It had been arranged that the two young ladies should proceed to London unde_alph's escort, though Mrs. Touchett looked with little favour on the plan. I_as just the sort of plan, she said, that Miss Stackpole would be sure t_uggest, and she enquired if the correspondent of the Interviewer was to tak_he party to stay at her favourite boarding-house.
"I don't care where she takes us to stay, so long as there's local colour,"
said Isabel. "That's what we're going to London for."
"I suppose that after a girl has refused an English lord she may do anything,"
her aunt rejoined. "After that one needn't stand on trifles."
"Should you have liked me to marry Lord Warburton?" Isabel enquired.
"Of course I should."
"I thought you disliked the English so much."
"So I do; but it's all the greater reason for making use of them."
"Is that your idea of marriage?" And Isabel ventured to add that her aun_ppeared to her to have made very little use of Mr. Touchett.
"Your uncle's not an English nobleman," said Mrs. Touchett, "though even if h_ad been I should still probably have taken up my residence in Florence."
"Do you think Lord Warburton could make me any better than I am?" the gir_sked with some animation. "I don't mean I'm too good to improve. I mean tha_ don't love Lord Warburton enough to marry him."
"You did right to refuse him then," said Mrs. Touchett in her smallest, sparest voice. "Only, the next great offer you get, I hope you'll manage t_ome up to your standard."
"We had better wait till the offer comes before we talk about it. I hope ver_uch I may have no more offers for the present. They upset me completely."
"You probably won't be troubled with them if you adopt permanently th_ohemian manner of life. However, I've promised Ralph not to criticise."
"I'll do whatever Ralph says is right," Isabel returned. "I've unbounde_onfidence in Ralph."
"His mother's much obliged to you!" this lady dryly laughed.
"It seems to me indeed she ought to feel it!" Isabel irrepressibly answered.
Ralph had assured her that there would be no violation of decency in thei_aying a visit—the little party of three—to the sights of the metropolis; bu_rs. Touchett took a different view. Like many ladies of her country who ha_ived a long time in Europe, she had completely lost her native tact on suc_oints, and in her reaction, not in itself deplorable, against the libert_llowed to young persons beyond the seas, had fallen into gratuitous an_xaggerated scruples. Ralph accompanied their visitors to town and establishe_hem at a quiet inn in a street that ran at right angles to Piccadilly. Hi_irst idea had been to take them to his father's house in Winchester Square, _arge, dull mansion which at this period of the year was shrouded in silenc_nd brown holland; but he bethought himself that, the cook being a_ardencourt, there was no one in the house to get them their meals, an_ratt's Hotel accordingly became their resting-place. Ralph, on his side, found quarters in Winchester Square, having a "den" there of which he was ver_ond and being familiar with deeper fears than that of a cold kitchen. H_vailed himself largely indeed of the resources of Pratt's Hotel, beginnin_is day with an early visit to his fellow travellers, who had Mr. Pratt i_erson, in a large bulging white waistcoat, to remove their dish-covers. Ralp_urned up, as he said, after breakfast, and the little party made out a schem_f entertainment for the day. As London wears in the month of September a fac_lank but for its smears of prior service, the young man, who occasionall_ook an apologetic tone, was obliged to remind his companion, to Mis_tackpole's high derision, that there wasn't a creature in town.
"I suppose you mean the aristocracy are absent," Henrietta answered; "but _on't think you could have a better proof that if they were absent altogethe_hey wouldn't be missed. It seems to me the place is about as full as it ca_e. There's no one here, of course, but three or four millions of people. Wha_s it you call them—the lower-middle class? They're only the population o_ondon, and that's of no consequence."
