Entire PG Edition of The Works of William Dean Howells
William Dean Howells
Part 66 out of 78
She stood panting a moment, and then, if she had had the professional
instinct, she would have given her admirers the surprise of something
altogether different from what had pleased them before. That was what
the actor would have done, but Clementina thought of how her dance had
been brought to an untimely close by the rolling of the ship; she burned
to do it all as she knew it, no matter how the sea behaved, and in
another moment she struck into it again. This time the sea behaved
perfectly, and the dance ended with just the swoop and swirl she had
meant it to have at first. The spectators went generously wild over her;
they cheered and clapped her, and crowded upon her to tell how lovely it
was; but she escaped from them, and ran back to the place where she had
left Mrs. Milray. She was not there, and Clementina's cap full of alms
lay abandoned on the chair. Lord Lioncourt said he would take charge of
the money, if she would lend him her cap to carry it in to the purser,
and she made her way into the saloon. In a distant corner she saw Mrs.
Milray with Mr. Ewins.
She advanced in a vague dismay toward them, and as she came near Mrs.
Milray said to Mr. Ewins, "I don't like this place. Let's go over
yonder." She rose and rushed him to the other end of the saloon.
Lord Lioncourt came in looking about. "Ah, have you found her?" he
asked, gayly. "There were twenty pounds in your cap, and two hundred
"Yes," said Clementina, "she's over the'a." She pointed, and then shrank
and slipped away.
At breakfast Mrs. Milray would not meet Clementina's eye; she talked to
the people across the table in a loud, lively voice, and then suddenly
rose, and swept past her out of the saloon.
The girl did not see her again till Mrs. Milray came up on the promenade
at the hour when people who have eaten too much breakfast begin to spoil
their appetite for luncheon with the tea and bouillon of the deck-
stewards. She looked fiercely about, and saw Clementina seated in her
usual place, but with Lord Lioncourt in her own chair next her husband,
and Ewins on foot before her. They were both talking to Clementina, whom
Lord Lioncourt was accusing of being in low spirits unworthy of her last
night's triumphs. He jumped up, and offered his place, "I've got your
chair, Mrs. Milray."
"Oh, no," she said, coldly, "I was just coming to look after Mr. Milray.
But I see he's in good hands."
She turned away, as if to make the round of the deck, and Ewins hurried
after her. He came back directly, and said that Mrs. Milray had gone
into the library to write letters. He stayed, uneasily, trying to talk,
but with the air of a man who has been snubbed, and has not got back his
Lord Lioncourt talked on until he had used up the incidents of the night
before, and the probabilities of their getting into Queenstown before
morning; then he and Mr. Ewins went to the smoking-room together, and
Clementina was left alone with Milray.
"Clementina," he said, gently, "I don't see everything; but isn't there
some trouble between you and Mrs. Milray?"
"Why, I don't know what it can be," answered the girl, with trembling
lips. "I've been trying to find out, and I can't undastand it."
"Ah, those things are often very obscure," said Milray, with a patient
Clementina wanted to ask him if Mrs. Milray had said anything to him
about her, but she could not, and he did not speak again till he heard
her stir in rising from her chair. Then he said, "I haven't forgotten
that letter to my sister, Clementina. I will give it to you before we
leave the steamer. Are you going to stay in Liverpool, over night, or
shall you go up to London at once?"
"I don't know. It will depend upon how Mrs. Landa feels."
"Well, we shall see each other again. Don't be worried." He looked up
at her with a smile, and he could not see how forlornly she returned it.
