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Chapter 5

  • The second parting from Miss Overmore had been bad enough, but this firs_arting from Mrs. Wix was much worse. The child had lately been to th_entist's and had a term of comparison for the screwed-up intensity of th_cene. It was dreadfully silent, as it had been when her tooth was taken out;
  • Mrs. Wix had on that occasion grabbed her hand and they had clung to eac_ther with the frenzy of their determination not to scream. Maisie, at th_entist's, had been heroically still, but just when she felt most anguish ha_ecome aware of an audible shriek on the part of her companion, a spasm o_tifled sympathy. This was reproduced by the only sound that broke thei_upreme embrace when, a month later, the "arrangement," as her periodica_prootings were called, played the part of the horrible forceps. Embedded i_rs. Wix's nature as her tooth had been socketed in her gum, the operation o_xtracting her would really have been a case for chloroform. It was a hug tha_ortunately left nothing to say, for the poor woman's want of words at such a_our seemed to fall in with her want of everything. Maisie's alternate parent,
  • in the outermost vestibule—he liked the impertinence of crossing as much a_hat of his late wife's threshold—stood over them with his open watch and hi_till more open grin, while from the only corner of an eye on which somethin_f Mrs. Wix's didn't impinge the child saw at the door a brougham in whic_iss Overmore also waited. She remembered the difference when, six month_efore, she had been torn from the breast of that more spirited protectress.
  • Miss Overmore, then also in the vestibule, but of course in the other one, ha_een thoroughly audible and voluble; her protest had rung out bravely and sh_ad declared that something—her pupil didn't know exactly what—was a regula_icked shame. That had at the time dimly recalled to Maisie the far-awa_oment of Moddle's great outbreak: there seemed always to be "shames"
  • connected in one way or another with her migrations. At present, while Mrs.
  • Wix's arms tightened and the smell of her hair was strong, she furthe_emembered how, in pacifying Miss Overmore, papa had made use of the words
  • "you dear old duck!"—an expression which, by its oddity, had stuck fast in he_oung mind, having moreover a place well prepared for it there by what sh_new of the governess whom she now always mentally characterised as the prett_ne. She wondered whether this affection would be as great as before: tha_ould at all events be the case with the prettiness Maisie could see in th_ace which showed brightly at the window of the brougham.
  • The brougham was a token of harmony, of the fine conditions papa would thi_ime offer: he had usually come for her in a hansom, with a four-wheele_ehind for the boxes. The four-wheeler with the boxes on it was actuall_here, but mamma was the only lady with whom she had ever been in a conveyanc_f the kind always of old spoken of by Moddle as a private carriage. Papa'_arriage was, now that he had one, still more private, somehow, than mamma's;
  • and when at last she found herself quite on top, as she felt, of its inmate_nd gloriously rolling away, she put to Miss Overmore, after another immens_nd talkative squeeze, a question of which the motive was a desire fo_nformation as to the continuity of a certain sentiment. "Did papa like yo_ust the same while I was gone?" she enquired—full of the sense of ho_arkedly his favour had been established in her presence. She had bethough_erself that this favour might, like her presence and as if depending on it,
  • be only intermittent and for the season. Papa, on whose knee she sat, burs_nto one of those loud laughs of his that, however prepared she was, seeme_lways, like some trick in a frightening game, to leap forth and make he_ump. Before Miss Overmore could speak he replied: "Why, you little donkey,
  • when you're away what have I left to do but just to love her?" Miss Overmor_ereupon immediately took her from him, and they had a merry little scrimmag_ver her of which Maisie caught the surprised perception in the white stare o_n old lady who passed in a victoria. Then her beautiful friend remarked t_er very gravely: "I shall make him understand that if he ever again say_nything as horrid as that to you I shall carry you straight off and we'll g_nd live somewhere together and be good quiet little girls." The chil_ouldn't quite make out why her father's speech had been horrid, since it onl_xpressed that appreciation which their companion herself had of old describe_s "immense." To enter more into the truth of the matter she appealed to hi_gain directly, asked if in all those months Miss Overmore hadn't been wit_im just as she had been before and just as she would be now. "Of course sh_as, old girl—where else could the poor dear be?" cried Beale Farange, to th_till greater scandal of their companion, who protested that unless h_traightway "took back" his nasty wicked fib it would be, this time, not onl_im she would leave, but his child too and his house and his tiresom_rouble—all the impossible things he had succeeded in putting on her. Beale,
  • under this frolic menace, took nothing back at all; he was indeed apparentl_n the point of repeating his extravagance, but Miss Overmore instructed he_ittle charge that she was not to listen to his bad jokes: she was t_nderstand that a lady couldn't stay with a gentleman that way without som_wfully proper reason.
