Portrait of a Lady (version 3) | Henry James | Literary Fiction | Talking Book | English | 2/15

Portrait of a Lady (version 3) | Henry James | Literary Fiction | Talking Book | English | 2/15



chapters four and five of the portrait of a lady by Henry James this LibriVox recording is in the public domain Chapter four mrs. Ludlow was the eldest of the three sisters and it was usually thought the most sensible for classification being in general that Lillian was the practical one Edith the beauty and Isabelle the intellectual superior mrs. Keyes in the second of the group was the wife of an officer of the United States Engineers and as our history is not further concerned with her it will suffice that she was indeed very pretty and that she formed the ornament of those various military stations chiefly in the unfashionable West to which to her deep chagrin her husband was successively relegated Lillian had married a New York lawyer a young man with a loud voice and had enthusiasm for his profession the match was not brilliant any more than Edith's but Lillian had occasionally been spoken of as a young woman who might be thankful to marry at all she was so much plainer than her sisters she was however very happy and now as the mother of two peremptory little boys and the mistress of a wedge of brown stone violently driven into 53rd Street seemed to exult in her condition as in a bold escape she was short and solid and who claimed a figure was questioned but she was conceded presence though not majesty she had moreover as people said improved since her marriage and the two things in life from which he was most distinctly conscious were her husband's force an argument and her sister Isabel's originality I've never kept up with Isabel it would have taken all my time she had often remarked in spite of which however she held her rather wistfully in sight watching her as a motherly spaniel might watch a free Greyhound I want to see her safely married that's what I want to see she frequently noted to her husband well I must say I should have no particular desire to marry her Edmund Ludlow was accustomed to answer in an extremely audible tone I know you say that for argument you always take the opposite ground I don't see what you've got against her except that she's so original well I don't like originals I like translations Mr Ludlow had more than once replied Isabelle it's written in a foreign tongue I can't make her out she ought to marry an Armenian or a Portuguese that's just what I'm afraid she'll do cried Lillian who thought Isabelle capable of anything she listened with great interest of the girls account of mrs. tuchis appearance and in the evening prepared to comply with their aunt's commands of what Israel then said no report has remained but her sisters words had doubtlessly prompted a word spoken to her husband as the two were making ready for their visit I do hope immensely she'll do something handsome for Isabelle she has evidently taken a great fancy to her what is it you wish her to do Edmund Ludlow asked make her a big present no indeed nothing of the sort but take an interest in her sympathize with her she's evidently just the sort of person to appreciate her she has lived so much in foreign society she told Isabel all about it you know you've always thought Isabelle rather foreign you want her to give her a little far in sympathy eh don't you think she gets enough at home well she ought to go abroad said mrs. Ludlow she's just the person to go abroad and you want the old lady to take her is that it she has offered to take her she's dying to have Isabelle go but what I wanted to do when she gets her there is to give her all the advantages I'm sure all we've got to do we said mrs. Ludlow is to give her a chance a chance for what a chance to develop Oh Moses Edmund Lazo exclaimed I hope she isn't going to develop any more if I were not sure you only said that for an argument I should feel very badly his wife replied but you know you love her do you know I love you the young man said jocosely to Isabel a little later while he brushed his hat I'm sure I don't care whether you knew or not exclaimed the girl whose voice and smile however were less haughty than her words oh she feels so grand since mrs. touches visit said her sister but Isabel challenged this assertion with a good deal of seriousness you must not say that Lilly I don't feel grand at all I'm sure there's no harm said the conciliatory Lilly ah but there's nothing and mrs. touches visit to make one feel grand Oh exclaimed that low she's grander than ever whenever I feel grand said the girl it will be for a better reason whether she felt grand or no she at any rate felt different felt as if something had happened to her left to herself for the evening she sat awhile under the lamp her hands empty her usual avocations unheeded then she rose and moved about the room and from one room to another preferring the places where the vague lamplight expired she was Restless and even agitated at moments she trembled a little the importance of what had happened was out of proportion to its appearance there had really been a change in her life what it would bring with it was this yet extremely indefinite but Isabel was in a situation that gave a value to any change she had a desire to leave the past behind her and as she said to herself to begin afresh this desire indeed was not a birth of the present occasion it was his familiar as the sound of the rain upon the window and it had led her to beginning a fresh and great many times she closed her eyes as she sat in one of the dusky corners of the quiet parlor but it was not with the desire for dozing forgetfulness it was on the contrary because she felt too wide-eyed and wished to check the sense of seeing too many things at once her imagination was by habit ridiculously active when the door was not open it jumped out of the window she was not accustomed to need to keep it behind bolts and at important moments when she would have been thankful to make use of her judgment alone she paid the penalty of having given unyuu encouragement to the Faculty of seeing without judging at present with her sense that the note of change had been struck came gradually a host of images of the things she was leaving behind her the years and hours of her life came back to her and for a long time and a stillness broken only by the ticking of the big bronze clock she passed the min review it had been a very happy life and she had been a very fortunate person this was the truth that seemed to have urged most vividly she had had the best of everything and in a world in which the circumstances of so many people made them unenviable it was an advantage never to have known anything particularly unpleasant it appeared to Isabel that the unpleasant had been even too absent from her knowledge for she had gathered from her acquaintance with literature that it was often a source of interest and even of instruction her father had kept it away from her her handsome much-loved father who always had such an aversion to it it was a great Felicity to have been his daughter Isabel rose even to pride in her parentage since his death she had seemed to see him as turning his braver side to his children and as not having managed to ignore the ugly quite so much in practice as an aspiration but this only made her tenderness for him greater it was scarcely even painful to have to suppose him too generous too good-natured too indifferent considerations many persons had held that he carried this indifference too far especially the large number of those to whom he owed money of their opinions Isabelle was never very definitely informed but it may interest the reader to know that while they had recognized in the late mr. archer a remarkably handsome head and a very taking manner indeed as one of them had said he was always taking something they had declared that he was making a very poor use of his life he had squandered a substantial fortune he had been deplorably convivial he was known to have gambled freely a few very harsh critics went so far to say that he had not even brought up his daughters they had had no regular education and no permanent home they had been at once spoiled and neglected they had lived with nursemaids and governesses usually very bad ones or had been sent to superficial schools kept by the French from which at the end of a month they had been removed in tears this view of the matter would have excited Isabelle's indignation for to her own sense her opportunities had been large even when her father had left his daughters for three months of Natal with a French Bond who word eloped with a Russian nobleman staying at the same hotel even in this irregular situation an incident of the girls 11th year she had been neither frightened nor ashamed but had thought it a romantic episode in a liberal education her father had a large way of looking at life of which his restlessness and even his occasional incoherency of conduct had been only a proof he wished his daughter's even as children to see as much of the world as possible and it was for this purpose that before Isabelle was 14 he had transported them three times across the Atlantic giving them on each occasion however but a few months view of the subject proposed a course which had whetted heroines curiosity without enabling her to satisfy it she ought to have been a partisan of her father for she was the member of his trio who most made up to him for the disagreeable 'z he didn't mention in his last days his general willingness to take leave of a world in which the difficulty of doing so as one like appeared to increase as one grew older had been sensibly modified by the pain of separation from his clever his superior his remarkable girl later when the journeys to Europe had ceased he still ratone his children all sorts of indulgence and if he had been troubled about money matters nothing ever disturbed there a reflective consciousness of many possessions Isabelle though she danced very well had not the recollection of having been in New York a successful member of the choreographic circle her sister Edith was as everyone said so very much more fetching Edith was so