As the day passed, Mrs. Milray's angry eyes seemed to search her out for
scorn whenever Clementina found herself the centre of her last night's
celebrity. Many people came up and spoke to her, at first with a certain
expectation of knowingness in her, which her simplicity baffled. Then
they either dropped her, and went away, or stayed and tried to make
friends with her because of this; an elderly English clergyman and his
wife were at first compassionately anxious about her, and then
affectionately attentive to her in her obvious isolation. Clementina's
simple-hearted response to their advances appeared to win while it
puzzled them; and they seemed trying to divine her in the strange double
character she wore to their more single civilization. The theatrical
people thought none the worse of her for her simple-hearted ness,
apparently; they were both very sweet to her, and wanted her to promise
to come and see them in their little box in St. John's Wood. Once,
indeed, Clementina thought she saw relenting in Mrs. Milray's glance, but
it hardened again as Lord Lioncourt and Mr. Ewins came up to her, and
began to talk with her. She could not go to her chair beside Milray, for
his wife was now keeping guard of him on the other side with unexampled
devotion. Lord Lioncourt asked her to walk with him and she consented.
She thought that Mr. Ewins would go and sit by Mrs. Milray, of course,
but when she came round in her tour of the ship, Mrs. Milray was sitting
alone beside her husband.
After dinner she went to the library and got a book, but she could not
read there; every chair was taken by people writing letters to send back
from Queenstown in the morning; and she strayed into the ladies' sitting
room, where no ladies seemed ever to sit, and lost herself in a miserable
muse over her open page.
Some one looked in at the door, and then advanced within and came
straight to Clementina; she knew without looking up that it was Mrs.
Milray. "I have been hunting for you, Miss Claxon," she said, in a voice
frostily fierce, and with a bearing furiously formal. "I have a letter
to Miss Milray that my busband wished me to write for you, and give you
with his compliments."
"Thank you," said Clementina. She rose mechanically to her feet, and at
the same time Mrs. Milray sat down.
"You will find Miss Milray," she continued, with the same glacial
hauteur, "a very agreeable and cultivated lady."
Clementina said nothing; and Mrs. Milray added,
"And I hope she may have the happiness of being more useful to you than I
"What do you mean, Mrs. Milray? "Clementina asked with unexpected spirit
"I mean simply this, that I have not succeeded in putting you on your
guard against your love of admiration--especially the admiration of
gentlemen. A young girl can't be too careful how she accepts the
attentions of gentlemen, and if she seems to invite them--"
"Mrs. Milray cried Clementina. "How can you say such a thing to me?"
"How? I shall have to be plain with you, I see. Perhaps I have not
considered that, after all, you know nothing about life and are not to
blame for things that a person born and bred in the world would
understand from childhood. If you don't know already, I can tell you
that the way you have behaved with Lord Lioncourt during the last two or
three days, and the way you showed your pleasure the other night in his
ridiculous flatteries of you, was enough to make you the talk of the
whole steamer. I advise you for your own sake to take my warning in
time. You are very young, and inexperienced and ignorant, but that will
not save you in the eyes of the world if you keep on." Mrs. Milray rose.
"And now I will leave you to think of what I have said. Here is the
letter for Miss Milray--"
Clementina shook her head. "I don't want it."
"You don't want it? But I have written it at Mr. Milray's request, and I
shall certainly leave it with you!"
"If you do," said Clementina, "I shall not take it!"
"And what shall I say to Mr. Milray?"
"What you have just said to me."
"What have I said to you?"
"That I'm a bold girl, and that I've tried to make men admi'a me."
Mrs. Milray stopped as if suddenly daunted by a fact that had not
occurred to her before. "Did I say that?"
"The same as that."
"I didn't mean that--I--merely meant to put you on your guard. It may be
because you are so innocent yourself, that you can't imagine what others
think, and--I did it out of my regard for you."
Clementina did not answer.
Mrs. Milray went on, "That was why I was so provoked with you. I think
that for a young girl to stand up and dance alone before a whole steamer
full of strangers"--Clementina looked at her without speaking, and Mrs.
Milray hastened to say, "To be sure I advised you to do it, but I
certainly was surprised that you should give an encore. But no matter,
now. This letter--"
"I can't take it, Mrs. Milray," said Clementina, with a swelling heart.
