "they are not both ill and busy! When you make
excuses, you should make them agree with each other."
The Teutonic soubrette fixed her round blue eyes a minute upon the
patch of blue sky revealed to her by her open door.
"I say what I can, lieber Herr. It 's not my fault if I 'm not so
clever as a French mamsell. One of the ladies is busy, the other is
ill. There you have it."
"Not quite," said Bernard. "You must remember that there are three
"Oh, the little one--the little one weeps."
"Miss Evers weeps!" exclaimed Bernard, to whom the vision of this
young lady in tears had never presented itself.
"That happens to young ladies when they are unhappy," said the
girl; and with an artless yet significant smile she carried a big red
hand to the left side of a broad bosom.
"I am sorry she is unhappy; but which of the other ladies is ill?"
"The mother is very busy."
"And the daughter is ill?"
The young woman looked at him an instant, smiling again, and the
light in her little blue eyes indicated confusion, but not perversity.
"No, the mamma is ill," she exclaimed, "and the daughter is very
busy. They are preparing to leave Baden."
"To leave Baden? When do they go?"
"I don't quite know, lieber Herr; but very soon."
With this information Bernard turned away. He was rather
surprised, but he reflected that Mrs. Vivian had not proposed to spend
her life on the banks of the Oos, and that people were leaving Baden
every day in the year. In the evening, at the Kursaal, he met Captain
Lovelock, who was wandering about with an air of explosive sadness.
"Damn it, they 're going--yes, they 're going," said the Captain,
after the two young men had exchanged a few allusions to current
events. "Fancy their leaving us in that heartless manner! It 's not
the time to run away--it 's the time to keep your rooms, if you 're so
lucky as to have any. The races begin next week and there 'll be a
tremendous crowd. All the grand-ducal people are coming. Miss Evers
wanted awfully to see the Grand Duke, and I promised her an
introduction. I can't make out what Mrs. Vivian is up to. I bet you
a ten-pound note she 's giving chase. Our friend Wright has come back
and gone off again, and Mrs. Vivian means to strike camp and follow.
She 'll pot him yet; you see if she does n't!"
"She is running away from you, dangerous man!" said Bernard.
"Do you mean on account of Miss Evers? Well, I admire Miss Evers--
I don't mind admitting that; but I ain't dangerous," said Captain
Lovelock, with a lustreless eye. "How can a fellow be dangerous when
he has n't ten shillings in his pocket? Desperation, do you call it?
But Miss Evers has n't money, so far as I have heard. I don't ask
you," Lovelock continued--"I don't care a damn whether she has or not.
She 's a devilish charming girl, and I don't mind telling you I 'm
hit. I stand no chance--I know I stand no chance. Mrs. Vivian 's down
on me, and, by Jove, Mrs. Vivian 's right. I 'm not the husband to
pick out for a young woman of expensive habits and no expectations.
Gordon Wright's the sort of young man that 's wanted, and, hang me,
if Mrs. Vivian did n't want him so much for her own daughter, I
believe she 'd try and bag him for the little one. Gad, I believe
that to keep me off she would like to cut him in two and give half to
each of them! I 'm afraid of that little woman. She has got a little
voice like a screw-driver. But for all that, if I could get away from
this cursed place, I would keep the girl in sight-- hang me if I would
n't! I 'd cut the races--dash me if I would n't! But I 'm in pawn, if
you know what that means. I owe a beastly lot of money at the inn, and
that impudent little beggar of a landlord won't let me out of his
sight. The luck 's dead against me at those filthy tables; I have n't
won a farthing in three weeks. I wrote to my brother the other day,
and this morning I got an answer from him-- a cursed, canting letter
of good advice, remarking that he had already paid my debts seven
times. It does n't happen to be seven; it 's only six, or six and a
half! Does he expect me to spend the rest of my life at the Hotel de
Hollande? Perhaps he would like me to engage as a waiter there and
pay it off by serving at the table d'hote. It would be convenient for
him the next time he comes abroad with his seven daughters and two
governesses. I hate the smell of their beastly table d'hote! You 're
sorry I 'm hard up? I 'm sure I 'm much obliged to you. Can you be
of any service? My dear fellow, if you are bent on throwing your
money about the place I 'm not the man to stop you." Bernard's
winnings of the previous night were burning a hole, as the phrase is,
in his pocket. Ten thousand francs had never before seemed to him so
heavy a load to carry, and to lighten the weight of his good luck by
lending fifty pounds to a less fortunate fellow-player was an
operation that not only gratified his good-nature but strongly
commended itself to his conscience. His conscience, however, made its
conditions. "My dear Longueville," Lovelock went on, "I have always
gone in for family feeling, early associations, and all that sort of
thing. That 's what made me confide my difficulties to Dovedale.
But, upon my honor, you remind me of the good Samaritan, or that sort
of person; you are fonder of me than my own brother! I 'll take fifty
pounds with pleasure, thank you, and you shall have them again-- at
the earliest opportunity. My earliest convenience-- will that do?
Damn it, it is a convenience, is n't it? You make your conditions.
My dear fellow, I accept them in advance. That I 'm not to follow up
Miss Evers--is that what you mean? Have you been commissioned by the
family to buy me off? It 's devilish cruel to take advantage of my
poverty! Though I 'm poor, I 'm honest. But I am honest, my dear
Longueville; that 's the point. I 'll give you my word, and I 'll
keep it. I won't go near that girl again--I won't think of her till I
've got rid of your fifty pounds. It 's a dreadful encouragement to
extravagance, but that 's your lookout. I 'll stop for their beastly
races and the young lady shall be sacred."
Longueville called the next morning at Mrs. Vivian's, and learned
that the three ladies had left Baden by the early train, a couple of
hours before. This fact produced in his mind a variety of
emotions--surprise, annoyance, embarrassment. In spite of his effort
to think it natural they should go, he found something precipitate and
inexplicable in the manner of their going, and he declared to himself
that one of the party, at least, had been unkind and ungracious in not
giving him a chance to say good-bye. He took refuge by anticipation,
as it were, in this reflection, whenever, for the next three or four
days, he foresaw himself stopping short, as he had done before, and
asking himself whether he had done an injury to Angela Vivian. This
was an idle and unpractical question, inasmuch as the answer was not
forthcoming; whereas it was quite simple and conclusive to say,
without the note of interrogation, that she was, in spite of many
attractive points, an abrupt and capricious young woman. During the
three or four days in question, Bernard lingered on at Baden,
uncertain what to do or where to go, feeling as if he had received a
sudden check-- a sort of spiritual snub--which arrested the
accumulation of motive. Lovelock, also, whom Bernard saw every day,
appeared to think that destiny had given him a slap in the face, for
he had not enjoyed the satisfaction of a last interview with Miss
"I thought she might have written me a note," said the Captain;
"but it appears she does n't write. Some girls don't write, you
Bernard remarked that it was possible Lovelock would still have
news of Miss Blanche; and before he left Baden he learned that she had
addressed her forsaken swain a charming little note from Lausanne,
where the three ladies had paused in their flight from Baden, and
where Mrs. Vivian had decreed that for the present they should remain.
"I 'm devilish glad she writes," said Captain Lovelock; "some
girls do write, you know."
Blanche found Lausanne most horrid after Baden, for whose delights
she languished. The delights of Baden, however, were not obvious just
now to her correspondent, who had taken Bernard's fifty pounds into
the Kursaal and left them there. Bernard, on learning his misfortune,
lent him another fifty, with which he performed a second series of
unsuccessful experiments; and our hero was not at his ease until he
had passed over to his luckless friend the whole amount of his own
winnings, every penny of which found its way through Captain
Lovelock's fingers back into the bank. When this operation was
completed, Bernard left Baden, the Captain gloomily accompanying him
to the station.
I have said that there had come over Bernard a singular sense of
freedom. One of the uses he made of his freedom was to undertake a
long journey. He went to the East and remained absent from Europe for
upward of two years-- a period of his life of which it is not proposed
to offer a complete history. The East is a wonderful region, and
Bernard, investigating the mysteries of Asia, saw a great many curious
and beautiful things. He had moments of keen enjoyment; he laid up a
great store of impressions and even a considerable sum of knowledge.
But, nevertheless, he was not destined to look back upon this episode
with any particular complacency. It was less delightful than it was
supposed to be; it was less successful than it might have been. By
what unnatural element the cup of pleasure was adulterated, he would
have been very much at a loss to say; but it was an incontestable fact
that at times he sipped it as a medicine, rather than quaffed it as a
nectar. When people congratulated him on his opportunity of seeing
the world, and said they envied him the privilege of seeing it so
well, he felt even more than the usual degree of irritation produced
by an insinuation that fortune thinks so poorly of us as to give us
easy terms. Misplaced sympathy is the least available of
superfluities, and Bernard at this time found himself thinking that
there was a good deal of impertinence in the world. He would, however,
readily have confessed that, in so far as he failed to enjoy his
Oriental wanderings, the fault was his own; though he would have made
mentally the gratifying reflection that never was a fault less
deliberate. If, during the period of which I speak, his natural
gayety had sunk to a minor key, a partial explanation may be found in
the fact that he was deprived of the society of his late companion. It
was an odd circumstance that the two young men had not met since
Gordon's abrupt departure from Baden. Gordon went to Berlin, and
shortly afterward to America, so that they were on opposite sides of
the globe. Before he returned to his own country, Bernard made by
letter two or three offers to join him in Europe, anywhere that was
agreeable to him. Gordon answered that his movements were very
uncertain, and that he should be sorry to trouble Bernard to follow
him about. He had put him to this inconvenience in making him travel
from Venice to Baden, and one such favor at a time was enough to ask,
even of the most obliging of men. Bernard was, of course, afraid that
what he had told Gordon about Angela Vivian was really the cause of a
state of things which, as between two such good friends, wore a
perceptible resemblance to alienation. Gordon had given her up; but he
bore Bernard a grudge for speaking ill of her, and so long as this
disagreeable impression should last, he preferred not to see him.
Bernard was frank enough to charge the poor fellow with a lingering
rancor, of which he made, indeed, no great crime. But Gordon denied
the allegation, and assured him that, to his own perception, there was
no decline in their intimacy. He only requested, as a favor and as a
tribute to "just susceptibilities," that Bernard would allude no more
either to Miss Vivian or to what had happened at Baden. This request
was easy to comply with, and Bernard, in writing, strictly conformed
to it; but it seemed to him that the act of doing so was in itself a
cooling-off. What would be a better proof of what is called a
"tension" than an agreement to avoid a natural topic? Bernard
moralized a little over Gordon's "just susceptibilities," and felt
that the existence of a perverse resentment in so honest a nature was
a fact gained to his acquaintance with psychological science. It
cannot be said, however, that he suffered this fact to occupy at all
times the foreground of his consciousness. Bernard was like some
great painters; his foregrounds were very happily arranged. He heard
nothing of Mrs. Vivian and her daughter, beyond a rumor that they had
gone to Italy; and he learned, on apparently good authority, that
Blanche Evers had returned to New York with her mother. He wondered
whether Captain Lovelock was still in pawn at the Hotel de Hollande.
If he did not allow himself to wonder too curiously whether he had
done a harm to Gordon, it may be affirmed that he was haunted by the
recurrence of that other question, of which mention has already been
made. Had he done a harm to Angela Vivian, and did she know that he
had done it? This inquiry by no means made him miserable, and it was
far from awaiting him regularly on his pillow. But it visited him at
intervals, and sometimes in the strangest places--suddenly, abruptly,
in the stillness of an Indian temple, or amid the shrillness of an
Oriental crowd. He became familiar with it at last; he called it his
Jack-in-the-box. Some invisible touch of circumstance would press the
spring, and the little image would pop up, staring him in the face and
grinning an interrogation. Bernard always clapped down the lid, for he
regarded this phenomenon as strikingly inane. But if it was more
frequent than any pang of conscience connected with the remembrance of
Gordon himself, this last sentiment was certainly lively enough to
make it a great relief to hear at last a rumor that the excellent
fellow was about to be married. The rumor reached him at Athens; it
was vague and indirect, and it omitted the name of his betrothed. But
Bernard made the most of it, and took comfort in the thought that his
friend had recovered his spirits and his appetite for matrimony.
It was not till our hero reached Paris, on his return from the
distant East, that the rumor I have just mentioned acquired an
appreciable consistency. Here, indeed, it took the shape of authentic
information. Among a number of delayed letters which had been
awaiting him at his banker's he found a communication from Gordon
Wright. During the previous year or two his correspondence with this
trusted--and trusting-- friend had not been frequent, and Bernard had
received little direct news of him. Three or four short letters had
overtaken him in his wanderings--letters as cordial, to all
appearance, if not as voluminous, as the punctual missives of an
earlier time. Bernard made a point of satisfying himself that they
were as cordial; he weighed them in the scales of impartial suspicion.
It seemed to him on the whole that there was no relaxation of
Gordon's epistolary tone. If he wrote less often than he used to do,
that was a thing that very commonly happened as men grew older. The
closest intimacies, moreover, had phases and seasons, intermissions
and revivals, and even if his friend had, in fact, averted his
countenance from him, this was simply the accomplishment of a
periodical revolution which would bring them in due order face to face
again. Bernard made a point, himself, of writing tolerably often and
writing always in the friendliest tone. He made it a matter of
conscience--he liked to feel that he was treating Gordon generously,
and not demanding an eye for an eye. The letter he found in Paris was
so short that I may give it entire.
"My dear Bernard (it ran), I must write to you before I write to
any one else, though unfortunately you are so far away that you can't
be the first to congratulate me. Try and not be the last, however. I
am going to be married-- as soon as possible. You know the young
lady, so you can appreciate the situation. Do you remember little
Blanche Evers, whom we used to see three years ago at Baden-Baden? Of
course you remember her, for I know you used often to talk with her.
You will be rather surprised, perhaps, at my having selected her as
the partner of a life-time; but we manage these matters according to
our lights. I am very much in love with her, and I hold that an
excellent reason. I have been ready any time this year or two to fall
in love with some simple, trusting, child-like nature. I find this in
perfection in this charming young girl. I find her so natural and
fresh. I remember telling you once that I did n't wish to be
fascinated-- that I wanted to estimate scientifically the woman I
should marry. I have altogether got over that, and I don't know how I
ever came to talk such nonsense. I am fascinated now, and I assure
you I like it! The best of it is that I find it does n't in the least
prevent my estimating Blanche. I judge her very fairly--I see just
what she is. She 's simple-- that 's what I want; she 's tender--that
's what I long for. You will remember how pretty she is; I need n't
remind you of that. She was much younger then, and she has greatly
developed and improved in these two or three years. But she will
always be young and innocent--I don't want her to improve too much.
She came back to America with her mother the winter after we met her
at Baden, but I never saw her again till three months ago. Then I saw
her with new eyes, and I wondered I could have been so blind. But I
was n't ready for her till then, and what makes me so happy now is to
know that I have come to my present way of feeling by experience.
That gives me confidence-- you see I am a reasoner still. But I am
under the charm, for all my reason. We are to be married in a month--
try and come back to the wedding. Blanche sends you a message, which
I will give you verbatim. 'Tell him I am not such a silly little
chatterbox as I used to be at Baden. I am a great deal wiser; I am
almost as clever as Angela Vivian.' She has an idea you thought Miss
Vivian very clever--but it is not true that she is equally so. I am
very happy; come home and see."
Bernard went home, but he was not able to reach the United States
in time for Gordon's wedding, which took place at midsummer. Bernard,
arriving late in the autumn, found his friend a married man of some
months' standing, and was able to judge, according to his invitation,
whether he appeared happy. The first effect of the letter I have just
quoted had been an immense surprise; the second had been a series of
reflections which were quite the negative of surprise; and these
operations of Bernard's mind had finally merged themselves in a simple
sentiment of jollity. He was delighted that Gordon should be
married; he felt jovial about it; he was almost indifferent to the
question of whom he had chosen. Certainly, at first, the choice of
Blanche Evers seemed highly incongruous; it was difficult to imagine a
young woman less shaped to minister to Gordon's strenuous needs than
the light-hearted and empty-headed little flirt whose inconsequent
prattle had remained for Bernard one of the least importunate memories
of a charming time. Blanche Evers was a pretty little goose--the
prettiest of little geese, perhaps, and doubtless the most amiable;
but she was not a companion for a peculiarly serious man, who would
like his wife to share his view of human responsibilities. What a
singular selection--what a queer infatuation! Bernard had no sooner
committed himself to this line of criticism than he stopped short,
with the sudden consciousness of error carried almost to the point of
naivetae. He exclaimed that Blanche Evers was exactly the sort of girl
that men of Gordon Wright's stamp always ended by falling in love
with, and that poor Gordon knew very much better what he was about in
this case than he had done in trying to solve the deep problem of a
comfortable life with Angela Vivian. This was what your strong, solid,
sensible fellows always came to; they paid, in this particular, a
larger tribute to pure fancy than the people who were supposed
habitually to cultivate that muse. Blanche Evers was what the French
call an article of fantasy, and Gordon had taken a pleasure in finding
her deliciously useless. He cultivated utility in other ways, and it
pleased and flattered him to feel that he could afford, morally
speaking, to have a kittenish wife. He had within himself a fund of
common sense to draw upon, so that to espouse a paragon of wisdom
would be but to carry water to the fountain. He could easily make up
for the deficiencies of a wife who was a little silly, and if she
charmed and amused him, he could treat himself to the luxury of these
sensations for themselves. He was not in the least afraid of being
ruined by it, and if Blanche's birdlike chatter and turns of the head
had made a fool of him, he knew it perfectly well, and simply took
his stand upon his rights. Every man has a right to a little
flower-bed, and life is not all mere kitchen-gardening. Bernard
rapidly extemporized this rough explanation of the surprise his
friend had offered him, and he found it all-sufficient for his
immediate needs. He wrote Blanche a charming note, to which she
replied with a great deal of spirit and grace. Her little letter was
very prettily turned, and Bernard, reading it over two or three times,
said to himself that, to do her justice, she might very well have
polished her intellect a trifle during these two or three years. As
she was older, she could hardly help being wiser. It even occurred to
Bernard that she might have profited by the sort of experience that is
known as the discipline of suffering. What had become of Captain
Lovelock and that tender passion which was apparently none the less
genuine for having been expressed in the slang of a humorous period?
Had they been permanently separated by judicious guardians, and had
she been obliged to obliterate his image from her lightly-beating
little heart? Bernard had felt sure at Baden that, beneath her
contemptuous airs and that impertinent consciousness of the
difficulties of conquest by which a pretty American girl attests her
allegiance to a civilization in which young women occupy the highest
place--he had felt sure that Blanche had a high appreciation of her
handsome Englishman, and that if Lovelock should continue to relish
her charms, he might count upon the advantages of reciprocity. But it
occurred to Bernard that Captain Lovelock had perhaps been faithless;
that, at least, the discourtesy of chance and the inhumanity of an
elder brother might have kept him an eternal prisoner at the Hotel de
Hollande (where, for all Bernard knew to the contrary, he had been
obliged to work out his destiny in the arduous character of a polyglot
waiter); so that the poor young girl, casting backward glances along
the path of Mrs. Vivian's retreat, and failing to detect the onward
rush of a rescuing cavalier, had perforce believed herself forsaken,
and had been obliged to summon philosophy to her aid. It was very
possible that her philosophic studies had taught her the art of
reflection; and that, as she would have said herself, she was
tremendously toned down. Once, at Baden, when Gordon Wright happened
to take upon himself to remark that little Miss Evers was bored by
her English gallant, Bernard had ventured to observe, in petto, that
Gordon knew nothing about it. But all this was of no consequence now,
and Bernard steered further and further away from the liability to
detect fallacies in his friend. Gordon had engaged himself to marry,
and our critical hero had not a grain of fault to find with this
resolution. It was a capital thing; it was just what he wanted; it
would do him a world of good. Bernard rejoiced with him sincerely,
and regretted extremely that a series of solemn engagements to pay
visits in England should prevent his being present at the nuptials.
They were well over, as I have said, when he reached New York. The
honeymoon had waned, and the business of married life had begun.
Bernard, at the end, had sailed from England rather abruptly. A
friend who had a remarkably good cabin on one of the steamers was
obliged by a sudden detention to give it up, and on his offering it
to Longueville, the latter availed himself gratefully of this
opportunity of being a little less discomposed than usual by the
Atlantic billows. He therefore embarked at two days' notice, a
fortnight earlier than he had intended and than he had written to
Gordon to expect him. Gordon, of course, had written that he was to
seek no hospitality but that which Blanche was now prepared--they had
a charming house--so graciously to dispense; but Bernard,
nevertheless, leaving the ship early in the morning, had betaken
himself to an hotel. He wished not to anticipate his welcome, and he
determined to report himself to Gordon first and to come back with his
luggage later in the day. After purifying himself of his sea-stains,
he left his hotel and walked up the Fifth Avenue with all a
newly-landed voyager's enjoyment of terrestrial locomotion. It was a
charming autumn day; there was a golden haze in the air; he supposed
it was the Indian summer. The broad sidewalk of the Fifth Avenue was
scattered over with dry leaves--crimson and orange and amber. He
tossed them with his stick as he passed; they rustled and murmured
with the motion, and it reminded him of the way he used to kick them
in front of him over these same pavements in his riotous infancy. It
was a pleasure, after many wanderings, to find himself in his native
land again, and Bernard Longueville, as he went, paid his compliments
to his mother-city. The brightness and gayety of the place seemed a
greeting to a returning son, and he felt a throb of affection for the
freshest, the youngest, the easiest and most good-natured of great
capitals. On presenting himself at Gordon's door, Bernard was told
that the master of the house was not at home; he went in, however, to
see the mistress. She was in her drawing-room, alone; she had on her
bonnet, as if she had been going out. She gave him a joyous,
demonstrative little welcome; she was evidently very glad to see him.
Bernard had thought it possible she had "improved," and she was
certainly prettier than ever. He instantly perceived that she was
still a chatterbox; it remained to be seen whether the quality of her
discourse were finer.
"Well, Mr. Longueville," she exclaimed, "where in the world did you
drop from, and how long did it take you to cross the Atlantic? Three
days, eh? It could n't have taken you many more, for it was only the
other day that Gordon told me you were not to sail till the 20th. You
changed your mind, eh? I did n't know you ever changed your mind.
Gordon never changes his. That 's not a reason, eh, because you are
not a bit like Gordon. Well, I never thought you were, except that you
are a man. Now what are you laughing at? What should you like me
call you? You are a man, I suppose; you are not a god. That 's what
you would like me to call you, I have no doubt. I must keep that for
Gordon? I shall certainly keep it a good while. I know a good deal
more about gentlemen than I did when I last saw you, and I assure you
I don't think they are a bit god-like. I suppose that 's why you
always drop down from the sky--you think it 's more divine. I
remember that 's the way you arrived at Baden when we were there
together; the first thing we knew, you were standing in the midst of
us. Do you remember that evening when you presented yourself? You
came up and touched Gordon on the shoulder, and he gave a little jump.
He will give another little jump when he sees you to-day. He gives a
great many little jumps; I keep him skipping about! I remember
perfectly the way we were sitting that evening at Baden, and the way
you looked at me when you came up. I saw you before Gordon--I see a
good many things before Gordon. What did you look at me that way for?
I always meant to ask you. I was dying to know."
"For the simplest reason in the world," said Bernard. "Because you
were so pretty."
"Ah no, it was n't that! I know all about that look. It was
something else--as if you knew something about me. I don't know what
you can have known. There was very little to know about me, except
that I was intensely silly. Really, I was awfully silly that summer
at Baden--you would n't believe how silly I was. But I don't see how
you could have known that-- before you had spoken to me. It came out
in my conversation-- it came out awfully. My mother was a good deal
disappointed in Mrs. Vivian's influence; she had expected so much from
it. But it was not poor Mrs. Vivian's fault, it was some one's else.
Have you ever seen the Vivians again? They are always in Europe;
they have gone to live in Paris. That evening when you came up and
spoke to Gordon, I never thought that three years afterward I should
be married to him, and I don't suppose you did either. Is that what
you meant by looking at me? Perhaps you can tell the future. I wish
you would tell my future!"
"Oh, I can tell that easily," said Bernard.
"What will happen to me?"
"Nothing particular; it will be a little dull--the perfect
happiness of a charming woman married to the best fellow in the
"Ah, what a horrid future!" cried Blanche, with a little petulant
cry. "I want to be happy, but I certainly don't want to be dull. If
you say that again you will make me repent of having married the best
fellow in the world. I mean to be happy, but I certainly shall not be
dull if I can help it."
"I was wrong to say that," said Bernard, "because, after all, my
dear young lady, there must be an excitement in having so kind a
husband as you have got. Gordon's devotion is quite capable of taking
a new form--of inventing a new kindness-- every day in the year."
Blanche looked at him an instant, with less than her usual
consciousness of her momentary pose.
"My husband is very kind," she said gently.
