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Chapter 3

  • He had not specified, in writing to Gordon Wright, the day on which he shoul_rrive at Baden-Baden; it must be confessed that he was not addicted t_pecifying days. He came to his journey's end in the evening, and, o_resenting himself at the hotel from which his friend had dated his letter, h_earned that Gordon Wright had betaken himself after dinner, according to th_ustom of Baden-Baden, to the grounds of the Conversation-house. It was eigh_'clock, and Longueville, after removing the stains of travel, sat down t_ine. His first impulse had been to send for Gordon to come and keep hi_ompany at his repast; but on second thought he determined to make it as brie_s possible. Having brought it to a close, he took his way to the Kursaal. Th_reat German watering-place is one of the prettiest nooks in Europe, and of _ummer evening in the gaming days, five-and-twenty years ago, it was one o_he 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 pure_ivinity) opened wide upon the gardens and groves; the little river tha_ssues from the bosky mountains of the Black Forest flowed, with an air o_rook-like innocence, past the expensive hotels and lodging-houses; th_rchestra, in a high pavilion on the terrace of the Kursaal, played a discree_ccompaniment to the conversation of the ladies and gentlemen who, scattere_ver the large expanse on a thousand little chairs, preferred for the time th_eauties of nature to the shuffle of coin and the calculation of chance; whil_he faint summer stars, twinkling above the vague black hills and woods,
  • looked down at the indifferent groups without venturing to drop their ligh_pon them.
  • Longueville, noting all this, went straight into the gaming-rooms; he wa_urious to see whether his friend, being fond of experiments, was tryin_ombinations at roulette. But he was not to be found in any of the gilde_hambers, among the crowd that pressed in silence about the tables; so tha_ernard presently came and began to wander about the lamp-lit terrace, wher_nnumerable groups, seated and strolling, made the place a giganti_onversazione. It seemed to him very agreeable and amusing, and he remarked t_imself that, for a man who was supposed not to take especially the Epicurea_iew of life, Gordon Wright, in coming to Baden, had certainly made himsel_omfortable. Longueville went his way, glancing from one cluster of talkers t_nother; and at last he saw a face which brought him to a stop. He stood _oment looking at it; he knew he had seen it before. He had an excellen_emory for faces; but it was some time before he was able to attach a_dentity to this one. Where had he seen a little elderly lady with a_xpression of timorous vigilance, and a band of hair as softly white as _ove'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 hi_nconsequent model, so that this mysterious personage was probably herself no_ar off. Before Longueville had time to verify this induction, he found hi_yes 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 nothin_ut the back of this gentleman that he saw, but nevertheless, with th_nstinct of true friendship, he recognized in this featureless expanse th_obust personality of Gordon Wright. In a moment he had stepped forward an_aid his hand upon Wright's shoulder.
  • His friend looked round, and then sprang up with a joyous exclamation an_rasp of the hand.
  • "My dear fellow—my dear Bernard! What on earth—when did you arrive?"
  • While Bernard answered and explained a little, he glanced from his friend'_ood, gratified face at the young girl with whom Wright had been talking, an_hen 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, a_egards the latter, of a certain disappointment. She was very pretty; she wa_ooking at him; but she was not the heroine of the little incident of th_errace at Siena.
  • "It 's just like Longueville, you know," Gordon Wright went on; "he alway_omes at you from behind; he 's so awfully fond of surprises." He wa_aughing; 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 t_enture upon a special recognition of Mrs. Vivian. Then it seemed to him tha_e should leave the option of this step with the lady, especially as he ha_etected recognition in her eye. But Mrs. Vivian ventured upon nothin_pecial; she contented herself with soft generalities—with remarking that sh_lways liked to know when people would arrive; that, for herself, she neve_njoyed 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 littl_hurch at Siena and found her daughter posturing to an unknown painter.
  • But Mrs. Vivian, turning her benignant head about, gave but a superficia_eply.
  • "Oh, I have had my share of everything, good and bad. I don't complain o_nything." And she gave a little deprecating laugh.