striking an example of success that Isabelle can have no illusions as to what constituted this advantage or as to the limits of her own power to frisk and jump and shriek above all with rightness of effect 19 persons out of 20 including the younger sister herself pronounced Edith infinitely the prettier of the two but the 20th besides reversing this judgment had the entertainment of thinking all the others esthetic vulgarians Isabelle had in the depths of her nature an even more unquenchable desire to please than Edith but the depths of this young lady's nature were a very out-of-the-way place between which and the surface communication was interrupted by a dozen capricious forces she saw the young men who came in large numbers to see her sister but as a general thing they were afraid of her they had a belief that some special preparation was required for talking with her her reputation of reading a great deal hung about her like the cloudy envelope of a goddess in an epoch it was supposed to engender difficult questions and to keep the conversation at a low temperature the poor girl like to be thought clever but she hated to be thought bookish she used to read in secret and though her memory was excellent to abstain from Shoei reference she had a great desire for knowledge but she really preferred almost any source of information to the printed page she had an immense curiosity about life and was constantly staring and wandering she carried within herself a great fund of life and her deepest enjoyment was to feel the continuity between the movements of her own soul and the agitations of the world for this reason she was fond of seeing great crowds and large stretches of country of reading about revolutions and Wars of looking at historical pictures a class of efforts as to which she had often committed the conscious solecism of forgiving them much bad painting for the sake of the subject while the Civil War was on she was still a very young girl but she passed months of this long period in a state of almost passionate excitement in which she felt herself at times to her extreme confusion stirred almost indiscriminately by the Valor of either Army of course the circumspection of suspicious Swain's had never gone the length of making her a social Pro script for the number of those whose hearts as they approached her beat only just fast enough to remind them they had hence as well had kept her unacquainted with the supreme disciplines of her sex and age she had had everything a girl could have kindness admiration bombo's bouquets the sense of exclusion from none of the privileges of the world she lived in abundant opportunity for dancing plenty of new dresses for London Spectator the latest publications the music of goon oh the poetry of Browning the prose of George Eliott these things now as a memory played over them resolved themselves into a multitude of scenes and figures forgotten things came back to her many others which he had lately thought of great moment dropped out of sight the result was kaleidoscopic but the movement of the instrument was checked at last by the servants coming in with the name of a gentleman the name of the gentleman was Casper Goodwood he was a straight young man from Boston who had known miss archer for the last 12 months and who thinking her the most beautiful young woman of her time had pronounced the time according to the rule I have hinted at a foolish period of history he sometimes wrote to her and had within a week or two written from New York she had thought it very possible he would come in had indeed all the rainy-day been vaguely expecting him now that she learned he was there nevertheless she felt no eagerness to receive him he was the finest young man she had ever seen and indeed quite a splendid young man he inspired her with the sentiment of high of rare respect she had never felt equally moved to it by any other person he was supposed by the world in general to wish to marry her but this of course was between themselves it at least may be affirmed that he had traveled from New York to Albany expressly to see her having learned in the former city where he was spending a few days and where he had hoped to find her that she was still at the state capital Isabelle delayed for some minutes to go to him she moved about the room with a new sense of complications but at last she presented herself and found him standing near the lamp he was tall strong and somewhat stiff he was also lean and brown he was not romantically he was much rather obscurely handsome but his physiognomies had an air of requesting your attention which had rewarded according to the charm you found in the blue eyes of remarkable fixedness the eyes of a complexion other than his own and a jaw of the somewhat angular mold which is supposed to bespeak resolution Isabelle said to herself that it bespoke resolution tonight in spite of which in half an hour Caspar Goodwood who had arrived hopeful as well as resolute took his way back to his lodging with the feeling of a man defeated he was not it maybe added a man weakly to accept defeat end of chapter 4 chapter 5 Ralph touch it was a philosopher but nevertheless he knocked at his mother's door at a quarter to seven with a good deal of eagerness even philosophers have their preferences and it must be admitted that of his progenitors his father ministered most to his sense of the sweetness of filial dependence his father as he had often said to himself was the more motherly his mother on the other hand was paternal and even according to the slang of the day gubernatorial she was nevertheless very fond of her only child and had always insisted on his spending three months of the year with her Ralph rendered perfect justice to her affection and knew that in her thoughts and her thoroughly arranged and servant idli his turn always came after the other nearest subjects of her solicitude the various punctuality zuv performance of the workers of her will he found her completely dressed for dinner but she embraced her boy with her gloved hands and made him sit on the sofa beside her she inquired very scrupulously about her husband's health and about the young man's own and receiving no very brilliant account of either remarked that she was more than ever convinced of her wisdom in not exposing herself to the English climate in this case she also might have given way Ralph smiled at the idea of his mother's giving way but made no point of reminding her that his own infirmity was the result of the English climate from which he absenting himself for a considerable part of each year he had been a very small boy when his father Daniel Tracey touch it a native of Rutland of the state of Vermont came to England a subordinate partner in a banking house were some 10 years later he gained preponderant control Daniel touchid saw before him a lifelong residents in his adopted country of which from the first he took a simple sane and accommodating view but as he said to himself he had no intention of dis Americanizing nor had he had desired to teach his only son any such subtle art it had been for himself so very soluble a problem to live in England assimilated yet unconverted that it seemed to him equally simple his lawful heir should after his death carry on the gray old bank in the white American light he was at pains to intensify this light however by sending the boy home for his education Ralph spent several terms at an American school and took a degree at an American University after which as he struck his father on his return as even redundantly native he was placed for some three years in residence in Oxford Oxford swallowed up Harvard and Ralph became at last English enough his outward conformity to the manners that surrounded him was nonetheless the mask of a mind that greatly enjoyed his independence on which nothing long imposed itself and which naturally inclined to adventure an irony indulged in a boundless Liberty of appreciation he began with being a young man of promise that Oxford he distinguished himself to his father's ineffable satisfaction and the people about him said it was a thousand pities so clever a fellow should be shut out from a career he might have had a career by returning to his own country though this point is shrouded in uncertainty and even if mr. touches had been willing to part with him which was not the case it would have gone hard with them to put a watery waste permanently between himself and the old man whom he regarded as his best friend Ralph was not only fond of his father he admired him he enjoyed the opportunity of observing him Daniel touch it to his perception was a man of genius and though he himself had no aptitude for the banking mystery he made a point of learning enough of it to measure the great figure his father had played it was not this however he mainly relished it was the fine ivory surface polished as by the English air that the old man had opposed to possibilities of penetration Daniel touch it had been neither at Harvard nor at Oxford and it was his own fault if he had placed in his son's hands the key to modern criticism Ralph whose head was full of ideas which his father had never guessed had a high esteem for the latter's originality Americans rightly or wrongly are commended for the ease with which they adapt themselves to foreign conditions but mr. touch it had made of the very limits of his pliancy half the ground of his general success he had retained in their freshness most of his marks of primary pressure his tone as his son always noted with pleasure was that of the more luxuriant parts of New England at the end of his life he had become on his own ground as mellow as he was rich he combined consummate rudeness with the disposition superficially to fraternize and his social position on which he had never wasted a care had the firm perfection of an unfilmed fruit it was perhaps his watt of imagination under what is called the historic consciousness but too many of the impressions usually made by English life upon the cultivated stranger his sense was completely closed there were certain differences he had never perceived certain habits he had never formed certain Bertie's he had never sounded