She had hardly spoken the words when Gordon came in. He stopped a
moment on seeing Bernard, glanced at his wife, blushed, flushed, and
with a loud, frank exclamation of pleasure, grasped his friend by both
hands. It was so long since he had seen Bernard that he seemed a good
deal moved; he stood there smiling, clasping his hands, looking him in
the eyes, unable for some moments to speak. Bernard, on his side, was
greatly pleased; it was delightful to him to look into Gordon's honest
face again and to return his manly grasp. And he looked well-- he
looked happy; to see that was more delightful yet. During these few
instants, while they exchanged a silent pledge of renewed friendship,
Bernard's elastic perception embraced several things besides the
consciousness of his own pleasure. He saw that Gordon looked well and
happy, but that he looked older, too, and more serious, more marked by
life. He looked as if something had happened to him--as, in fact,
something had. Bernard saw a latent spark in his friend's eye that
seemed to question his own for an impression of Blanche-- to question
it eagerly, and yet to deprecate judgment. He saw, too--with the fact
made more vivid by Gordon's standing there beside her in his manly
sincerity and throwing it into contrast--that Blanche was the same
little posturing coquette of a Blanche whom, at Baden, he would have
treated it as a broad joke that Gordon Wright should dream of
marrying. He saw, in a word, that it was what it had first struck him
as being-- an incongruous union. All this was a good deal for Bernard
to see in the course of half a minute, especially through the rather
opaque medium of a feeling of irreflective joy; and his impressions at
this moment have a value only in so far as they were destined to be
confirmed by larger opportunity.
"You have come a little sooner than we expected," said Gordon;
"but you are all the more welcome."
"It was rather a risk," Blanche observed. "One should be notified,
when one wishes to make a good impression."
"Ah, my dear lady," said Bernard, "you made your impression-- as
far as I am concerned--a long time ago, and I doubt whether it would
have gained anything to-day by your having prepared an effect."
They were standing before the fire-place, on the great hearth-rug,
and Blanche, while she listened to this speech, was feeling, with
uplifted arm, for a curl that had strayed from her chignon.
"She prepares her effects very quickly," said Gordon, laughing
gently. "They follow each other very fast!"
Blanche kept her hand behind her head, which was bent slightly
forward; her bare arm emerged from her hanging sleeve, and, with her
eyes glancing upward from under her lowered brows, she smiled at her
two spectators. Her husband laid his hand on Bernard's arm.
"Is n't she pretty?" he cried; and he spoke with a sort of tender
delight in being sure at least of this point.
"Tremendously pretty!" said Bernard. "I told her so half an hour
before you came in."
"Ah, it was time I should arrive!" Gordon exclaimed.
Blanche was manifestly not in the least discomposed by this frank
discussion of her charms, for the air of distinguished esteem adopted
by both of her companions diminished the crudity of their remarks.
But she gave a little pout of irritated modesty-- it was more
becoming than anything she had done yet--and declared that if they
wished to talk her over, they were very welcome; but she should prefer
their waiting till she got out of the room. So she left them,
reminding Bernard that he was to send for his luggage and remain, and
promising to give immediate orders for the preparation of his
apartment. Bernard opened the door for her to pass out; she gave him
a charming nod as he stood there, and he turned back to Gordon with
the reflection of her smile in his face. Gordon was watching him;
Gordon was dying to know what he thought of her. It was a curious
mania of Gordon's, this wanting to know what one thought of the women
he loved; but Bernard just now felt abundantly able to humor it. He
was so pleased at seeing him tightly married.
"She 's a delightful creature," Bernard said, with cordial
vagueness, shaking hands with his friend again.
Gordon glanced at him a moment, and then, coloring a little,
looked straight out of the window; whereupon Bernard remembered that
these were just the terms in which, at Baden, after his companion's
absence, he had attempted to qualify Angela Vivian. Gordon was
conscious--he was conscious of the oddity of his situation.
"Of course it surprised you," he said, in a moment, still looking
out of the window.
"What, my dear fellow?"
"Well, you know," said Bernard, "everything surprises me. I am of
a very conjectural habit of mind. All sorts of ideas come into my
head, and yet when the simplest things happen I am always rather
startled. I live in a reverie, and I am perpetually waked up by
people doing things."
Gordon transferred his eyes from the window to Bernard's face-- to
his whole person.
"You are waked up? But you fall asleep again!"
"I fall asleep very easily," said Bernard.
Gordon looked at him from head to foot, smiling and shaking his
"You are not changed," he said. "You have travelled in unknown
lands; you have had, I suppose, all sorts of adventures; but you are
the same man I used to know."
"I am sorry for that!"
"You have the same way of representing--of misrepresenting,
"Well, if I am not changed," said Bernard, "I can ill afford to
lose so valuable an art."
"Taking you altogether, I am glad you are the same," Gordon
answered, simply; "but you must come into my part of the house."
Yes, he was conscious--he was very conscious; so Bernard reflected
during the two or three first days of his visit to his friend. Gordon
knew it must seem strange to so irreverent a critic that a man who had
once aspired to the hand of so intelligent a girl--putting other
things aside--as Angela Vivian should, as the Ghost in "Hamlet" says,
have "declined upon" a young lady who, in force of understanding, was
so very much Miss Vivian's inferior; and this knowledge kept him ill
at his ease and gave him a certain pitiable awkwardness. Bernard's
sense of the anomaly grew rapidly less acute; he made various
observations which helped it to seem natural. Blanche was wonderfully
pretty; she was very graceful, innocent, amusing. Since Gordon had
determined to marry a little goose, he had chosen the animal with
extreme discernment. It had quite the plumage of a swan, and it sailed
along the stream of life with an extraordinary lightness of motion.
He asked himself indeed at times whether Blanche were really so silly
as she seemed; he doubted whether any woman could be so silly as
Blanche seemed. He had a suspicion at times that, for ends of her
own, she was playing a part--the suspicion arising from the fact that,
as usually happens in such cases, she over-played it. Her empty
chatter, her futility, her childish coquetry and frivolity--such light
wares could hardly be the whole substance of any woman's being; there
was something beneath them which Blanche was keeping out of sight.
She had a scrap of a mind somewhere, and even a little particle of a
heart. If one looked long enough one might catch a glimpse of these
possessions. But why should she keep them out of sight, and what were
the ends that she proposed to serve by this uncomfortable perversity?
Bernard wondered whether she were fond of her husband, and he heard
it intimated by several good people in New York who had had some
observation of the courtship, that she had married him for his money.
He was very sorry to find that this was taken for granted, and he
determined, on the whole, not to believe it. He was disgusted with the
idea of such a want of gratitude; for, if Gordon Wright had loved Miss
Evers for herself, the young lady might certainly have discovered the
intrinsic value of so disinterested a suitor. Her mother had the
credit of having made the match. Gordon was known to be looking for a
wife; Mrs. Evers had put her little feather-head of a daughter very
much forward, and Gordon was as easily captivated as a child by the
sound of a rattle. Blanche had an affection for him now, however;
Bernard saw no reason to doubt that, and certainly she would have been
a very flimsy creature indeed if she had not been touched by his
inexhaustible kindness. She had every conceivable indulgence, and if
she married him for his money, at least she had got what she wanted.
She led the most agreeable life conceivable, and she ought to be in
high good-humor. It was impossible to have a prettier house, a
prettier carriage, more jewels and laces for the adornment of a plump
little person. It was impossible to go to more parties, to give
better dinners, to have fewer privations or annoyances. Bernard was
so much struck with all this that, advancing rapidly in the intimacy
of his gracious hostess, he ventured to call her attention to her
blessings. She answered that she was perfectly aware of them, and
there was no pretty speech she was not prepared to make about Gordon.
"I know what you want to say," she went on; "you want to say that
he spoils me, and I don't see why you should hesitate. You generally
say everything you want, and you need n't be afraid of me. He does
n't spoil me, simply because I am so bad I can't be spoiled; but that
's of no consequence. I was spoiled ages ago; every one spoiled
me--every one except Mrs. Vivian. I was always fond of having
everything I want, and I generally managed to get it. I always had
lovely clothes; mamma thought that was a kind of a duty. If it was a
duty, I don't suppose it counts as a part of the spoiling. But I was
very much indulged, and I know I have everything now. Gordon is a
perfect husband; I believe if I were to ask him for a present of his
nose, he would cut it off and give it to me. I think I will ask him
for a small piece of it some day; it will rather improve him to have
an inch or two less. I don't say he 's handsome; but he 's just as
good as he can be. Some people say that if you are very fond of a
person you always think them handsome; but I don't agree with that at
all. I am very fond of Gordon, and yet I am not blinded by affection,
as regards his personal appearance. He 's too light for my taste,
and too red. And because you think people handsome, it does n't
follow that you are fond of them. I used to have a friend who was
awfully handsome--the handsomest man I ever saw-- and I was perfectly
conscious of his defects. But I 'm not conscious of Gordon's, and I
don't believe he has got any. He 's so intensely kind; it 's quite
pathetic. One would think he had done me an injury in marrying me,
and that he wanted to make up for it. If he has done me an injury I
have n't discovered it yet, and I don't believe I ever shall. I
certainly shall not as long as he lets me order all the clothes I
want. I have ordered five dresses this week, and I mean to order two
more. When I told Gordon, what do you think he did? He simply kissed
me. Well, if that 's not expressive, I don't know what he could have
done. He kisses me about seventeen times a day. I suppose it 's very
improper for a woman to tell any one how often her husband kisses her;
but, as you happen to have seen him do it, I don't suppose you will
be scandalized. I know you are not easily scandalized; I am not
afraid of you. You are scandalized at my getting so many dresses?
Well, I told you I was spoiled--I freely acknowledge it. That 's why
I was afraid to tell Gordon-- because when I was married I had such a
lot of things; I was supposed to have dresses enough to last for a
year. But Gordon had n't to pay for them, so there was no harm in my
letting him feel that he has a wife. If he thinks I am extravagant,
he can easily stop kissing me. You don't think it would be easy to
stop? It 's very well, then, for those that have never begun!"
Bernard had a good deal of conversation with Blanche, of which, so
far as she was concerned, the foregoing remarks may serve as a
specimen. Gordon was away from home during much of the day; he had a
chemical laboratory in which he was greatly interested, and which he
took Bernard to see; it was fitted up with the latest contrivances for
the pursuit of experimental science, and was the resort of needy young
students, who enjoyed, at Gordon's expense, the opportunity for
pushing their researches. The place did great honor to Gordon's
liberality and to his ingenuity; but Blanche, who had also paid it a
visit, could never speak of it without a pretty little shudder.
"Nothing would induce me to go there again," she declared, "and I
consider myself very fortunate to have escaped from it with my life.
It 's filled with all sorts of horrible things, that fizzle up and go
off, or that make you turn some dreadful color if you look at them. I
expect to hear a great clap some day, and half an hour afterward to
see Gordon brought home in several hundred small pieces, put up in a
dozen little bottles. I got a horrid little stain in the middle of my
dress that one of the young men--the young savants--was so good as to
drop there. Did you see the young savants who work under Gordon's
orders? I thought they were too forlorn; there is n't one of them you
would look at. If you can believe it, there was n't one of them that
looked at me; they took no more notice of me than if I had been the
charwoman. They might have shown me some attention, at least, as the
wife of the proprietor. What is it that Gordon 's called--is n't there
some other name? If you say 'proprietor,' it sounds as if he kept an
hotel. I certainly don't want to pass for the wife of an hotel-keeper.
What does he call himself? He must have some name. I hate telling
people he 's a chemist; it sounds just as if he kept a shop. That 's
what they call the druggists in England, and I formed the habit while
I was there. It makes me feel as if he were some dreadful little man,
with big green bottles in the window and 'night-bell' painted outside.
He does n't call himself anything? Well, that 's exactly like
Gordon! I wonder he consents to have a name at all. When I was
telling some one about the young men who work under his orders--the
young savants--he said I must not say that-- I must not speak of their
working 'under his orders.' I don't know what he would like me to say!
Under his inspiration!"
During the hours of Gordon's absence, Bernard had frequent
colloquies with his friend's wife, whose irresponsible prattle amused
him, and in whom he tried to discover some faculty, some quality,
which might be a positive guarantee of Gordon's future felicity. But
often, of course, Gordon was an auditor as well; I say an auditor,
because it seemed to Bernard that he had grown to be less of a talker
than of yore. Doubtless, when a man finds himself united to a
garrulous wife, he naturally learns to hold his tongue; but sometimes,
at the close of one of Blanche's discursive monologues, on glancing at
her husband just to see how he took it, and seeing him sit perfectly
silent, with a fixed, inexpressive smile, Bernard said to himself that
Gordon found the lesson of listening attended with some
embarrassments. Gordon, as the years went by, was growing a little
inscrutable; but this, too, in certain circumstances, was a usual
tendency. The operations of the mind, with deepening experience,
became more complex, and people were less apt to emit immature
reflections at forty than they had been in their earlier days.
Bernard felt a great kindness in these days for his old friend; he
never yet had seemed to him such a good fellow, nor appealed so
strongly to the benevolence of his disposition. Sometimes, of old,
Gordon used to irritate him; but this danger appeared completely to
have passed away. Bernard prolonged his visit; it gave him pleasure
to be able to testify in this manner to his good will. Gordon was the
kindest of hosts, and if in conversation, when his wife was present,
he gave precedence to her superior powers, he had at other times a
good deal of pleasant bachelor-talk with his guest. He seemed very
happy; he had plenty of occupation and plenty of practical intentions.
The season went on, and Bernard enjoyed his life. He enjoyed the
keen and brilliant American winter, and he found it very pleasant to
be treated as a distinguished stranger in his own land--a situation to
which his long and repeated absences had relegated him. The
hospitality of New York was profuse; the charm of its daughters
extreme; the radiance of its skies superb. Bernard was the restless
and professionless mortal that we know, wandering in life from one
vague experiment to another, constantly gratified and never satisfied,
to whom no imperious finality had as yet presented itself; and,
nevertheless, for a time he contrived to limit his horizon to the
passing hour, and to make a good many hours pass in the drawing-room
of a demonstrative flirt.
For Mrs. Gordon was a flirt; that had become tolerably obvious.
Bernard had known of old that Blanche Evers was one, and two or three
months' observation of his friend's wife assured him that she did not
judge a certain ethereal coquetry to be inconsistent with the conjugal
character. Blanche flirted, in fact, more or less with all men, but
her opportunity for playing her harmless batteries upon Bernard were
of course exceptionally large. The poor fellow was perpetually under
fire, and it was inevitable that he should reply with some precision
of aim. It seemed to him all child's play, and it is certain that when
his back was turned to his pretty hostess he never found himself
thinking of her. He had not the least reason to suppose that she
thought of him-- excessive concentration of mind was the last vice of
which he accused her. But before the winter was over, he discovered
that Mrs. Gordon Wright was being talked about, and that his own name
was, as the newspapers say, mentioned in connection with that of his
friend's wife. The discovery greatly disgusted him; Bernard
Longueville's chronicler must do him the justice to say that it failed
to yield him an even transient thrill of pleasure. He thought it very
improbable that this vulgar rumor had reached Gordon's ears; but he
nevertheless--very naturally--instantly made up his mind to leave the
house. He lost no time in saying to Gordon that he had suddenly
determined to go to California, and that he was sure he must be glad
to get rid of him. Gordon expressed no surprise and no regret. He
simply laid his hand on his shoulder and said, very quietly, looking at
him in the eyes--
"Very well; the pleasantest things must come to an end."
It was not till an hour afterwards that Bernard said to himself
that his friend's manner of receiving the announcement of his
departure had been rather odd. He had neither said a word about his
staying longer nor urged him to come back again, and there had been
(it now seemed to Bernard) an audible undertone of relief in the
single sentence with which he assented to his visitor's withdrawal.
Could it be possible that poor Gordon was jealous of him, that he had
heard this loathsome gossip, or that his own observation had given him
an alarm? He had certainly never betrayed the smallest sense of
injury; but it was to be remembered that even if he were uneasy,
Gordon was quite capable, with his characteristic habit of weighing
everything, his own honor included, in scrupulously adjusted scales,
of denying himself the luxury of active suspicion. He would never have
let a half suspicion make a difference in his conduct, and he would
not have dissimulated; he would simply have resisted belief. His
hospitality had been without a flaw, and if he had really been wishing
Bernard out of his house, he had behaved with admirable self-control.
Bernard, however, followed this train of thought a very short
distance. It was odious to him to believe that he could have appeared
to Gordon, however guiltlessly, to have invaded even in imagination
the mystic line of the marital monopoly; not to say that, moreover, if
one came to that, he really cared about as much for poor little
Blanche as for the weather-cock on the nearest steeple. He simply
hurried his preparations for departure, and he told Blanche that he
should have to bid her farewell on the following day. He had found her
in the drawing-room, waiting for dinner. She was expecting company to
dine, and Gordon had not yet come down.
She was sitting in the vague glow of the fire-light, in a wonderful
blue dress, with two little blue feet crossed on the rug and pointed
at the hearth. She received Bernard's announcement with small
satisfaction, and expended a great deal of familiar ridicule on his
project of a journey to California. Then, suddenly getting up and
looking at him a moment--
"I know why you are going," she said.
"I am glad to hear my explanations have not been lost."
"Your explanations are all nonsense. You are going for another
"Well," said Bernard, "if you insist upon it, it 's because you
are too sharp with me."
"It 's because of me. So much as that is true." Bernard wondered
what she was going to say--if she were going to be silly enough to
allude to the most impudent of fictions; then, as she stood opening
and closing her blue fan and smiling at him in the fire-light, he felt
that she was silly enough for anything. "It 's because of all the
talk--it 's because of Gordon. You need n't be afraid of Gordon."
"Afraid of him? I don't know what you mean," said Bernard,
Blanche gave a little laugh.
"You have discovered that people are talking about us--about you
and me. I must say I wonder you care. I don't care, and if it 's
because of Gordon, you might as well know that he does n't care. If
he does n't care, I don't see why I should; and if I don't, I don't
see why you should!"
"You pay too much attention to such insipid drivel in even
"Well, if I have the credit of saying what I should n't--to you or
to any one else--I don't see why I should n't have the advantage too.
Gordon does n't care--he does n't care what I do or say. He does n't
care a pin for me!"
She spoke in her usual rattling, rambling voice, and brought out
this declaration with a curious absence of resentment.
"You talk about advantage," said Bernard. "I don't see what
advantage it is to you to say that."
"I want to--I must--I will! That 's the advantage!" This came
out with a sudden sharpness of tone; she spoke more excitedly. "He
does n't care a button for me, and he never did! I don't know what he
married me for. He cares for something else-- he thinks of something
else. I don't know what it is--I suppose it 's chemistry!"
These words gave Bernard a certain shock, but he had his
intelligence sufficiently in hand to contradict them with energy.
"You labor under a monstrous delusion," he exclaimed. "Your
husband thinks you fascinating."
This epithet, pronounced with a fine distinctness, was ringing in
the air when the door opened and Gordon came in. He looked for a
moment from Bernard to his wife, and then, approaching the latter, he
"Do you know that he leaves us to-morrow?"
Bernard left then and went to California; but when he arrived
there he asked himself why he had come, and was unable to mention any
other reason than that he had announced it. He began to feel restless
again, and to drift back to that chronic chagrin which had accompanied
him through his long journey in the East. He succeeded, however, in
keeping these unreasonable feelings at bay for some time, and he
strove to occupy himself, to take an interest in Californian problems.
Bernard, however, was neither an economist nor a cattle-fancier, and
he found that, as the phrase is, there was not a great deal to take
hold of. He wandered about, admired the climate and the big peaches,
thought a while of going to Japan, and ended by going to Mexico. In
this way he passed several months, and justified, in the eyes of other
people at least, his long journey across the Continent. At last he
made it again, in the opposite sense. He went back to New York, where
the summer had already begun, and here he invented a solution for the
difficulty presented by life to a culpably unoccupied and
ill-regulated man. The solution was not in the least original, and I
am almost ashamed to mention so stale and conventional a device.
Bernard simply hit upon the plan of returning to Europe. Such as it
was, however, he carried it out with an audacity worthy of a better
cause, and was sensibly happier since he had made up his mind to it.
Gordon Wright and his wife were out of town, but Bernard went into
the country, as boldly as you please, to inform them of his little
project and take a long leave of them. He had made his arrangements to
sail immediately, and, as at such short notice it was impossible to
find good quarters on one of the English vessels, he had engaged a
berth on a French steamer, which would convey him to Havre. On going
down to Gordon's house in the country, he was conscious of a good deal
of eagerness to know what had become of that latent irritation of
which Blanche had given him a specimen. Apparently it had quite
subsided; Blanche was wreathed in smiles; she was living in a bower of
roses. Bernard, indeed, had no opportunity for investigating her
state of mind, for he found several people in the house, and Blanche,
who had an exalted standard of the duties of a hostess, was occupied
in making life agreeable to her guests, most of whom were gentlemen.
She had in this way that great remedy for dissatisfaction which
Bernard lacked--something interesting to do. Bernard felt a good deal
of genuine sadness in taking leave of Gordon, to whom he contrived to
feel even more kindly than in earlier days. He had quite forgotten
that Gordon was jealous of him-- which he was not, as Bernard said.
Certainly, Gordon showed nothing of it now, and nothing could have
been more friendly than their parting. Gordon, also, for a man who
was never boisterous, seemed very contented. He was fond of
exercising hospitality, and he confessed to Bernard that he was just
now in the humor for having his house full of people. Fortune
continued to gratify this generous taste; for just as Bernard was
coming away another guest made his appearance. The new-comer was none
other than the Honourable Augustus Lovelock, who had just arrived in
New York, and who, as he added, had long desired to visit the United
States. Bernard merely witnessed his arrival, and was struck with the
fact that as he presented himself-- it seemed quite a
surprise--Blanche really stopped chattering.
I have called it a stale expedient on Bernard Longueville's part
to "go to Europe" again, like the most commonplace American; and it
is certain that, as our young man stood and looked out of the window
of his inn at Havre, an hour after his arrival at that sea-port, his
adventure did not strike him as having any great freshness. He had no
plans nor intentions; he had not even any very definite desires. He
had felt the impulse to come back to Europe, and he had obeyed it; but
now that he had arrived, his impulse seemed to have little more to say
to him. He perceived it, indeed--mentally--in the attitude of a small
street-boy playing upon his nose with that vulgar gesture which is
supposed to represent the elation of successful fraud. There was a
large blank wall before his window, painted a dirty yellow and much
discolored by the weather; a broad patch of summer sunlight rested
upon it and brought out the full vulgarity of its complexion. Bernard
stared a while at this blank wall, which struck him in some degree as
a symbol of his own present moral prospect. Then suddenly he turned
away, with the declaration that, whatever truth there might be in
symbolism, he, at any rate, had not come to Europe to spend the
precious remnant of his youth in a malodorous Norman sea-port. The
weather was very hot, and neither the hotel nor the town at large
appeared to form an attractive sejour for persons of an irritable
nostril. To go to Paris, however, was hardly more attractive than to
remain at Havre, for Bernard had a lively vision of the heated bitumen
and the glaring frontages of the French capital. But if a Norman
town was close and dull, the Norman country was notoriously fresh and
entertaining, and the next morning Bernard got into a caleche, with
his luggage, and bade its proprietor drive him along the coast. Once
he had begun to rumble through this charming landscape, he was in much
better humor with his situation; the air was freshened by a breeze
from the sea; the blooming country, without walls or fences, lay open
to the traveller's eye; the grain-fields and copses were shimmering in
the summer wind; the pink-faced cottages peeped through the ripening
orchard-boughs, and the gray towers of the old churches were silvered
by the morning-light of France.
At the end of some three hours, Bernard arrived at a little
watering-place which lay close upon the shore, in the embrace of a
pair of white-armed cliffs. It had a quaint and primitive aspect and
a natural picturesqueness which commended it to Bernard's taste.
There was evidently a great deal of nature about it, and at this
moment, nature, embodied in the clear, gay sunshine, in the blue and
quiet sea, in the daisied grass of the high-shouldered downs, had an
air of inviting the intelligent observer to postpone his difficulties.
Blanquais-les-Galets, as Bernard learned the name of this
unfashionable resort to be, was twenty miles from a railway, and the
place wore an expression of unaffected rusticity. Bernard stopped at
an inn for his noonday breakfast, and then, with his appreciation
quickened by the homely felicity of this repast, determined to go no
further. He engaged a room at the inn, dismissed his vehicle, and
gave himself up to the contemplation of French sea-side manners.
These were chiefly to be observed upon a pebbly strand which lay
along the front of the village and served as the gathering-point of
its idler inhabitants. Bathing in the sea was the chief occupation of
these good people, including, as it did, prolonged spectatorship of
the process and infinite conversation upon its mysteries. The little
world of Blanquais appeared to form a large family party, of highly
developed amphibious habits, which sat gossiping all day upon the warm
pebbles, occasionally dipping into the sea and drying itself in the
sun, without any relaxation of personal intimacy. All this was very
amusing to Bernard, who in the course of the day took a bath with the
rest. The ocean was, after all, very large, and when one took one's
plunge one seemed to have it quite to one's self. When he had dressed
himself again, Bernard stretched himself on the beach, feeling happier
than he had done in a long time, and pulled his hat over his eyes.
The feeling of happiness was an odd one; it had come over him
suddenly, without visible cause; but, such as it was, our hero made
the most of it. As he lay there it seemed to deepen; his immersion and
his exercise in the salt water had given him an agreeable languor.