"Now, listen!" urged Mrs. Milray. "You think I'm just saying it
because, if you don't take it I shall have to tell Mr. Milray I was so
hateful to you, you couldn't. Well, I should hate to tell him that; but
that isn't the reason. There!" She tore the letter in pieces, and threw
it on the floor. Clementina did not make any sign of seeing this, and
Mrs. Milray dropped upon her chair again. "Oh, how hard you are! Can't
you say something to me?"
Clementina did not lift her eyes. "I don't feel like saying anything
Mrs. Milray was silent a moment. Then she sighed. "Well, you may hate
me, but I shall always be your friend. What hotel are you going to in
"I don't know," said Clementina.
"You had better come to the one where we go. I'm afraid Mrs. Lander
won't know how to manage very well, and we've been in Liverpool so often.
May I speak to her about it?"
"If you want to," Clementina coldly assented.
"I see!" said Mrs. Milray. "You don't want to be under the same roof
with me. Well, you needn't! But I'll tell you a good hotel: the one
that the trains start out of; and I'll send you that letter for Miss
Milray." Clemeutina was silent. "Well, I'll send it, anyway."
Mrs. Milray went away in sudden tears, but the girl remained dry-eyed.
Mrs. Lander realized when the ship came to anchor in the stream at
Liverpool that she had not been seasick a moment during the voyage. In
the brisk cold of the winter morning, as they came ashore in the tug, she
fancied a property of health in the European atmosphere, which she was
sure would bring her right up, if she stayed long enough; and a regret
that she had never tried it with Mr. Lander mingled with her new hopes
But Clementina looked with home-sick eyes at the strangeness of the alien
scene: the pale, low heaven which seemed not to be clouded and yet was so
dim; the flat shores with the little railroad trains running in and out
over them; the grimy bulks of the city, and the shipping in the river,
sparse and sombre after the gay forest of sails and stacks at New York.
She did not see the Milrays after she left the tug, in the rapid
dispersal of the steamer's passengers. They both took leave of her at
the dock, and Mrs. Milray whispered with penitence in her voice and eyes,
"I will write," but the girl did not answer.
Before Mrs. Lander's trunks and her own were passed, she saw Lord
Lioncourt going away with his heavily laden man at his heels. Mr. Ewins
came up to see if he could help her through the customs, but she believed
that be had come at Mrs. Milray's bidding, and she thanked him so
prohibitively that he could not insist. The English clergyman who had
spoken to her the morning after the charity entertainment left his wife
with Mrs. Lander, and came to her help, and then Mr. Ewins went his way.
The clergyman, who appeared to feel the friendlessness of the young girl
and the old woman a charge laid upon him, bestowed a sort of fatherly
protection upon them both. He advised them to stop at a hotel for a few
hours and take the later train for London that he and his wife were going
up by; they drove to the hotel together, where Mrs. Lander could not be
kept from paying the omnibus, and made them have luncheon with her. She
allowed the clergyman to get her tickets, and she could not believe that
be had taken second class tickets for himself and his wife. She said
that she had never heard of anyone travelling second class before, and
she assured him that they never did it in America. She begged him to let
her pay the difference, and bring his wife into her compartment, which
the guard had reserved for her. She urged that the money was nothing to
her, compared with the comfort of being with some one you knew; and the
clergyman had to promise that as they should be neighbors, he would look
in upon her, whenever the train stopped long enough.
Before it began to move, Clementina thought she saw Lord Lioncourt
hurrying past their carriage-window. At Rugby the clergyman appeared,
but almost before he could speak, Lord Lioncourt's little red face showed
at his elbow. He asked Clementina to present him to Mrs. Lander, who
pressed him to get into her compartment; the clergyman vanished, and Lord
Mrs. Lander found him able to tell her the best way to get to Florence,
whose situation he seemed to know perfectly; he confessed that he had
been there rather often. He made out a little itinerary for going
straight through by sleeping-car as soon as you crossed the Channel; she
had said that she always liked a through train when she could get it, and
the less stops the better. She bade Clementina take charge of the plan
and not lose it; without it she did not see what they could do. She
conceived of him as a friend of Clementina's, and she lost in the strange
environment the shyness she had with most people. She told him how Mr.