Ralph declared that for him the aristocracy left no void that Miss Stackpol_erself didn't fill, and that a more contented man was nowhere at that momen_o be found. In this he spoke the truth, for the stale September days, in th_uge half-empty town, had a charm wrapped in them as a coloured gem might b_rapped in a dusty cloth. When he went home at night to the empty house i_inchester Square, after a chain of hours with his comparatively arden_riends, he wandered into the big dusky dining-room, where the candle he too_rom the hall-table, after letting himself in, constituted the onl_llumination. The square was still, the house was still; when he raised one o_he windows of the dining-room to let in the air he heard the slow creak o_he boots of a lone constable. His own step, in the empty place, seemed lou_nd sonorous; some of the carpets had been raised, and whenever he moved h_oused a melancholy echo. He sat down in one of the armchairs; the big dar_ining table twinkled here and there in the small candle-light; the picture_n the wall, all of them very brown, looked vague and incoherent. There was _hostly presence as of dinners long since digested, of table-talk that ha_ost its actuality. This hint of the supernatural perhaps had something to d_ith the fact that his imagination took a flight and that he remained in hi_hair a long time beyond the hour at which he should have been in bed; doin_othing, not even reading the evening paper. I say he did nothing, and _aintain the phrase in the face of the fact that he thought at these moment_f Isabel. To think of Isabel could only be for him an idle pursuit, leadin_o nothing and profiting little to any one. His cousin had not yet seemed t_im so charming as during these days spent in sounding, tourist-fashion, th_eeps and shallows of the metropolitan element. Isabel was full of premises, conclusions, emotions; if she had come in search of local colour she found i_verywhere. She asked more questions than he could answer, and launched brav_heories, as to historic cause and social effect, that he was equally unabl_o accept or to refute. The party went more than once to the British Museu_nd to that brighter palace of art which reclaims for antique variety so larg_n area of a monotonous suburb; they spent a morning in the Abbey and went o_ penny-steamer to the Tower; they looked at pictures both in public an_rivate collections and sat on various occasions beneath the great trees i_ensington Gardens. Henrietta proved an indestructible sight-seer and a mor_enient judge than Ralph had ventured to hope. She had indeed man_isappointments, and London at large suffered from her vivid remembrance o_he strong points of the American civic idea; but she made the best of it_ingy dignities and only heaved an occasional sigh and uttered a desultory
"Well!" which led no further and lost itself in retrospect. The truth wa_hat, as she said herself, she was not in her element. "I've not a sympath_ith inanimate objects," she remarked to Isabel at the National Gallery; an_he continued to suffer from the meagreness of the glimpse that had as ye_een vouchsafed to her of the inner life. Landscapes by Turner and Assyria_ulls were a poor substitute for the literary dinner-parties at which she ha_oped to meet the genius and renown of Great Britain.
"Where are your public men, where are your men and women of intellect?" sh_nquired of Ralph, standing in the middle of Trafalgar Square as if she ha_upposed this to be a place where she would naturally meet a few. "That's on_f them on the top of the column, you say—Lord Nelson. Was he a lord too?
Wasn't he high enough, that they had to stick him a hundred feet in the air?
That's the past—I don't care about the past; I want to see some of the leadin_inds of the present. I won't say of the future, because I don't believe muc_n your future." Poor Ralph had few leading minds among his acquaintance an_arely enjoyed the pleasure of buttonholing a celebrity; a state of thing_hich appeared to Miss Stackpole to indicate a deplorable want of enterprise.
"If I were on the other side I should call," she said, "and tell th_entleman, whoever he might be, that I had heard a great deal about him an_ad come to see for myself. But I gather from what you say that this is no_he custom here. You seem to have plenty of meaningless customs, but none o_hose that would help along. We are in advance, certainly. I suppose I shal_ave to give up the social side altogether;" and Henrietta, though she wen_bout with her guidebook and pencil and wrote a letter to the Interviewe_bout the Tower (in which she described the execution of Lady Jane Grey), ha_ sad sense of falling below her mission.
The incident that had preceded Isabel's departure from Gardencourt left _ainful trace in our young woman's mind: when she felt again in her face, a_rom a recurrent wave, the cold breath of her last suitor's surprise, sh_ould only muffle her head till the air cleared. She could not have done les_han what she did; this was certainly true. But her necessity, all the same, had been as graceless as some physical act in a strained attitude, and sh_elt no desire to take credit for her conduct. Mixed with this imperfec_ride, nevertheless, was a feeling of freedom which in itself was sweet an_hich, as she wandered through the great city with her ill-matched companions, occasionally throbbed into odd demonstrations. When she walked in Kensingto_ardens she stopped the children (mainly of the poorer sort) whom she sa_laying on the grass; she asked them their names and gave them sixpence and, when they were pretty, kissed them. Ralph noticed these quaint charities; h_oticed everything she did. One afternoon, that his companions might pass th_ime, he invited them to tea in Winchester Square, and he had the house set i_rder as much as possible for their visit. There was another guest to mee_hem, an amiable bachelor, an old friend of Ralph's who happened to be in tow_nd for whom prompt commerce with Miss Stackpole appeared to have neithe_ifficulty nor dread. Mr. Bantling, a stout, sleek, smiling man of forty, wonderfully dressed, universally informed and incoherently amused, laughe_mmoderately at everything Henrietta said, gave her several cups of tea, examined in her society the bric-a-brac, of which Ralph had a considerabl_ollection, and afterwards, when the host proposed they should go out into th_quare and pretend it was a fete-champetre, walked round the limited enclosur_everal times with her and, at a dozen turns of their talk, bounde_esponsive—as with a positive passion for argument—to her remarks upon th_nner life.
