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Chapter 7

  • But on the following evening, Bernard again found himself seated in friendl_olloquy with this interesting girl, while Gordon Wright discoursed with he_other on one side, and little Blanche Evers chattered to the admiring eyes o_aptain Lovelock on the other.
  • "You and your mother are very kind to that little girl," our hero said; "yo_ust be a great advantage to her."
  • Angela Vivian directed her eyes to her neighbors, and let them rest a while o_he young girl's little fidgeting figure and her fresh, coquettish face. Fo_ome moments she said nothing, and to Longueville, turning over several thing_n his mind, and watching her, it seemed that her glance was one of disfavor.
  • He divined, he scarcely knew how, that her esteem for her pretty companion wa_mall.
  • "I don't know that I am very kind," said Miss Vivian. "I have done nothing i_articular for her."
  • "Mr. Wright tells me you came to this place mainly on her account."
  • "I came for myself," said Miss Vivian. "The consideration you speak of perhap_ad weight with my mother."
  • "You are not an easy person to say appreciative things to," Bernard rejoined.
  • "One is tempted to say them; but you don't take them."
  • The young girl colored as she listened to this observation.
  • "I don't think you know," she murmured, looking away. Then, "Set it down t_odesty," she added.
  • "That, of course, is what I have done. To what else could one possibl_ttribute an indifference to compliments?"
  • "There is something else. One might be proud."
  • "There you are again!" Bernard exclaimed. "You won't even let me praise you_odesty."
  • "I would rather you should rebuke my pride."
  • "That is so humble a speech that it leaves no room for rebuke."
  • For a moment Miss Vivian said nothing.
  • "Men are singularly base," she declared presently, with a little smile. "The_on't care in the least to say things that might help a person. They only car_o say things that may seem effective and agreeable."
  • "I see: you think that to say agreeable things is a great misdemeanor."
  • "It comes from their vanity," Miss Vivian went on, as if she had not hear_im. "They wish to appear agreeable and get credit for cleverness an_endresse, no matter how silly it would be for another person to believ_hem."
  • Bernard was a good deal amused, and a little nettled.
  • "Women, then," he said, "have rather a fondness for producing a ba_mpression—they like to appear disagreeable?"
  • His companion bent her eyes upon her fan for a moment as she opened and close_t.
  • "They are capable of resigning themselves to it—for a purpose."
  • Bernard was moved to extreme merriment.
  • "For what purpose?"
  • "I don't know that I mean for a purpose," said Miss Vivian; "but for _ecessity."
  • "Ah, what an odious necessity!"
  • "Necessities usually are odious. But women meet them. Men evade them and shir_hem."
  • "I contest your proposition. Women are themselves necessities; but they ar_ot odious ones!" And Bernard added, in a moment, "One could n't evade them, if they were!"
  • "I object to being called a necessity," said Angela Vivian. "It diminishe_ne's merit."
  • "Ah, but it enhances the charm of life!"
  • "For men, doubtless!"
  • "The charm of life is very great," Bernard went on, looking up at the dusk_ills and the summer stars, seen through a sort of mist of music and talk, an_f powdery light projected from the softly lurid windows of the gaming-rooms.
  • "The charm of life is extreme. I am unacquainted with odious necessities. _bject to nothing!"
  • Angela Vivian looked about her as he had done—looked perhaps a moment longe_t the summer stars; and if she had not already proved herself a young lady o_ contradictory turn, it might have been supposed she was just then tacitl_dmitting the charm of life to be considerable.
  • "Do you suppose Miss Evers often resigns herself to being disagreeable—for _urpose?" asked Longueville, who had glanced at Captain Lovelock's companio_gain.
  • "She can't be disagreeable; she is too gentle, too soft."
  • "Do you mean too silly?"
  • "I don't know that I call her silly. She is not very wise; but she has n_retensions—absolutely none—so that one is not struck with anythin_ncongruous."
  • "What a terrible description! I suppose one ought to have a few pretensions."
  • "You see one comes off more easily without them," said Miss Vivian.
  • "Do you call that coming off easily?"
  • She looked at him a moment gravely.
  • "I am very fond of Blanche," she said.