This presently became a drowsiness which was not less agreeable, and
Bernard felt himself going to sleep. There were sounds in the air
above his head--sounds of the crunching and rattling of the loose,
smooth stones as his neighbors moved about on them; of high-pitched
French voices exchanging colloquial cries; of the plash of the bathers
in the distant water, and the short, soft breaking of the waves. But
these things came to his ears more vaguely and remotely, and at last
they faded away. Bernard enjoyed half an hour of that light and easy
slumber which is apt to overtake idle people in recumbent attitudes
in the open air on August afternoons. It brought with it an
exquisite sense of rest, and the rest was not spoiled by the fact that
it was animated by a charming dream. Dreams are vague things, and this
one had the defects of its species; but it was somehow concerned with
the image of a young lady whom Bernard had formerly known, and who had
beautiful eyes, into which--in the dream--he found himself looking.
He waked up to find himself looking into the crown of his hat, which
had been resting on the bridge of his nose. He removed it, and half
raised himself, resting on his elbow and preparing to taste, in
another position, of a little more of that exquisite rest of which
mention has just been made. The world about him was still amusing and
charming; the chatter of his companions, losing itself in the large
sea-presence, the plash of the divers and swimmers, the deep blue of
the ocean and the silvery white of the cliff, had that striking air of
indifference to the fact that his mind had been absent from them which
we are apt to find in mundane things on emerging from a nap. The same
people were sitting near him on the beach--the same, and yet not quite
the same. He found himself noticing a person whom he had not noticed
before-- a young lady, who was seated in a low portable chair, some
dozen yards off, with her eyes bent upon a book. Her head was in
shade; her large parasol made, indeed, an awning for her whole person,
which in this way, in the quiet attitude of perusal, seemed to
abstract itself from the glare and murmur of the beach. The clear
shadow of her umbrella--it was lined with blue-- was deep upon her
face; but it was not deep enough to prevent Bernard from recognizing a
profile that he knew. He suddenly sat upright, with an intensely
quickened vision. Was he dreaming still, or had he waked? In a moment
he felt that he was acutely awake; he heard her, across the interval,
turn the page of her book. For a single instant, as she did so, she
looked with level brows at the glittering ocean; then, lowering her
eyes, she went on with her reading. In this barely perceptible
movement he saw Angela Vivian; it was wonderful how well he remembered
her. She was evidently reading very seriously; she was much
interested in her book. She was alone; Bernard looked about for her
mother, but Mrs. Vivian was not in sight. By this time Bernard had
become aware that he was agitated; the exquisite rest of a few moments
before had passed away. His agitation struck him as unreasonable; in
a few minutes he made up his mind that it was absurd. He had done her
an injury--yes; but as she sat there losing herself in a French
novel--Bernard could see it was a French novel-- he could not make out
that she was the worse for it. It had not affected her appearance;
Miss Vivian was still a handsome girl. Bernard hoped she would not
look toward him or recognize him; he wished to look at her at his
ease; to think it over; to make up his mind. The idea of meeting
Angela Vivian again had often come into his thoughts; I may, indeed,
say that it was a tolerably familiar presence there; but the fact,
nevertheless, now presented itself with all the violence of an
accident for which he was totally unprepared. He had often asked
himself what he should say to her, how he should carry himself, and
how he should probably find the young lady; but, with whatever
ingenuity he might at the moment have answered these questions, his
intelligence at present felt decidedly overtaxed. She was a very
pretty girl to whom he had done a wrong; this was the final attitude
into which, with a good deal of preliminary shifting and wavering, she
had settled in his recollection. The wrong was a right, doubtless,
from certain points of view; but from the girl's own it could only
seem an injury to which its having been inflicted by a clever young
man with whom she had been on agreeable terms, necessarily added a
touch of baseness.
In every disadvantage that a woman suffers at the hands of a man,
there is inevitably, in what concerns the man, an element of
cowardice. When I say "inevitably," I mean that this is what the woman
sees in it. This is what Bernard believed that Angela Vivian saw in
the fact that by giving his friend a bad account of her he had
prevented her making an opulent marriage. At first he had said to
himself that, whether he had held his tongue or spoken, she had
already lost her chance; but with time, somehow, this reflection had
lost its weight in the scale. It conveyed little re-assurance to his
irritated conscience-- it had become imponderable and impertinent. At
the moment of which I speak it entirely failed to present itself, even
for form's sake; and as he sat looking at this superior creature who
came back to him out of an episode of his past, he thought of her
simply as an unprotected woman toward whom he had been indelicate. It
is not an agreeable thing for a delicate man like Bernard Longueville
to have to accommodate himself to such an accident, but this is
nevertheless what it seemed needful that he should do. If she bore him
a grudge he must think it natural; if she had vowed him a hatred he
must allow her the comfort of it. He had done the only thing
possible, but that made it no better for her. He had wronged her. The
circumstances mattered nothing, and as he could not make it up to her,
the only reasonable thing was to keep out of her way. He had stepped
into her path now, and the proper thing was to step out of it. If it
could give her no pleasure to see him again, it could certainly do him
no good to see her. He had seen her by this time pretty well--as far
as mere seeing went, and as yet, apparently, he was none the worse for
that; but his hope that he should himself escape unperceived had now
become acute. It is singular that this hope should not have led him
instantly to turn his back and move away; but the explanation of his
imprudent delay is simply that he wished to see a little more of Miss
Vivian. He was unable to bring himself to the point. Those clever
things that he might have said to her quite faded away. The only good
taste was to take himself off, and spare her the trouble of inventing
civilities that she could not feel. And yet he continued to sit there
from moment to moment, arrested, detained, fascinated, by the accident
of her not looking round-- of her having let him watch her so long.
She turned another page, and another, and her reading absorbed her
still. He was so near her that he could have touched her dress with
the point of his umbrella. At last she raised her eyes and rested them
a while on the blue horizon, straight in front of her, but as yet
without turning them aside. This, however, augmented the danger of
her doing so, and Bernard, with a good deal of an effort, rose to his
feet. The effort, doubtless, kept the movement from being either as
light or as swift as it might have been, and it vaguely attracted his
neighbor's attention. She turned her head and glanced at him, with a
glance that evidently expected but to touch him and pass. It touched
him, and it was on the point of passing; then it suddenly checked
itself; she had recognized him. She looked at him, straight and
open-eyed, out of the shadow of her parasol, and Bernard stood
there--motionless now--receiving her gaze. How long it lasted need not
be narrated. It was probably a matter of a few seconds, but to
Bernard it seemed a little eternity. He met her eyes, he looked
straight into her face; now that she had seen him he could do nothing
else. Bernard's little eternity, however, came to an end; Miss Vivian
dropped her eyes upon her book again. She let them rest upon it only a
moment; then she closed it and slowly rose from her chair, turning
away from Bernard. He still stood looking at her--stupidly, foolishly,
helplessly enough, as it seemed to him; no sign of recognition had
been exchanged. Angela Vivian hesitated a minute; she now had her back
turned to him, and he fancied her light, flexible figure was agitated
by her indecision. She looked along the sunny beach which stretched
its shallow curve to where the little bay ended and the white wall of
the cliffs began. She looked down toward the sea, and up toward the
little Casino which was perched on a low embankment, communicating
with the beach at two or three points by a short flight of steps.
Bernard saw-- or supposed he saw--that she was asking herself whither
she had best turn to avoid him. He had not blushed when she looked at
him-- he had rather turned a little pale; but he blushed now, for it
really seemed odious to have literally driven the poor girl to bay.
Miss Vivian decided to take refuge in the Casino, and she passed
along one of the little pathways of planks that were laid here and
there across the beach, and directed herself to the nearest flight of
steps. Before she had gone two paces a complete change came over
Bernard's feeling; his only wish now was to speak to her-- to
explain--to tell her he would go away. There was another row of steps
at a short distance behind him; he rapidly ascended them and reached
the little terrace of the Casino. Miss Vivian stood there; she was
apparently hesitating again which way to turn. Bernard came straight
up to her, with a gallant smile and a greeting. The comparison is a
coarse one, but he felt that he was taking the bull by the horns.
Angela Vivian stood watching him arrive.
"You did n't recognize me," he said, "and your not recognizing me
made me-- made me hesitate."
For a moment she said nothing, and then--
"You are more timid than you used to be!" she answered.
He could hardly have said what expression he had expected to find
in her face; his apprehension had, perhaps, not painted her
obtrusively pale and haughty, aggressively cold and stern; but it had
figured something different from the look he encountered. Miss Vivian
was simply blushing--that was what Bernard mainly perceived; he saw
that her surprise had been extreme--complete. Her blush was
re-assuring; it contradicted the idea of impatient resentment, and
Bernard took some satisfaction in noting that it was prolonged.
"Yes, I am more timid than I used to be," he said.
In spite of her blush, she continued to look at him very directly;
but she had always done that--she always met one's eye; and Bernard
now instantly found all the beauty that he had ever found before in
her pure, unevasive glance.
"I don't know whether I am more brave," she said; "but I must tell
the truth-- I instantly recognized you."
"You gave no sign!"
"I supposed I gave a striking one--in getting up and going away."
"Ah!" said Bernard, "as I say, I am more timid than I was, and I
did n't venture to interpret that as a sign of recognition."
"It was a sign of surprise."
"Not of pleasure!" said Bernard. He felt this to be a venturesome,
and from the point of view of taste perhaps a reprehensible, remark;
but he made it because he was now feeling his ground, and it seemed
better to make it gravely than with assumed jocosity.
"Great surprises are to me never pleasures," Angela answered; "I
am not fond of shocks of any kind. The pleasure is another matter. I
have not yet got over my surprise."
"If I had known you were here, I would have written to you
beforehand," said Bernard, laughing.
Miss Vivian, beneath her expanded parasol, gave a little shrug of
"Even that would have been a surprise."
"You mean a shock, eh? Did you suppose I was dead?"
Now, at last, she lowered her eyes, and her blush slowly died away.
"I knew nothing about it."
"Of course you could n't know, and we are all mortal. It was
natural that you should n't expect--simply on turning your head-- to
find me lying on the pebbles at Blanquais-les-Galets. You were a great
surprise to me, as well; but I differ from you-- I like surprises."
"It is rather refreshing to hear that one is a surprise," said the
"Especially when in that capacity one is liked!" Bernard
"I don't say that--because such sensations pass away. I am now
beginning to get over mine."
The light mockery of her tone struck him as the echo of an
unforgotten air. He looked at her a moment, and then he said--
"You are not changed; I find you quite the same."
"I am sorry for that!" And she turned away.
"What are you doing?" he asked. "Where are you going?"
She looked about her, without answering, up and down the little
terrace. The Casino at Blanquais was a much more modest place of
reunion than the Conversation-house at Baden-Baden. It was a small,
low structure of brightly painted wood, containing but three or four
rooms, and furnished all along its front with a narrow covered
gallery, which offered a delusive shelter from the rougher moods of
the fine, fresh weather. It was somewhat rude and shabby--the
subscription for the season was low--but it had a simple
picturesqueness. Its little terrace was a very convenient place for a
stroll, and the great view of the ocean and of the marble-white crags
that formed the broad gate-way of the shallow bay, was a sufficient
compensation for the absence of luxuries. There were a few people
sitting in the gallery, and a few others scattered upon the terrace;
but the pleasure-seekers of Blanquais were, for the most part,
immersed in the salt water or disseminated on the grassy downs.
"I am looking for my mother," said Angela Vivian.
"I hope your mother is well."
"Very well, thank you."
"May I help you to look for her?" Bernard asked.
Her eyes paused in their quest, and rested a moment upon her
"She is not here," she said presently. "She has gone home."
"What do you call home?" Bernard demanded.
"The sort of place that we always call home; a bad little house
that we have taken for a month."
"Will you let me come and see it?"
"It 's nothing to see."
Bernard hesitated a moment.
"Is that a refusal?"
"I should never think of giving it so fine a name."
"There would be nothing fine in forbidding me your door. Don't
think that!" said Bernard, with rather a forced laugh.
It was difficult to know what the girl thought; but she said, in a
"We shall be very happy to see you. I am going home."
"May I walk with you so far?" asked Bernard.
"It is not far; it 's only three minutes." And Angela moved
slowly to the gate of the Casino.
Bernard walked beside her, and for some moments nothing was said
between them. As the silence continued, he became aware of it, and
it vexed him that she should leave certain things unsaid. She had
asked him no question--neither whence he had come, nor how long he
would stay, nor what had happened to him since they parted. He wished
to see whether this was intention or accident. He was already
complaining to himself that she expressed no interest in him, and he
was perfectly aware that this was a ridiculous feeling. He had come to
speak to her in order to tell her that he was going away, and yet, at
the end of five minutes, he had asked leave to come and see her. This
sudden gyration of mind was grotesque, and Bernard knew it; but,
nevertheless, he had an immense expectation that, if he should give
her time, she would manifest some curiosity as to his own situation.
He tried to give her time; he held his tongue; but she continued to
say nothing. They passed along a sort of winding lane, where two or
three fishermen's cottages, with old brown nets suspended on the walls
and drying in the sun, stood open to the road, on the other side of
which was a patch of salt-looking grass, browsed by a donkey that was
"It 's so long since we parted, and we have so much to say to each
other!" Bernard exclaimed at last, and he accompanied this declaration
with a laugh much more spontaneous than the one he had given a few
It might have gratified him, however, to observe that his companion
appeared to see no ground for joking in the idea that they should have
a good deal to say to each other.
"Yes, it 's a long time since we spent those pleasant weeks at
Baden," she rejoined. "Have you been there again?"
This was a question, and though it was a very simple one, Bernard
was charmed with it.
"I would n't go back for the world!" he said. "And you?"
"Would I go back? Oh yes; I thought it so agreeable."
With this he was less pleased; he had expected the traces of
resentment, and he was actually disappointed at not finding them. But
here was the little house of which his companion had spoken, and it
seemed, indeed, a rather bad one. That is, it was one of those
diminutive structures which are known at French watering-places as
"chalets," and, with an exiguity of furniture, are let for the season
to families that pride themselves upon their powers of contraction.
This one was a very humble specimen of its class, though it was
doubtless a not inadequate abode for two quiet and frugal women. It
had a few inches of garden, and there were flowers in pots in the open
windows, where some extremely fresh white curtains were gently
fluttering in the breath of the neighboring ocean. The little door
stood wide open.
"This is where we live," said Angela; and she stopped and laid her
hand upon the little garden-gate.
"It 's very fair," said Bernard. "I think it 's better than the
pastry-cook's at Baden."
They stood there, and she looked over the gate at the geraniums.
She did not ask him to come in; but, on the other hand, keeping the
gate closed, she made no movement to leave him. The Casino was now
quite out of sight, and the whole place was perfectly still.
Suddenly, turning her eyes upon Bernard with a certain strange
"I have not seen you here before," she observed.
He gave a little laugh.
"I suppose it 's because I only arrived this morning. I think that
if I had been here you would have noticed me."
"You arrived this morning?"
"Three or four hours ago. So, if the remark were not in
questionable taste, I should say we had not lost time."
"You may say what you please," said Angela, simply. "Where did
you come from?"
Interrogation, now it had come, was most satisfactory, and Bernard
was glad to believe that there was an element of the unexpected in his
"You came straight from California to this place?"
"I arrived at Havre only yesterday."
"And why did you come here?"
"It would be graceful of me to be able to answer--'Because I knew
you were here.' But unfortunately I did not know it. It was a mere
chance; or rather, I feel like saying it was an inspiration."
Angela looked at the geraniums again.
"It was very singular," she said. "We might have been in so many
places besides this one. And you might have come to so many places
besides this one."
"It is all the more singular, that one of the last persons I saw in
America was your charming friend Blanche, who married Gordon Wright.
She did n't tell me you were here."
"She had no reason to know it," said the girl. "She is not my
friend-- as you are her husband's friend."
"Ah no, I don't suppose that. But she might have heard from you."
"She does n't hear from us. My mother used to write to her for a
while after she left Europe, but she has given it up." She paused a
moment, and then she added--"Blanche is too silly!"
Bernard noted this, wondering how it bore upon his theory of a
spiteful element in his companion. Of course Blanche was silly; but,
equally of course, this young lady's perception of it was quickened by
Blanche's having married a rich man whom she herself might have
"Gordon does n't think so," Bernard said.
Angela looked at him a moment.
"I am very glad to hear it," she rejoined, gently.
"Yes, it is very fortunate."
"Is he well?" the girl asked. "Is he happy?"
"He has all the air of it."
"I am very glad to hear it," she repeated. And then she moved the
latch of the gate and passed in. At the same moment her mother
appeared in the open door-way. Mrs. Vivian had apparently been
summoned by the sound of her daughter's colloquy with an unrecognized
voice, and when she saw Bernard she gave a sharp little cry of
surprise. Then she stood gazing at him.
Since the dispersion of the little party at Baden-Baden he had not
devoted much meditation to this conscientious gentlewoman who had
been so tenderly anxious to establish her daughter properly in life;
but there had been in his mind a tacit assumption that if Angela
deemed that he had played her a trick Mrs. Vivian's view of his
conduct was not more charitable. He felt that he must have seemed to
her very unkind, and that in so far as a well-regulated conscience
permitted the exercise of unpractical passions, she honored him with a
superior detestation. The instant he beheld her on her threshold this
conviction rose to the surface of his consciousness and made him feel
that now, at least, his hour had come.
"It is Mr. Longueville, whom we met at Baden," said Angela to her
Mrs. Vivian began to smile, and stepped down quickly toward the
"Ah, Mr. Longueville," she murmured, "it 's so long--it 's so
pleasant-- it 's so strange--"
And suddenly she stopped, still smiling. Her smile had an odd
intensity; she was trembling a little, and Bernard, who was prepared
for hissing scorn, perceived with a deep, an almost violent, surprise,
a touching agitation, an eager friendliness.
"Yes, it 's very long," he said; "it 's very pleasant. I have only
just arrived; I met Miss Vivian."
"And you are not coming in?" asked Angela's mother, very
"Your daughter has not asked me!" said Bernard.
"Ah, my dearest," murmured Mrs. Vivian, looking at the girl.
Her daughter returned her glance, and then the elder lady paused
again, and simply began to smile at Bernard, who recognized in her
glance that queer little intimation--shy and cautious, yet perfectly
discernible-- of a desire to have a private understanding with what he
felt that she mentally termed his better nature, which he had more
than once perceived at Baden-Baden.
"Ah no, she has not asked me," Bernard repeated, laughing gently.
Then Angela turned her eyes upon him, and the expression of those
fine organs was strikingly agreeable. It had, moreover, the merit of
being easily interpreted; it said very plainly, "Please don't insist,
but leave me alone." And it said it not at all sharply--very gently
and pleadingly. Bernard found himself understanding it so well that he
literally blushed with intelligence.
"Don't you come to the Casino in the evening, as you used to come
to the Kursaal?" he asked.
Mrs. Vivian looked again at her daughter, who had passed into the
door-way of the cottage; then she said--
"We will go this evening."
"I shall look for you eagerly," Bernard rejoined. "Auf
wiedersehen, as we used to say at Baden!"
Mrs. Vivian waved him a response over the gate, her daughter gave
him a glance from the threshold, and he took his way back to his inn.
He awaited the evening with great impatience; he fancied he had
made a discovery, and he wished to confirm it. The discovery was that
his idea that she bore him a grudge, that she was conscious of an
injury, that he was associated in her mind with a wrong, had all been
a morbid illusion. She had forgiven, she had forgotten, she did n't
care, she had possibly never cared! This, at least, was his theory
now, and he longed for a little more light upon it. His old sense of
her being a complex and intricate girl had, in that quarter of an hour
of talk with her, again become lively, so that he was not absolutely
sure his apprehensions had been vain. But, with his quick vision of
things, he had got the impression, at any rate, that she had no vulgar
resentment of any slight he might have put upon her, or any
disadvantage he might have caused her. Her feeling about such a matter
would be large and original. Bernard desired to see more of that, and
in the evening, in fact, it seemed to him that he did so.
The terrace of the Casino was far from offering the brilliant
spectacle of the promenade in front of the gaming-rooms at Baden. It
had neither the liberal illumination, the distinguished frequenters,
nor the superior music which formed the attraction of that celebrated
spot; but it had a modest animation of its own, in which the starlight
on the open sea took the place of clustered lamps, and the mighty
resonance of the waves performed the function of an orchestra. Mrs.
Vivian made her appearance with her daughter, and Bernard, as he used
to do at Baden, chose a corner to place some chairs for them. The
crowd was small, for most of the visitors had compressed themselves
into one of the rooms, where a shrill operetta was being performed by
a strolling troupe. Mrs. Vivian's visit was a short one; she remained
at the Casino less than half an hour. But Bernard had some talk with
Angela. He sat beside her--her mother was on the other side, talking
with an old French lady whose acquaintance she had made on the beach.
Between Bernard and Angela several things were said. When his friends
went away Bernard walked home with them. He bade them good-night at
the door of their chalet, and then slowly strolled back to the Casino.
The terrace was nearly empty; every one had gone to listen to the
operetta, the sound of whose contemporary gayety came through the
open, hot-looking windows in little thin quavers and catches. The
ocean was rumbling just beneath; it made a ruder but richer music.
Bernard stood looking at it a moment; then he went down the steps to
the beach. The tide was rather low; he walked slowly down to the line
of the breaking waves. The sea looked huge and black and simple;
everything was vague in the unassisted darkness. Bernard stood there
some time; there was nothing but the sound and the sharp, fresh smell.
Suddenly he put his hand to his heart; it was beating very fast. An
immense conviction had come over him--abruptly, then and there-- and
for a moment he held his breath. It was like a word spoken in the
darkness--he held his breath to listen. He was in love with Angela
Vivian, and his love was a throbbing passion! He sat down on the
stones where he stood--it filled him with a kind of awe.
It filled him with a kind of awe, and the feeling was by no means
agreeable. It was not a feeling to which even a man of Bernard
Longueville's easy power of extracting the savour from a sensation
could rapidly habituate himself, and for the rest of that night it was
far from making of our hero the happy man that a lover just coming to
self-consciousness is supposed to be. It was wrong--it was
dishonorable--it was impossible--and yet it was; it was, as nothing in
his own personal experience had ever been. He seemed hitherto to have
been living by proxy, in a vision, in reflection--to have been an
echo, a shadow, a futile attempt; but this at last was life itself,
this was a fact, this was reality. For these things one lived; these
were the things that people had died for. Love had been a fable
before this-- doubtless a very pretty one; and passion had been a
literary phrase--employed obviously with considerable effect. But now
he stood in a personal relation to these familiar ideas, which gave
them a very much keener import; they had laid their hand upon him in
the darkness, he felt it upon his shoulder, and he knew by its
pressure that it was the hand of destiny. What made this sensation a
shock was the element that was mixed with it; the fact that it came
not simply and singly, but with an attendant shadow in which it
immediately merged and lost itself. It was forbidden fruit--he knew it
the instant he had touched it. He felt that he had pledged himself not
to do just this thing which was gleaming before him so divinely--not
to widen the crevice, not to open the door that would flood him with
light. Friendship and honor were at stake; they stood at his left
hand, as his new-born passion stood already at his right; they
claimed him as well, and their grasp had a pressure which might become
acutely painful. The soul is a still more tender organism than the
body, and it shrinks from the prospect of being subjected to violence.
Violence--spiritual violence-- was what our luxurious hero feared;
and it is not too much to say that as he lingered there by the sea,
late into the night, while the gurgitation of the waves grew deeper to
his ear, the prospect came to have an element of positive terror. The
two faces of his situation stood confronting each other; it was a
rigid, brutal opposition, and Bernard held his breath for a while with
the wonder of what would come of it. He sat a long time upon the
beach; the night grew very cold, but he had no sense of it. Then he
went away and passed before the Casino again, and wandered through the
village. The Casino was shrouded in darkness and silence, and there
was nothing in the streets of the little town but the salt smell of
the sea, a vague aroma of fish and the distant sound of the breakers.
Little by little, Bernard lost the feeling of having been startled,
and began to perceive that he could reason about his trouble. Trouble
it was, though this seems an odd name for the consciousness of a
bright enchantment; and the first thing that reason, definitely
consulted, told him about the matter was that he had been in love with
Angela Vivian any time these three years. This sapient faculty
supplied him with further information; only two or three of the items
of which, however, it is necessary to reproduce. He had been a great
fool--an incredible fool-- not to have discovered before this what was
the matter with him! Bernard's sense of his own shrewdness--always
tolerably acute-- had never received such a bruise as this present
perception that a great many things had been taking place in his
clever mind without his clever mind suspecting them. But it little
mattered, his reason went on to declare, what he had suspected or what
he might now feel about it; his present business was to leave
Blanquais-les-Galets at sunrise the next morning and never rest his
eyes upon Angela Vivian again. This was his duty; it had the merit
of being perfectly plain and definite, easily apprehended, and
unattended, as far as he could discover, with the smallest material
difficulties. Not only this, reason continued to remark; but the
moral difficulties were equally inconsiderable. He had never breathed
a word of his passion to Miss Vivian-- quite the contrary; he had
never committed himself nor given her the smallest reason to suspect
his hidden flame; and he was therefore perfectly free to turn his back
upon her-- he could never incur the reproach of trifling with her
affections. Bernard was in that state of mind when it is the greatest
of blessings to be saved the distress of choice--to see a straight
path before you and to feel that you have only to follow it. Upon the
straight path I have indicated, he fixed his eyes very hard; of course
he would take his departure at the earliest possible hour on the
morrow. There was a streak of morning in the eastern sky by the time
he knocked for re-admittance at the door of the inn, which was opened
to him by a mysterious old woman in a nightcap and meagre accessories,
whose identity he failed to ascertain; and he laid himself down to
rest--he was very tired--with his attention fastened, as I say, on the
idea--on the very image--of departure.
