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.