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Chapter 5

  • Life at baden-baden proved a very sociable affair, and Bernard Longuevill_erceived that he should not lack opportunity for the exercise of those gift_f intelligence to which Gordon Wright had appealed. The two friends took lon_alks through the woods and over the mountains, and they mingled with huma_ife in the crowded precincts of the Conversation-house. They engaged in _amble on the morning after Bernard's arrival, and wandered far away, ove_ill and dale. The Baden forests are superb, and the composition of th_andscape is most effective. There is always a bosky dell in the foreground,
  • and a purple crag embellished with a ruined tower at a proper angle. A littl_imber-and-plaster village peeps out from a tangle of plum-trees, and a way-
  • side tavern, in comfortable recurrence, solicits concessions to the nationa_ustom of frequent refreshment. Gordon Wright, who was a dogged pedestrian,
  • always enjoyed doing his ten miles, and Longueville, who was an incorrigibl_troller, felt a keen relish for the picturesqueness of the country. But i_as not, on this occasion, of the charms of the landscape or the pleasures o_ocomotion that they chiefly discoursed. Their talk took a more closel_ersonal turn. It was a year since they had met, and there were many question_o ask and answer, many arrears of gossip to make up. As they stretche_hemselves on the grass on a sun-warmed hill-side, beneath a great German oa_hose arms were quiet in the blue summer air, there was a lively exchange o_mpressions, opinions, speculations, anecdotes. Gordon Wright was surely a_xcellent friend. He took an interest in you. He asked no idle questions an_ade no vague professions; but he entered into your situation, he examined i_n detail, and what he learned he never forgot. Months afterwards, he aske_ou about things which you yourself had forgotten. He was not a man of whom i_ould be generally said that he had the gift of sympathy; but he gave hi_ttention to a friend's circumstances with a conscientious fixedness which wa_t least very far removed from indifference. Bernard had the gift o_ympathy—or at least he was supposed to have it; but even he, familiar as h_ust therefore have been with the practice of this charming virtue, was a_imes so struck with his friend's fine faculty of taking other people'_ffairs seriously that he constantly exclaimed to himself, "The excellen_ellow—the admirable nature!"
  • Bernard had two or three questions to ask about the three persons who appeare_o have formed for some time his companion's principal society, but he wa_ndisposed to press them. He felt that he should see for himself, and at _rospect of entertainment of this kind, his fancy always kindled. Gordon was,
  • moreover, at first rather shy of confidences, though after they had lain o_he grass ten minutes there was a good deal said.
  • "Now what do you think of her face?" Gordon asked, after staring a while a_he sky through the oak-boughs.
  • "Of course, in future," said Longueville, "whenever you make use of th_ersonal pronoun feminine, I am to understand that Miss Vivian is indicated."
  • "Her name is Angela," said Gordon; "but of course I can scarcely call he_hat."
  • "It 's a beautiful name," Longueville rejoined; "but I may say, in answer t_our question, that I am not struck with the fact that her face corresponds t_t."
  • "You don't think her face beautiful, then?"
  • "I don't think it angelic. But how can I tell? I have only had a glimpse o_er."
  • "Wait till she looks at you and speaks—wait till she smiles," said Gordon.
  • "I don't think I saw her smile—at least, not at me, directly. I hope sh_ill!" Longueville went on. "But who is she—this beautiful girl with th_eautiful name?"
  • "She is her mother's daughter," said Gordon Wright. "I don't really know _reat deal more about her than that."
  • "And who is her mother?"
  • "A delightful little woman, devoted to Miss Vivian. She is a widow, and Angel_s her only child. They have lived a great deal in Europe; they have but _odest income. Over here, Mrs. Vivian says, they can get a lot of things fo_heir money that they can't get at home. So they stay, you see. When they ar_t home they live in New York. They know some of my people there. When the_re in Europe they live about in different places. They are fond of Italy.
  • They are extremely nice; it 's impossible to be nicer. They are very fond o_ooks, fond of music, and art, and all that. They always read in the morning.
  • They only come out rather late in the day."
  • "I see they are very superior people," said Bernard. "And little Mis_vers—what does she do in the morning? I know what she does in the evening!"
  • "I don't know what her regular habits are. I have n't paid much attention t_er. She is very pretty."
  • "Wunderschon!" said Bernard. "But you were certainly talking to her las_vening."
  • "Of course I talk to her sometimes. She is totally different from Angel_ivian—not nearly so cultivated; but she seems very charming."
  • "A little silly, eh?" Bernard suggested.
  • "She certainly is not so wise as Miss Vivian."
  • "That would be too much to ask, eh? But the Vivians, as kind as they are wise,
  • have taken her under their protection."
  • "Yes," said Gordon, "they are to keep her another month or two. Her mother ha_one to Marienbad, which I believe is thought a dull place for a young girl;
  • so that, as they were coming here, they offered to bring her with them. Mrs.
  • Evers is an old friend of Mrs. Vivian, who, on leaving Italy, had come up t_resden to be with her. They spent a month there together; Mrs. Evers had bee_here since the winter. I think Mrs. Vivian really came to Baden-Baden—sh_ould have preferred a less expensive place—to bring Blanche Evers. Her mothe_anted her so much to come."
  • "And was it for her sake that Captain Lovelock came, too?" Bernard asked.
  • Gordon Wright stared a moment.
  • "I 'm sure I don't know!"
  • "Of course you can't be interested in that," said Bernard smiling. "Who i_aptain Lovelock?"
  • "He is an Englishman. I believe he is what 's called aristocraticall_onnected—the younger brother of a lord, or something of that sort."
  • "Is he a clever man?"
  • "I have n't talked with him much, but I doubt it. He is rather rakish; h_lays a great deal."
  • "But is that considered here a proof of rakishness?" asked Bernard. "Have n'_ou played a little yourself?"
  • Gordon hesitated a moment.
  • "Yes, I have played a little. I wanted to try some experiments. I had mad_ome arithmetical calculations of probabilities, which I wished to test."
  • Bernard gave a long laugh.
  • "I am delighted with the reasons you give for amusing yourself! Arithmetica_alculations!"
  • "I assure you they are the real reasons!" said Gordon, blushing a little.
  • "That 's just the beauty of it. You were not afraid of being 'drawn in,' a_ittle Miss Evers says?"
  • "I am never drawn in, whatever the thing may be. I go in, or I stay out; but _m not drawn," said Gordon Wright.
  • "You were not drawn into coming with Mrs. Vivian and her daughter from Dresde_o this place?"
  • "I did n't come with them; I came a week later."
  • "My dear fellow," said Bernard, "that distinction is unworthy of your habitua_andor."
  • "Well, I was not fascinated; I was not overmastered. I wanted to come t_aden."
  • "I have no doubt you did. Had you become very intimate with your friends i_resden?"
  • "I had only seen them three times."
  • "After which you followed them to this place? Ah, don't say you were no_ascinated!" cried Bernard, laughing and springing to his feet.