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Chapter 9

  • Bernard talked of this matter rather theoretically, inasmuch as to his ow_ense, he was in a state neither of incipient nor of absorbed fascination. H_ot on very easily, however, with Angela Vivian, and felt none of th_ysterious discomfort alluded to by his friend. The element of myster_ttached itself rather to the young lady's mother, who gave him the impressio_hat for undiscoverable reasons she avoided his society. He regretted he_vasive deportment, for he found something agreeable in this shy an_crupulous little woman, who struck him as a curious specimen of a society o_hich he had once been very fond. He learned that she was of old New Englan_tock, but he had not needed this information to perceive that Mrs. Vivian wa_nimated by the genius of Boston. "She has the Boston temperament," he said, using a phrase with which he had become familiar and which evoked a train o_ssociations. But then he immediately added that if Mrs. Vivian was a daughte_f the Puritans, the Puritan strain in her disposition had been mingled wit_nother element. "It is the Boston temperament sophisticated," he said;
  • "perverted a little—perhaps even corrupted. It is the local east-wind with a_nfusion from climates less tonic." It seemed to him that Mrs. Vivian was _uritan grown worldly—a Bostonian relaxed; and this impression, oddly enough, contributed to his wish to know more of her. He felt like going up to her ver_olitely and saying, "Dear lady and most honored compatriot, what in the worl_ave I done to displease you? You don't approve of me, and I am dying to kno_he reason why. I should be so happy to exert myself to be agreeable to you.
  • It 's no use; you give me the cold shoulder. When I speak to you, you look th_ther way; it is only when I speak to your daughter that you look at me. It i_rue that at those times you look at me very hard, and if I am not greatl_istaken, you are not gratified by what you see. You count the words I addres_o your beautiful Angela—you time our harmless little interviews. Yo_nterrupt them indeed whenever you can; you call her away—you appeal to her; you cut across the conversation. You are always laying plots to keep us apart.
  • Why can't you leave me alone? I assure you I am the most innocent of men. You_eautiful Angela can't possibly be injured by my conversation, and I have n_esigns whatever upon her peace of mind. What on earth have I done to offen_ou?"
  • These observations Bernard Longueville was disposed to make, and on_fternoon, the opportunity offering, they rose to his lips and came very nea_assing them. In fact, however, at the last moment, his eloquence took anothe_urn. It was the custom of the orchestra at the Kursaal to play in th_fternoon, and as the music was often good, a great many people assemble_nder the trees, at three o'clock, to listen to it. This was not, as a regula_hing, an hour of re-union for the little group in which we are especiall_nterested; Miss Vivian, in particular, unless an excursion of some sort ha_een agreed upon the day before, was usually not to be seen in the precinct_f the Conversation-house until the evening. Bernard, one afternoon, at thre_'clock, directed his steps to this small world-centre of Baden, and, passin_long the terrace, soon encountered little Blanche Evers strolling there unde_ pink parasol and accompanied by Captain Lovelock. This young lady was alway_xtremely sociable; it was quite in accordance with her habitual genialit_hat she should stop and say how d' ye do to our hero.
  • "Mr. Longueville is growing very frivolous," she said, "coming to the Kursaa_t all sorts of hours."
  • "There is nothing frivolous in coming here with the hope of finding you," th_oung man answered. "That is very serious."
  • "It would be more serious to lose Miss Evers than to find her," remarke_aptain Lovelock, with gallant jocosity.
  • "I wish you would lose me!" cried the young girl. "I think I should like to b_ost. I might have all kinds of adventures."
  • "I 'guess' so!" said Captain Lovelock, hilariously.
  • "Oh, I should find my way. I can take care of myself!" Blanche went on.
  • "Mrs. Vivian does n't think so," said Bernard, who had just perceived thi_ady, seated under a tree with a book, over the top of which she was observin_er pretty protege. Blanche looked toward her and gave her a little nod and _mile. Then chattering on to the young men—
  • "She 's awfully careful. I never saw any one so careful. But I suppose she i_ight. She promised my mother she would be tremendously particular; but _on't know what she thinks I would do."
  • "That is n't flattering to me," said Captain Lovelock. "Mrs. Vivian does n'_pprove of me—she wishes me in Jamaica. What does she think me capable of?"
  • "And me, now?" Bernard asked. "She likes me least of all, and I, on my side, think she 's so nice."
  • "Can't say I 'm very sweet on her," said the Captain. "She strikes me a_eline."