"Oh, I see; I dare say you found it very quiet at Gardencourt. Naturall_here's not much going on there when there's such a lot of illness about.
Touchett's very bad, you know; the doctors have forbidden his being in Englan_t all, and he has only come back to take care of his father. The old man, _elieve, has half a dozen things the matter with him. They call it gout, bu_o my certain knowledge he has organic disease so developed that you ma_epend upon it he'll go, some day soon, quite quickly. Of course that sort o_hing makes a dreadfully dull house; I wonder they have people when they ca_o so little for them. Then I believe Mr. Touchett's always squabbling wit_is wife; she lives away from her husband, you know, in that extraordinar_merican way of yours. If you want a house where there's always somethin_oing on, I recommend you to go down and stay with my sister, Lady Pensil, i_edfordshire. I'll write to her to-morrow and I'm sure she'll be delighted t_sk you. I know just what you want— you want a house where they go in fo_heatricals and picnics and that sort of thing. My sister's just that sort o_oman; she's always getting up something or other and she's always glad t_ave the sort of people who help her. I'm sure she'll ask you down by retur_f post: she's tremendously fond of distinguished people and writers. Sh_rites herself, you know; but I haven't read everything she has written. It'_sually poetry, and I don't go in much for poetry—unless it's Byron. I suppos_ou think a great deal of Byron in America," Mr. Bantling continued, expandin_n the stimulating air of Miss Stackpole's attention, bringing up hi_equences promptly and changing his topic with an easy turn of hand. Yet h_one the less gracefully kept in sight of the idea, dazzling to Henrietta, o_er going to stay with Lady Pensil in Bedfordshire. "I understand what yo_ant; you want to see some genuine English sport. The Touchetts aren't Englis_t all, you know; they have their own habits, their own language, their ow_ood—some odd religion even, I believe, of their own. The old man thinks it'_icked to hunt, I'm told. You must get down to my sister's in time for th_heatricals, and I'm sure she'll be glad to give you a part. I'm sure you ac_ell; I know you're very clever. My sister's forty years old and has seve_hildren, but she's going to play the principal part. Plain as she is sh_akes up awfully well—I will say for her. Of course you needn't act if yo_on't want to."
In this manner Mr. Bantling delivered himself while they strolled over th_rass in Winchester Square, which, although it had been peppered by the Londo_oot, invited the tread to linger. Henrietta thought her blooming, easy-voice_achelor, with his impressibility to feminine merit and his splendid range o_uggestion, a very agreeable man, and she valued the opportunity he offere_er. "I don't know but I would go, if your sister should ask me. I think i_ould be my duty. What do you call her name?"
"Pensil. It's an odd name, but it isn't a bad one."
"I think one name's as good as another. But what's her rank?".
"Oh, she's a baron's wife; a convenient sort of rank. You're fine enough an_ou're not too fine."
"I don't know but what she'd be too fine for me. What do you call the plac_he lives in—Bedfordshire?"
"She lives away in the northern corner of it. It's a tiresome country, but _are say you won't mind it. I'll try and run down while you're there."
All this was very pleasant to Miss Stackpole, and she was sorry to be oblige_o separate from Lady Pensil's obliging brother. But it happened that she ha_et the day before, in Piccadilly, some friends whom she had not seen for _ear: the Miss Climbers, two ladies from Wilmington, Delaware, who had bee_ravelling on the Continent and were now preparing to re-embark. Henrietta ha_ad a long interview with them on the Piccadilly pavement, and though th_hree ladies all talked at once they had not exhausted their store. It ha_een agreed therefore that Henrietta should come and dine with them in thei_odgings in Jermyn Street at six o'clock on the morrow, and she now bethough_erself of this engagement. She prepared to start for Jermyn Street, takin_eave first of Ralph Touchett and Isabel, who, seated on garden chairs i_nother part of the enclosure, were occupied—if the term may be used—with a_xchange of amenities less pointed than the practical colloquy of Mis_tackpole and Mr. Bantling. When it had been settled between Isabel and he_riend that they should be reunited at some reputable hour at Pratt's Hotel, Ralph remarked that the latter must have a cab. She couldn't walk all the wa_o Jermyn Street.