as regards these latter on the day he had sounded them his son would have thought less well of him Ralph on leaving Oxford had spent a couple of years in travelling after which he had found himself perched on a high stool in his father's bank the responsibility in honor of such positions is not I believe measured by the height of the stool which depends upon other considerations Ralph indeed who went very long legs was fond of standing and even if walking about it his work to this exercise however he was obliged to devote but a limited period for at the end of some 18 months he had become aware of his being seriously out of health he had caught a violent cold which fixed itself on his lungs and threw them in a dire confusion he had to give up work and apply to the letter the sorry injunction to take care of himself at first he slighted the task it appeared to him it was not himself in the least he was taking care of but an uninteresting and uninterested person with whom he had nothing in common this person however improved on acquaintance and Ralph grew at last to have a certain grudging tolerance even an undemonstrated respect for him misfortune makes strange bedfellows and our young men feeling that he had something at stake in the matter it usually struck him as his reputation for ordinary wit devoted to his gracious charge an amount of attention of which note was duly taken and which had at least the effect of keeping the poor fellow alive one of his longest began to heal the other promised to follow its example and he was assured that he might out whether a dozen winters if he would betake himself to those climates in which consumptives chiefly congregate as he had grown extremely fond of London he cursed the flatness of exile but at the same time that he cursed he conformed and gradually when he found his sensitive organ grateful even for grim favours he conferred them with a lighter hand he wintered abroad as the phrase is basked in the Sun stopped at home when the wind blew went to bed when it rained and once or twice when it had snowed overnight almost never got up again a secret hoard of indifference like a thick cake a fond old nurse might have slipped into his first school outfit came to his aid and helped to reconcile him to sacrifice since at best he was too ill for but that argue escaped as he said to himself there was really nothing he had wanted very much to do so that he had at least not renounced the field of Valor I present however the fragrance of forbidden fruit seemed occasionally to float past him and remind him that the finest of pleasures is the rush of action living as he now lived was like reading a good book and a poor translation a meager entertainment for a young man who felt that he might have been an excellent linguist he had good winters and poor winters and while the former lasted he was sometimes the sport of evasion of virtual recovery but this vision was dispelled some three years before the occurrence of the incidence with which this history opens he had on that occasion remained later than usual in England and had been overtaken by bad weather before reaching Algiers he arrived more dead than alive and lay there for several weeks between life and death his convalescence was a miracle but the first use he made of it was to assure himself that such miracles happen but once he said to himself that his hour was in sight and that it proved him to keep his eyes upon it if that it was also open to him to spend the interval as agreeably as might be consistent with such a preoccupation with the prospect of losing them the simple use of his faculties became an exquisite pleasure it seemed to him the joys of contemplation had never sounded he was far from the time when he had found it hard that he should be obliged to give up the idea of distinguishing himself an idea nonetheless unfortunate for being vague and nonetheless delightful for having had to struggle in the same breast with bursts of inspiring self criticism his friends had prescient judged him more cheerful and attributed to a theory over which they shook their heads knowingly that he would recover his health his serenity was but the array of wildflowers niched in his ruin it was very probably the sweet-tasting property of the observed thing in itself that was mainly concerned and ralph's quickly stirred interest in the advent of a young lady who was evidently not insipid if he was considering lis disposed something told him here was occupation enough for a succession of days it may be added in summary that the imagination of loving as distinguished from that of being loved and still a place in his reduced sketch he had only forbidden himself the riot of expression however he shouldn't inspire his cousin with the passion nor would she be able even should she try to help him to one and I'll tell me about the young lady he said to his mother what do you mean to do with her missus touchid was prompt I mean to ask your father to invite her to stay three or four weeks at Garden Court you needn't stand on any such ceremony as that said Ralph my father will ask you as a matter of course I don't know about that she's my niece she's not his good Lord dear mother what a sense of property that's all the more reason for his asking her but after that I mean after three months for it's absurd asking the poor girl to remain but the three or four paltry weeks what do you mean to do with her I mean to take her to Paris I mean to get her clothing oh yes that's of course but independently of that I shall invite her to spend the autumn with me in Florence you don't rise above the tale dear mother said Ralph I should like to know what you mean to do with her in a general way my duty mrs. touchid declared I suppose you pity her very much she added no I don't think I pity her she doesn't strike me as inviting compassion I think I envied her before being sure however give me a hint of where you see your duty in showing her four European countries I should leave her the choice of two of them and didn't giving her the opportunity of perfecting herself in French which he already knows very well Ralph frowned a little that sounds rather dry even allowing her the choice of two of the countries if it's dry said his mother with a laugh you can leave Isabelle alone to water it she is as good as a summer rain any day do you mean she's a gifted being I don't know whether she's a gifted being but she's a clever girl with a strong will and a high temper she has no idea of being bored I can imagine that said Ralph and that he added abruptly how do you two get on do you mean by death that I'm a bore I don't think she finds me one some girls might I know but Isabelle is too clever for that I think I greatly amuse her we get on because I understand her I know the sort of girl she is she's very frank and I'm very frank we know just what to expect of each other ah dear mother Ralph exclaimed one always knows what to expect of you you've never surprised me for once and that's today in presenting me with a pretty cousin whose existence I had never suspected do you think are so very pretty very pretty indeed but I don't insist upon that it's a general air of being someone in particular that strikes me who is this rare creature and what is she where did you find her and how did you make her acquaintance I found her in an old house in Albany sitting in a dreary room on a rainy day reading a heavy book and boring herself to death she didn't know she was bored but when I left her no doubt of it she seemed very grateful for the service you may say I shouldn't have enlightened her I should have let her alone there's a good deal in that but I acted conscientiously I thought she was meant for something better it occurred to me that it would be a kindness to take her about an introducer of the world she thinks she knows a great deal of it like most American girls but like most American girl she's ridiculously mistaken if you want to know I thought she would do me credit I'd like to be well thought of and for a woman of my age there's no greater convenience in some ways than an attractive nice you know I had seen nothing of my sister's children for years I disapproved entirely of the father but I always meant to do something for them when he should have gone to his reward I ascertained where they were to be found and without any preliminaries went and introduced myself there were two others of them both of whom are married but I saw only the elder who has by the way a very uncivil husband the wife whose name is Lily jumped at the idea of my taking an interest in Isabel she said it was just what her sister needed that someone should take an interest in her she spoke of her as you might speak of some young person of genius in want of encouragement and patronage it may be that Isabel's a genius but in that case I've not yet learned her special line mrs. Ludlow was especially keen about my taking her to Europe they all regard Europe over there as the land of emigration of rescue a refuge for their superfluous population Isabelle herself seemed very glad to come and the thing was easily array changed there was a little difficulty about the money question but she seemed averse to being under pecuniary obligations but she has a small income and she supposes herself to be traveling at her own expense Ralph had listened attentively to this judicious report by which is interest in the subject of it was not impaired ah if she's a genius he said we must find out her special line is it by chance for flirting I don't think so you may suspect that at first but you'll be wrong you won't I think in any way be easily right about her Warburton is wrong then Ralph rejoicing Lee exclaimed he flatters himself that he has made that discovery his mother shook her head Lord Warburton won't understand her he needn't try he's very intelligent said Ralph but it's right he should be puzzled once in a while Isabella will enjoy puzzling the Lord mrs. touchid remarked her son frowned a little but does she know about Lourdes nothing at all that will puzzle him all the more Ralph greeted these words with a laugh and looked out the window then are you not going down to see my father he asked