  • "Captain Lovelock is rather fond of her," Bernard went on.
  • The girl assented.
  • "He is completely fascinated—he is very much in love with her."
  • "And do they mean to make an international match?"
  • "I hope not; my mother and I are greatly troubled."
  • "Is n't he a good fellow?"
  • "He is a good fellow; but he is a mere trifler. He has n't a penny, I believe, and he has very expensive habits. He gambles a great deal. We don't know wha_o do."
  • "You should send for the young lady's mother."
  • "We have written to her pressingly. She answers that Blanche can take care o_erself, and that she must stay at Marienbad to finish her cure. She has jus_egun a new one."
  • "Ah well," said Bernard, "doubtless Blanche can take care of herself."
  • For a moment his companion said nothing; then she exclaimed—
  • "It 's what a girl ought to be able to do!"
  • "I am sure you are!" said Bernard.
  • She met his eyes, and she was going to make some rejoinder; but before she ha_ime to speak, her mother's little, clear, conciliatory voice interposed. Mrs.
  • Vivian appealed to her daughter, as she had done the night before.
  • "Dear Angela, what was the name of the gentleman who delivered that delightfu_ourse of lectures that we heard in Geneva, on—what was the title?—'Th_edeeming Features of the Pagan Morality.'"
  • Angela flushed a little.
  • "I have quite forgotten his name, mamma," she said, without looking round.
  • "Come and sit by me, my dear, and we will talk them over. I wish Mr. Wright t_ear about them," Mrs. Vivian went on.
  • "Do you wish to convert him to paganism?" Bernard asked.
  • "The lectures were very dull; they had no redeeming features," said Angela, getting up, but turning away from her mother. She stood looking at Bernar_ongueville; he saw she was annoyed at her mother's interference. "Every no_nd then," she said, "I take a turn through the gaming-rooms. The last time, Captain Lovelock went with me. Will you come to-night?"
  • Bernard assented with expressive alacrity; he was charmed with her not wishin_o break off her conversation with him.
  • "Ah, we 'll all go!" said Mrs. Vivian, who had been listening, and she invite_he others to accompany her to the Kursaal.
  • They left their places, but Angela went first, with Bernard Longueville by he_ide; and the idea of her having publicly braved her mother, as it were, fo_he sake of his society, lent for the moment an almost ecstatic energy to hi_read. If he had been tempted to presume upon his triumph, however, he woul_ave found a check in the fact that the young girl herself tasted very soberl_f the sweets of defiance. She was silent and grave; she had a manner whic_ook the edge from the wantonness of filial independence. Yet, for all this, Bernard was pleased with his position; and, as he walked with her through th_ighted and crowded rooms, where they soon detached themselves from thei_ompanions, he felt that peculiar satisfaction which best expresses itself i_ilence. Angela looked a while at the rows of still, attentive faces, fixe_pon the luminous green circle, across which little heaps of louis d'or wer_eing pushed to and fro, and she continued to say nothing. Then at last sh_xclaimed simply, "Come away!" They turned away and passed into anothe_hamber, in which there was no gambling. It was an immense apartment, apparently a ball-room; but at present it was quite unoccupied. There wer_reen velvet benches all around it, and a great polished floor stretched away, shining in the light of chandeliers adorned with innumerable glass drops. Mis_ivian stood a moment on the threshold; then she passed in, and they stoppe_n the middle of the place, facing each other, and with their figure_eflected as if they had been standing on a sheet of ice. There was no one i_he room; they were entirely alone.
  • "Why don't you recognize me?" Bernard murmured quickly.
  • "Recognize you?"
  • "Why do you seem to forget our meeting at Siena?"
  • She might have answered if she had answered immediately; but she hesitated, and while she did so something happened at the other end of the room whic_aused her to shift her glance. A green velvet porti; agere suspended in on_f the door-ways—not that through which our friends had passed—was lifted, an_ordon Wright stood there, holding it up, and looking at them. His companion_ere behind him.
  • "Ah, here they are!" cried Gordon, in his loud, clear voice.
  • This appeared to strike Angela Vivian as an interruption, and Bernard saw i_ery much in the same light.