"I suppose you mean it's improper for me to walk alone!" Henrietta exclaimed.
"Merciful powers, have I come to this?"
"There's not the slightest need of your walking alone," Mr. Bantling gail_nterposed. "I should be greatly pleased to go with you."
"I simply meant that you'd be late for dinner," Ralph returned. "Those poo_adies may easily believe that we refuse, at the last, to spare you."
"You had better have a hansom, Henrietta," said Isabel.
"I'll get you a hansom if you'll trust me," Mr. Bantling went on.
"We might walk a little till we meet one."
"I don't see why I shouldn't trust him, do you?" Henrietta enquired of Isabel.
"I don't see what Mr. Bantling could do to you," Isabel obligingly answered;
"but, if you like, we'll walk with you till you find your cab."
"Never mind; we'll go alone. Come on, Mr. Bantling, and take care you get me _ood one."
Mr. Bantling promised to do his best, and the two took their departure, leaving the girl and her cousin together in the square, over which a clea_eptember twilight had now begun to gather. It was perfectly still; the wid_uadrangle of dusky houses showed lights in none of the windows, where th_hutters and blinds were closed; the pavements were a vacant expanse, and, putting aside two small children from a neighbouring slum, who, attracted b_ymptoms of abnormal animation in the interior, poked their faces between th_usty rails of the enclosure, the most vivid object within sight was the bi_ed pillar-post on the southeast corner.
"Henrietta will ask him to get into the cab and go with her to Jermyn Street,"
Ralph observed. He always spoke of Miss Stackpole as Henrietta.
"Very possibly," said his companion.
"Or rather, no, she won't," he went on. "But Bantling will ask leave to ge_n."
"Very likely again. I'm glad very they're such good friends."
"She has made a conquest. He thinks her a brilliant woman. It may go far,"
Isabel was briefly silent. "I call Henrietta a very brilliant woman, but _on't think it will go far. They would never really know each other. He ha_ot the least idea what she really is, and she has no just comprehension o_r. Bantling."
"There's no more usual basis of union than a mutual misunderstanding. But i_ught not to be so difficult to understand Bob Bantling," Ralph added. "He i_ very simple organism."
"Yes, but Henrietta's a simpler one still. And, pray, what am I to do?" Isabe_sked, looking about her through the fading light, in which the limite_andscape-gardening of the square took on a large and effective appearance. "_on't imagine that you'll propose that you and I, for our amusement, shal_rive about London in a hansom."
"There's no reason we shouldn't stay here—if you don't dislike it. It's ver_arm; there will he half an hour yet before dark; and if you permit it I'l_ight a cigarette."
"You may do what you please," said Isabel, "if you'll amuse me till seve_'clock. I propose at that hour to go back and partake of a simple an_olitary repast—two poached eggs and a muffin— at Pratt's Hotel."
"Mayn't I dine with you?" Ralph asked.
"No, you'll dine at your club."
They had wandered back to their chairs in the centre of the square again, an_alph had lighted his cigarette. It would have given him extreme pleasure t_e present in person at the modest little feast she had sketched; but i_efault of this he liked even being forbidden. For the moment, however, h_iked immensely being alone with her, in the thickening dusk, in the centre o_he multitudinous town; it made her seem to depend upon him and to be in hi_ower. This power he could exert but vaguely; the best exercise of it was t_ccept her decisions submissively which indeed there was already an emotion i_oing. "Why won't you let me dine with you?" he demanded after a pause.
"Because I don't care for it."
"I suppose you're tired of me."
"I shall be an hour hence. You see I have the gift of foreknowledge."
"Oh, I shall be delightful meanwhile," said Ralph.
But he said nothing more, and as she made no rejoinder they sat some time in _tillness which seemed to contradict his promise of entertainment. It seeme_o him she was preoccupied, and he wondered what she was thinking about; ther_ere two or three very possible subjects. At last he spoke again. "Is you_bjection to my society this evening caused by your expectation of anothe_isitor?"
She turned her head with a glance of her clear, fair eyes. "Another visitor?
What visitor should I have?"
He had none to suggest; which made his question seem to himself silly as wel_s brutal. "You've a great many friends that I don't know. You've a whole pas_rom which I was perversely excluded."
"You were reserved for my future. You must remember that my past is over ther_cross the water. There's none of it here in London."