at a quarter to eight said mrs. Duchin her son looked at his watch you've another quarter of an hour then tell me some more about Isabel after which as mrs. touch it declined his invitation declaring that he must find out for himself well he pursued shall certainly do you credit but won't she also give you trouble I hope not but if she does I shall not shrink from it I never do that she strikes me is very natural said Ralph natural people are not the most trouble no said Ralph you yourself for a proof of that you're extremely natural and I'm sure you have never troubled anyone it takes trouble to do that but tell me this it just occurs to me is Isabel capable of making herself disagree ah cried his mother you ask too many questions find that out for yourself his questions however were not exhausted all this time he said you've not told me what you intend to do with her do with her you talk as if she were a yard of calico I shall do absolutely nothing with her and she herself will do everything she chooses she gave me notice of that what you meant then in your telegram was that her character's independent I never know what I mean in my telegrams especially those I sent from America clearness is too expensive come down to your father it's not yet a quarter to eight said Ralph I must allow for his impatience mrs. Duchin answered ralph knew what to think of his father's impatience but making no rejoinder he offered his mother his arm this put it in his power as they descended together to stop her a moment on the middle landing of the staircase the broad low wide arm staircase of time black and oak which was one of the most striking features of Garden Court you've no plan of marrying her he smiled marrying her I should be sorry to play her such a trick but apart from that she's perfectly able to marry herself she has every facility do you mean to say she has a husband picked out I don't know about a husband but there's a young man in Boston Ralph went on he had no desire to hear about the young man in Boston as my father says they're always engaged his mother had told him that he must satisfy his curiosity at the source and it soon became evident he should not want for occasion he had a good deal of talk with his young kinswoman when the two had been left together in the drawing-room Lord Warburton who had ridden over from his own house some ten miles distant rebounded and took his departure before dinner and an hour after this meal was ended mr. and mrs. touch it who appeared to have quite emptied the measure of their forms withdrew under the valid pretext of fatigue to their respective apartments the young man spent an hour with his cousin though she had been travelling half the day she appeared in no degree spent she was really tired she knew it and knew she should pay for it on the morrow but it was her habit at this period to carry exhaustion to its furthest point and confess to it only when the simulation broke down a fine hypocrisy was for the present possible she was interested she was as she said to herself floated she asked Ralph to show her the pictures there were a great many in the house most of them of his own choosing the best were arranged in an oaken gallery of charming proportions which had a sitting-room at either end of it and which in the evening was usually lighted the light was insufficient to show the pictures to advantage and the visit might have stood over to the morrow this suggestion Ralph and ventured to make but Isabelle looked disappointed smiling still however and said if you please I should like to see them just a little she was eager she knew she was eager and now seemed so she couldn't help it she doesn't take suggestions Ralph said to himself but he said it without irritation her pressure amused and even pleased him the lamps were on brackets and intervals and if the light was imperfect it was genial it fell upon the vague squares of rich color and on the fade and gilding of heavy frames it made a sheen on the polished floor of the gallery Ralph took a candlestick and moved about pointing out the things he liked Isabelle inclining to one picture after another indulged in little exclamations and murmurs she was evidently a judge she had a natural taste he was struck with that she took a candlestick herself and held it slowly here and there she lifted it high and as she did so he found himself pausing in the middle the place and bending his eyes much less upon the pictures than on her presence he lost nothing in truth by these wandering glances for she was better worth looking at than most works of art she was undeniably spare and ponder ibly light and provably tall when people had wished to distinguish her from the other two miss archers they had always called her the willowy one her hair which was dark even to blackness had been an object of envy to many women her light gray eyes a little too firm perhaps in her grave her moments had an enchanting range of concession they walked slowly up one side of the gallery and down the other and then she said well now I know more than I did when I began you apparently have a great passion for knowledge her cousin returned I think I have most girls a horridly ignorant you strike me as different from most girls some of them would but the way they're talked about Merman Isabel who preferred not to dilate just yet on herself then in a moment to change the subject please tell me isn't there a ghost she went on a ghost a castle Spectre a thing that appears we call them ghosts in America so we knew here when we see them you do see them then you ought to in this romantic old house it's not a romantic old house that Ralph you'll be disappointed if you count on that it's a dismal prosaic one there's no romance here but what you may have brought with you I've brought a great deal but it seems to me I brought it to the right place to keep it out of harmony nothing will ever happen to it here between my father and me Isabelle looked at him for a moment is there never anyone here but your father and you of my mother of course oh I know your mother she's not romantic haven't you other people very few I'm sorry for that I like so much to see people Oh we'll invite all the county to amuse you said Ralph now you're making fun of me the girl answered rather gravely who was the gentleman on the lawn when I arrived a County neighbor he doesn't come very often I'm sorry for that I liked him said Isabelle why it seemed to me that you barely spoke to him Ralph objected never mind I like him all the same I like your father too immensely you can't do better than that he's the dearest of the dear I'm so sorry he's ill said Isabelle you must help me to nurse him you ought to be a good nurse I don't think I am I've been told I'm not I'm said to have too many theories but you haven't told me about the ghost she added Ralph however gave no heed to this observation you like my father and you like Lord Warburton I infer also that you like my mother I like your mother very much because because an Isabel found herself attempting to assign a reason for her affection for mrs. touch yet ah we never know why said her companion laughing I always know the girl answered it's because she doesn't expect one to like her she doesn't care whether one does or not so you adore her out of perversity well I take greatly after my mother said Ralph I don't believe you do at all you wish people to like you and you try to make them do it good heavens how you see through one he cried with a dismay that was not altogether jocular but I like you all the same his cousin went on the way to clinch the matter will be to show me the ghost Ralph shook his head sadly I might show it to you but you'd never see it the privilege isn't given to everyone it's not enviable it has never been seen by a young happy innocent person like you you must have suffered first have suffered greatly have gained some miserable knowledge in that way your eyes are open to it I saw it long ago said Ralph I told you just now I'm very fond of knowledge Isabelle answered yes of happy knowledge of pleasant knowledge but you haven't suffered and you're not made to suffer I hope you'll never see the ghost she had listened to him attentively with a smile on her lips but with a certain gravity in her eyes charming as he found her she had struck him as rather presumptuous indeed it was a part of her charm and he wondered what she would say I'm not afraid you know she said which seemed quite presumptuous enough you're not afraid of suffering yes I'm afraid of suffering but I'm not afraid of ghosts and I think people suffer too easily she said I don't believe you do said Ralph looking at her with his hands in his pockets I don't think that's a fault she answered it's not absolutely necessary to suffer we were not made for that you were not certainly I'm not speaking of myself and she wandered off a little no it isn't a fault said her cousin it's a merit to be strong only if you don't suffer they call you hard Isabelle remarked they passed out of the smaller drawing-room into which they had returned from the gallery and paused in the hall at the foot of the staircase here Ralph presented his companion with her bedroom candle which he had taken from a niche never mind what they call you when you do suffer they call you an idiot the great points to be as happy as possible she looked at him a little she had taken her candle and placed her foot on the oaken stair well she said that's what I came to Europe for to be as happy as possible good night good night I wish you all success and shall be very glad to contribute to it she turned away and he watched her as she slowly ascended then with his hands always in his pockets he went back to the empty drawing-room end of chapter 5 chapter six and seven of portrait of a lady by Henry James this LibriVox recording is in the public domain Isabel Archer was a young person of many theories her imagination was remarkably active it had been her fortune to possess a finer mind that most of the persons among whom her lot was cast to have a larger perception of surrounding facts and to care for knowledge that was tinged with the unfamiliar it was true that among her contemporaries she passed