On waking up the next morning, rather late, he found, however, that
it had attached itself to a very different object. His vision was
filled with the brightness of the delightful fact itself, which seemed
to impregnate the sweet morning air and to flutter in the light,
fresh breeze that came through his open window from the sea. He saw a
great patch of the sea between a couple of red-tiled roofs; it was
bluer than any sea had ever been before. He had not slept long-- only
three or four hours; but he had quite slept off his dread. The shadow
had dropped away and nothing was left but the beauty of his love,
which seemed to shine in the freshness of the early day. He felt
absurdly happy--as if he had discovered El Dorado; quite apart from
consequences--he was not thinking of consequences, which of course
were another affair--the feeling was intrinsically the finest one he
had ever had, and--as a mere feeling--he had not done with it yet. The
consideration of consequences could easily be deferred, and there
would, meanwhile, be no injury to any one in his extracting, very
quietly, a little subjective joy from the state of his heart. He would
let the flower bloom for a day before plucking it up by the roots.
Upon this latter course he was perfectly resolved, and in view of
such an heroic resolution the subjective interlude appeared no more
than his just privilege. The project of leaving Blanquais-les-Galets
at nine o'clock in the morning dropped lightly from his mind, making
no noise as it fell; but another took its place, which had an air of
being still more excellent and which consisted of starting off on a
long walk and absenting himself for the day. Bernard grasped his stick
and wandered away; he climbed the great shoulder of the further cliff
and found himself on the level downs. Here there was apparently no
obstacle whatever to his walking as far as his fancy should carry him.
The summer was still in a splendid mood, and the hot and quiet
day--it was a Sunday-- seemed to constitute a deep, silent smile on
the face of nature. The sea glistened on one side, and the crops
ripened on the other; the larks, losing themselves in the dense
sunshine, made it ring here and there in undiscoverable spots; this
was the only sound save when Bernard, pausing now and then in his
walk, found himself hearing far below him, at the base of the cliff,
the drawling murmur of a wave. He walked a great many miles and
passed through half a dozen of those rude fishing-hamlets, lodged in
some sloping hollow of the cliffs, so many of which, of late years,
all along the Norman coast, have adorned themselves with a couple of
hotels and a row of bathing-machines. He walked so far that the
shadows had begun to lengthen before he bethought himself of stopping;
the afternoon had come on and had already begun to wane. The grassy
downs still stretched before him, shaded here and there with shallow
but windless dells. He looked for the softest place and then flung
himself down on the grass; he lay there for a long time, thinking of
many things. He had determined to give himself up to a day's
happiness; it was happiness of a very harmless kind-- the satisfaction
of thought, the bliss of mere consciousness; but such as it was it did
not elude him nor turn bitter in his heart, and the long summer day
closed upon him before his spirit, hovering in perpetual circles round
the idea of what might be, had begun to rest its wing. When he rose
to his feet again it was too late to return to Blanquais in the same
way that he had come; the evening was at hand, the light was already
fading, and the walk he had taken was one which even if he had not
felt very tired, he would have thought it imprudent to attempt to
repeat in the darkness. He made his way to the nearest village, where
he was able to hire a rustic carriole, in which primitive conveyance,
gaining the high-road, he jogged and jostled through the hours of the
evening slowly back to his starting-point. It wanted an hour of
midnight by the time he reached his inn, and there was nothing left
for him but to go to bed.
He went in the unshaken faith that he should leave Blanquais early
on the morrow. But early on the morrow it occurred to him that it
would be simply grotesque to go off without taking leave of Mrs.
Vivian and her daughter, and offering them some explanation of his
intention. He had given them to understand that, so delighted was he
to find them there, he would remain at Blanquais at least as long as
they. He must have seemed to them wanting in civility, to spend a
whole bright Sunday without apparently troubling his head about them,
and if the unlucky fact of his being in love with the girl were a
reason for doing his duty, it was at least not a reason for being
rude. He had not yet come to that-- to accepting rudeness as an
incident of virtue; it had always been his theory that virtue had the
best manners in the world, and he flattered himself at any rate that
he could guard his integrity without making himself ridiculous. So,
at what he thought a proper hour, in the course of the morning, he
retraced his steps along the little lane through which, two days ago,
Angela Vivian had shown him the way to her mother's door. At this
humble portal he knocked; the windows of the little chalet were open,
and the white curtains, behind the flower-pots, were fluttering as he
had seen them before. The door was opened by a neat young woman, who
informed him very promptly that Madame and Mademoiselle had left
Blanquais a couple of hours earlier. They had gone to Paris--yes,
very suddenly, taking with them but little luggage, and they had left
her-- she had the honor of being the femme de chambre of ces dames--
to put up their remaining possessions and follow as soon as possible.
On Bernard's expressing surprise and saying that he had supposed them
to be fixed at the sea-side for the rest of the season, the femme de
chambre, who seemed a very intelligent person, begged to remind him
that the season was drawing to a close, that Madame had taken the
chalet but for five weeks, only ten days of which period were yet to
expire, that ces dames, as Monsieur perhaps knew, were great
travellers, who had been half over the world and thought nothing of
breaking camp at an hour's notice, and that, in fine, Madame might
very well have received a telegram summoning her to another part of
"And where have the ladies gone?" asked Bernard.
"For the moment, to Paris."
"And in Paris where have they gone?"
"Dame, chez elles--to their house," said the femme de chambre, who
appeared to think that Bernard asked too many questions.
But Bernard persisted.
"Where is their house?"
The waiting-maid looked at him from head to foot.
"If Monsieur wishes to write, many of Madame's letters come to her
banker," she said, inscrutably.
"And who is her banker?"
"He lives in the Rue de Provence."
"Very good--I will find him out," said our hero, turning away.
The discriminating reader who has been so good as to interest
himself in this little narrative will perhaps at this point exclaim
with a pardonable consciousness of shrewdness: "Of course he went the
next day to the Rue de Provence!" Of course, yes; only as it happens
Bernard did nothing of the kind. He did one of the most singular
things he ever did in his life-- a thing that puzzled him even at the
time, and with regard to which he often afterward wondered whence he
had drawn the ability for so remarkable a feat--he simply spent a
fortnight at Blanquais-les-Galets. It was a very quiet fortnight; he
spoke to no one, he formed no relations, he was company to himself.
It may be added that he had never found his own company half so good.
He struck himself as a reasonable, delicate fellow, who looked at
things in such a way as to make him refrain--refrain successfully,
that was the point-- from concerning himself practically about Angela
Vivian. His saying that he would find out the banker in the Rue de
Provence had been for the benefit of the femme de chambre, whom he
thought rather impertinent; he had really no intention whatever of
entering that classic thoroughfare. He took long walks, rambled on the
beach, along the base of the cliffs and among the brown sea-caves, and
he thought a good deal of certain incidents which have figured at an
earlier stage of this narrative. He had forbidden himself the future,
as an object of contemplation, and it was therefore a matter of
necessity that his imagination should take refuge among the warm and
familiar episodes of the past. He wondered why Mrs. Vivian should
have left the place so suddenly, and was of course struck with the
analogy between this incident and her abrupt departure from Baden. It
annoyed him, it troubled him, but it by no means rekindled the alarm
he had felt on first perceiving the injured Angela on the beach. That
alarm had been quenched by Angela's manner during the hour that
followed and during their short talk in the evening. This evening was
to be forever memorable, for it had brought with it the revelation
which still, at moments, suddenly made Bernard tremble; but it had
also brought him the assurance that Angela cared as little as possible
for anything that a chance acquaintance might have said about her. It
is all the more singular, therefore, that one evening, after he had
been at Blanquais a fortnight, a train of thought should suddenly have
been set in motion in his mind. It was kindled by no outward
occurrence, but by some wandering spark of fancy or of memory, and the
immediate effect of it was to startle our hero very much as he had
been startled on the evening I have described. The circumstances
were the same; he had wandered down to the beach alone, very late,
and he stood looking at the duskily-tumbling sea. Suddenly the same
voice that had spoken before murmured another phrase in the darkness,
and it rang upon his ear for the rest of the night. It startled him,
as I have said, at first; then, the next morning, it led him to take
his departure for Paris. During the journey it lingered in his ear;
he sat in the corner of the railway-carriage with his eyes closed,
abstracted, on purpose to prolong the reverberation. If it were not
true it was at least, as the Italians have it, ben trovato, and it was
wonderful how well it bore thinking of. It bears telling less well;
but I can at least give a hint of it. The theory that Angela hated him
had evaporated in her presence, and another of a very different sort
had sprung into being. It fitted a great many of the facts, it
explained a great many contradictions, anomalies, mysteries, and it
accounted for Miss Vivian's insisting upon her mother's leaving
Blanquais at a few hours' notice, even better than the theory of her
resentment could have done. At any rate, it obliterated Bernard's
scruples very effectually, and led him on his arrival in Paris to
repair instantly to the Rue de Provence. This street contains more
than one banker, but there is one with whom Bernard deemed Mrs. Vivian
most likely to have dealings. He found he had reckoned rightly, and he
had no difficulty in procuring her address. Having done so, however,
he by no means went immediately to see her; he waited a couple of
days-- perhaps to give those obliterated scruples I have spoken of a
chance to revive. They kept very quiet, and it must be confessed
that Bernard took no great pains to recall them to life. After he had
been in Paris three days, he knocked at Mrs. Vivian's door.
It was opened by the little waiting-maid whom he had seen at
Blanquais, and who looked at him very hard before she answered his
"You see I have found Mrs. Vivian's dwelling, though you would n't
give me the address," Bernard said to her, smiling.
"Monsieur has put some time to it!" the young woman answered dryly.
And she informed him that Madame was at home, though Mademoiselle,
for whom he had not asked, was not.
Mrs. Vivian occupied a diminutive apartment at the summit of one
of the tall white houses which ornament the neighborhood of the Arc
de Triomphe. The early days of September had arrived, but Paris was
still a city of absentees. The weather was warm and charming, and a
certain savour of early autumn in the air was in accord with the
somewhat melancholy aspect of the empty streets and closed shutters of
this honorable quarter, where the end of the monumental vistas seemed
to be curtained with a hazy emanation from the Seine. It was late in
the afternoon when Bernard was ushered into Mrs. Vivian's little
high-nestling drawing-room, and a patch of sunset tints, faintly red,
rested softly upon the gilded wall. Bernard had seen these ladies only
in borrowed and provisional abodes; but here was a place where they
were really living and which was stamped with their tastes, their
habits, their charm. The little salon was very elegant; it contained
a multitude of pretty things, and it appeared to Bernard to be
arranged in perfection. The long windows--the ceiling being low, they
were really very short-- opened upon one of those solid balconies,
occupying the width of the apartment, which are often in Paris a
compensation for living up five flights of stairs, and this balcony
was filled with flowers and cushions. Bernard stepped out upon it to
await the coming of Mrs. Vivian, and, as she was not quick to appear,
he had time to see that his friends enjoyed a magnificent view. They
looked up at the triumphal Arch, which presented itself at a
picturesque angle, and near the green tree-tops of the Champs Elysees,
beyond which they caught a broad gleam of the Seine and a glimpse,
blue in the distance, of the great towers of Notre Dame. The whole
vast city lay before them and beneath them, with its ordered
brilliancy and its mingled aspect of compression and expansion; and
yet the huge Parisian murmur died away before it reached Mrs. Vivian's
sky-parlor, which seemed to Bernard the brightest and quietest little
habitation he had ever known.
His hostess came rustling in at last; she seemed agitated; she
knocked over with the skirt of her dress a little gilded chair which
was reflected in the polished parquet as in a sheet of looking-glass.
Mrs. Vivian had a fixed smile--she hardly knew what to say.
"I found your address at the banker's," said Bernard. "Your maid,
at Blanquais, refused to give it to me."
Mrs. Vivian gave him a little look--there was always more or less
of it in her face--which seemed equivalent to an entreaty that her
interlocutor should spare her.
"Maids are so strange," she murmured; "especially the French!"
It pleased Bernard for the moment not to spare her, though he felt
a sort of delight of kindness for her.
"Your going off from Blanquais so suddenly, without leaving me any
explanation, any clue, any message of any sort--made me feel at first
as if you did n't wish that I should look you up. It reminded me of
the way you left Baden--do you remember?-- three years ago."
"Baden was so charming--but one could n't stay forever," said Mrs.
"I had a sort of theory one could. Our life was so pleasant that
it seemed a shame to break the spell, and if no one had moved I am
sure we might be sitting there now."
Mrs. Vivian stared, still with her little fixed smile.
"I think we should have had bad weather."
"Very likely," said Bernard, laughing. "Nature would have grown
jealous of our good-humor--of our tranquil happiness. And after all,
here we are together again--that is, some of us. But I have only my
own audacity to thank for it. I was quite free to believe that you
were not at all pleased to see me re-appear-- and it is only because I
am not easy to discourage--am indeed probably a rather impudent
fellow--that I have ventured to come here to-day."
"I am very glad to see you re-appear, Mr. Longueville," Mrs.
Vivian declared with the accent of veracity.
"It was your daughter's idea, then, running away from Blanquais?"
Mrs. Vivian lowered her eyes.
"We were obliged to go to Fontainebleau. We have but just come
back. I thought of writing to you," she softly added.
"Ah, what pleasure that would have given me!"
"I mean, to tell you where we were, and that we should have been
so happy to see you."
"I thank you for the intention. I suppose your daughter would n't
let you carry it out."
"Angela is so peculiar," Mrs. Vivian said, simply.
"You told me that the first time I saw you."
"Yes, at Siena," said Mrs. Vivian.
"I am glad to hear you speak frankly of that place!"
"Perhaps it 's better," Mrs. Vivian murmured. She got up and went
to the window; then stepping upon the balcony, she looked down a
moment into the street. "She will come back in a moment," she said,
coming into the room again. "She has gone to see a friend who lives
just beside us. We don't mind about Siena now," she added, softly.
Bernard understood her--understood this to be a retraction of the
request she had made of him at Baden.
"Dear little woman," he said to himself, "she wants to marry her
daughter still--only now she wants to marry her to me!"
He wished to show her that he understood her, and he was on the
point of seizing her hand, to do he did n't know what-- to hold it, to
press it, to kiss it--when he heard the sharp twang of the bell at the
door of the little apartment.
Mrs. Vivian fluttered away.
"It 's Angela," she cried, and she stood there waiting and
listening, smiling at Bernard, with her handkerchief pressed to her
In a moment the girl came into the drawing-room, but on seeing
Bernard she stopped, with her hand on the door-knob. Her mother went
to her and kissed her.
"It 's Mr. Longueville, dearest--he has found us out."
"Found us out?" repeated Angela, with a little laugh. "What a
She was blushing as she had blushed when she first saw him at
Blanquais. She seemed to Bernard now to have a great and peculiar
brightness-- something she had never had before.
"I certainly have been looking for you," he said. "I was greatly
disappointed when I found you had taken flight from Blanquais."
"Taken flight?" She repeated his words as she had repeated her
mother's. "That is also a strange way of speaking!"
"I don't care what I say," said Bernard, "so long as I make you
understand that I have wanted very much to see you again, and that I
have wondered every day whether I might venture--"
"I don't know why you should n't venture!" she interrupted, giving
her little laugh again. "We are not so terrible, are we, mamma?--that
is, when once you have climbed our five flights of stairs."
"I came up very fast," said Bernard, "and I find your apartment
"Mr. Longueville must come again, must he not, dear?" asked mamma.
"I shall come very often, with your leave," Bernard declared.
"It will be immensely kind," said Angela, looking away.
"I am not sure that you will think it that."
"I don't know what you are trying to prove," said Angela; "first
that we ran away from you, and then that we are not nice to our
"Oh no, not that!" Bernard exclaimed; "for I assure you I shall
not care how cold you are with me."
She walked away toward another door, which was masked with a
curtain that she lifted.
"I am glad to hear that, for it gives me courage to say that I am
very tired, and that I beg you will excuse me."
She glanced at him a moment over her shoulder; then she passed out,
dropping the curtain.
Bernard stood there face to face with Mrs. Vivian, whose eyes
seemed to plead with him more than ever. In his own there was an
"Please don't mind that," she murmured. "I know it 's true that
she is tired."
"Mind it, dear lady?" cried the young man. "I delight in it. It
's just what I like."
"Ah, she 's very peculiar!" sighed Mrs. Vivian.
"She is strange--yes. But I think I understand her a little."
"You must come back to-morrow, then."
"I hope to have many to-morrows!" cried Bernard as he took his
And he had them in fact. He called the next day at the same hour,
and he found the mother and the daughter together in their pretty
salon. Angela was very gentle and gracious; he suspected Mrs. Vivian
had given her a tender little lecture upon the manner in which she had
received him the day before. After he had been there five minutes,
Mrs. Vivian took a decanter of water that was standing upon a table
and went out on the balcony to irrigate her flowers. Bernard watched
her a while from his place in the room; then she moved along the
balcony and out of sight. Some ten minutes elapsed without her
re-appearing, and then Bernard stepped to the threshold of the window
and looked for her. She was not there, and as he came and took his
seat near Angela again, he announced, rather formally, that Mrs.
Vivian had passed back into one of the other windows.
Angela was silent a moment--then she said--
"Should you like me to call her?"
She was very peculiar--that was very true; yet Bernard held to his
declaration of the day before that he now understood her a little.
"No, I don't desire it," he said. "I wish to see you alone; I
have something particular to say to you."
She turned her face toward him, and there was something in its
expression that showed him that he looked to her more serious than he
had ever looked. He sat down again; for some moments he hesitated to
"You frighten me," she said laughing; and in spite of her laugh
this was obviously true.
"I assure you my state of mind is anything but formidable. I am
afraid of you, on the contrary; I am humble and apologetic."
"I am sorry for that," said Angela. "I particularly dislike
receiving apologies, even when I know what they are for. What yours
are for, I can't imagine."
"You don't dislike me--you don't hate me?" Bernard suddenly broke
"You don't ask me that humbly. Excuse me therefore if I say I have
other, and more practical, things to do."
"You despise me," said Bernard.
"That is not humble either, for you seem to insist upon it."
"It would be after all a way of thinking of me, and I have a reason
for wishing you to do that."
"I remember very well that you used to have a reason for
everything. It was not always a good one."
"This one is excellent," said Bernard, gravely. "I have been in
love with you for three years."
She got up slowly, turning away.
"Is that what you wished to say to me?"
She went toward the open window, and he followed her.
"I hope it does n't offend you. I don't say it lightly-- it 's
not a piece of gallantry. It 's the very truth of my being. I did n't
know it till lately--strange as that may seem. I loved you long before
I knew it--before I ventured or presumed to know it. I was thinking
of you when I seemed to myself to be thinking of other things. It is
very strange--there are things in it I don't understand. I travelled
over the world, I tried to interest, to divert myself; but at bottom
it was a perfect failure. To see you again--that was what I wanted.
When I saw you last month at Blanquais I knew it; then everything
became clear. It was the answer to the riddle. I wished to read it
very clearly--I wished to be sure; therefore I did n't follow you
immediately. I questioned my heart-- I cross-questioned it. It has
borne the examination, and now I am sure. I am very sure. I love you
as my life--I beg you to listen to me!"
She had listened--she had listened intently, looking straight out
of the window and without moving.
"You have seen very little of me," she said, presently, turning her
illuminated eye on him.
"I have seen enough," Bernard added, smiling. "You must remember
that at Baden I saw a good deal of you."
"Yes, but that did n't make you like me. I don't understand."
Bernard stood there a moment, frowning, with his eyes lowered.
"I can imagine that. But I think I can explain."
"Don't explain now," said Angela. "You have said enough; explain
some other time." And she went out on the balcony.
Bernard, of course, in a moment was beside her, and, disregarding
her injunction, he began to explain.
"I thought I disliked you--but I have come to the conclusion it
was just the contrary. In reality I was in love with you. I had been
so from the first time I saw you--when I made that sketch of you at
"That in itself needs an explanation. I was not at all nice then--
I was very rude, very perverse. I was horrid!"
"Ah, you admit it!" cried Bernard, with a sort of quick elation.
She had been pale, but she suddenly blushed.
"Your own conduct was singular, as I remember it. It was not
"Perhaps not; but at least it was meant to be. I did n't know how
to please you then, and I am far from supposing that I have learned
now. But I entreat you to give me a chance."
She was silent a while; her eyes wandered over the great prospect
"Do you know how you can please me now?" she said, at last. "By
leaving me alone."
Bernard looked at her a moment, then came straight back into the
drawing-room and took his hat.
"You see I avail myself of the first chance. But I shall come back
"I am greatly obliged to you for what you have said. Such a speech
as that deserves to be listened to with consideration. You may come
back to-morrow," Angela added.
On the morrow, when he came back, she received him alone.
"How did you know, at Baden, that I did n't like you?" he asked,
as soon as she would allow him.
She smiled, very gently.
"You assured me yesterday that you did like me."
"I mean that I supposed I did n't. How did you know that?"
"I can only say that I observed."
"You must have observed very closely, for, superficially, I rather
had the air of admiring you," said Bernard.
"It was very superficial."
"You don't mean that; for, after all, that is just what my
admiration, my interest in you, were not. They were deep, they were
latent. They were not superficial--they were subterranean."
"You are contradicting yourself, and I am perfectly consistent,"
said Angela. "Your sentiments were so well hidden that I supposed I
"I remember that at Baden, you used to contradict yourself,"
"You have a terrible memory!"
"Don't call it terrible, for it sees everything now in a charming
light-- in the light of this understanding that we have at last
arrived at, which seems to shine backward--to shine full on those
"Have we at last arrived at an understanding?" she asked, with a
grave directness which Bernard thought the most beautiful thing he had
"It only depends upon you," he declared; and then he broke out
again into a protestation of passionate tenderness. "Don't put me off
this time," he cried. "You have had time to think about it; you have
had time to get over the surprise, the shock. I love you, and I offer
you everything that belongs to me in this world." As she looked at
him with her dark, clear eyes, weighing this precious vow and yet not
committing herself--"Ah, you don't forgive me!" he murmured.
She gazed at him with the same solemn brightness.
"What have I to forgive you?"
This question seemed to him enchanting. He reached forward and
took her hands, and if Mrs. Vivian had come in she would have seen him
kneeling at her daughter's feet.
But Mrs. Vivian remained in seclusion, and Bernard saw her only the
next time he came.
"I am very happy, because I think my daughter is happy," she said.
"And what do you think of me?"
"I think you are very clever. You must promise me to be very good
"I am clever enough to promise that."
"I think you are good enough to keep it," said Mrs. Vivian. She
looked as happy as she said, and her happiness gave her a
communicative, confidential tendency. "It is very strange how things
come about--how the wheel turns round," she went on. "I suppose there
is no harm in my telling you that I believe she always cared for you."
"Why did n't you tell me before?" said Bernard, with almost filial
"How could I? I don't go about the world offering my daughter to
people-- especially to indifferent people."
"At Baden you did n't think I was indifferent. You were afraid of
my not being indifferent enough."
Mrs. Vivian colored.
"Ah, at Baden I was a little too anxious!"
"Too anxious I should n't speak to your daughter!" said Bernard,
"At Baden," Mrs. Vivian went on, "I had views. But I have n't any
now-- I have given them up."
"That makes your acceptance of me very flattering!" Bernard
exclaimed, laughing still more gaily.
"I have something better," said Mrs. Vivian, laying her finger-tips
on his arm. "I have confidence."
Bernard did his best to encourage this gracious sentiment, and it
seemed to him that there was something yet to be done to implant it
more firmly in Angela's breast.
"I have a confession to make to you," he said to her one day. "I
wish you would listen to it."
"Is it something very horrible?" Angela asked.
"Something very horrible indeed. I once did you an injury."
"An injury?" she repeated, in a tone which seemed to reduce the
offence to contemptible proportions by simple vagueness of mind about
"I don't know what to call it," said Bernard. "A poor service--
Angela gave a shrug, or rather an imitation of a shrug; for she
was not a shrugging person.
"I never knew it."
"I misrepresented you to Gordon Wright," Bernard went on.
"Why do you speak to me of him?" she asked rather sadly.
"Does it displease you?"
She hesitated a little.
"Yes, it displeases me. If your confession has anything to do with
him, I would rather not hear it."
Bernard returned to the subject another time--he had plenty of
opportunities. He spent a portion of every day in the company of these
dear women; and these days were the happiest of his life. The autumn
weather was warm and soothing, the quartier was still deserted, and
the uproar of the great city, which seemed a hundred miles away,
reached them through the dense October air with a softened and muffled
sound. The evenings, however, were growing cool, and before long they
lighted the first fire of the season in Mrs. Vivian's heavily draped
little chimney-piece. On this occasion Bernard sat there with Angela,
watching the bright crackle of the wood and feeling that the charm of
winter nights had begun. These two young persons were alone together
in the gathering dusk; it was the hour before dinner, before the lamp
had been lighted.