"Very good, then, since your future is seated beside you. Capital thing t_ave your future so handy." And Ralph lighted another cigarette and reflecte_hat Isabel probably meant she had received news that Mr. Caspar Goodwood ha_rossed to Paris. After he had lighted his cigarette he puffed it a while, an_hen he resumed. "I promised just now to be very amusing; but you see I don'_ome up to the mark, and the fact is there's a good deal of temerity in one'_ndertaking to amuse a person like you. What do you care for my feebl_ttempts? You've grand ideas—you've a high standard in such matters. I ough_t least to bring in a band of music or a company of mountebanks."
"One mountebank's enough, and you do very well. Pray go on, and in another te_inutes I shall begin to laugh."
"I assure you I'm very serious," said Ralph. "You do really ask a great deal."
"I don't know what you mean. I ask nothing."
"You accept nothing," said Ralph. She coloured, and now suddenly it seemed t_er that she guessed his meaning. But why should he speak to her of suc_hings? He hesitated a little and then he continued: "There's something _hould like very much to say to you. It's a question I wish to ask. It seem_o me I've a right to ask it, because I've a kind of interest in the answer."
"Ask what you will," Isabel replied gently, "and I'll try to satisfy you."
"Well then, I hope you won't mind my saying that Warburton has told me o_omething that has passed between you."
Isabel suppressed a start; she sat looking at her open fan. "Very good; _uppose it was natural he should tell you."
"I have his leave to let you know he has done so. He has some hope still,"
"He had it a few days ago."
"I don't believe he has any now," said the girl.
"I'm very sorry for him then; he's such an honest man."
"Pray, did he ask you to talk to me?"
"No, not that. But he told me because he couldn't help it. We're old friends, and he was greatly disappointed. He sent me a line asking me to come and se_im, and I drove over to Lockleigh the day before he and his sister lunche_ith us. He was very heavy-hearted; he had just got a letter from you."
"Did he show you the letter?" asked Isabel with momentary loftiness.
"By no means. But he told me it was a neat refusal. I was very sorry for him,"
For some moments Isabel said nothing; then at last, "Do you know how often h_ad seen me?" she enquired. "Five or six times."
"That's to your glory."
"It's not for that I say it."
"What then do you say it for. Not to prove that poor Warburton's state o_ind's superficial, because I'm pretty sure you don't think that."
Isabel certainly was unable to say she thought it; but presently she sai_omething else. "If you've not been requested by Lord Warburton to argue wit_e, then you're doing it disinterestedly —or for the love of argument."
"I've no wish to argue with you at all. I only wish to leave you alone. I'_imply greatly interested in your own sentiments."
"I'm greatly obliged to you!" cried Isabel with a slightly nervous laugh.
"Of course you mean that I'm meddling in what doesn't concern me. But wh_houldn't I speak to you of this matter without annoying you or embarrassin_yself? What's the use of being your cousin if I can't have a few privileges?
What's the use of adoring you without hope of a reward if I can't have a fe_ompensations? What's the use of being ill and disabled and restricted to mer_pectatorship at the game of life if I really can't see the show when I'v_aid so much for my ticket? Tell me this," Ralph went on while she listened t_im with quickened attention. "What had you in mind when you refused Lor_arburton?"
"What had I in mind?"
"What was the logic—the view of your situation—that dictated so remarkable a_ct?"
"I didn't wish to marry him—if that's logic."
"No, that's not logic—and I knew that before. It's really nothing, you know.
What was it you said to yourself? You certainly said more than that."
Isabel reflected a moment, then answered with a question of her own. "Why d_ou call it a remarkable act? That's what your mother thinks too."
"Warburton's such a thorough good sort; as a man, I consider he has hardly _ault. And then he's what they call here no end of a swell. He has immens_ossessions, and his wife would be thought a superior being. He unites th_ntrinsic and the extrinsic advantages."
Isabel watched her cousin as to see how far he would go. "I refused hi_ecause he was too perfect then. I'm not perfect myself, and he's too good fo_e. Besides, his perfection would irritate me."
"That's ingenious rather than candid," said Ralph. "As a fact you thin_othing in the world too perfect for you."
"Do you think I'm so good?"
"No, but you're exacting, all the same, without the excuse of thinkin_ourself good. Nineteen women out of twenty, however, even of the mos_xacting sort, would have managed to do with Warburton. Perhaps you don't kno_ow he has been stalked."
"I don't wish to know. But it seems to me," said Isabel, "that one day when w_alked of him you mentioned odd things in him." Ralph smokingly considered. "_ope that what I said then had no weight with you; for they were not faults, the things I spoke of: they were simply peculiarities of his position. If _ad known he wished to marry you I'd never have alluded to them. I think _aid that as regards that position he was rather a sceptic. It would have bee_n your power to make him a believer."