Lander had made his money, and from what beginnings he rose to be
ignorant of what he really was worth when he died. She dwelt upon the
diseases they had suffered, and at the thought of his death, so
unnecessary in view of the good that the air was already doing her in
Europe, she shed tears.
Lord Lioncourt was very polite, but there was no resumption of the ship's
comradery in his manner. Clementina could not know how quickly this
always drops from people who have been fellow-passengers; and she
wondered if he were guarding himself from her because she had danced at
the charity entertainment. The poison which Mrs. Milray had instilled
worked in her thoughts while she could not help seeing how patient he was
with all Mrs. Lander's questions; he answered them with a simplicity of
his own, or laughed and put them by, when they were quite impossible.
Many of them related to the comparative merits of English and American
railroads, and what he thought himself of these. Mrs. Lander noted the
difference of the English stations; but she did not see much in the
landscape to examine him upon. She required him to tell her why the
rooks they saw were not crows, and she was not satisfied that he should
say the country seat she pointed out was a castle when it was plainly
deficient in battlements. She based upon his immovable confidence in
respect to it an inquiry into the structure of English society, and she
made him tell her what a lord was, and a commoner, and how the royal
family differed from both. She asked him how he came to be a lord, and
when he said that it was a peerage of George the Third's creation, she
remembered that George III. was the one we took up arms against. She
found that Lord Lioncourt knew of our revolution generally, but was
ignorant of such particulars as the Battle of Bunker Hill, and the
Surrender of Cornwallis, as well as the throwing of the Tea into Boston
Harbor; he was much struck by this incident, and said, And quite right,
he was sure.
He told Clementina that her friends the Milrays had taken the steamer for
London in the morning. He believed they were going to Egypt for the
winter. Cairo, he said, was great fun, and he advised Mrs. Lander, if
she found Florence a bit dull, to push on there. She asked if it was an
easy place to get to, and he assured her that it was very easy from
Mrs. Lander was again at home in her world of railroads and hotels; but
she confessed, after he left them at the next station, that she should
have felt more at home if he had been going on to London with them. She
philosophized him to the disadvantage of her own countrymen as much less
offish than a great many New York and Boston peuple. He had given her a
good opinion of the whole English nation; and the clergyman, who had been
so nice to them at Liverpool, confirmed her friendly impressions of
England by getting her a small omnibus at the station in London before he
got a cab for himself and his wife, and drove away to complete his own
journey on another road. She celebrated the omnibus as if it were an
effect of his goodness in her behalf. She admired its capacity for
receiving all their trunks, and saving the trouble and delay of the
express, which always vexed her so much in New York, and which had nearly
failed in getting her baggage to the steamer in time.
The omnibus remained her chief association with London, for she decided
to take the first through train for Italy in the morning. She wished to
be settled, by which she meant placed in a Florentine hotel for the
winter. That lord, as she now began and always continued to call
Lioncourt, had first given her the name of the best little hotel in
Florence, but as it had neither elevator nor furnace heat in it, he
agreed in the end that it would not do for her, and mentioned the most
modern and expensive house on the Lungarno. He told her he did not think
she need telegraph for rooms; but she took this precaution before leaving
London, and was able to secure them at a price which seemed to her quite
as much as she would have had to pay for the same rooms at a first class
hotel on the Back Bay.
The manager had reserved for her one of the best suites, which had just
been vacated by a Russian princess. "I guess you better cable to your
folks where you ah', Clementina," she said. "Because if you're
satisfied, I am, and I presume we sha'n't want to change as long as we
stay in Florence. My, but it's sightly! "She joined Clementina a
moment at the windows looking upon the Arno, and the hills beyond it.
"I guess you'll spend most of your time settin' at this winder, and I
sha'n't blame you."
They had arrived late in the dull, soft winter afternoon. The landlord
led the way himself to their apartment, and asked if they would have
fire; a facchino came in and kindled roaring blazes on the hearths; at
the same time a servant lighted all the candles on the tables and
mantels. They both gracefully accepted the fees that Mrs. Lander made
Clementina give them; the facchino kissed the girl's hand. "My!" said
Mrs. Lander, "I guess you never had your hand kissed before."