"I insist upon making you my confession," said Bernard. "I shall
be very unhappy until you let me do it."
"Unhappy? You are the happiest of men."
"I lie upon roses, if you will; but this memory, this remorse, is
a folded rose-leaf. I was completely mistaken about you at Baden; I
thought all manner of evil of you--or at least I said it."
"Men are dull creatures," said Angela.
"I think they are. So much so that, as I look back upon that time,
there are some things I don't understand even now."
"I don't see why you should look back. People in our position are
supposed to look forward."
"You don't like those Baden days yourself," said Bernard. "You
don't like to think of them."
"What a wonderful discovery!"
Bernard looked at her a moment in the brightening fire-light.
"What part was it you tried to play there?"
Angela shook her head.
"Men are dull creatures."
"I have already granted that, and I am eating humble pie in asking
for an explanation."
"What did you say of me?" Angela asked, after a silence.
"I said you were a coquette. Remember that I am simply
She got up and stood in front of the fire, having her hand on the
chimney-piece and looking down at the blaze. For some moments she
remained there. Bernard could not see her face.
"I said you were a dangerous woman to marry," he went on
deliberately. "I said it because I thought it. I gave Gordon an
opinion about you-- it was a very unfavorable one. I could n't make
you out--I thought you were playing a double part. I believed that
you were ready to marry him, and yet I saw--I thought I saw--" and
Bernard paused again.
"What did you see?" and Angela turned toward him.
"That you were encouraging me--playing with me."
"And you did n't like that?"
"I liked it immensely--for myself! But did n't like it for Gordon;
and I must do myself the justice to say that I thought more of him
than of myself."
"You were an excellent friend," said Angela, simply.
"I believe I was. And I am so still," Bernard added.
She shook her head sadly.
"Poor Mr. Wright!"
"He is a dear good fellow," said Bernard.
"Thoroughly good, and dear, doubtless to his wife, the affectionate
"You don't like him--you don't like her," said Bernard.
"Those are two very different matters. I am very sorry for Mr.
"You need n't be that. He is doing very well."
"So you have already informed me. But I am sorry for him, all the
"That does n't answer my question," Bernard exclaimed, with a
certain irritation. "What part were you playing?"
"What part do you think?"
"Have n't I told you I gave it up, long ago?"
Angela stood with her back to the fire, looking at him; her hands
were locked behind her.
"Did it ever strike you that my position at Baden was a charming
one?-- knowing that I had been handed over to you to be put under the
microscope-- like an insect with a pin stuck through it!"
"How in the world did you know it? I thought we were particularly
"How can a woman help knowing such a thing? She guesses it-- she
discovers it by instinct; especially if she be a proud woman."
"Ah," said Bernard, "if pride is a source of information, you must
be a prodigy of knowledge!"
"I don't know that you are particularly humble!" the girl retorted.
"The meekest and most submissive of her sex would not have consented
to have such a bargain as that made about her--such a trick played
"My dearest Angela, it was no bargain--no trick!" Bernard
"It was a clumsy trick--it was a bad bargain!" she declared. "At
any rate I hated it--I hated the idea of your pretending to pass
judgment upon me; of your having come to Baden for the purpose. It
was as if Mr. Wright had been buying a horse and you had undertaken to
put me through my paces!"
"I undertook nothing--I declined to undertake."
"You certainly made a study of me--and I was determined you should
get your lesson wrong. I determined to embarrass, to mislead, to
defeat you. Or rather, I did n't determine; I simply obeyed a natural
impulse of self-defence--the impulse to evade the fierce light of
criticism. I wished to put you in the wrong."
"You did it all very well. You put me admirably in the wrong."
"The only justification for my doing it at all was my doing it
well," said Angela.
"You were justified then! You must have hated me fiercely."
She turned her back to him and stood looking at the fire again.
"Yes, there are some things that I did that can be accounted for
only by an intense aversion."
She said this so naturally that in spite of a certain theory that
was touched upon a few pages back, Bernard was a good deal bewildered.
He rose from the sofa where he had been lounging and went and stood
beside her a moment. Then he passed his arm round her waist and
murmured an almost timorous--
"I don't know what you are trying to make me say!" she answered.
He looked down at her for a moment as he held her close to him.
"I don't see, after all, why I should wish to make you say it. It
would only make my remorse more acute."
She was musing, with her eyes on the fire, and for a moment she
made no answer; then, as if her attention were returning--
"Are you still talking about your remorse?" she asked.
"You see I put it very strongly."
"That I was a horrid creature?"
"That you were not a woman to marry."
"Ah, my poor Bernard," said Angela, "I can't attempt to prove to
you that you are not inconsistent!"
The month of September drew to a close, and she consented to fix a
day for their wedding. The last of October was the moment selected,
and the selection was almost all that was wanting to Bernard's
happiness. I say "almost," for there was a solitary spot in his
consciousness which felt numb and dead--unpervaded by the joy with
which the rest of his spirit seemed to thrill and tingle. The removal
of this hard grain in the sweet savour of life was needed to complete
his felicity. Bernard felt that he had made the necessary excision
when, at the end of the month, he wrote to Gordon Wright of his
engagement. He had been putting off the performance of this duty from
day to day-- it seemed so hard to accomplish it gracefully. He did it
at the end very briefly; it struck him that this was the best way.
Three days after he had sent his letter there arrived one from Gordon
himself, informing Bernard that he had suddenly determined to bring
Blanche to Europe. She was not well, and they would lose no time.
They were to sail within a week after his writing. The letter
contained a postscript--"Captain Lovelock comes with us."
Bernard prepared for Gordon's arrival in Paris, which, according
to his letter, would take place in a few days. He was not intending to
stop in England; Blanche desired to proceed immediately to the French
capital, to confer with her man-milliner, after which it was probable
that they would go to Italy or to the East for the winter. "I have
given her a choice of Rome or the Nile," said Gordon, "but she tells
me she does n't care a fig where we go."
I say that Bernard prepared to receive his friends, and I mean
that he prepared morally--or even intellectually. Materially speaking,
he could simply hold himself in readiness to engage an apartment at a
hotel and to go to meet them at the station. He expected to hear from
Gordon as soon as this interesting trio should reach England, but the
first notification he received came from a Parisian hotel. It came to
him in the shape of a very short note, in the morning, shortly before
lunch, and was to the effect that his friends had alighted in the Rue
de la Paix the night before.
"We were tired, and I have slept late," said Gordon; "otherwise you
should have heard from me earlier. Come to lunch, if possible. I
want extremely to see you."
Bernard, of course, made a point of going to lunch. In as short a
time as possible he found himself in Gordon's sitting-room at the
Hotel Middlesex. The table was laid for the midday repast, and a
gentleman stood with his back to the door, looking out of the window.
As Bernard came in, this gentleman turned and exhibited the ambrosial
beard, the symmetrical shape, the monocular appendage, of Captain
The Captain screwed his glass into his eye, and greeted Bernard in
his usual fashion--that is, as if he had parted with him overnight.
"Oh, good morning! Beastly morning, is n't it? I suppose you are
come to luncheon--I have come to luncheon. It ought to be on table,
you know--it 's nearly two o'clock. But I dare say you have noticed
foreigners are never punctual-- it 's only English servants that are
punctual. And they don't understand luncheon, you know--they can't
make out our eating at this sort of hour. You know they always dine
so beastly early. Do you remember the sort of time they used to dine
at Baden?-- half-past five, half-past six; some unearthly hour of
that kind. That 's the sort of time you dine in America. I found
they 'd invite a man at half-past six. That 's what I call being in a
hurry for your food. You know they always accuse the Americans of
making a rush for their victuals. I am bound to say that in New York,
and that sort of place, the victuals were very good when you got them.
I hope you don't mind my saying anything about America? You know the
Americans are so deucedly thin-skinned--they always bristle up if you
say anything against their institutions. The English don't care a rap
what you say--they 've got a different sort of temper, you know. With
the Americans I 'm deuced careful--I never breathe a word about
anything. While I was over there I went in for being complimentary. I
laid it on thick, and I found they would take all I could give them.
I did n't see much of their institutions, after all; I went in for
seeing the people. Some of the people were charming--upon my soul, I
was surprised at some of the people. I dare say you know some of the
people I saw; they were as nice people as you would see anywhere.
There were always a lot of people about Mrs. Wright, you know; they
told me they were all the best people. You know she is always late
for everything. She always comes in after every one is there--looking
so devilish pretty, pulling on her gloves. She wears the longest
gloves I ever saw in my life. Upon my word, if they don't come, I
think I will ring the bell and ask the waiter what 's the matter.
Would n't you ring the bell? It 's a great mistake, their trying to
carry out their ideas of lunching. That 's Wright's character, you
know; he 's always trying to carry out some idea. When I am abroad,
I go in for the foreign breakfast myself. You may depend upon it
they had better give up trying to do this sort of thing at this
Captain Lovelock was more disposed to conversation than Bernard
had known him before. His discourse of old had been languid and
fragmentary, and our hero had never heard him pursue a train of ideas
through so many involutions. To Bernard's observant eye, indeed, the
Captain was an altered man. His manner betrayed a certain restless
desire to be agreeable, to anticipate judgment--a disposition to
smile, and be civil, and entertain his auditor, a tendency to move
about and look out of the window and at the clock. He struck Bernard
as a trifle nervous-- as less solidly planted on his feet than when he
lounged along the Baden gravel-walks by the side of his usual
companion-- a lady for whom, apparently, his admiration was still
considerable. Bernard was curious to see whether he would ring the
bell to inquire into the delay attending the service of lunch; but
before this sentiment, rather idle under the circumstances, was
gratified, Blanche passed into the room from a neighboring apartment.
To Bernard's perception Blanche, at least, was always Blanche; she
was a person in whom it would not have occurred to him to expect any
puzzling variation, and the tone of her little, soft, thin voice
instantly rang in his ear like an echo of yesterday's talk. He had
already remarked to himself that after however long an interval one
might see Blanche, she re-appeared with an air of familiarity. This
was in some sense, indeed, a proof of the agreeable impression she
made, and she looked exceedingly pretty as she now suddenly stopped on
seeing our two gentlemen, and gave a little cry of surprise.
"Ah! I did n't know you were here. They never told me. Have you
been waiting a long time? How d' ye do? You must think we are
polite." She held out her hand to Bernard, smiling very graciously.
At Captain Lovelock she barely glanced. "I hope you are very well,"
she went on to Longueville; "but I need n't ask that. You 're as
blooming as a rose. What in the world has happened to you? You look
so brilliant-- so fresh. Can you say that to a man--that he looks
fresh? Or can you only say that about butter and eggs?"
"It depends upon the man," said Captain Lovelock. "You can't say
that a man 's fresh who spends his time in running about after you!"
"Ah, are you here?" cried Blanche with another little cry of
surprise. "I did n't notice you--I thought you were the waiter. This
is what he calls running about after me," she added, to Bernard;
"coming to breakfast without being asked. How queerly they have
arranged the table!" she went on, gazing with her little elevated
eyebrows at this piece of furniture. "I always thought that in Paris,
if they could n't do anything else, they could arrange a table. I
don't like that at all-- those horrid little dishes on each side!
Don't you think those things ought to be off the table, Mr.
Longueville? I don't like to see a lot of things I 'm not eating. And
I told them to have some flowers--pray, where are the flowers? Do they
call those things flowers? They look as if they had come out of the
landlady's bonnet! Mr. Longueville, do look at those objects."
"They are not like me--they are not very fresh," laughed Bernard.
"It 's no great matter--we have not got to eat them," growled
"I should think you would expect to--with the luncheon you usually
make!" rejoined Blanche. "Since you are here, though I did n't ask
you, you might as well make yourself useful. Will you be so good as
to ring the bell? If Gordon expects that we are going to wait another
quarter of an hour for him he exaggerates the patience of a
long-suffering wife. If you are very curious to know what he is
about, he is writing letters, by way of a change. He writes about
eighty a day; his correspondents must be strong people! It 's a lucky
thing for me that I am married to Gordon; if I were not he might write
to me--to me, to whom it 's a misery to have to answer even an
invitation to dinner! To begin with, I don't know how to spell. If
Captain Lovelock ever boasts that he has had letters from me, you may
know it 's an invention. He has never had anything but telegrams--
three telegrams--that I sent him in America about a pair of slippers
that he had left at our house and that I did n't know what to do with.
Captain Lovelock's slippers are no trifle to have on one's hands-- on
one's feet, I suppose I ought to say. For telegrams the spelling does
n't matter; the people at the office correct it--or if they don't you
can put it off on them. I never see anything nowadays but Gordon's
back," she went on, as they took their places at table--"his noble
broad back, as he sits writing his letters. That 's my principal view
of my husband. I think that now we are in Paris I ought to have a
portrait of it by one of the great artists. It would be such a
characteristic pose. I have quite forgotten his face and I don't think
I should know it."
Gordon's face, however, presented itself just at this moment; he
came in quickly, with his countenance flushed with the pleasure of
meeting his old friend again. He had the sun-scorched look of a
traveller who has just crossed the Atlantic, and he smiled at Bernard
with his honest eyes.
"Don't think me a great brute for not being here to receive you,"
he said, as he clasped his hand. "I was writing an important letter
and I put it to myself in this way: 'If I interrupt my letter I
shall have to come back and finish it; whereas if I finish it now, I
can have all the rest of the day to spend with him.' So I stuck to it
to the end, and now we can be inseparable."
"You may be sure Gordon reasoned it out," said Blanche, while her
husband offered his hand in silence to Captain Lovelock.
"Gordon's reasoning is as fine as other people's feeling!" declared
Bernard, who was conscious of a desire to say something very pleasant
to Gordon, and who did not at all approve of Blanche's little ironical
tone about her husband.
"And Bernard's compliments are better than either," said Gordon,
laughing and taking his seat at table.
"I have been paying him compliments," Blanche went on. "I have
been telling him he looks so brilliant, so blooming-- as if something
had happened to him, as if he had inherited a fortune. He must have
been doing something very wicked, and he ought to tell us all about
it, to amuse us. I am sure you are a dreadful Parisian, Mr.
Longueville. Remember that we are three dull, virtuous people,
exceedingly bored with each other's society, and wanting to hear
something strange and exciting. If it 's a little improper, that
won't spoil it."
"You certainly are looking uncommonly well," said Gordon, still
smiling, across the table, at his friend. "I see what Blanche
"My dear Gordon, that 's a great event," his wife interposed.
"It 's a good deal to pretend, certainly," he went on, smiling
always, with his red face and his blue eyes. "But this is no great
credit to me, because Bernard's superb condition would strike any one.
You look as if you were going to marry the Lord Mayor's daughter!"
If Bernard was blooming, his bloom at this juncture must have
deepened, and in so doing indeed have contributed an even brighter
tint to his expression of salubrious happiness. It was one of the
rare occasions of his life when he was at a loss for a verbal
"It 's a great match," he nevertheless murmured, jestingly. "You
must excuse my inflated appearance."
"It has absorbed you so much that you have had no time to write to
me," said Gordon. "I expected to hear from you after you arrived."
"I wrote to you a fortnight ago--just before receiving your own
letter. You left New York before my letter reached it."
"Ah, it will have crossed us," said Gordon. "But now that we have
your society I don't care. Your letters, of course, are delightful,
but that is still better."
In spite of this sympathetic statement Bernard cannot be said to
have enjoyed his lunch; he was thinking of something else that lay
before him and that was not agreeable. He was like a man who has an
acrobatic feat to perform-- a wide ditch to leap, a high pole to
climb--and who has a presentiment of fractures and bruises.
Fortunately he was not obliged to talk much, as Mrs. Gordon displayed
even more than her usual vivacity, rendering her companions the
graceful service of lifting the burden of conversation from their
"I suppose you were surprised to see us rushing out here so
suddenly," she observed in the course of the repast. "We had said
nothing about it when you last saw us, and I believe we are supposed
to tell you everything, ain't we? I certainly have told you a great
many things, and there are some of them I hope you have n't repeated.
I have no doubt you have told them all over Paris, but I don't care
what you tell in Paris--Paris is n't so easily shocked. Captain
Lovelock does n't repeat what I tell him; I set him up as a model of
discretion. I have told him some pretty bad things, and he has liked
them so much he has kept them all to himself. I say my bad things to
Captain Lovelock, and my good things to other people; he does n't know
the difference and he is perfectly content."
"Other people as well often don't know the difference," said
Gordon, gravely. "You ought always to tell us which are which."
Blanche gave her husband a little impertinent stare.
"When I am not appreciated," she said, with an attempt at superior
dryness, "I am too proud to point it out. I don't know whether you
know that I 'm proud," she went on, turning to Gordon and glancing at
Captain Lovelock; "it 's a good thing to know. I suppose Gordon will
say that I ought to be too proud to point that out; but what are you
to do when no one has any imagination? You have a grain or two, Mr.
Longueville; but Captain Lovelock has n't a speck. As for Gordon, je
n'en parle pas! But even you, Mr. Longueville, would never imagine
that I am an interesting invalid-- that we are travelling for my
delicate health. The doctors have n't given me up, but I have given
them up. I know I don't look as if I were out of health; but that 's
because I always try to look my best. My appearance proves nothing--
absolutely nothing. Do you think my appearance proves anything,
Captain Lovelock scrutinized Blanche's appearance with a fixed and
solemn eye; and then he replied--
"It proves you are very lovely."
Blanche kissed her finger-tips to him in return for this
"You only need to give Captain Lovelock a chance," she rattled on,
"and he is as clever as any one. That 's what I like to do to my
friends--I like to make chances for them. Captain Lovelock is like my
dear little blue terrier that I left at home. If I hold out a stick
he will jump over it. He won't jump without the stick; but as soon as
I produce it he knows what he has to do. He looks at it a moment and
then he gives his little hop. He knows he will have a lump of sugar,
and Captain Lovelock expects one as well. Dear Captain Lovelock,
shall I ring for a lump? Would n't it be touching? Gar;alcon, un
morceau de sucre pour Monsieur le Capitaine! But what I give Monsieur
le Capitaine is moral sugar! I usually administer it in private, and
he shall have a good big morsel when you go away."
Gordon got up, turning to Bernard and looking at his watch.
"Let us go away, in that case," he said, smiling, "and leave
Captain Lovelock to receive his reward. We will go and take a walk;
we will go up the Champs Elysees. Good morning, Monsieur le
Neither Blanche nor the Captain offered any opposition to this
proposal, and Bernard took leave of his hostess and joined Gordon, who
had already passed into the antechamber.
Gordon took his arm and they gained the street; they strolled in
the direction of the Champs Elysees.
"For a little exercise and a good deal of talk, it 's the
pleasantest place," said Gordon. "I have a good deal to say; I have a
good deal to ask you."
Bernard felt the familiar pressure of his friend's hand, as it
rested on his arm, and it seemed to him never to have lain there with
so heavy a weight. It held him fast--it held him to account; it
seemed a physical symbol of responsibility. Bernard was not
re-assured by hearing that Gordon had a great deal to say, and he
expected a sudden explosion of bitterness on the subject of Blanche's
irremediable triviality. The afternoon was a lovely one-- the day was
a perfect example of the mellowest mood of autumn. The air was warm
and filled with a golden haze, which seemed to hang about the bare
Parisian trees, as if with a tender impulse to drape their nakedness.
A fine day in Paris brings out a wonderfully bright and appreciative
multitude of strollers and loungers, and the liberal spaces of the
Champs Elysees were on this occasion filled with those placid votaries
of inexpensive entertainment who abound in the French capital. The
benches and chairs on the edge of the great avenue exhibited a dense
fraternity of gazers, and up and down the broad walk passed the
slow-moving and easily pleased pedestrians. Gordon, in spite of his
announcement that he had a good deal to say, confined himself at first
to superficial allusions, and Bernard after a while had the
satisfaction of perceiving that he was not likely, for the moment, to
strike the note of conjugal discord. He appeared, indeed, to feel no
desire to speak of Blanche in any manner whatever. He fell into the
humor of the hour and the scene, looked at the crowd, talked about
trifles. He remarked that Paris was a wonderful place after all, and
that a little glimpse of the Parisian picture was a capital thing as a
change; said he was very glad they had come, and that for his part he
was willing to stay three months.
"And what have you been doing with yourself?" he asked. "How have
you been occupied, and what are you meaning to do?"
Bernard said nothing for a moment, and Gordon presently glanced at
his face to see why he was silent. Bernard, looking askance, met his
companion's eyes, and then, resting his own upon them, he stopped
short. His heart was beating; it was a question of saying to Gordon
outright, "I have been occupied in becoming engaged to Angela Vivian."
But he could n't say it, and yet he must say something. He tried to
invent something; but he could think of nothing, and still Gordon was
looking at him.
"I am so glad to see you!" he exclaimed, for want of something
better; and he blushed--he felt foolish, he felt false--as he said it.
"My dear Bernard!" Gordon murmured gratefully, as they walked on.
"It 's very good of you to say that; I am very glad we are together
again. I want to say something," he added, in a moment; "I hope you
won't mind it--" Bernard gave a little laugh at his companion's
scruples, and Gordon continued. "To tell the truth, it has sometimes
seemed to me that we were not so good friends as we used to be-- that
something had come between us--I don't know what, I don't know why. I
don't know what to call it but a sort of lowering of the temperature.
I don't know whether you have felt it, or whether it has been simply
a fancy of mine. Whatever it may have been, it 's all over, is n't
it? We are too old friends--too good friends--not to stick together.
Of course, the rubs of life may occasionally loosen the cohesion; but
it is very good to feel that, with a little direct contact, it may
easily be re-established. Is n't that so? But we should n't reason
about these things; one feels them, and that 's enough."
Gordon spoke in his clear, cheerful voice, and Bernard listened
intently. It seemed to him there was an undertone of pain and effort
in his companion's speech; it was that of an unhappy man trying to be
wise and make the best of things.
"Ah, the rubs of life--the rubs of life!" Bernard repeated
"We must n't mind them," said Gordon, with a conscientious laugh.
"We must toughen our hides; or, at the worst, we must plaster up our
bruises. But why should we choose this particular place and hour for
talking of the pains of life?" he went on. "Are we not in the midst of
its pleasures? I mean, henceforth, to cultivate its pleasures. What
are yours, just now, Bernard? Is n't it supposed that in Paris one
must amuse one's self? How have you been amusing yourself?"
"I have been leading a very quiet life," said Bernard.
"I notice that 's what people always say when they have been
particularly dissipated. What have you done? Whom have you seen
that one knows?"
Bernard was silent a moment.
"I have seen some old friends of yours," he said at last. "I have
seen Mrs. Vivian and her daughter."
"Ah!" Gordon made this exclamation, and then stopped short.
Bernard looked at him, but Gordon was looking away; his eyes had
caught some one in the crowd. Bernard followed the direction they had
taken, and then Gordon went on: "Talk of the devil--excuse the adage!
Are not those the ladies in question?"
Mrs. Vivian and her daughter were, in fact, seated among a great
many other quiet people, in a couple of hired chairs, at the edge of
the great avenue. They were turned toward our two friends, and when
Bernard distinguished them, in the well-dressed multitude, they were
looking straight at Gordon Wright.
"They see you!" said Bernard.
"You say that as if I wished to run away," Gordon answered. "I
don't want to run away; on the contrary, I want to speak to them."
"That 's easily done," said Bernard, and they advanced to the two
Mrs. Vivian and her daughter rose from their chairs as they came;
they had evidently rapidly exchanged observations, and had decided
that it would facilitate their interview with Gordon Wright to
receive him standing. He made his way to them through the crowd,
blushing deeply, as he always did when excited; then he stood there
bare-headed, shaking hands with each of them, with a fixed smile, and
with nothing, apparently, to say. Bernard watched Angela's face; she
was giving his companion a beautiful smile. Mrs. Vivian was
"I was sure it was you," said Gordon at last. "We were just
talking of you."
"Did Mr. Longueville deny it was we?" asked Mrs. Vivian, archly;
"after we had supposed that we had made an impression on him!"
"I knew you were in Paris--we were in the act of talking of you,"
Gordon went on. "I am very glad to see you."
Bernard had shaken hands with Angela, looking at her intently; and
in her eyes, as his own met them, it seemed to him that there was a
gleam of mockery. At whom was she mocking-- at Gordon, or at himself?
Bernard was uncomfortable enough not to care to be mocked; but he
felt even more sorry that Gordon should be.
"We also knew you were coming--Mr. Longueville had told us," said
Mrs. Vivian; "and we have been expecting the pleasure of seeing
Blanche. Dear little Blanche!"
"Dear little Blanche will immediately come and see you," Gordon
"Immediately, we hope," said Mrs. Vivian. "We shall be so very
glad." Bernard perceived that she wished to say something soothing and
sympathetic to poor Gordon; having it, as he supposed, on her
conscience that, after having once encouraged him to regard himself as
indispensable (in the capacity of son-in-law) to her happiness, she
should now present to him the spectacle of a felicity which had
established itself without his aid. "We were so very much interested
in your marriage," she went on. "We thought it so--so delightful."
Gordon fixed his eyes on the ground for a moment.
"I owe it partly to you," he answered. "You had done so much for
Blanche. You had so cultivated her mind and polished her manners that
her attractions were doubled, and I fell an easy victim to them."