  • Gordon Wright shook hands with Bernard again; he seemed really very glad t_ee him. Longueville, remembering that Gordon had written to him that he ha_een "making love," began to seek in his countenance for the ravages o_assion. 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 feature_ere thick and rather irregular; but his countenance—in addition to the meri_f its expression—derived a certain grace from a powerful yellow moustache, t_hich its wearer occasionally gave a martial twist. Gordon Wright was no_all, 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 h_ore round his neck an eternal blue cravat. When he was agitated he grew ver_ed. While he questioned Longueville about his journey and his health, hi_hereabouts and his intentions, the latter, among his own replies, endeavore_o read in Wright's eyes some account of his present situation. Was tha_retty girl at his side the ambiguous object of his adoration, and, in tha_ase, what was the function of the elder lady, and what had become of he_rgumentative daughter? Perhaps this was another, a younger daughter, though,
  • indeed, she bore no resemblance to either of Longueville's friends. Gordo_right, in spite of Bernard's interrogative glances, indulged in no optica_onfidences. He had too much to tell. He would keep his story till they shoul_e alone together. It was impossible that they should adjourn just yet t_ocial solitude; the two ladies were under Gordon's protection. Mrs.
  • Vivian—Bernard felt a satisfaction in learning her name; it was as if _urtain, half pulled up and stopped by a hitch, had suddenly been raise_ltogether—Mrs. Vivian sat looking up and down the terrace at the crowd o_oungers and talkers with an air of tender expectation. She was probabl_ooking for her elder daughter, and Longueville could not help wishing als_hat this young lady would arrive. Meanwhile, he saw that the young girl t_hom Gordon had been devoting himself was extremely pretty, and appeare_minently approachable. Longueville had some talk with her, reflecting that i_he were the person concerning whom Gordon had written him, it behooved him t_ppear to take an interest in her. This view of the case was confirmed b_ordon Wright's presently turning away to talk with Mrs. Vivian, so that hi_riend 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. Sh_as simply the American pretty girl, whom he had seen a thousand times. It wa_ numerous sisterhood, pervaded by a strong family likeness. This young lad_ad charming eyes (of the color of Gordon's cravats), which looked everywher_t once and yet found time to linger in some places, where Longueville's ow_yes frequently met them. She had soft brown hair, with a silky-golden threa_n it, beautifully arranged and crowned by a smart little hat that savoured o_aris. 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 an_xamined the ornaments of her dress. She had a great deal of conversation,
  • Longueville speedily learned, and she expressed herself with extreme franknes_nd decision. He asked her, to begin with, if she had been long at Baden, bu_he impetus of this question was all she required. Turning her charming,
  • conscious, coquettish little face upon him, she instantly began to chatter.
  • "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 s_any people here I know—every day some one turns up. Now you have turned u_o-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 _retty little stare of contradiction. "I think you know a great friend o_ine, Miss Ella Maclane, of Baltimore. She 's travelling in Europe now."
  • Longueville's memory did not instantly respond to this signal, but h_xpressed that rapturous assent which the occasion demanded, and even riske_he observation that the young lady from Baltimore was very pretty. "She '_ar 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 bee_ut very long. She is just as interesting as she can be. Her hair comes dow_o her feet. She 's travelling in Norway. She has been everywhere you ca_hink of, and she 's going to finish off with Finland. You can't go an_urther than that, can you? That 's one comfort; she will have to turn roun_nd 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. Ever_ne seems to have an Englishman, now. We 've got one here, Captain Lovelock,
  • the Honourable Augustus Lovelock. Well, they 're awfully handsome. Ell_aclane is dying to come to Baden-Baden. I wish you 'd write to her. He_ather and mother have got some idea in their heads; they think it '_mproper—what do you call it?—immoral. I wish you would write to her and tel_er it is n't. I wonder if they think that Mrs. Vivian would come to a plac_hat 's immoral. Mrs. Vivian says she would take her in a moment; she does n'_eem to care how many she has. I declare, she 's only too kind. You know I '_n Mrs. Vivian's care. My mother 's gone to Marienbad. She would let me g_ith Mrs. Vivian anywhere, on account of the influence—she thinks so much o_rs. Vivian's influence. I have always heard a great deal about it, have n'_ou? I must say it 's lovely; it 's had a wonderful effect upon me. I don'_ant to praise myself, but it has. You ask Mrs. Vivian if I have n't bee_ood. I have been just as good as I can be. I have been so peaceful, I hav_ust sat here this way. Do you call this immoral? You 're not obliged t_amble if you don't want to. Ella Maclane's father seems to think you ge_rawn in. I 'm sure I have n't been drawn in. I know what you 're going t_ay—you 're going to say I have been drawn out. Well, I have, to-night. W_ust sit here so quietly—there 's nothing to do but to talk. We make a littl_arty by ourselves—are you going to belong to our party? Two of us ar_issing—Miss Vivian and Captain Lovelock. Captain Lovelock has gone with he_nto the rooms to explain the gambling—Miss Vivian always wants everythin_xplained. 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 ver_nusual. Black hair 's so uncommon—I see you have got it too—but I mean fo_oung ladies. I am sure one sees everything here. There 's a woman that come_o the tables—a Portuguese countess—who has hair that is positively blue. _an'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 upo_im her own two brilliant little specimens of the tint.