for a young woman of extraordinary profundity for these excellent people never withheld their admiration from a reach of intellect of which they themselves were not conscious and spoke of Isabel as a prodigy of learning a creature reported to have read the classic authors and translations her paternal aunt mrs. Varian once spread the rumor that Isabel was writing a book mrs. very and having a reverence for books an avoid that the girl would distinguish herself and print mrs. Varian thought highly of literature for which she entertained that esteem that is connected with a sense of privation her own large house remarkable for its assortment of mosaic tables and decorated ceilings was unfurnished with the library and in the way of printed volumes contained nothing but half a dozen novels and paper on a shelf in the apartment of one of the miss variants practically mrs. variants acquaintance with literature was confined to the New York interviewer but she very justly said after you had read the interviewer you had lost all faith and culture her tendency with this was rather to keep the interviewer out of the way of her daughter's she was determined to bring them up properly and they read nothing at all her impression with regard to Isabel's Labor's was quite illusory the girl had never attempted to write a book and had no desire for the laurels of authorship she had no talent for expression and too little of the consciousness of genius she only had a general idea that people were right when they treated her as if she were rather earlier whether or no she were superior people were right in admiring her if they thought her so for it seemed to her often that her mind moved more quickly than theirs and this encouraged an impatience that might easily be confounded with superiority it may be affirmed without delay that Isabel was probably very liable to the sin of self-esteem she often surveyed with complacency the field of her own nature she was in the habit of taking for granted on scanty evidence that she was right she treated herself to occasions of homage meanwhile her errors and illusions were frequently such as a biographer interested in preserving the dignity of his subject must shrink from specifying her thoughts were a tangle of vague outlines which had never been corrected by the judgment of people speaking with authority in matters of opinion she had had her own way and it had led her into a thousand ridiculous zigzags but mum when she discovered she was grotesquely wrong and then she cheated herself to a week of passionate humility after this she held her head higher than ever again for it was of no use she had an unquenchable desire to think well of herself she had a theory that it was only under this privation life was worth living that one should be one of the best should be conscious of a fine organization she couldn't help knowing her organization was fine should move in a realm of light of natural wisdom of happy impulse of inspiration gracefully chronic it was almost as necessary to cultivate doubt of oneself is to cultivate doubt of one's best friend one should try to be one's own best friend and to give oneself in this manner distinguished company the girl had a certain nobleness of imagination which rendered her a good many services and played her a great many tricks she spent half her time in thinking of beauty and bravery and magnanimity she had a fixed determination to regard the world as a place of brightness a free expansion of irresistible action she held it must be detestable to be afraid or ashamed she had an infinite hope that she should never do anything wrong she had resented so strongly after discovering them her mere errors of feeling the discovery always made her tremble as if she had escaped from a trap which might have caught her and smothered her but the chance of inflicting a sensible injury upon another person presented only as a contingency cost her at moments to hold her breath that always struck her as the worst thing that could happen to her on the whole reflectively she was in no uncertainty about the things that were wrong she had no love of their look but when she fixed them hard she recognized them it was wrong to be mean to be jealous to be false to be cruel she had seen very little of the evil of the world but she had seen women who lied and who tried to hurt each other seeing such things and quickened her high spirit it seemed indecent not to scorn them of course the danger of a high spirit was the danger of inconsistency the danger of keeping up the flag after the place is surrendered the sort of behavior so crooked as to be almost a dishonor to the flag but Isabelle who knew little of the sorts of artillery to which young women are exposed flattered herself that such contradictions would never be noted in her own conduct her life should always be in harmony was the most pleasing impression she should produce she would be which he appeared and she would appear what she was sometimes she went so far as to wish that she might find herself someday in a difficult position so that they should have the pleasure of being as heroic as the occasion demanded all together with her meager knowledge her inflated ideals her confidence at once innocent and dogmatic her temper at once exacting an indulgent her mixture of curiosity and fastidiousness of vivacity and indifference her desire to look very well and to be if possible even better her determination to see to try to know her combination of the delicate desultory flame like spirit and the eager and personal creature of conditions she would be an easy victim of scientific criticism if she were not intended to awaken on the reader's part an impulse more tender and more purely expectant it was one of her theories that Isabel Archer was very fortunate in being independent and that she ought to make some very enlightened use of that state she never called it the state of Solitude much less of singleness she thought such descriptions weak and besides her sister Lily constantly urged her to come and abide she had a friend whose acquaintance she had made shortly before her father's death who offered so high an example of useful activity that Isabel always thought of her as a model Henriette Stackpole had the advantage of an admired ability she was thoroughly launched in journalism and her letters to the interviewer from Washington Newport the White Mountains and other places were universally quoted Isabelle pronounced them with confidence ephemeral but she esteemed to courage energy and good humor of the writer who without parents and without property had adopted three of the children of an infirm and widowed sister and was paying their school bills out of the proceeds of her literary labor Henrietta was in the van of progress and had clear-cut ideas on most subjects her cherished desire had long been to come to Europe and to write a series of letters to the interviewer from the radical point of view and enterprise the less difficult as she knew perfectly in advance what her opinions would be and – how many objections most European institutions lay open when she heard that Isabel was coming she wished to start at once thinking naturally that it would be delightful the two should travel together she had been obliged however to postpone this enterprise she thought Isabelle a glorious creature that had spoken of her covertly in some of her letters though she never mentioned the factor her friend who would not have taken pleasure in it and was not a regular student of the interviewer Henrietta for Isabelle was chiefly a proof that a woman might suffice to herself and be happy her resources were of the obvious kind but even if one had not the journalistic talent and the genius for guessing as Henrietta said what the public was going to want one was not therefore to conclude that one had no vacation no beneficent aptitude of any sort and resigned oneself to being frivolous and hollow visible was stoutly determined not to be Hollow if one should wait with the right patience one would find some happy work to once and of course among her theories this young lady was not without a collection of views on the subject of marriage the first on the list was a conviction of the vulgarity of thinking too much of it from lapsing into eagerness on this point she earnestly prayed she might be delivered she held that a woman ought to be able to live to herself in the absence of exceptional flimsiness and that it was perfectly possible to be happy without the society of a more or less coarse minded person of another sex the girl's prayer was very sufficiently answered something pure and proud that there was in her something called a dry and unappreciated shooter with a taste for analysis might have called it had hitherto kept her from any great vanity of conjecture on the article of possible husband's few of the men she saw seemed worth a ruinous expenditure and it made her smile to think that one of them should present himself as an incentive to hope and a reward of patience deep in her soul it was the deepest thing there lay a belief that if a certain light should dawn she could give herself completely but this image on the whole was too formidable to be attractive Isabelle's thoughts hovered about it but they seldom rested on it long after a little it ended in alarms it often seemed to her that she thought too much about herself you could have made her color any day in the year by calling her a ranked egoist she was always planning out her development desiring her perfection observing her progress her nature had in her conceit a certain garden like quality a suggestion of perfume and murmuring boughs of shady bowers and lengthening vistas which made her feel that introspection was after all an exercise in the open air and that a visit to the recesses of one spirit was harmless when one returned from it with a lap full of roses but she was often reminded that there were other gardens in the world than those of her remarkable soul and that there were moreover a great many places which were not Gardens at all only dusky pestiferous tracts planted thick with ugliness and misery in the current of that repaid curiosity on which he had