He uttered these words with an exaggerated solemnity, the result
of which was to produce, for a moment, an almost embarrassing silence.
Bernard was rapidly becoming more and more impatient of his own
embarrassment, and now he exclaimed, in a loud and jovial voice--
"Blanche makes victims by the dozen! I was a victim last winter;
we are all victims!"
"Dear little Blanche!" Mrs. Vivian murmured again.
Angela had said nothing; she had simply stood there, making no
attempt to address herself to Gordon, and yet with no affectation of
reserve or of indifference. Now she seemed to feel the impulse to
speak to him.
"When Blanche comes to see us, you must be sure to come with her,"
she said, with a friendly smile.
Gordon looked at her, but he said nothing.
"We were so sorry to hear she is out of health," Angela went on.
Still Gordon was silent, with his eyes fixed on her expressive and
"It is not serious," he murmured at last.
"She used to be so well--so bright," said Angela, who also appeared
to have the desire to say something kind and comfortable.
Gordon made no response to this; he only looked at her.
"I hope you are well, Miss Vivian," he broke out at last.
"Very well, thank you."
"Do you live in Paris?"
"We have pitched our tent here for the present."
"Do you like it?"
"I find it no worse than other places."
Gordon appeared to desire to talk with her; but he could think of
nothing to say. Talking with her was a pretext for looking at her;
and Bernard, who thought she had never been so handsome as at that
particular moment, smiling at her troubled ex-lover, could easily
conceive that his friend should desire to prolong this privilege.
"Have you been sitting here long?" Gordon asked, thinking of
something at last.
"Half an hour. We came out to walk, and my mother felt tired. It
is time we should turn homeward," Angela added.
"Yes, I am tired, my daughter. We must take a voiture, if Mr.
Longueville will be so good as to find us one," said Mrs. Vivian.
Bernard, professing great alacrity, looked about him; but he still
lingered near his companions. Gordon had thought of something else.
"Have you been to Baden again?" Bernard heard him ask. But at this
moment Bernard espied at a distance an empty hackney-carriage crawling
up the avenue, and he was obliged to go and signal to it. When he came
back, followed by the vehicle, the two ladies, accompanied by Gordon,
had come to the edge of the pavement. They shook hands with Gordon
before getting into the cab, and Mrs. Vivian exclaimed--
"Be sure you give our love to your dear wife!"
Then the two ladies settled themselves and smiled their adieux,
and the little victoria rumbled away at an easy pace, while Bernard
stood with Gordon, looking after it. They watched it a moment, and
then Gordon turned to his companion. He looked at Bernard for some
moments intently, with a singular expression.
"It is strange for me to see her!" he said, presently.
"I hope it is not altogether disagreeable," Bernard answered
"She is delightfully handsome," Gordon went on.
"She is a beautiful woman."
"And the strange thing is that she strikes me now so differently,"
Gordon continued. "I used to think her so mysterious--so ambiguous.
She seems to be now so simple."
"Ah," said Bernard, laughing, "that's an improvement!"
"So simple and so good!" Gordon exclaimed.
Bernard laid his hand on his companion's shoulder, shaking his head
"You must not think too much about that," he said.
"So simple--so good--so charming!" Gordon repeated.
"Ah, my dear Gordon!" Bernard murmured.
But still Gordon continued.
"So intelligent, so reasonable, so sensible."
"Have you discovered all that in two minutes' talk?"
"Yes, in two minutes' talk. I should n't hesitate about her now!"
"It 's better you should n't say that," said Bernard.
"Why should n't I say it? It seems to me it 's my duty to say it."
"No--your duty lies elsewhere," said Bernard. "There are two
reasons. One is that you have married another woman."
"What difference does that make?" cried Gordon.
Bernard made no attempt to answer this inquiry; he simply went on--
"The other is--the other is--"
But here he paused.
"What is the other?" Gordon asked.
"That I am engaged to marry Miss Vivian."
And with this Bernard took his hand off Gordon's shoulder.
Gordon stood staring.
"To marry Miss Vivian?"
Now that Bernard had heard himself say it, audibly, distinctly,
loudly, the spell of his apprehension seemed broken, and he went on
"We are to be married very shortly. It has all come about within a
few weeks. It will seem to you very strange--perhaps you won't like
it. That 's why I have hesitated to tell you."
Gordon turned pale; it was the first time Bernard had ever seen him
do so; evidently he did not like it. He stood staring and frowning.
"Why, I thought--I thought," he began at last--"I thought that you
"I supposed so, too," said Bernard. "But I have got over that."
Gordon turned away, looking up the great avenue into the crowd.
Then turning back, he said--
"I am very much surprised."
"And you are not pleased!"
Gordon fixed his eyes on the ground a moment.
"I congratulate you on your engagement," he said at last, looking
up with a face that seemed to Bernard hard and unnatural.
"It is very good of you to say that, but of course you can't like
it! I was sure you would n't like it. But what could I do? I fell in
love with her, and I could n't run away simply to spare you a
surprise. My dear Gordon," Bernard added, "you will get used to it."
"Very likely," said Gordon, dryly. "But you must give me time."
"As long as you like!"
Gordon stood for a moment again staring down at the ground.
"Very well, then, I will take my time," he said. "Good-bye!"
And he turned away, as if to walk off alone.
"Where are you going?" asked Bernard, stopping him.
"I don't know--to the hotel, anywhere. To try to get used to what
you have told me."
"Don't try too hard; it will come of itself," said Bernard.
"We shall see!"
And Gordon turned away again.
"Do you prefer to go alone?"
"Very much--if you will excuse me!"
"I have asked you to excuse a greater want of ceremony!" said
"I have not done so yet!" Gordon rejoined; and marching off, he
mingled with the crowd.
Bernard watched him till he lost sight of him, and then, dropping
into the first empty chair that he saw, he sat and reflected that his
friend liked it quite as little as he had feared.
Bernard sat thinking for a long time; at first with a good deal of
mortification--at last with a good deal of bitterness. He felt angry
at last; but he was not angry with himself. He was displeased with
poor Gordon, and with Gordon's displeasure. He was uncomfortable, and
he was vexed at his discomfort. It formed, it seemed to him, no
natural part of his situation; he had had no glimpse of it in the book
of fate where he registered on a fair blank page his betrothal to a
charming girl. That Gordon should be surprised, and even a little
shocked and annoyed--this was his right and his privilege; Bernard
had been prepared for that, and had determined to make the best of it.
But it must not go too far; there were limits to the morsel of humble
pie that he was disposed to swallow. Something in Gordon's air and
figure, as he went off in a huff, looking vicious and dangerous--yes,
that was positively his look--left a sinister impression on Bernard's
mind, and, after a while, made him glad to take refuge in being angry.
One would like to know what Gordon expected, par exemple! Did he
expect Bernard to give up Angela simply to save him a shock; or to
back out of his engagement by way of an ideal reparation? No, it was
too absurd, and, if Gordon had a wife of his own, why in the name of
justice should not Bernard have one?
Being angry was a relief, but it was not exactly a solution, and
Bernard, at last, leaving his place, where for an hour or two he had
been absolutely unconscious of everything that went on around him,
wandered about for some time in deep restlessness and irritation. At
one moment he thought of going back to Gordon's hotel, to see him, to
explain. But then he became aware that he was too angry for that-- to
say nothing of Gordon's being too angry also; and, moreover, that
there was nothing to explain. He was to marry Angela Vivian; that was
a very simple fact--it needed no explanation. Was it so wonderful, so
inconceivable, an incident so unlikely to happen? He went, as he
always did on Sunday, to dine with Mrs. Vivian, and it seemed to him
that he perceived in the two ladies some symptoms of a discomposure
which had the same origin as his own. Bernard, on this occasion, at
dinner, failed to make himself particularly agreeable; he ate fast--
as if he had no idea what he was eating, and talked little; every now
and then his eyes rested for some time upon Angela, with a strange,
eagerly excited expression, as if he were looking her over and trying
to make up his mind about her afresh. This young lady bore his
inscrutable scrutiny with a deal of superficial composure; but she was
also silent, and she returned his gaze, from time to time, with an air
of unusual anxiety. She was thinking, of course, of Gordon, Bernard
said to himself; and a woman's first meeting, in after years, with an
ex-lover must always make a certain impression upon her. Gordon,
however, had never been a lover, and if Bernard noted Angela's gravity
it was not because he felt jealous. "She is simply sorry for him,"
he said to himself; and by the time he had finished his dinner it
began to come back to him that he was sorry, too. Mrs. Vivian was
probably sorry as well, for she had a slightly confused and
preoccupied look--a look from which, even in the midst of his chagrin,
Bernard extracted some entertainment. It was Mrs. Vivian's
intermittent conscience that had been reminded of one of its lapses;
her meeting with Gordon Wright had recalled the least exemplary
episode of her life--the time when she whispered mercenary counsel in
the ear of a daughter who sat, grave and pale, looking at her with
eyes that wondered. Mrs. Vivian blushed a little now, when she met
Bernard's eyes; and to remind herself that she was after all a
virtuous woman, talked as much as possible about superior and harmless
things-- the beauty of the autumn weather, the pleasure of seeing
French papas walking about on Sunday with their progeny in their
hands, the peculiarities of the pulpit-oratory of the country as
exemplified in the discourse of a Protestant pasteur whom she had been
to hear in the morning.
When they rose from table and went back into her little
drawing-room, she left her daughter alone for awhile with Bernard.
The two were standing together before the fire; Bernard watched Mrs.
Vivian close the door softly behind her. Then, looking for a moment
at his companion--
"He is furious!" he announced at last.
"Furious?" said Angela. "Do you mean Mr. Wright?"
"The amiable, reasonable Gordon. He takes it very hard."
"Do you mean about me?" asked Angela.
"It 's not with you he 's furious, of course; it is with me. He
won't let me off easily."
Angela looked for a moment at the fire.
"I am very sorry for him," she said, at last.
"It seems to me I am the one to be pitied," said Bernard; "and I
don't see what compassion you, of all people in the world, owe him."
Angela again rested her eyes on the fire; then presently, looking
"He liked me very much," she remarked.
"All the more shame to him!" cried Bernard.
"What do you mean?" asked the girl, with her beautiful stare.
"If he liked you, why did he give you up?"
"He did n't give me up."
"What do you mean, please?" asked Bernard, staring back at her.
"I sent him away--I refused him," said Angela.
"Yes; but you thought better of it, and your mother had persuaded
you that if he should ask you again, you had better accept him. Then
it was that he backed out--in consequence of what I said to him on his
return from England."
She shook her head slowly, with a strange smile.
"My poor Bernard, you are talking very wildly. He did ask me
"That night?" cried Bernard.
"The night he came back from England--the last time I saw him,
"After I had denounced you?" our puzzled hero exclaimed, frowning
"I am sorry to let you know the small effect of your words!"
Bernard folded his hands together--almost devoutly--and stood
gazing at her with a long, inarticulate murmur of satisfaction.
"Ah! then, I did n't injure you--I did n't deprive you of a
"Oh, sir, the intention on your part was the same!" Angela
"Then all my uneasiness, all my remorse, were wasted?" he went on.
But she kept the same tone, and its tender archness only gave a
greater sweetness to his sense of relief.
"It was a very small penance for you to pay."
"You dismissed him definitely, and that was why he vanished?"
asked Bernard, wondering still.
"He gave me another 'chance,' as you elegantly express it, and I
declined to take advantage of it."
"Ah, well, now," cried Bernard, "I am sorry for him!"
"I was very kind--very respectful," said Angela. "I thanked him
from the bottom of my heart; I begged his pardon very humbly for the
wrong-- if wrong it was--that I was doing him. I did n't in the least
require of him that he should leave Baden at seven o'clock the next
morning. I had no idea that he would do so, and that was the reason
that I insisted to my mother that we ourselves should go away. When
we went I knew nothing about his having gone, and I supposed he was
still there. I did n't wish to meet him again."
Angela gave this information slowly, softly, with pauses between
the sentences, as if she were recalling the circumstances with a
certain effort; and meanwhile Bernard, with his transfigured face and
his eyes fixed upon her lips, was moving excitedly about the room.
"Well, he can't accuse me, then!" he broke out again. "If what I
said had no more effect upon him than that, I certainly did him no
"I think you are rather vexed he did n't believe you," said
"I confess I don't understand it. He had all the air of it. He
certainly had not the air of a man who was going to rush off and give
you the last proof of his confidence."
"It was not a proof of confidence," said Angela. "It had nothing
to do with me. It was as between himself and you; it was a proof of
independence. He did believe you, more or less, and what you said fell
in with his own impressions--strange impressions that they were, poor
man! At the same time, as I say, he liked me, too; it was out of his
liking me that all his trouble came! He caught himself in the act of
listening to you too credulously--and that seemed to him unmanly and
dishonorable. The sensation brought with it a reaction, and to prove
to himself that in such a matter he could be influenced by nobody, he
marched away, an hour after he had talked with you, and, in the teeth
of his perfect mistrust, confirmed by your account of my
irregularities-- heaven forgive you both!--again asked me to be his
wife. But he hoped I would refuse!"
"Ah," cried Bernard, "the recreant! He deserved--he deserved--"
"That I should accept him?" Angela asked, smiling still.
Bernard was so much affected by this revelation, it seemed to him
to make such a difference in his own responsibility and to lift such a
weight off his conscience, that he broke out again into the liveliest
ejaculations of relief.
"Oh, I don't care for anything, now, and I can do what I please!
Gordon may hate me, and I shall be sorry for him; but it 's not my
fault, and I owe him no reparation. No, no; I am free!"
"It 's only I who am not, I suppose," said Angela, "and the
reparation must come from me! If he is unhappy, I must take the
"Ah yes, of course," said Bernard, kissing her.
"But why should he be unhappy?" asked Angela. "If I refused him,
it was what he wanted."
"He is hard to please," Bernard rejoined. "He has got a wife of
"If Blanche does n't please him, he is certainly difficult;" and
Angela mused a little. "But you told me the other day that they were
getting on so well."
"Yes, I believe I told you," Bernard answered, musing a little too.
"You are not attending to what I say."
"No, I am thinking of something else--I am thinking of what it was
that made you refuse him that way, at the last, after you had let your
mother hope." And Bernard stood there, smiling at her.
"Don't think any more; you will not find out," the girl declared,
"Ah, it was cruel of you to let me think I was wrong all these
years," he went on; "and, at the time, since you meant to refuse him,
you might have been more frank with me."
"I thought my fault had been that I was too frank."
"I was densely stupid, and you might have made me understand
"Ah," said Angela, "you ask a great deal of a girl!"
"Why have you let me go on so long thinking that my deluded words
had had an effect upon Gordon--feeling that I had done you a brutal
wrong? It was real to me, the wrong--and I have told you of the pangs
and the shame which, for so many months, it has cost me! Why have you
never undeceived me until to-day, and then only by accident?"
At this question Angela blushed a little; then she answered,
"It was my vengeance."
Bernard shook his head.
"That won't do--you don't mean it. You never cared--you were too
proud to care; and when I spoke to you about my fault, you did n't
even know what I meant. You might have told me, therefore, that my
remorse was idle, that what I said to Gordon had not been of the
smallest consequence, and that the rupture had come from yourself."
For some time Angela said nothing, then at last she gave him one of
the deeply serious looks with which her face was occasionally
"If you want really to know, then--can't you see that your remorse
seemed to me connected in a certain way with your affection; a sort of
guarantee of it? You thought you had injured some one or other, and
that seemed to be mixed up with your loving me, and therefore I let it
"Ah," said Bernard, "my remorse is all gone, and yet I think I
love you about as much as ever! So you see how wrong you were not to
"The wrong to you I don't care about. It is very true I might have
told you for Mr. Wright's sake. It would perhaps have made him look
better. But as you never attacked him for deserting me, it seemed
needless for me to defend him."
"I confess," said Bernard, "I am quite at sea about Gordon's look
in the matter. Is he looking better now--or is he looking worse? You
put it very well just now; I was attending to you, though you said I
was not. If he hoped you would refuse him, with whom is his quarrel at
present? And why was he so cool to me for months after we parted at
Baden? If that was his state of mind, why should he accuse me of
"There is something in it, after all, that a woman can understand.
I don't know whether a man can. He hoped I would refuse him, and yet
when I had done so he was vexed. After a while his vexation subsided,
and he married poor Blanche; but, on learning to-day that I had
accepted you, it flickered up again. I suppose that was natural
enough; but it won't be serious."
"What will not be serious, my dear?" asked Mrs. Vivian, who had
come back to the drawing-room, and who, apparently, could not hear
that the attribute in question was wanting in any direction, without
"Shall I tell mamma, Bernard?" said Angela.
"Ah, my dear child, I hope it 's nothing that threatens your
mutual happiness," mamma murmured, with gentle earnestness.
"Does it threaten our mutual happiness, Bernard?" the girl went on,
"Let Mrs. Vivian decide whether we ought to let it make us
miserable," said Bernard. "Dear Mrs. Vivian, you are a casuist, and
this is a nice case."
"Is it anything about poor Mr. Wright?" the elder lady inquired.
"Why do you say 'poor' Mr. Wright?" asked Bernard.
"Because I am sadly afraid he is not happy with Blanche."
"How did you discover that--without seeing them together?"
"Well, perhaps you will think me very fanciful," said Mrs. Vivian;
"but it was by the way he looked at Angela. He has such an
"He looked at me very kindly, mamma," Angela observed.
"He regularly stared, my daughter. In any one else I should have
said it was rude. But his situation is so peculiar; and one could see
that he admired you still." And Mrs. Vivian gave a little soft sigh.
"Ah! she is thinking of the thirty thousand a year," Bernard said
"I am sure I hope he admires me still," the girl cried, laughing.
"There is no great harm in that."
"He was comparing you with Blanche--and he was struck with the
"It could n't have been in my favor. If it 's a question of being
looked at, Blanche bears it better than I."
"Poor little Blanche!" murmured Mrs. Vivian, sweetly.
"Why did you tell me he was so happy with her?" Angela asked,
turning to Bernard, abruptly.
Bernard gazed at her a moment, with his eyebrows raised.
"I never saw any one ask such sudden questions!" he exclaimed.
"You can answer me at your leisure," she rejoined, turning away.
"It was because I adored you."
"You would n't say that at your leisure," said the girl.
Mrs. Vivian stood watching them.
"You, who are so happy together, you ought to think kindly of
others who are less fortunate."
"That is very true, Mrs. Vivian; and I have never thought of any
one so kindly as I have of Gordon for the last year."
Angela turned round again.
"Is Blanche so very bad, then?"
"You will see for yourself!"
"Ah, no," said Mrs. Vivian, "she is not bad; she is only very
light. I am so glad she is to be near us again. I think a great deal
can be done by association. We must help her, Angela. I think we
helped her before."
"It is also very true that she is light, Mrs. Vivian," Bernard
observed, "and if you could make her a little heavier, I should be
Bernard's prospective mother-in-law looked at him a little.
"I don't know whether you are laughing at me--I always think you
are. But I shall not give up Blanche for that. I never give up any
one that I have once tried to help. Blanche will come back to me."
Mrs. Vivian had hardly spoken when the sharp little vibration of
her door-bell was heard in the hall. Bernard stood for a moment
looking at the door of the drawing-room.
"It is poor Gordon come to make a scene!" he announced.
"Is that what you mean--that he opposed your marriage?" asked Mrs.
Vivian, with a frightened air.
"I don't know what he proposes to do with Blanche," said Bernard,
There were voices in the hall. Angela had been listening.
"You say she will come back to you, mamma," she exclaimed. "Here
she is arrived!"
At the same moment the door was thrown open, and Mrs. Gordon
appeared on the threshold with a gentleman behind her. Blanche stood
an instant looking into the lighted room and hesitating-- flushed a
little, smiling, extremely pretty.
"May I come in?" she said, "and may I bring in Captain Lovelock?"
The two ladies, of course, fluttering toward her with every
demonstration of hospitality, drew her into the room, while Bernard
proceeded to greet the Captain, who advanced with a certain awkward
and bashful majesty, almost sweeping with his great stature Mrs.
Vivian's humble ceiling. There was a tender exchange of embraces
between Blanche and her friends, and the charming visitor, losing no
time, began to chatter with her usual volubility. Mrs. Vivian and
Angela made her companion graciously welcome; but Blanche begged they
would n't mind him--she had only brought him as a watch-dog.
"His place is on the rug," she said. "Captain Lovelock, go and
lie down on the rug."
"Upon my soul, there is nothing else but rugs in these French
places!" the Captain rejoined, looking round Mrs. Vivian's salon.
"Which rug do you mean?"
Mrs. Vivian had remarked to Blanche that it was very kind of her
to come first, and Blanche declared that she could not have laid her
head on her pillow before she had seen her dear Mrs. Vivian.
"Do you suppose I would wait because I am married?" she inquired,
with a keen little smile in her charming eyes. "I am not so much
married as that, I can tell you! Do you think I look much as if I
were married, with no one to bring me here to-night but Captain
"I am sure Captain Lovelock is a very gallant escort," said Mrs.
"Oh, he was not afraid--that is, he was not afraid of the journey,
though it lay all through those dreadful wild Champs Elysees. But
when we arrived, he was afraid to come in--to come up here. Captain
Lovelock is so modest, you know--in spite of all the success he had in
America. He will tell you about the success he had in America; it
quite makes up for the defeat of the British army in the Revolution.
They were defeated in the Revolution, the British, were n't they? I
always told him so, but he insists they were not. 'How do we come to
be free, then?' I always ask him; 'I suppose you admit that we are
free.' Then he becomes personal and says that I am free enough,
certainly. But it 's the general fact I mean; I wish you would tell
him about the general fact. I think he would believe you, because he
knows you know a great deal about history and all that. I don't mean
this evening, but some time when it is convenient. He did n't want to
come in--he wanted to stay in the carriage and smoke a cigar; he
thought you would n't like it, his coming with me the first time. But
I told him he need n't mind that, for I would certainly explain. I
would be very careful to let you know that I brought him only as a
substitute. A substitute for whom? A substitute for my husband, of
course. My dear Mrs. Vivian, of course I ought to bring you some
pretty message from Gordon-- that he is dying to come and see you,
only that he had nineteen letters to write and that he could n't
possibly stir from his fireside. I suppose a good wife ought to invent
excuses for her husband-- ought to throw herself into the breach; is
n't that what they call it? But I am afraid I am not a good wife. Do
you think I am a good wife, Mr. Longueville? You once stayed three
months with us, and you had a chance to see. I don't ask you that
seriously, because you never tell the truth. I always do; so I will
say I am not a good wife. And then the breach is too big, and I am too
little. Oh, I am too little, Mrs. Vivian; I know I am too little. I
am the smallest woman living; Gordon can scarcely see me with a
microscope, and I believe he has the most powerful one in America. He
is going to get another here; that is one of the things he came abroad
for; perhaps it will do better. I do tell the truth, don't I, Mrs.
Vivian? I have that merit, if I have n't any other. You once told me
so at Baden; you said you could say one thing for me, at any rate--
that I did n't tell fibs. You were very nice to me at Baden,"
Blanche went on, with her little intent smile, laying her hand in
that of her hostess. "You see, I have never forgotten it. So, to keep
up my reputation, I must tell the truth about Gordon. He simply said
he would n't come--voila! He gave no reason and he did n't send you
any pretty message. He simply declined, and he went out somewhere
else. So you see he is n't writing letters. I don't know where he can
have gone; perhaps he has gone to the theatre. I know it is n't proper
to go to the theatre on Sunday evening; but they say charity begins at
home, and as Gordon's does n't begin at home, perhaps it does n't
begin anywhere. I told him that if he would n't come with me I would
come alone, and he said I might do as I chose--that he was not in a
humor for making visits. I wanted to come to you very much; I had been
thinking about it all day; and I am so fond of a visit like this in
the evening, without being invited. Then I thought perhaps you had a
salon-- does n't every one in Paris have a salon? I tried to have a
salon in New York, only Gordon said it would n't do. He said it was
n't in our manners. Is this a salon to-night, Mrs. Vivian? Oh, do
say it is; I should like so much to see Captain Lovelock in a salon!
By good fortune he happened to have been dining with us; so I told
him he must bring me here. I told you I would explain, Captain
Lovelock," she added, "and I hope you think I have made it clear."
The Captain had turned very red during this wandering discourse.
He sat pulling his beard and shifting the position which, with his
stalwart person, he had taken up on a little gilded chair--a piece of
furniture which every now and then gave a delicate creak.
"I always understand you well enough till you begin to explain,"
he rejoined, with a candid, even if embarrassed, laugh. "Then, by
Jove, I 'm quite in the woods. You see such a lot more in things than
most people. Does n't she, Miss Vivian?"
"Blanche has a fine imagination," said Angela, smiling frankly at
the charming visitor.