"I think not. I don't understand the matter, and I'm not conscious of an_ission of that sort. You're evidently disappointed," Isabel added, looking a_er cousin with rueful gentleness. "You'd have liked me to make such _arriage."
"Not in the least. I'm absolutely without a wish on the subject. I don'_retend to advise you, and I content myself with watching you—with the deepes_nterest."
She gave rather a conscious sigh. "I wish I could be as interesting to mysel_s I am to you!"
"There you're not candid again; you're extremely interesting to yourself. D_ou know, however," said Ralph, "that if you've really given Warburton hi_inal answer I'm rather glad it has been what it was. I don't mean I'm gla_or you, and still less of course for him. I'm glad for myself."
"Are you thinking of proposing to me?"
"By no means. From the point of view I speak of that would be fatal; I shoul_ill the goose that supplies me with the material of my inimitable omelettes.
I use that animal as the symbol of my insane illusions. What I mean is that _hall have the thrill of seeing what a young lady does who won't marry Lor_arburton."
"That's what your mother counts upon too," said Isabel.
"Ah, there will be plenty of spectators! We shall hang on the rest of you_areer. I shall not see all of it, but I shall probably see the mos_nteresting years. Of course if you were to marry our friend you'd still hav_ career—a very decent, in fact a very brilliant one. But relatively speakin_t would be a little prosaic. It would be definitely marked out in advance; i_ould be wanting in the unexpected. You know I'm extremely fond of th_nexpected, and now that you've kept the game in your hands I depend on you_iving us some grand example of it."
"I don't understand you very well," said Isabel, "but I do so well enough t_e able to say that if you look for grand examples of anything from me I shal_isappoint you."
"You'll do so only by disappointing yourself and that will go hard with you!"
To this she made no direct reply; there was an amount of truth in it tha_ould bear consideration. At last she said abruptly: "I don't see what har_here is in my wishing not to tie myself. I don't want to begin life b_arrying. There are other things a woman can do."
"There's nothing she can do so well. But you're of course so many-sided."
"If one's two-sided it's enough," said Isabel.
"You're the most charming of polygons!" her companion broke out. At a glanc_rom his companion, however, he became grave, and to prove it went on: "Yo_ant to see life—you'll be hanged if you don't, as the young men say."
"I don't think I want to see it as the young men want to see it. But I do wan_o look about me."
"You want to drain the cup of experience."
"No, I don't wish to touch the cup of experience. It's a poisoned drink! _nly want to see for myself."
"You want to see, but not to feel," Ralph remarked.
"I don't think that if one's a sentient being one can make the distinction.
I'm a good deal like Henrietta. The other day when I asked her if she wishe_o marry she said: 'Not till I've seen Europe!' I too don't wish to marry til_'ve seen Europe."
"You evidently expect a crowned head will be struck with you."
"No, that would be worse than marrying Lord Warburton. But it's getting ver_ark," Isabel continued, "and I must go home." She rose from her place, bu_alph only sat still and looked at her. As he remained there she stopped, an_hey exchanged a gaze that was full on either side, but especially on Ralph's, of utterances too vague for words.
"You've answered my question," he said at last. "You've told me what I wanted.
I'm greatly obliged to you."
"It seems to me I've told you very little."
"You've told me the great thing: that the world interests you and that yo_ant to throw yourself into it."
Her silvery eyes shone a moment in the dusk. "I never said that." "I think yo_eant it. Don't repudiate it. It's so fine!"
"I don't know what you're trying to fasten upon me, for I'm not in the leas_n adventurous spirit. Women are not like men."
Ralph slowly rose from his seat and they walked together to the gate of th_quare. "No," he said; "women rarely boast of their courage. Men do so with _ertain frequency."
"Men have it to boast of!"
"Women have it too. You've a great deal."
"Enough to go home in a cab to Pratt's Hotel, but not more."
Ralph unlocked the gate, and after they had passed out he fastened it. "We'l_ind your cab," he said; and as they turned toward a neighbouring street i_hich this quest might avail he asked her again if he mightn't see her safel_o the inn.
"By no means," she answered; "you're very tired; you must go home and go t_ed."
The cab was found, and he helped her into it, standing a moment at the door.
"When people forget I'm a poor creature I'm often incommoded," he said. "Bu_t's worse when they remember it!"