  • Maisie looked from one of her companions to the other; this was the freshes_ayest start she had yet enjoyed, but she had a shy fear of not exactl_elieving them. "Well, what reason IS proper?" she thoughtfully demanded.
  • "Oh a long-legged stick of a tomboy: there's none so good as that." Her fathe_njoyed both her drollery and his own and tried again to get possession o_er—an effort deprecated by their comrade and leading again to something of _ublic scuffle. Miss Overmore declared to the child that she had been all th_hile with good friends; on which Beale Farange went on: "She means goo_riends of mine, you know—tremendous friends of mine. There has been no end o_HEM about—that I WILL say for her!" Maisie felt bewildered and was afterward_or some time conscious of a vagueness, just slightly embarrassing, as to th_ubject of so much amusement and as to where her governess had really been.
  • She didn't feel at all as if she had been seriously told, and no such feelin_as supplied by anything that occurred later. Her embarrassment, of _recocious instinctive order, attached itself to the idea that this wa_nother of the matters it was not for her, as her mother used to say, to g_nto. Therefore, under her father's roof during the time that followed, sh_ade no attempt to clear up her ambiguity by an ingratiating way wit_ousemaids; and it was an odd truth that the ambiguity itself took nothin_rom the fresh pleasure promised her by renewed contact with Miss Overmore.
  • The confidence looked for by that young lady was of the fine sort tha_xplanation can't improve, and she herself at any rate was a person superio_o any confusion. For Maisie moreover concealment had never necessarily seeme_eception; she had grown up among things as to which her foremost knowledg_as that she was never to ask about them. It was far from new to her that th_uestions of the small are the peculiar diversion of the great: except th_ffairs of her doll Lisette there had scarcely ever been anything at he_other's that was explicable with a grave face. Nothing was so easy to her a_o send the ladies who gathered there off into shrieks, and she might hav_ractised upon them largely if she had been of a more calculating turn.
  • Everything had something behind it: life was like a long, long corridor wit_ows of closed doors. She had learned that at these doors it was wise not t_nock—this seemed to produce from within such sounds of derision. Little b_ittle, however, she understood more, for it befell that she was enlightene_y Lisette's questions, which reproduced the effect of her own upon those fo_hom she sat in the very darkness of Lisette. Was she not herself convulsed b_uch innocence? In the presence of it she often imitated the shrieking ladies.
  • There were at any rate things she really couldn't tell even a French doll. Sh_ould only pass on her lessons and study to produce on Lisette the impressio_f having mysteries in her life, wondering the while whether she succeeded i_he air of shading off, like her mother, into the unknowable. When the reig_f Miss Overmore followed that of Mrs. Wix she took a fresh cue, emulating he_overness and bridging over the interval with the simple expectation of trust.
  • Yes, there were matters one couldn't "go into" with a pupil. There were fo_nstance days when, after prolonged absence, Lisette, watching her take of_er things, tried hard to discover where she had been. Well, she discovered _ittle, but never discovered all. There was an occasion when, on her bein_articularly indiscreet, Maisie replied to her—and precisely about the motiv_f a disappearance—as she, Maisie, had once been replied to by Mrs. Farange:
  • "Find out for yourself!" She mimicked her mother's sharpness, but she wa_ather ashamed afterwards, though as to whether of the sharpness or of th_imicry was not quite clear.