When Blanche was fairly adrift upon the current of her articulate
reflections, it was the habit of her companions--indeed, it was a
sort of tacit agreement among them--simply to make a circle and
admire. They sat about and looked at her--yawning, perhaps, a little
at times, but on the whole very well entertained, and often exchanging
a smiling commentary with each other. She looked at them, smiled at
them each, in succession. Every one had his turn, and this always
helped to give Blanche an audience. Incoherent and aimless as much of
her talk was, she never looked prettier than in the attitude of
improvisation-- or rather, I should say, than in the hundred attitudes
which she assumed at such a time. Perpetually moving, she was yet
constantly graceful, and while she twisted her body and turned her
head, with charming hands that never ceased to gesticulate, and
little, conscious, brilliant eyes that looked everywhere at once--eyes
that seemed to chatter even faster than her lips-- she made you forget
the nonsense she poured forth, or think of it only as a part of her
personal picturesqueness. The thing was a regular performance; the
practice of unlimited chatter had made her perfect. She rested upon
her audience and held it together, and the sight of half a dozen pairs
of amused and fascinated faces led her from one piece of folly to
another. On this occasion, her audience was far from failing her, for
they were all greatly interested. Captain Lovelock's interest, as we
know, was chronic, and our three other friends were much occupied with
a matter with which Blanche was intimately connected. Bernard, as he
listened to her, smiling mechanically, was not encouraged. He
remembered what Mrs. Vivian had said shortly before she came in, and
it was not pleasant to him to think that Gordon had been occupied half
the day in contrasting the finest girl in the world with this
magnified butterfly. The contrast was sufficiently striking as Angela
sat there near her, very still, bending her handsome head a little,
with her hands crossed in her lap, and on her lips a kind but
inscrutable smile. Mrs. Vivian was on the sofa next to Blanche, one of
whose hands, when it was not otherwise occupied, she occasionally took
into her own.
"Dear little Blanche!" she softly murmured, at intervals.
These few remarks represent a longer pause than Mrs. Gordon often
suffered to occur. She continued to deliver herself upon a hundred
topics, and it hardly matters where we take her up.
"I have n't the least idea what we are going to do. I have nothing
to say about it whatever. Gordon tells me every day I must decide,
and then I ask Captain Lovelock what he thinks; because, you see, he
always thinks a great deal. Captain Lovelock says he does n't care a
fig--that he will go wherever I go. So you see that does n't carry us
very far. I want to settle on some place where Captain Lovelock won't
go, but he won't help me at all. I think it will look better for him
not to follow us; don't you think it will look better, Mrs. Vivian?
Not that I care in the least where we go-- or whether Captain
Lovelock follows us, either. I don't take any interest in anything,
Mrs. Vivian; don't you think that is very sad? Gordon may go anywhere
he likes--to St. Petersburg, or to Bombay."
"You might go to a worse place than Bombay," said Captain Lovelock,
speaking with the authority of an Anglo-Indian rich in reminiscences.
Blanche gave him a little stare.
"Ah well, that 's knocked on the head! From the way you speak of
it, I think you would come after us; and the more I think of that, the
more I see it would n't do. But we have got to go to some southern
place, because I am very unwell. I have n't the least idea what 's the
matter with me, and neither has any one else; but that does n't make
any difference. It 's settled that I am out of health. One might as
well be out of it as in it, for all the advantage it is. If you are
out of health, at any rate you can come abroad. It was Gordon's
discovery--he 's always making discoveries. You see it 's because I 'm
so silly; he can always put it down to my being an invalid. What I
should like to do, Mrs. Vivian, would be to spend the winter with
you-- just sitting on the sofa beside you and holding your hand. It
would be rather tiresome for you; but I really think it would be
better for me than anything else. I have never forgotten how kind you
were to me before my marriage--that summer at Baden. You were
everything to me--you and Captain Lovelock. I am sure I should be
happy if I never went out of this lovely room. You have got it so
beautifully arranged--I mean to do my own room just like it when I go
home. And you have got such lovely clothes. You never used to say
anything about it, but you and Angela always had better clothes than
I. Are you always so quiet and serious--never talking about chiffons--
always reading some wonderful book? I wish you would let me come and
stay with you. If you only ask me, Gordon would be too delighted. He
would n't have to trouble about me any more. He could go and live over
in the Latin Quarter--that 's the desire of his heart--and think of
nothing but old bottles. I know it is n't very good manners to beg for
an invitation," Blanche went on, smiling with a gentler radiance; "but
when it 's a question of one's health. One wants to keep one's self
alive-- does n't one? One wants to keep one's self going. It would
be so good for me, Mrs. Vivian; it would really be very good for me!"
She had turned round more and more to her hostess as she talked;
and at last she had given both her hands to Mrs. Vivian, and sat
looking at her with a singular mixture of earnestness and jocosity.
It was hard to know whether Blanche were expressing a real desire or
a momentary caprice, and whether this abrupt little petition were to
be taken seriously, or treated merely as a dramatic pose in a series
of more or less effective attitudes. Her smile had become almost a
grimace, she was flushed, she showed her pretty teeth; but there was a
little passionate quiver in her voice.
"My dear child," said Mrs. Vivian, "we should be delighted to have
you pay us a visit, and we should be so happy if we could do you any
good. But I am afraid you would very soon get tired of us, and I ought
to tell you, frankly, that our little home is to be--a broken up. You
know there is to be a--a change," the good lady continued, with a
hesitation which apparently came from a sense of walking on uncertain
ground, while she glanced with a smile at Bernard and Angela.
Blanche sat there with her little excited, yet innocent-- too
innocent--stare; her eyes followed Mrs. Vivian's. They met Bernard's
for an instant, and for some reason, at this moment, Bernard flushed.
He rose quickly and walked away to the window where he stood
looking out into the darkness. "The devil--the devil!" he murmured
to himself; "she does n't even know we are to be married-- Gordon has
n't been able to trust himself to tell her!" And this fact seemed
pregnant with evidence as to Gordon's state of mind; it did not appear
to simplify the situation. After a moment, while Bernard stood there
with his back turned-- he felt rather awkward and foolish--he heard
Blanche begin with her little surprised voice.
"Ah, you are going away? You are going to travel? But that 's
charming; we can travel together. You are not going to travel? What
then are you going to do? You are going back to America? Ah, but you
must n't do that, as soon as I come abroad; that 's not nice or
friendly, Mrs. Vivian, to your poor little old Blanche. You are not
going back to America? Ah, then, I give it up! What 's the great
mystery? Is it something about Angela? There was always a mystery
about Angela. I hope you won't mind my saying it, my dear; but I was
always afraid of you. My husband--he admires you so much, you
know--has often tried to explain you to me; but I have never
understood. What are you going to do now? Are you going into a
convent? Are you going to be--A-a-h!"
And, suddenly, quickly, interrupting herself, Mrs. Gordon gave a
long, wondering cry. Bernard heard her spring to her feet, and the
two other ladies rise from their seats. Captain Lovelock got up as
well; Bernard heard him knock over his little gilded chair. There was
a pause, during which Blanche went through a little mute exhibition of
amazement and pleasure. Bernard turned round, to receive half a dozen
"What are you hiding away for? What are you blushing for? I never
saw you do anything like that before! Why do you look so strange, and
what are you making me say? Angela, is it true-- is there something
like that?" Without waiting for the answer to this last question,
Blanche threw herself upon Mrs. Vivian. "My own Mrs. Vivian," she
cried, "is she married?"
"My dear Blanche," said Bernard, coming forward, "has not Gordon
told you? Angela and I are not married, but we hope to be before long.
Gordon only knew it this morning; we ourselves have only known it a
short time. There is no mystery about it, and we only want your
"Well, I must say you have been very quiet about it!" cried
Blanche. "When I was engaged, I wrote you all a letter."
"By Jove, she wrote to me!" observed Captain Lovelock.
Angela went to her and kissed her.
"Your husband does n't seem to have explained me very
Mrs. Gordon held Bernard's intended for a moment at arm's length,
with both her hands, looking at her with eyes of real excitement and
wonder. Then she folded her in a prolonged, an exaggerated, embrace.
"Why did n't he tell me--why did n't he tell me?" she presently
began. "He has had all day to tell me, and it was very cruel of him
to let me come here without knowing it. Could anything be more
absurd--more awkward? You don't think it 's awkward--you don't mind
it? Ah well, you are very good! But I like it, Angela--I like it
extremely, immensely. I think it 's delightful, and I wonder it never
occurred to me. Has it been going on long? Ah, of course, it has been
going on! Did n't it begin at Baden, and did n't I see it there? Do
you mind my alluding to that? At Baden we were all so mixed up that
one could n't tell who was attentive to whom! But Bernard has been
very faithful, my dear; I can assure you of that. When he was in
America he would n't look at another woman. I know something about
that! He stayed three months in my house and he never spoke to me.
Now I know why, Mr. Bernard; but you might have told me at the time.
The reason was certainly good enough. I always want to know why, you
know. Why Gordon never told me, for instance; that 's what I want to
Blanche refused to sit down again; she declared that she was so
agitated by this charming news that she could not be quiet, and that
she must presently take her departure. Meanwhile she congratulated
each of her friends half a dozen times; she kissed Mrs. Vivian again,
she almost kissed Bernard; she inquired about details; she longed to
hear all about Angela's "things." Of course they would stop for the
wedding; but meantime she must be very discreet; she must not intrude
too much. Captain Lovelock addressed to Angela a few fragmentary, but
well-intentioned sentences, pulling his beard and fixing his eyes on
the door-knob--an implement which presently turned in his manly fist,
as he opened the door for his companion to withdraw. Blanche went away
in a flutter of ejaculations and protestations which left our three
friends in Mrs. Vivian's little drawing-room standing looking at each
other as the door closed behind her.
"It certainly would have been better taste in him to tell her,"
said Bernard, frowning, "and not let other people see how little
communication there is between them. It has mortified her."
"Poor Mr. Wright had his reasons," Mrs. Vivian suggested, and then
she ventured to explain: "He still cares for Angela, and it was
painful to him to talk about her marrying some one else."
This had been Bernard's own reflection, and it was no more
agreeable as Mrs. Vivian presented it; though Angela herself seemed
indifferent to it--seemed, indeed, not to hear it, as if she were
thinking of something else.
"We must simply marry as soon as possible; to-morrow, if
necessary," said Bernard, with some causticity. "That 's the best
thing we can do for every one. When once Angela is married, Gordon
will stop thinking of her. He will never permit his imagination to
hover about a married woman; I am very sure of that. He does n't
approve of that sort of thing, and he has the same law for himself as
for other people."
"It does n't matter," said Angela, simply.
"How do you mean, my daughter, it does n't matter?"
"I don't feel obliged to feel so sorry for him now."
"Now? Pray, what has happened? I am more sorry than ever, since
I have heard poor Blanche's dreadful tone about him."
The girl was silent a moment; then she shook her head, lightly.
"Her tone--her tone? Dearest mother, don't you see? She is
intensely in love with him!"
This observation struck Bernard as extremely ingenious and worthy
of his mistress's fine intelligence; he greeted it with enthusiasm,
and thought of it for the next twelve hours. The more he thought of it
the more felicitous it seemed to him, and he went to Mrs. Vivian's the
next day almost for the express purpose of saying to Angela that,
decidedly, she was right. He was admitted by his old friend, the
little femme de chambre, who had long since bestowed upon him,
definitively, her confidence; and as in the ante-chamber he heard the
voice of a gentleman raised and talking with some emphasis, come to
him from the salon, he paused a moment, looking at her with an
"Yes," said Mrs. Vivian's attendant, "I must tell Monsieur frankly
that another gentleman is there. Moreover, what does it matter?
Monsieur would perceive it for himself!"
"Has he been here long?" asked Bernard.
"A quarter of an hour. It probably does n't seem long to the
"Is he alone with Mademoiselle?"
"He asked for Mademoiselle only. I introduced him into the salon,
and Mademoiselle, after conversing a little while with Madame,
consented to receive him. They have been alone together, as I have
told Monsieur, since about three o'clock. Madame is in her own
apartment. The position of Monsieur," added this discriminating
woman, "certainly justifies him in entering the salon."
Bernard was quite of this opinion, and in a moment more he had
crossed the threshold of the little drawing-room and closed the door
Angela sat there on a sofa, leaning back with her hands clasped in
her lap and her eyes fixed upon Gordon Wright, who stood squarely
before her, as if he had been making her a resolute speech. Her face
wore a look of distress, almost of alarm; she kept her place, but her
eyes gave Bernard a mute welcome. Gordon turned and looked at him
slowly from head to foot. Bernard remembered, with a good deal of
vividness, the last look his friend had given him in the Champs
Elysees the day before; and he saw with some satisfaction that this
was not exactly a repetition of that expression of cold horror. It
was a question, however, whether the horror were changed for the
better. Poor Gordon looked intensely sad and grievously wronged. The
keen resentment had faded from his face, but an immense reproach was
there--a heavy, helpless, appealing reproach. Bernard saw that he had
not a scene of violence to dread-- and yet, when he perceived what was
coming, he would almost have preferred violence. Gordon did not offer
him his hand, and before Bernard had had time to say anything, began
to speak again, as if he were going on with what he had been saying
"You have done me a great wrong--you have done me a cruel wrong! I
have been telling it to Miss Vivian; I came on purpose to tell her. I
can't really tell her; I can't tell her the details; it 's too painful!
But you know what I mean! I could n't stand it any longer. I thought
of going away--but I could n't do that. I must come and say what I
feel. I can't bear it now."
This outbreak of a passionate sense of injury in a man habitually
so undemonstrative, so little disposed to call attention to himself,
had in it something at once of the touching and the terrible.
Bernard, for an instant, felt almost bewildered; he asked himself
whether he had not, after all, been a monster of duplicity. He was
guilty of the weakness of taking refuge in what is called, I believe,
in legal phrase, a side-issue.
"Don't say all this before Angela!" he exclaimed, with a kind of
artificial energy. "You know she is not in the least at fault, and
that it can only give her pain. The thing is between ourselves."
Angela was sitting there, looking up at both the men. "I like to
hear it," she said.
"You have a singular taste!" Bernard declared.
"I know it 's between ourselves," cried Gordon, "and that Miss
Vivian is not at fault. She is only too lovely, too wise, too good!
It is you and I that are at fault--horribly at fault! You see I admit
it, and you don't. I never dreamed that I should live to say such
things as this to you; but I never dreamed you would do what you have
done! It 's horrible, most horrible, that such a difference as this
should come between two men who believed themselves--or whom I
believed, at least-- the best friends in the world. For it is a
difference--it 's a great gulf, and nothing will ever fill it up. I
must say so; I can't help it. You know I don't express myself easily;
so, if I break out this way, you may know what I feel. I know it is a
pain to Miss Vivian, and I beg her to forgive me. She has so much to
forgive that she can forgive that, too. I can't pretend to accept it;
I can't sit down and let it pass. And then, it is n't only my
feelings; it 's the right; it 's the justice. I must say to her that
you have no right to marry her; and beg of her to listen to me and let
"My dear Gordon, are you crazy?" Bernard demanded, with an energy
which, this time at least, was sufficiently real.
"Very likely I am crazy. I am crazy with disappointment and the
bitterness of what I have lost. Add to that the wretchedness of what
I have found!"
"Ah, don't say that, Mr. Wright," Angela begged.
He stood for an instant looking at her, but not heeding her words.
"Will you listen to me again? Will you forget the wrong I did you?--
my stupidity and folly and unworthiness? Will you blot out the past
and let me begin again. I see you as clearly now as the light of that
window. Will you give me another chance?"
Angela turned away her eyes and covered her face with her hands.
"You do pain me!" she murmured.
"You go too far," said Bernard. "To what position does your
extraordinary proposal relegate your wife?"
Gordon turned his pleading eyes on his old friend without a ray of
concession; but for a moment he hesitated. "Don't speak to me of my
wife. I have no wife."
"Ah, poor girl!" said Angela, springing up from the sofa.
"I am perfectly serious," Gordon went on, addressing himself again
to her. "No, after all, I am not crazy; I see only too clearly--I see
what should be; when people see that, you call them crazy. Bernard
has no right-- he must give you up. If you really care for him, you
should help him. He is in a very false position; you should n't wish
to see him in such a position. I can't explain to you--if it were
even for my own sake. But Bernard must have told you; it is not
possible that he has not told you?"
"I have told Angela everything, Gordon," said Bernard.
"I don't know what you mean by your having done me a wrong!" the
"If he has told you, then--I may say it! In listening to him, in
"But you did n't believe me," Bernard exclaimed, "since you
immediately went and offered yourself to Miss Vivian!"
"I believed you all the same! When did I ever not believe you?"
"The last words I ever heard from Mr. Wright were words of the
deepest kindness," said Angela.
She spoke with such a serious, tender grace, that Gordon seemed
stirred to his depths again.
"Ah, give me another chance!" he moaned.
The poor girl could not help her tone, and it was in the same tone
that she continued--
"If you think so well of me, try and be reasonable."
Gordon looked at her, slowly shaking his head.
"Reasonable--reasonable? Yes, you have a right to say that, for
you are full of reason. But so am I. What I ask is within reasonable
"Granting your happiness were lost," said Bernard--"I say that
only for the argument--is that a ground for your wishing to deprive me
"It is not yours--it is mine, that you have taken! You put me off
my guard, and then you took it! Yours is elsewhere, and you are
welcome to it!"
"Ah," murmured Bernard, giving him a long look and turning away,
"it is well for you that I am willing still to regard you as my best
Gordon went on, more passionately, to Angela.
"He put me off my guard--I can't call it anything else. I know I
gave him a great chance--I encouraged him, urged him, tempted him.
But when once he had spoken, he should have stood to it. He should
n't have had two opinions--one for me, and one for himself! He put me
off my guard. It was because I still resisted him that I went to you
again, that last time. But I was still afraid of you, and in my heart
I believed him. As I say, I always believed him; it was his great
influence upon me. He is the cleverest, the most intelligent, the
most brilliant of men. I don't think that a grain less than I ever
thought it," he continued, turning again to Bernard. "I think it only
the more, and I don't wonder that you find a woman to believe it. But
what have you done but deceive me? It was just my belief in your
intelligence that reassured me. When Miss Vivian refused me a second
time, and I left Baden, it was at first with a sort of relief. But
there came back a better feeling--a feeling faint compared to this
feeling of to-day, but strong enough to make me uneasy and to fill me
with regret. To quench my regret, I kept thinking of what you had
said, and it kept me quiet. Your word had such weight with me!"
"How many times more would you have wished to be refused, and how
many refusals would have been required to give me my liberty?" asked
"That question means nothing, because you never knew that I had
again offered myself to Miss Vivian."
"No; you told me very little, considering all that you made me tell
"I told you beforehand that I should do exactly as I chose."
"You should have allowed me the same liberty!"
"Liberty!" cried Gordon. "Had n't you liberty to range the whole
world over? Could n't he have found a thousand other women?"
"It is not for me to think so," said Angela, smiling a little.
Gordon looked at her a moment.
"Ah, you cared for him from the first!" he cried.
"I had seen him before I ever saw you," said the girl.
Bernard suppressed an exclamation. There seemed to flash through
these words a sort of retrospective confession which told him
something that she had never directly told him. She blushed as soon
as she had spoken, and Bernard found a beauty in this of which the
brightness blinded him to the awkward aspect of the fact she had just
presented to Gordon. At this fact Gordon stood staring; then at last
he apprehended it--largely.
"Ah, then, it had been a plot between you!" he cried out.
Bernard and Angela exchanged a glance of pity.
"We had met for five minutes, and had exchanged a few words before
I came to Baden. It was in Italy--at Siena. It was a simple accident
that I never told you," Bernard explained.
"I wished that nothing should be said about it," said Angela.
"Ah, you loved him!" Gordon exclaimed.
Angela turned away--she went to the window. Bernard followed her
for three seconds with his eyes; then he went on--
"If it were so, I had no reason to suppose it. You have accused
me of deceiving you, but I deceived only myself. You say I put you
off your guard, but you should rather say you put me on mine. It was,
thanks to that, that I fell into the most senseless, the most brutal
of delusions. The delusion passed away-- it had contained the germ of
better things. I saw my error, and I bitterly repented of it; and on
the day you were married I felt free."
"Ah, yes, I have no doubt you waited for that!" cried Gordon. "It
may interest you to know that my marriage is a miserable failure."
"I am sorry to hear it--but I can't help it."
"You have seen it with your own eyes. You know all about it, and
I need n't tell you."
"My dear Mr. Wright," said Angela, pleadingly, turning round, "in
Heaven's name, don't say that!"
"Why should n't I say it? I came here on purpose to say it. I
came here with an intention--with a plan. You know what Blanche is--
you need n't pretend, for kindness to me, that you don't. You know
what a precious, what an inestimable wife she must make me-- how
devoted, how sympathetic she must be, and what a household blessing at
every hour of the day. Bernard can tell you all about us--he has seen
us in the sanctity of our home." Gordon gave a bitter laugh and went
on, with the same strange, serious air of explaining his plan. "She
despises me, she hates me, she cares no more for me than for the
button on her glove-- by which I mean that she does n't care a
hundredth part as much. You may say that it serves me right, and that
I have got what I deserve. I married her because she was silly. I
wanted a silly wife; I had an idea you were too wise. Oh, yes, that 's
what I thought of you! Blanche knew why I picked her out, and
undertook to supply the article required. Heaven forgive her! She has
certainly kept her engagement. But you can imagine how it must have
made her like me-- knowing why I picked her out! She has disappointed
me all the same. I thought she had a heart; but that was a mistake.
It does n't matter, though, because everything is over between us."
"What do you mean, everything is over?" Bernard demanded.
"Everything will be over in a few weeks. Then I can speak to Miss
"Ah! I am glad to hear this is not serious," said Bernard.
"Miss Vivian, wait a few weeks," Gordon went on. "Give me another
chance then. Then it will be perfectly right; I shall be free."
"You speak as if you were going to put an end to your wife!"
"She is rapidly putting an end to herself. She means to leave me."
"Poor, unhappy man, do you know what you are saying?" Angela
"Perfectly. I came here to say it. She means to leave me, and I
mean to offer her every facility. She is dying to take a lover, and
she has got an excellent one waiting for her. Bernard knows whom I
mean; I don't know whether you do. She was ready to take one three
months after our marriage. It is really very good of her to have
waited all this time; but I don't think she can go more than a week or
two longer. She is recommended a southern climate, and I am pretty
sure that in the course of another ten days I may count upon their
starting together for the shores of the Mediterranean. The shores of
the Mediterranean, you know, are lovely, and I hope they will do her a
world of good. As soon as they have left Paris I will let you know;
and then you will of course admit that, virtually, I am free."
"I don't understand you."
"I suppose you are aware," said Gordon, "that we have the advantage
of being natives of a country in which marriages may be legally
Angela stared; then, softly--
"Are you speaking of a divorce?"
"I believe that is what they call it," Gordon answered, gazing
back at her with his densely clouded blue eyes. "The lawyers do it for
you; and if she goes away with Lovelock, nothing will be more simple
than for me to have it arranged."
Angela stared, I say; and Bernard was staring, too. Then the
latter, turning away, broke out into a tremendous, irrepressible
Gordon looked at him a moment; then he said to Angela, with a
deeper tremor in his voice--
"He was my dearest friend."
"I never felt more devoted to you than at this moment!" Bernard
declared, smiling still.
Gordon had fixed his sombre eyes upon the girl again.
"Do you understand me now?"
Angela looked back at him for some instants.
"Yes," she murmured at last.
"And will you wait, and give me another chance?"
"Yes," she said, in the same tone.
Bernard uttered a quick exclamation, but Angela checked him with a
glance, and Gordon looked from one of them to the other.
"Can I trust you?" Gordon asked.
"I will make you happy," said Angela.
Bernard wondered what under the sun she meant; but he thought he
might safely add--
"I will abide by her choice."
Gordon actually began to smile.
"It won't be long, I think; two or three weeks."
Angela made no answer to this; she fixed her eyes on the floor.
"I shall see Blanche as often as possible," she presently said.
"By all means! The more you see her the better you will understand
"I understand you very well now. But you have shaken me very much,
and you must leave me. I shall see you also--often."
Gordon took up his hat and stick; he saw that Bernard did not do
"And Bernard?" he exclaimed.
"I shall ask him to leave Paris," said Angela.
"Will you go?"
"I will do what Angela requests," said Bernard.
"You have heard what she requests; it 's for you to come now."
"Ah, you must at least allow me to take leave!" cried Bernard.
Gordon went to the door, and when he had opened it he stood for a
while, holding it and looking at his companions. Then--
"I assure you she won't be long!" he said to Angela, and rapidly
The others stood silent till they heard the outer door of the
apartment close behind him.
"And now please to elucidate!" said Bernard, folding his arms.
Angela gave no answer for some moments; then she turned upon him a
smile which appeared incongruous, but which her words presently helped
"He is intensely in love with his wife!"
This statement was very effective, but it might well have seemed
at first to do more credit to her satiric powers than to her faculty
of observation. This was the light in which it presented itself to
Bernard; but, little by little, as she amplified the text, he grew to
think well of it, and at last he was quite ready to place it, as a
triumph of sagacity, on a level with that other discovery which she
had made the evening before and with regard to which his especial
errand to-day had been to congratulate her afresh. It brought him,
however, less satisfaction than it appeared to bring to his clever
companion; for, as he observed plausibly enough, Gordon was quite out
of his head, and, this being the case, of what importance was the
secret of his heart?