lately been floating which had conveyed her to this beautiful old England and might carry her much further still she often checked herself with the thought of the thousands of people who were less happy than herself a thought which for the moment made her fine full consciousness appear a kind of immodesty what should one do with the misery of the world in a scheme of the agreeable for oneself it must be confessed that this question never held her long she was too young too impatient to live to unacquainted with pain she always returned to her theory that a young woman whom after all everyone thought clever should begin by getting a general impression of life this impression was necessary to prevent mistakes and after it should be secured she might make the unfortunate condition of others a subject of special attention England was a revelation to her and she found herself as diverted as a child at a pantomime and her infant teen excursions to Europe she had seen only the continent and then seen it from the nursery window Paris not London was her father's Mecca and in too many of interests there his children had naturally not entered the images of that time were over a grown faint and remote and the old-world quality and everything that she now saw had all the charm of strangeness her uncle's house seemed a picture made real no refinement of the agreeable was lost upon Isabelle the rich perfection of Garden Court at once revealed a world and gratified a need the large low rooms with brown ceilings and dusky corners the deep embrasures and curious casements the quiet light on dark polished panels the deep greenness outside the seemed always peeping in the sense of well ordered privacy in the center of a property a place where sounds were felicitous ly accidental where the tread was muffled by the earth itself and in the thick mild air all friction dropped out of contact and all shrillness out of talk these things were much to the taste of our young lady whose taste played a considerable role in her emotions she formed a fast friendship with her uncle and often sat by his chair when he had had it moved out to the lawn he passed hours in the open air sitting with folded hands like a placid homely household god a God of service who had done his work and received his wages and was trying to grow used to weeks and months made up only of off days Isabelle amused him more than she suspected the effect she produced upon people was often different from what she supposed and he frequently gave himself the pleasure of making her chatter it was by this term that he qualified her conversation which had much of the point observable in that of the young ladies of her entry to whom the ear of the world is more directly presented than to their sisters in other lands like the mass of American girls Isabelle had been encouraged to express herself her remarks had been attended to she had been expected to have emotions and opinions many of her opinions had doubtless but a slender value many of her motions passed away in the utterance but they had left a trace and giving her the habit of seeming at least to feel and think and in imparting moreover to her words when she was really touched that prompt vividness which so many people had regarded as a sign of superiority mr. touch had used to think that she reminded him of his wife when his wife was in her teens it was because she was fresh and natural and quick to understand to speak so many characteristics of her niece that he had fallen in love with mrs. touch it he never expressed this analogy to the girl herself however for if mrs. touch it had once been like Isabel Isabel was not at all like mrs. touch it the old man was full of kindness for her it was a long time as he said since they had had any young life in the house and our rustling quickly moving clear-voiced Herald was as agreeable to his sense as the sound of flowing water he wanted to do something for her and wished she would ask it of him she would ask nothing but questions it is true that of these she asked a quantity her uncle had a great fund of answers though her pressure sometimes came in forms that puzzled him she questioned him immensely about England about the British constitution the English character the state of politics the manners and customs of the royal family the peculiarities of the aristocracy the way of living and thinking of his neighbors and in begging to be enlightened on these points she usually inquired whether they correspondent with the descriptions in the books the old man always looked at a little with his fine dry smile while he smooth down the shawl spread across his legs the books he once said well I don't know much about the books you must ask Ralph about that I've always asked attained for myself got my information in the natural form I never asked many questions even I just kept quiet and ducked out it of course I've had very good opportunities better than what a young lady would naturally have I'm of an inquisitive disposition though you might not think it if you were to watch me however much you might watch me I should be watching you more I've been watching these people for upwards of thirty five years and I don't hesitate to say that I've acquired considerable information it's a very fine country on the whole find her perhaps and what we give it credit for on the other side there were several improvements I should like to see introduced but the necessity of them doesn't seem to be generally felt as yet when the necessity of a thing is generally felt they usually manage to accomplish it but they seem to feel pretty comfortable about waiting till then I certainly feel more at home among them that I expected to when I first came over I suppose it's because I've had a considerable degree of success when you're successful you naturally feel more at home do you suppose that if I am successful I shall feel at home Isabelle asked I should think it very probable and you certainly will be successful they like American young ladies very much over here they show them a great deal of kindness but you mustn't feel too much in home you know oh I'm buy no being sure it will satisfy me Isabelle judicially emphasized I like the place very much but I'm not sure I should like the people the people are very good people especially if you like them I've no doubt they're good Isabelle rejoined but are they Pleasant in society they won't rob meet or beat me but will they make themselves agreeable to me that's what I like people to do I don't hesitate to say so because I always appreciate it I don't believe very nice two girls they're not nice to them in the novels I don't know about the novel said mr. touch it I believe the novels have a great deal of ability but I don't suppose they're very accurate we once had a lady who wrote novels staying here she was a friend of Ralph's and he asked her down she was very positive quite up to everything but she was not the sort of person you could depend on for evidence to free a fancy I suppose that was it she afterwards published a work of fiction in which he was understood to have given a representation something in the nature of a caricature as you might say of my unworthy self I didn't read it but Ralph just handed me the book with the principal passages marked it was understood to be a description of my conversation American peculiarities nasal twang Yankee notions Stars and Stripes well if it's not at all accurate she couldn't have listened very attentively I had no objection to her giving a report of my conversation if she liked but I didn't like the idea that she hadn't taken the trouble to listen to it of course I talked like an American I can't talk like a Hottentot however I talk I've made them understand me pretty well over here but I don't talk like the old gentleman and that lady's novel he wasn't an American we wouldn't have him over there at any price I just mentioned that fact to show you that they're not always accurate of course as I have no daughters and his missus touchid resides in Florence I haven't had much chance to notice about the young ladies it sometimes appears as if the young women and the lower-class were not very well treated but I guess their position is better and the upper and even to some extent in the middle gracious Isobel exclaimed how many classes have they about fifty I suppose well I don't know that I ever counted them I never took much notice of the classes that's the advantage of being an American here you don't belong to any class I hope so said Isabelle imagine once belong to an English class well I guess some of them are pretty comfortable especially towards the top but for me there are only two classes the people I trust and the people I don't of those two My dear Isabel you belong to the first I'm much obliged you said the girl quickly her way of taking compliment seems sometimes rather dry she got rid of them as rapidly as possible but as regards this she was sometimes misjudged she was thought insensible to them whereas in fact she was simply unwilling to show how infinitely they pleased her the show that was to show too much I'm sure the English are very conventional she added they've got everything pretty well fixed mr. touch had admitted it's all settled beforehand they don't leave it to the last moment I don't like to have everything settled beforehand said the girl I like more unexpectedness her uncle seemed abused as a distinctness of reference well it's settled beforehand that you'll have great success he rejoined I suppose you'll like that I shall not have success if they're too stupidly conventional I'm not in the least stupidly conventional I'm just the contrary that's what they won't like no no you're all wrong said the old man you can't tell what they're like they're very inconsistent that's their principal interest oh well said Isabelle standing before her uncle with her hands clasped throughout the belt of her black dress and looking up and down the lawn that will suit me perfectly end of chapter 6 chapter 7 the two amused themselves time and time again with talking of the attitude of the British public as if the young lady had been in a position to appeal to it but in fact the British public