  • He listened with that expression of clear amusement which is not always a_ndication of high esteem, but which even pretty chatterers, who are not th_everse of estimable, often prefer to masculine inattention; and while h_istened Bernard, according to his wont, made his reflections. He said t_imself that there were two kinds of pretty girls—the acutely conscious an_he finely unconscious. Mrs. Vivian's protege was a member of the forme_ategory; she belonged to the genus coquette. We all have our conception o_he 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, he_ttitudes, her exclamations, in a hundred little experiments of tone an_esture and position. And these rustling artifices were so innocent an_bvious that the directness of her desire to be well with her observer becam_n itself a grace; it led Bernard afterward to say to himself that the natura_ocation and metier of little girls for whom existence was but a shimmerin_urface, was to prattle and ruffle their plumage; their view of life and it_uties was as simple and superficial as that of an Oriental bayadere. I_urely could not be with regard to this transparent little flirt that Gordo_right desired advice; you could literally see the daylight—or rather th_aden gaslight—on the other side of her. She sat there for a minute, turnin_er little empty head to and fro, and catching Bernard's eye every time sh_oved; she had for the instant the air of having exhausted all topics. Jus_hen a young lady, with a gentleman at her side, drew near to the littl_roup, and Longueville, perceiving her, instantly got up from his chair.
  • "There 's a beauty of the unconscious class!" he said to himself. He knew he_ace very well; he had spent half an hour in copying it.
  • "Here comes Miss Vivian!" said Gordon Wright, also getting up, as if to mak_oom for the daughter near the mother.
  • She stopped in front of them, smiling slightly, and then she rested her eye_pon Longueville. Their gaze at first was full and direct, but it expresse_othing more than civil curiosity. This was immediately followed, however, b_he light of recognition—recognition embarrassed, and signalling itself by _lush.
  • Miss Vivian's companion was a powerful, handsome fellow, with a remarkabl_uburn beard, who struck the observer immediately as being uncommonly wel_ressed. 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 jocula_ows.
  • "Well, I hope you have lost every penny you put on the table!" said the youn_irl, 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, int_ chair on the other side of her.
  • "I wish you would lose all your property!" she replied, glancing at Bernard.
  • "It would be a very small stake," said Captain Lovelock. "Would you reall_ike to see me reduced to misery?"
  • While this graceful dialogue rapidly established itself, Miss Vivian remove_er eyes from Longueville's face and turned toward her mother. But Gordo_right checked this movement by laying his hand on Longueville's shoulder an_roceeding to introduce his friend.
  • "This is the accomplished creature, Mr. Bernard Longueville, of whom you hav_eard me speak. One of his accomplishments, as you see, is to drop down fro_he 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 hesitate_o extend her own. Then she returned his salutation, without any response t_is 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 ladie_ppealed to the indulgence of little Miss Evers, who was obliged to renounc_he society of Captain Lovelock. She enjoyed this luxury, however, on the wa_o Mrs. Vivian's lodgings, toward which they all slowly strolled, in th_ociable Baden fashion. Longueville might naturally have found himself nex_iss Vivian, but he received an impression that she avoided him. She walked i_ront, and Gordon Wright strolled beside her, though Longueville noticed tha_hey appeared to exchange but few words. He himself offered his arm to Mrs.
  • Vivian, who paced along with a little lightly-wavering step, makin_bservations upon the beauties of Baden and the respective merits of th_otels.