"The secret of his heart and the condition of his head are one and
the same thing," said Angela. "He is turned upside down by the
wretchedly false position that he has got into with his wife. She has
treated him badly, but he has treated her wrongly. They are in love
with each other, and yet they both do nothing but hide it. He is not
in the least in love with poor me-- not to-day any more than he was
three years ago. He thinks he is, because he is full of sorrow and
bitterness, and because the news of our engagement has given him a
shock. But that 's only a pretext--a chance to pour out the grief and
pain which have been accumulating in his heart under a sense of his
estrangement from Blanche. He is too proud to attribute his feelings
to that cause, even to himself; but he wanted to cry out and say he
was hurt, to demand justice for a wrong; and the revelation of the
state of things between you and me-- which of course strikes him as
incongruous; we must allow largely for that--came to him as a sudden
opportunity. No, no," the girl went on, with a generous ardor in her
face, following further the train of her argument, which she appeared
to find extremely attractive, "I know what you are going to say and I
deny it. I am not fanciful, or sophistical, or irrational, and I know
perfectly what I am about. Men are so stupid; it 's only women that
have real discernment. Leave me alone, and I shall do something.
Blanche is silly, yes, very silly; but she is not so bad as her
husband accused her of being, in those dreadful words which he will
live to repent of. She is wise enough to care for him, greatly, at
bottom, and to feel her little heart filled with rage and shame that
he does n't appear to care for her. If he would take her a little
more seriously--it 's an immense pity he married her because she was
silly!--she would be flattered by it, and she would try and deserve
it. No, no, no! she does n't, in reality, care a straw for Captain
Lovelock, I assure you, I promise you she does n't. A woman can tell.
She is in danger, possibly, and if her present situation, as regards
her husband, lasts, she might do something as horrid as he said. But
she would do it out of spite--not out of affection for the Captain,
who must be got immediately out of the way. She only keeps him to
torment her husband and make Gordon come back to her. She would drop
him forever to-morrow." Angela paused a moment, reflecting, with a
kindled eye. "And she shall!"
Bernard looked incredulous.
"How will that be, Miss Solomon?"
"You shall see when you come back."
"When I come back? Pray, where am I going?"
"You will leave Paris for a fortnight--as I promised our poor
Bernard gave an irate laugh.
"My dear girl, you are ridiculous! Your promising it was almost
as childish as his asking it."
"To play with a child you must be childish. Just see the effect of
this abominable passion of love, which you have been crying up to me
so! By its operation Gordon Wright, the most sensible man of our
acquaintance, is reduced to the level of infancy! If you will only go
away, I will manage him."
"You certainly manage me! Pray, where shall I go?"
"Wherever you choose. I will write to you every day."
"That will be an inducement," said Bernard. "You know I have never
received a letter from you."
"I write the most delightful ones!" Angela exclaimed; and she
succeeded in making him promise to start that night for London.
She had just done so when Mrs. Vivian presented herself, and the
good lady was not a little astonished at being informed of his
"You surely are not going to give up my daughter to oblige Mr.
Wright?" she observed.
"Upon my word, I feel as if I were!" said Bernard.
"I will explain it, dear mamma," said Angela. "It is very
interesting. Mr. Wright has made a most fearful scene; the state of
things between him and Blanche is dreadful."
Mrs. Vivian opened her clear eyes.
"You really speak as if you liked it!"
"She does like it--she told Gordon so," said Bernard. "I don't
know what she is up to! Gordon has taken leave of his wits; he
wishes to put away his wife."
"To put her away?"
"To repudiate her, as the historians say!"
"To repudiate little Blanche!" murmured Mrs. Vivian, as if she were
struck with the incongruity of the operation.
"I mean to keep them together," said Angela, with a firm decision.
Her mother looked at her with admiration.
"My dear daughter, I will assist you."
The two ladies had such an air of mysterious competence to the
task they had undertaken that it seemed to Bernard that nothing was
left to him but to retire into temporary exile. He accordingly betook
himself to London, where he had social resources which would, perhaps,
make exile endurable. He found himself, however, little disposed to
avail himself of these resources, and he treated himself to no
pleasures but those of memory and expectation. He ached with a sense
of his absence from Mrs. Vivian's deeply familiar sky-parlor, which
seemed to him for the time the most sacred spot on earth-- if on earth
it could be called--and he consigned to those generous postal
receptacles which ornament with their brilliant hue the London
street-corners, an inordinate number of the most voluminous epistles
that had ever been dropped into them. He took long walks, alone, and
thought all the way of Angela, to whom, it seemed to him, that the
character of ministering angel was extremely becoming. She was
faithful to her promise of writing to him every day, and she was an
angel who wielded-- so at least Bernard thought, and he was particular
about letters-- a very ingenious pen. Of course she had only one
topic-- the success of her operations with regard to Gordon. "Mamma
has undertaken Blanche," she wrote, "and I am devoting myself to Mr.
W. It is really very interesting." She told Bernard all about it in
detail, and he also found it interesting; doubly so, indeed, for it
must be confessed that the charming figure of the mistress of his
affections attempting to heal a great social breach with her light and
delicate hands, divided his attention pretty equally with the
distracted, the distorted, the almost ludicrous, image of his old
Angela wrote that Gordon had come back to see her the day after
his first visit, and had seemed greatly troubled on learning that
Bernard had taken himself off. "It was because you insisted on it, of
course," he said; "it was not from feeling the justice of it himself."
"I told him," said Angela, in her letter, "that I had made a point of
it, but that we certainly ought to give you a little credit for it.
But I could n't insist upon this, for fear of sounding a wrong note
and exciting afresh what I suppose he would be pleased to term his
jealousy. He asked me where you had gone, and when I told him--'Ah,
how he must hate me!' he exclaimed. 'There you are quite wrong,' I
answered. 'He feels as kindly to you as--as I do.' He looked as if
he by no means believed this; but, indeed, he looks as if he believed
nothing at all. He is quite upset and demoralized. He stayed half an
hour and paid me his visit--trying hard to 'please' me again! Poor
man, he is in a charming state to please the fair sex! But if he does
n't please me, he interests me more and more; I make bold to say that
to you. You would have said it would be very awkward; but, strangely
enough, I found it very easy. I suppose it is because I am so
interested. Very likely it was awkward for him, poor fellow, for I
can certify that he was not a whit happier at the end of his
half-hour, in spite of the privilege he had enjoyed. He said nothing
more about you, and we talked of Paris and New York, of Baden and
Rome. Imagine the situation! I shall make no resistance whatever to
it; I shall simply let him perceive that conversing with me on these
topics does not make him feel a bit more comfortable, and that he must
look elsewhere for a remedy. I said not a word about Blanche."
She spoke of Blanche, however, the next time. "He came again this
afternoon," she said in her second letter, "and he wore exactly the
same face as yesterday--namely, a very unhappy one. If I were not
entirely too wise to believe his account of himself, I might suppose
that he was unhappy because Blanche shows symptoms of not taking
flight. She has been with us a great deal--she has no idea what is
going on-- and I can't honestly say that she chatters any less than
usual. But she is greatly interested in certain shops that she is
buying out, and especially in her visits to her tailor. Mamma has
proposed to her--in view of your absence--to come and stay with us,
and she does n't seem afraid of the idea. I told her husband to-day
that we had asked her, and that we hoped he had no objection. 'None
whatever; but she won't come.' 'On the contrary, she says she will.'
'She will pretend to, up to the last minute; and then she will find a
pretext for backing out.' 'Decidedly, you think very ill of her,' I
said. 'She hates me,' he answered, looking at me strangely. 'You say
that of every one,' I said. 'Yesterday you said it of Bernard.' 'Ah,
for him there would be more reason!' he exclaimed. 'I won't attempt
to answer for Bernard,' I went on, 'but I will answer for Blanche.
Your idea of her hating you is a miserable delusion. She cares for
you more than for any one in the world. You only misunderstand each
other, and with a little good will on both sides you can easily get
out of your tangle.' But he would n't listen to me; he stopped me
short. I saw I should excite him if I insisted; so I dropped the
subject. But it is not for long; he shall listen to me."
Later she wrote that Blanche had in fact "backed out," and would
not come to stay with them, having given as an excuse that she was
perpetually trying on dresses, and that at Mrs. Vivian's she should be
at an inconvenient distance from the temple of these sacred rites, and
the high priest who conducted the worship. "But we see her every day,"
said Angela, "and mamma is constantly with her. She likes mamma
better than me. Mamma listens to her a great deal and talks to her a
little-- I can't do either when we are alone. I don't know what she
says-- I mean what mamma says; what Blanche says I know as well as if
I heard it. We see nothing of Captain Lovelock, and mamma tells me
she has not spoken of him for two days. She thinks this is a better
symptom, but I am not so sure. Poor Mr. Wright treats it as a great
triumph that Blanche should behave as he foretold. He is welcome to
the comfort he can get out of this, for he certainly gets none from
anything else. The society of your correspondent is not that balm to
his spirit which he appeared to expect, and this in spite of the fact
that I have been as gentle and kind with him as I know how to be. He
is very silent--he sometimes sits for ten minutes without speaking; I
assure you it is n't amusing. Sometimes he looks at me as if he were
going to break out with that crazy idea to which he treated me the
other day. But he says nothing, and then I see that he is not thinking
of me-- he is simply thinking of Blanche. The more he thinks of her
"My dear Bernard," she began on another occasion, "I hope you are
not dying of ennui, etc. Over here things are going so-so. He asked
me yesterday to go with him to the Louvre, and we walked about among
the pictures for half an hour. Mamma thinks it a very strange sort of
thing for me to be doing, and though she delights, of all things, in a
good cause, she is not sure that this cause is good enough to justify
the means. I admit that the means are very singular, and, as far as
the Louvre is concerned, they were not successful. We sat and looked
for a quarter of an hour at the great Venus who has lost her arms, and
he said never a word. I think he does n't know what to say. Before we
separated he asked me if I heard from you. 'Oh, yes,' I said, 'every
day.' 'And does he speak of me?' 'Never!' I answered; and I think
he looked disappointed." Bernard had, in fact, in writing to Angela,
scarcely mentioned his name. "He had not been here for two days," she
continued, at the end of a week; "but last evening, very late--too
late for a visitor--he came in. Mamma had left the drawing-room, and I
was sitting alone; I immediately saw that we had reached a crisis. I
thought at first he was going to tell me that Blanche had carried out
his prediction; but I presently saw that this was not where the shoe
pinched; and, besides, I knew that mamma was watching her too closely.
'How can I have ever been such a dull-souled idiot?' he broke out, as
soon as he had got into the room. 'I like to hear you say that,' I
said, 'because it does n't seem to me that you have been at all wise.'
'You are cleverness, kindness, tact, in the most perfect form!' he
went on. As a veracious historian I am bound to tell you that he paid
me a bushel of compliments, and thanked me in the most flattering
terms for my having let him bore me so for a week. 'You have not bored
me,' I said; 'you have interested me.' 'Yes,' he cried, 'as a curious
case of monomania. It 's a part of your kindness to say that; but I
know I have bored you to death; and the end of it all is that you
despise me. You can't help despising me; I despise myself. I used to
think that I was a man, but I have given that up; I am a poor
creature! I used to think I could take things quietly and bear them
bravely. But I can't! If it were not for very shame I could sit here
and cry to you.' 'Don't mind me,' I said; 'you know it is a part of
our agreement that I was not to be critical.' 'Our agreement?' he
repeated, vaguely. 'I see you have forgotten it,' I answered; 'but it
does n't in the least matter; it is not of that I wish to talk to you.
All the more that it has n't done you a particle of good. I have
been extremely nice with you for a week; but you are just as unhappy
now as you were at the beginning. Indeed, I think you are rather
worse.' 'Heaven forgive me, Miss Vivian, I believe I am!' he cried.
'Heaven will easily forgive you; you are on the wrong road. To catch
up with your happiness, which has been running away from you, you must
take another; you must travel in the same direction as Blanche; you
must not separate yourself from your wife.' At the sound of Blanche's
name he jumped up and took his usual tone; he knew all about his wife,
and needed no information. But I made him sit down again, and I made
him listen to me. I made him listen for half an hour, and at the end
of the time he was interested. He had all the appearance of it; he
sat gazing at me, and at last the tears came into his eyes. I believe
I had a moment of eloquence. I don't know what I said, nor how I said
it, to what point it would bear examination, nor how, if you had been
there, it would seem to you, as a disinterested critic, to hang
together; but I know that after a while there were tears in my own
eyes. I begged him not to give up Blanche; I assured him that she is
not so foolish as she seems; that she is a very delicate little
creature to handle, and that, in reality, whatever she does, she is
thinking only of him. He had been all goodness and kindness to her, I
knew that; but he had not, from the first, been able to conceal from
her that he regarded her chiefly as a pretty kitten. She wished to be
more than that, and she took refuge in flirting, simply to excite his
jealousy and make him feel strongly about her. He has felt strongly,
and he was feeling strongly now; he was feeling passionately--that was
my whole contention. But he had perhaps never made it plain to those
rather near-sighted little mental eyes of hers, and he had let her
suppose something that could n't fail to rankle in her mind and
torment it. 'You have let her suppose,' I said, 'that you were
thinking of me, and the poor girl has been jealous of me. I know it,
but from nothing she herself has said. She has said nothing; she has
been too proud and too considerate. If you don't think that 's to her
honor, I do. She has had a chance every day for a week, but she has
treated me without a grain of spite. I have appreciated it, I have
understood it, and it has touched me very much. It ought to touch
you, Mr. Wright. When she heard I was engaged to Mr. Longueville, it
gave her an immense relief. And yet, at the same moment you were
protesting, and denouncing, and saying those horrible things about
her! I know how she appears-- she likes admiration. But the
admiration in the world which she would most delight in just now would
be yours. She plays with Captain Lovelock as a child does with a
wooden harlequin, she pulls a string and he throws up his arms and
legs. She has about as much intention of eloping with him as a little
girl might have of eloping with a pasteboard Jim Crow. If you were to
have a frank explanation with her, Blanche would very soon throw Jim
Crow out of the window. I very humbly entreat you to cease thinking of
me. I don't know what wrong you have ever done me, or what kindness I
have ever done you, that you should feel obliged to trouble your head
about me. You see all I am--I tell you now. I am nothing in the least
remarkable. As for your thinking ill of me at Baden, I never knew it
nor cared about it. If it had been so, you see how I should have got
over it. Dear Mr. Wright, we might be such good friends, if you would
only believe me. She 's so pretty, so charming, so universally
admired. You said just now you had bored me, but it 's nothing--in
spite of all the compliments you have paid me-- to the way I have
bored you. If she could only know it-- that I have bored you! Let
her see for half an hour that I am out of your mind--the rest will
take care of itself. She might so easily have made a quarrel with me.
The way she has behaved to me is one of the prettiest things I have
ever seen, and you shall see the way I shall always behave to her!
Don't think it necessary to say out of politeness that I have not
bored you; it is not in the least necessary. You know perfectly well
that you are disappointed in the charm of my society. And I have done
my best, too. I can honestly affirm that!' For some time he said
nothing, and then he remarked that I was very clever, but he did n't
see a word of sense in what I said. 'It only proves,' I said, 'that
the merit of my conversation is smaller than you had taken it into
your head to fancy. But I have done you good, all the same. Don't
contradict me; you don't know yet; and it 's too late for us to argue
about it. You will tell me to-morrow.'"
Some three evenings after he received this last report of the
progress of affairs in Paris, Bernard, upon whom the burden of exile
sat none the more lightly as the days went on, turned out of the
Strand into one of the theatres. He had been gloomily pushing his way
through the various London densities-- the November fog, the nocturnal
darkness, the jostling crowd. He was too restless to do anything but
walk, and he had been saying to himself, for the thousandth time, that
if he had been guilty of a misdemeanor in succumbing to the
attractions of the admirable girl who showed to such advantage in
letters of twelve pages, his fault was richly expiated by these days
of impatience and bereavement. He gave little heed to the play; his
thoughts were elsewhere, and, while they rambled, his eyes wandered
round the house. Suddenly, on the other side of it, he beheld Captain
Lovelock, seated squarely in his orchestra-stall, but, if Bernard was
not mistaken, paying as little attention to the stage as he himself
had done. The Captain's eyes, it is true, were fixed upon the scene;
his head was bent a little, his magnificent beard rippled over the
expanse of his shirt-front. But Bernard was not slow to see that his
gaze was heavy and opaque, and that, though he was staring at the
actresses, their charms were lost upon him. He saw that, like himself,
poor Lovelock had matter for reflection in his manly breast, and he
concluded that Blanche's ponderous swain was also suffering from a
sense of disjunction. Lovelock sat in the same posture all the
evening, and that his imagination had not projected itself into the
play was proved by the fact that during the entractes he gazed with
the same dull fixedness at the curtain. Bernard forebore to interrupt
him; we know that he was not at this moment socially inclined, and he
judged that the Captain was as little so, inasmuch as causes even more
imperious than those which had operated in his own case must have been
at the bottom of his sudden appearance in London. On leaving the
theatre, however, Bernard found himself detained with the crowd in the
vestibule near the door, which, wide open to the street, was a scene
of agitation and confusion. It had come on to rain, and the raw
dampness mingled itself with the dusky uproar of the Strand. At last,
among the press of people, as he was passing out, our hero became
aware that he had been brought into contact with Lovelock, who was
walking just beside him. At the same moment Lovelock noticed him--
looked at him for an instant, and then looked away. But he looked
back again the next instant, and the two men then uttered that
inarticulate and inexpressive exclamation which passes for a sign of
greeting among gentlemen of the Anglo-Saxon race, in their moments of
more acute self-consciousness.
"Oh, are you here?" said Bernard. "I thought you were in Paris."
"No; I ain't in Paris," Lovelock answered with some dryness.
"Tired of the beastly hole!"
"Oh, I see," said Bernard. "Excuse me while I put up my umbrella."
He put up his umbrella, and from under it, the next moment, he saw
the Captain waving two fingers at him out of the front of a hansom.
When he returned to his hotel he found on his table a letter
superscribed in Gordon Wright's hand. This communication ran as
"I believe you are making a fool of me. In Heaven's name, come
back to Paris! G. W."
Bernard hardly knew whether to regard these few words as a further
declaration of war, or as an overture to peace; but he lost no time in
complying with the summons they conveyed. He started for Paris the
next morning, and in the evening, after he had removed the dust of his
journey and swallowed a hasty dinner, he rang at Mrs. Vivian's door.
This lady and her daughter gave him a welcome which--I will not say
satisfied him, but which, at least, did something toward soothing the
still unhealed wounds of separation.
"And what is the news of Gordon?" he presently asked.
"We have not seen him in three days," said Angela.
"He is cured, dear Bernard; he must be. Angela has been
wonderful," Mrs. Vivian declared.
"You should have seen mamma with Blanche," her daughter said,
smiling. "It was most remarkable."
Mrs. Vivian smiled, too, very gently.
"Dear little Blanche! Captain Lovelock has gone to London."
"Yes, he thinks it a beastly hole. Ah, no," Bernard added, "I
have got it wrong."
But it little mattered. Late that night, on his return to his own
rooms, Bernard sat gazing at his fire. He had not begun to undress;
he was thinking of a good many things. He was in the midst of his
reflections when there came a rap at his door, which the next moment
was flung open. Gordon Wright stood there, looking at him--with a gaze
which Bernard returned for a moment before bidding him to come in.
Gordon came in and came up to him; then he held out his hand. Bernard
took it with great satisfaction; his last feeling had been that he was
very weary of this ridiculous quarrel, and it was an extreme relief to
find it was over.
"It was very good of you to go to London," said Gordon, looking at
him with all the old serious honesty of his eyes.
"I have always tried to do what I could to oblige you," Bernard
"You must have cursed me over there," Gordon went on.
"I did, a little. As you were cursing me here, it was
"That 's over now," said Gordon. "I came to welcome you back. It
seemed to me I could n't lay my head on my pillow without speaking to
"I am glad to get back," Bernard admitted, smiling still. "I can't
deny that. And I find you as I believed I should." Then he added,
seriously--"I knew Angela would keep us good friends."
For a moment Gordon said nothing. Then, at last--
"Yes, for that purpose it did n't matter which of us should marry
her. If it had been I," he added, "she would have made you accept it."
"Ah, I don't know!" Bernard exclaimed.
"I am sure of it," said Gordon earnestly--almost argumentatively.
"She 's an extraordinary woman."
"Keeping you good friends with me--that 's a great thing. But it
's nothing to her keeping you good friends with your wife."
Gordon looked at Bernard for an instant; then he fixed his eyes
for some time on the fire.
"Yes, that is the greatest of all things. A man should value his
wife. He should believe in her. He has taken her, and he should keep
her-- especially when there is a great deal of good in her. I was a
great fool the other day," he went on. "I don't remember what I said.
It was very weak."
"It seemed to me feeble," said Bernard. "But it is quite within a
man's rights to be a fool once in a while, and you had never abused of
"Well, I have done it for a lifetime--for a lifetime." And Gordon
took up his hat. He looked into the crown of it for a moment, and
then he fixed his eyes on Bernard's again. "But there is one thing I
hope you won't mind my saying. I have come back to my old impression
of Miss Vivian."
"Your old impression?"
And Miss Vivian's accepted lover frowned a little.
"I mean that she 's not simple. She 's very strange."
Bernard's frown cleared away in a sudden, almost eager smile.
"Say at once that you dislike her! That will do capitally."
Gordon shook his head, and he, too, almost smiled a little.
"It 's not true. She 's very wonderful. And if I did dislike her,
I should struggle with it. It would never do for me to dislike your
After he had gone, when the night was half over, Bernard, lying
awake a while, gave a laugh in the still darkness, as this last
sentence came back to him.
On the morrow he saw Blanche, for he went to see Gordon. The
latter, at first, was not at home; but he had a quarter of an hour's
talk with his wife, whose powers of conversation were apparently not
in the smallest degree affected by anything that had occurred.
"I hope you enjoyed your visit to London," she said. "Did you go
to buy Angela a set of diamonds in Bond Street? You did n't buy
anything--you did n't go into a shop? Then pray what did you go for?
Excuse my curiosity-- it seems to me it 's rather flattering. I
never know anything unless I am told. I have n't any powers of
observation. I noticed you went--oh, yes, I observed that very much;
and I thought it very strange, under the circumstances. Your most
intimate friend arrived in Paris, and you choose the next day to make
a little tour! I don't like to see you treat my husband so; he would
never have done it to you. And if you did n't stay for Gordon, you
might have staid for Angela. I never heard of anything so monstrous as
a gentleman rushing away from the object of his affection, for no
particular purpose that any one could discover, the day after she has
accepted him. It was not the day after? Well, it was too soon, at any
rate. Angela could n't in the least tell me what you had gone for;
she said it was for a 'change.' That was a charming reason! But she
was very much ashamed of you--and so was I; and at last we all sent
Captain Lovelock after you to bring you back. You came back without
him? Ah, so much the better; I suppose he is still looking for you,
and, as he is n't very clever, that will occupy him for some time. We
want to occupy him; we don't approve of his being so idle. However,
for my own part, I am very glad you were away. I was a great deal at
Mrs. Vivian's, and I should n't have felt nearly so much at liberty to
go if I had known I should always find you there making love to
Mademoiselle. It would n't have seemed to me discreet,-- I know what
you are going to say--that it 's the first time you ever heard of my
wishing to avoid an indiscretion. It 's a taste I have taken up
lately,--for the same reason you went to London, for a 'change.' "
Here Blanche paused for an appreciable moment; and then she
added--"Well, I must say, I have never seen anything so lovely as Mrs.
Vivian's influence. I hope mamma won't be disappointed in it this
When Bernard next saw the other two ladies, he said to them that he
was surprised at the way in which clever women incurred moral
"We like them," said Mrs. Vivian. "We delight in them!"
"Well," said Bernard, "I would n't for the world have it on my
conscience to have reconciled poor Gordon to Mrs. Blanche."
"You are not to say a word against Blanche," Angela declared. "She
's a little miracle."
"It will be all right, dear Bernard," Mrs. Vivian added, with soft
"I have taken a great fancy to her," the younger lady went on.
Bernard gave a little laugh.
"Gordon is right in his ultimate opinion. You are very strange!"
"You may abuse me as much as you please; but I will never hear a
word against Mrs. Gordon."
And she never would in future; though it is not recorded that
Bernard availed himself in any special degree of the license offered
him in conjunction with this warning.
Blanche's health within a few days had, according to her own
account, taken a marvellous turn for the better; but her husband
appeared still to think it proper that they should spend the winter
beneath a brilliant sun, and he presently informed his friends that
they had at last settled it between them that a voyage up the Nile
must be, for a thoroughly united couple, a very agreeable pastime. To
perform this expedition advantageously they must repair to Cairo
without delay, and for this reason he was sure that Bernard and Angela
would easily understand their not making a point of waiting for the
wedding. These happy people quite understood it. Their nuptials were
to be celebrated with extreme simplicity. If, however, Gordon was not
able to be present, he, in conjunction with his wife, bought for
Angela, as a bridal gift, a necklace of the most beautiful pearls the
Rue de la Paix could furnish; and on his arrival at Cairo, while he
waited for his dragoman to give the signal for starting, he found
time, in spite of the exactions of that large correspondence which has
been more than once mentioned in the course of our narrative, to
write Bernard the longest letter he had ever addressed to him. The
letter reached Bernard in the middle of his honeymoon.