  • Blanche Evers gave a little cry of horror.
  • "Stop, sir, this instant! I won't have you talk that way about a lady who ha_een so kind to me."
  • "She is n't so kind to you. She would like to lock you up where I can neve_ee you."
  • "I 'm sure I should n't mind that!" cried the young girl, with a little laug_nd a toss of her head. "Mrs. Vivian has the most perfect character—that '_hy my mother wanted me to come with her. And if she promised my mother sh_ould be careful, is n't she right to keep her promise? She 's a great dea_ore careful than mamma ever was, and that 's just what mamma wanted. Sh_ould never take the trouble herself. And then she was always scolding me.
  • Mrs. Vivian never scolds me. She only watches me, but I don't mind that."
  • "I wish she would watch you a little less and scold you a little more," sai_aptain Lovelock.
  • "I have no doubt you wish a great many horrid things," his companion rejoined, with delightful asperity.
  • "Ah, unfortunately I never have anything I wish!" sighed Lovelock.
  • "Your wishes must be comprehensive," said Bernard. "It seems to me you have _ood deal."
  • The Englishman gave a shrug.
  • "It 's less than you might think. She is watching us more furiously tha_ver," he added, in a moment, looking at Mrs. Vivian. "Mr. Gordon Wright i_he only man she likes. She is awfully fond of Mr. Gordon Wright."
  • "Ah, Mrs. Vivian shows her wisdom!" said Bernard.
  • "He is certainly very handsome," murmured Blanche Evers, glancing severa_imes, with a very pretty aggressiveness, at Captain Lovelock. "I must say _ike Mr. Gordon Wright. Why in the world did you come here without him?" sh_ent on, addressing herself to Bernard. "You two are so awfully inseparable. _on't think I ever saw you alone before."
  • "Oh, I have often seen Mr. Gordon Wright alone," said Captain Lovelock—"tha_s, alone with Miss Vivian. That 's what the old lady likes; she can't hav_oo much of that."
  • The young girl, poised for an instant in one of her pretty attitudes, looke_t him from head to foot.
  • "Well, I call that scandalous! Do you mean that she wants to make a match?"
  • "I mean that the young man has six thousand a year."
  • "It 's no matter what he has—six thousand a year is n't much! And we don't d_hings in that way in our country. We have n't those horrid match-makin_rrangements that you have in your dreadful country. American mothers are no_ike English mothers."
  • "Oh, any one can see, of course," said Captain Lovelock, "that Mr. Gordo_right is dying of love for Miss Vivian."
  • "I can't see it!" cried Blanche.
  • "He dies easier than I, eh?"
  • "I wish you would die!" said Blanche. "At any rate, Angela is not dying o_ove for Mr. Wright."
  • "Well, she will marry him all the same," Lovelock declared.
  • Blanche Evers glanced at Bernard.
  • "Why don't you contradict that?" she asked. "Why don't you speak up for you_riend?"
  • "I am quite ready to speak for my friend," said Bernard, "but I am not read_o speak for Miss Vivian."
  • "Well, I am," Blanche declared. "She won't marry him."
  • "If she does n't, I 'll eat my hat!" said Captain Lovelock. "What do yo_ean," he went on, "by saying that in America a pretty girl's mother does n'_are for a young fellow's property?"
  • "Well, they don't—we consider that dreadful. Why don't you say so, Mr.
  • Longueville?" Blanche demanded. "I never saw any one take things so quietly.
  • Have n't you got any patriotism?"
  • "My patriotism is modified by an indisposition to generalize," said Bernard, laughing. "On this point permit me not to generalize. I am interested in th_articular case—in ascertaining whether Mrs. Vivian thinks very often o_ordon Wright's income."
  • Miss Evers gave a little toss of disgust.
  • "If you are so awfully impartial, you had better go and ask her."
  • "That 's a good idea—I think I will go and ask her," said Bernard.
  • Captain Lovelock returned to his argument.
  • "Do you mean to say that your mother would be indifferent to the fact that _ave n't a shilling in the world?"
  • "Indifferent?" Blanche demanded. "Oh no, she would be sorry for you. She i_ery charitable—she would give you a shilling!"
  • "She would n't let you marry me," said Lovelock.
  • "She would n't have much trouble to prevent it!" cried the young girl.
  • Bernard had had enough of this intellectual fencing.
  • "Yes, I will go and ask Mrs. Vivian," he repeated. And he left his companion_o resume their walk.