remained for the present profoundly indifferent to miss Isabelle Archer whose fortune had dropped her as her cousin said into the dullest house in England her gouty uncle received very little company and mrs. touch it not having cultivated relay with her husband's neighbors was not warranted in expecting visits from them she had however a peculiar taste she liked to receive cards for what is usually called social intercourse she had very little relish but nothing pleased her more than to find her hall table whitened with oblong morsels of symbolic pasteboard she flattered herself that she was a very just woman and had mastered the sovereign truth that nothing in this world is got for nothing she had played no social part as mistress of Garden Court and it was not to be supposed that in the surrounding country a minut account should be kept of her comings and goings but it is by no means certain that she did not feel that to be wrong that so little notice was taken of them and that her failure really very good Judas to make herself important in the neighbourhood had not much to do with the acrimony of her allusions to her husband's adopted country Isabelle presently found herself in the singular situation of defending the British constitution against her and mrs. touch it having formed the habit of sticking pins into this venerable instrument Isabelle always felt an impulse to pull out the pins not that she imagined they inflicted any damage on the tough old parchment but because it seemed to her her aunt might make better use of her sharpness she was very critical herself it was incidental to her age her sex and her nationality but she was very sentimental as well and there was something and mrs. touched its dryness that set her own moral fountains flowing now what's your point of view she asked of her aunt when you criticize everything here you should have a point of view yours doesn't seem to be American you thought everything over there so disagreeable when I criticize I have mine it's thoroughly American my dear young lady said mrs. touchid there are as many points of view in the world as there are people of cents to take them you may say that doesn't make them very numerous American never in the world that's shockingly narrow my point of view thank God is personal Isabelle thought this a better answer than she admitted it was a tolerable description of her own manner of judging but it would not have sounded well for her to say so on the lips of a person less advanced in life and less enlightened by experience than mrs. touchid such a declaration would savor of modesty even of arrogance she risked it nevertheless and talking with Ralph with whom she talked a great deal and with whom her conversation was of a sort that gave a large license to extravagance her cousin used as the phrase is to chaffeur he very soon established with her a reputation for treating everything as a joke and he was not a man to neglect the privileges such a reputation conferred she accused him of an odious wot of seriousness of laughing at all things beginning with himself such slender Faculty of reverence as he possessed centered wholly upon his father for the rest he exercised his wit indifferently upon his father's son this gentleman's weak lungs his useless life his fantastic mother his friends Lord Warburton have special his adopted and his native country his charming newfound cousin I keep a band of music in my aunty room he once said to her it has orders to play without stopping it renders me to excellent services it keeps the sounds of the world from reaching the private apartments and it makes the world think the Dancing's going on within it was dance music indeed that you usually heard when you came with an earshot of Ralph's band the liveliest waltzes seemed to float upon the air Isabelle often found herself irritated by this perpetual fiddling she would have liked to pass through the anteroom as her cousin called it and enter the private apartments it mattered little that he had assured her they were a very dismal place she would have been glad to under take two sweep them and set them in order it was but half hospitality to let her remain outside to punish him for which Isabelle administered innumerable taps with a ferrule of her straight young wit it must be said that her wit was exercised to a large extent in self-defense for her cousin amused himself with calling her Columbia and accusing her of a patriotism so heated that it is scorched he drew a caricature of her in which he was represented as a very pretty young woman dressed on the lines of the prevailing fashion in the folds of the national banner Isabelle's chief dreaded life at this period of her development was that she should appear now reminded what she feared next afterwards was that she should really be so but she nevertheless made no scruple of abounding in her cousin sense and pretending to sigh for the charms of her native land she would be as American as it pleased him to regard her that if he chose to laugh at her she would give him plenty of occupation she defended England against his mother but when Ralph sang its praises on purpose as she said to work her up she found herself able to differ from him on a variety of points in fact the quality of this small right country seemed as sweet to her as the taste of an October pair and her satisfaction was at the root of the good spirits which enabled her to take her customs chaff and return it in kind if her good humour flagged at moments it was not because she thought herself ill-used but because she suddenly felt sorry for Ralph it seemed to her he was talking as a blind and had little heart in what he said I don't know what's the matter with you she observed to at once but I suspect you're a great humbug that's your privilege Ralph Anson who had not been used to being so crudely addressed I don't know what you care for I don't think you care for anything you don't really care for England when you pray said you don't care for America even when you pretend to abuse it I care for nothing but you dear cousin said Ralph if I could believe even that I should be very glad ah well I should hope so the young man exclaimed Isabelle might have believed it and not have been far from the truth he thought a great deal about her she was constantly present to his mind at a time when his thoughts had been a good deal of a burden to him her sudden arrival which promised nothing and was an open-handed gift of fate had refreshed and quickened them given them wings and something to fly for poor Ralph had been for many weeks steeped in melancholy his outlook habitually somber lay under the shadow of a deeper cloud he had grown anxious about his father who scalped hitherto confined to his legs had begun to ascend into regions more vital the old man had been gravely ill in the spring and the doctors had whispered to Ralph that another attack would be less easy to deal with just now he appeared disburdened of pain but Ralph could not rid himself of a suspicion that this was a subterfuge of the enemy who was waiting to take him off his guard if the manoeuvre should succeed there would be little hope of any great resistance Ralph had always taken for granted that his father would survive him that his own name would be the first grimly called the father and son had been close companions and the idea of being left alone with the remnant of a tasteless life on his hands was not gratifying to the young man who would always and tacitly counted upon his elders help in making the best of a poor business at the prospect of losing his great motive Ralph lost indeed his one inspiration if they might die at the same time it would be all very well but without the encouragement of his father's society he should barely have patients to await his own turn he had not the incentive of feeling that he was indispensable to his mother it was a rule with his mother to have no regrets he bethought himself of course that it had been a small kindness to his father to wish that of the to the act of resident of the passive party should know the felt wound he remembered that the old man had always treated his own forecast of an early end as a clever fallacy which he should be delighted and discredit so far as he might by dying first but of the two triumphs that of refuting a sophistical son and that of holding on a while longer in a state of being which with all at Batemans he enjoyed ralph deemed it no sin to hope the latter might be vouchsafed to mr. touch it these were nice questions but Isabel's arrival put a stop to his puzzling over them it even suggested that there might be a compensation for the intolerable ennui of surviving his genial sire he wondered whether he were harboring love for this spontaneous young woman from Albany but he judged it on the whole he was not after he had known her for a week he quite made up his mind to this and every day he felt a little more sure Lord Warburton had been right about her she was a really interesting little figure ralph wondered how their neighbor had found it out so soon and then he said it was only another proof of his friends high abilities which he had always greatly admired if his cousin were to be nothing more than an entertainment to him ralph was conscious she was an entertainment of a high order a character like that he said to himself a real little passionate force to see a play is the finest thing in nature its finer than the finest work of art then a Greek bar relief than a great Titian than a gothic cathedral it's very pleasant to be so well treated where one had least looked for it I had never been more blue more bored than for a week before she came I had never accept less than anything pleasant would happen suddenly I receive a Titian by the post to hang on my wall a Greek bar relief to stick over my chimney-piece the key of a beautiful edifice is thrust into my hand and I'm told to walk in and admire my poor boy you've been sadly ungrateful and now he had better keep very quiet and never grumble again the sentiment of these reflections was very just but it was not exactly true that Ralph touchid had had a key put into his hand his cousin was a very brilliant girl who would take as he said a good deal of knowing but he needed the knowing and his attitude with regard to her though it was contemplative and critical was not judicial he surveyed the edifice from the outside and admired it greatly he looked in at the windows and received an impression of proportions equally fair but he felt that he saw it only by glimpses and that he had not yet stood under the roof the door was fastened and though he had keys in his pocket he had a conviction that none of them would fit she was intelligent and generous it was a fine free nature but what was she going to do with herself the question was irregular for with most women one had no occasion to ask him most women did with themselves nothing at all they waited in attitudes more or less gracefully passive for a man to come that way and furnish them with a destiny Isabel's originality was that she gave one an impression of having intentions of her own whenever she executes them said Ralph may I be there to see it devolved upon him of course to do the honours of the place mr. touch it was confined to his chair and his wife's position was that of a rather grim visitor so that in the line of conduct had opened itself to Ralph's beauty and inclination were harmoniously mixed he was not a great Walker but he strolled about the grounds with his cousin a pastime for which the weather remain favorable with a persistency not allowed for in Isabelle's somewhat lugubrious provision of the climate and in the long afternoons of which the length was but the measure of her gratified eagerness they took a boat on the river the dear little River as Isabelle called it where the opposite sure seemed still a part of the foreground of the landscape or drove over the country in a Phaeton a low capacious thick wheeled Phaeton formerly much used by mr. touchid but which he had now ceased to enjoy Isabelle enjoyed it largely and handling the reins in a manner which approved itself to the groom as knowing was never weary of driving her uncle's capital horses through winding lanes and byways full of the rural incidents she had confidently expected to find past cottages thatched and timbered past ale houses lattice than sanded past patches of ancient common and glimpses of empty parks between hedgerows made thick by midsummer when they reached home they usually found tea had been served on the lawn and that mrs. touch it had not shrunk from the extremity of handing her husband his cup but the two for the most part said silent the old man with his head back in his eyes closed his wife occupied with her knitting and wearing that appearance of rare profundity with which some ladies consider the movement of their needles one day however a visitor had arrived the two young persons after spending an hour on the river strolled back to the house and perceived Lord Warburton sitting under the trees and engaged in conversation of which even at a distance the desultory character was appreciable with mrs. touch it he had driven over from his own place with the portmanteau and had asked as the father and son often invited him to do for a dinner and a lodging Isabelle seeing him for half an hour on the day of her arrival had discovered in this brief space that she liked him he had indeed rather sharply registered self honor fine sense and she had thought of him several times she had hoped she should see him again hope to that she should see a few others Garden Court was not null the place itself was sovereign her uncle was more and more a sort of golden grandfather and Ralph was unlike any cousin she had ever encountered her idea of cousins having tended to groom then her impressions were still so fresh and so quickly renewed that their wishes yet hardly a hint of vacancy in the view but Isabel had need to remind herself that she was interested in human nature and that her foremost hope in coming abroad had been that she should see a great many people when ralph said to her as he had done several times I wonder you find dis endurable you ought to see some of the neighbours and some of our friends because we have really got a few though you would never suppose it when he offered to invite what he called a lot of people and make her acquainted with English society she encouraged the hospitable impulse and promised in advance to hurl herself into the fray little however for the present had come of his offers and it may be confided to the reader that if the young man delayed to carry them out it was because he found the labor of providing for his companion by no means so severe as to require extraneous help visible had spoken to him very often about specimens it was a word that played a considerable part in her vocabulary she had given him to understand that she wished to see English society illustrated by eminent cases well now there's a specimen he said to her as they walked up from the Riverside and he recognized Lord Warburton the specimen of what asked the girl a specimen of an English gentleman you mean they're all like him oh no they're not all like him he's a favourable specimen then said Isabelle because I'm sure he's nice yes he's very nice and he's very fortunate the fortunate Lord Warburton exchanged a handshake with our heroine and hope she was very well but I needn't ask that he said since you've been handling the ORS I've been rowing a little Isabelle answered but how should you know it oh I know he doesn't roll he's too lazy said his lordship indicating Ralph touch it with a laugh he has a good excuse for his laziness is the Bell rejoined lowering her voice a little uh he has a good excuse for everything cried Lord Warburton still with his sonorous mirth my excuse for not rowing is that my cousin rose so well said Ralph she does everything well she touches nothing that she doesn't adorn it makes one water be touched miss Archer Lord Warburton declared be touched in the right sense and he'll never look the worst for its aunt Isabel who if it pleased her here had said that her accomplishments were numerous was happily able to reflect that such complacency was not the indication of a feeble mind in as much as there were several things in which she excelled her desire to think well of herself had at least the element of humility that it always needed to be supported by proof Lord Warburton not only spent the night at Garden Court but he was persuaded to remain over the second day and when the second day was ended he determined to postpone his departure till tomorrow during this period he addressed many of his remarks to Isabelle who accepted this evidence of his esteem with a very good grace she found herself liking him extremely the first impression he had made on her that had weight but at the end of an evening spent in his society she scarce fell short of seeing him though quite without Eurydice as a hero of romance she retired to rest with a sense of good fortune with a quickened consciousness of possible felicities it's very nice to know two such charming people as though she said meaning by those her cousin and her coz friend it must be added moreover that an incident that occurred which might have seemed to put her good humour to the test mr. touchid went to bed at half past nine o'clock but his wife remained in the drawing room with the other members of the party she prolonged her vigil for something less than an hour and then rising observed to Isabel then it was time they should bid the gentlemen good night Isabel had as yet no desire to go to bed the occasion wore to her sense a festive character and feasts were not in the habit of terminating so early so without further thought she replied very simply need I go near and I'll come up in half an hour it's impossible I should wait for you mrs. touchid answered oh you needn't wait Ralph will light my candle Isabel gaily engaged I'll light your candle do let me light your candle miss Archer Lord Warburton exclaimed only I beg it shall not be before midnight mrs. touch it fixed her bright little eyes upon him a moment and transferred them coldly to her niece you can't stay alone with the gentleman you're not you're not at your best Albany My dear Isabel rose blushing I wish I were she said oh I say mother Ralph broke out My dear mrs. touchid lord Warburton murmured I didn't make your country my lord mrs. touchid said majestically I must take it as I find it can't I stay with my own cousin Isabel inquired I'm not aware that Lord Warburton is your cousin perhaps I had better go to bed the visitor suggested that we'll arrange it mrs. touchid gave a little look of despair and sat down again oh if it's necessary I'll stay up till midnight Ralph meanwhile handed Isabel her candlestick he had been watching her it had seemed to him her temper was involved an accident that might be interesting but if he had expected anything of a flair he was disappointed for the girl simply laughed a little nodded goodnight and withdrew accompanied by her aunt for himself he was annoyed at his mother though he thought she was right above stairs the two ladies separated that mrs. touch its door Isabelle had said nothing on her way up of course you're vexed at my interfering with you said mrs. touch it Isabelle considered I'm not vexed but I'm surprised and a good deal mystified was that proper I should remain at the drawing room not in the least young girls here indecent houses don't sit alone with the gentleman late at night you were very right to tell me then said Isabelle I don't understand it but I'm very glad to know it I shall always tell you her edy answered whenever I see you taking what seems to be too much Liberty pray do but I don't say I shall always think your remonstrance just very likely not you're too fond of your own ways yes I think I'm very fond of them but I always want to know the things one shouldn't do so as to do them asked her and so was to choose send Isabelle end of chapter 7

One thought on “Portrait of a Lady (version 3) | Henry James | Literary Fiction | Talking Book | English | 2/15

  1. Portrait of a Lady (version 3) | Henry James | Literary Fiction | Talking Book | English | 2/15

    3: [00:00:00] – chps. 4&5

    4: [00:48:53] – chps. 6&7

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