The hotel developed advantages which, if not those she was used to, were
still advantages. The halls were warmed by a furnace, and she came to
like the little logs burning in her rooms. In the care of her own fire,
she went back to the simple time of her life in the country, and chose to
kindle it herself when it died out, with the fagots of broom that blazed
up so briskly.
In the first days of her stay she made inquiry for the best American
doctor in Florence; and she found him so intelligent that she at once put
her liver in his charge, with a history of her diseases and symptoms of
every kind. She told him that she was sure that he could have cured Mr.
Lander, if he had only had him in time; she exacted a new prescription
from him for herself, and made him order some quinine pills for
Clementina against the event of her feeling debilitated by the air of
In these first days a letter came to Clementina from Mrs. Lander's
banker, enclosing the introduction which Mrs. Milray had promised to her
sister-in-law. It was from Mr. Milray, as before, and it was in Mrs.
Milray's handwriting; but no message from her came with it. To
Clementina it explained itself, but she had to explain it to Mrs. Lander.
She had to tell her of Mrs. Milray's behavior after the entertainment on
the steamer, and Mrs. Lander said that Clementina had done just exactly
right; and they both decided, against some impulses of curiosity in
Clementina's heart, that she should not make use of the introduction.
The 'Hotel des Financieres' was mainly frequented by rich Americans full
of ready money, and by rich Russians of large credit. Better Americans
and worse, went, like the English, to smaller and cheaper hotels; and
Clementina's acquaintance was confined to mothers as shy and
ungrammatical as Mrs. Lander herself, and daughters blankly indifferent
to her. Mrs. Lander drove out every day when it did not rain, and she
took Clementina with her, because the doctor said it would do them both
good; but otherwise the girl remained pent in their apartment. The
doctor found her a teacher, and she kept on with her French, and began to
take lessons in Italian; she spoke with no one but her teacher, except
when the doctor came. At the table d'hote she heard talk of the things
that people seemed to come to Florence for: pictures, statues, palaces,
famous places; and it made her ashamed of not knowing about them. But
she could not go to see these things alone, and Mrs. Lander, in the
content she felt with all her circumstances, seemed not to suppose that
Clementina could care for anything but the comfort of the hotel and the
doctor's visits. When the girl began to get letters from home in answer
to the first she had written back, boasting how beautiful Florence was,
they assumed that she was very gay, and demanded full accounts of her
pleasures. Her brother Jim gave something of the village news, but he
said he supposed that she would not care for that, and she would probably
be too proud to speak to them when she came home. The Richlings had
called in to share the family satisfaction in Clementina's first
experiences, and Mrs. Richling wrote her very sweetly of their happiness
in them. She charged her from the rector not to forget any chance of
self-improvement in the allurements of society, but to make the most of
her rare opportunities. She said that they had got a guide-book to
Florence, with a plan of the city, and were following her in the
expeditions they decided she must be making every day; they were reading
up the Florentine history in Sismondi's Italian Republics, and she bade
Clementina be sure and see all the scenes of Savonarola's martyrdom, so
that they could talk them over together when she returned.
Clexnentina wondered what Mrs. Richling would think if she told her that
all she knew of Florence was what she overheard in the talk of the girls
in the hotel, who spoke before her of their dances and afternoon teas,
and evenings at the opera, and drives in the Cascine, and parties to
Fiesole, as if she were not by.
The days and weeks passed, until Carnival was half gone, and Mrs. Lander
noticed one day that Clementina appeared dull. "You don't seem to get
much acquainted?" she suggested.
"Oh, the'e's plenty of time," said Clementina.
"I wish the'e was somebody you could go round with, and see the place.
Shouldn't you like to see the place? "Mrs. Lander pursued.
"There's no hurry about it, Mrs. Lander. It will stay as long as we do."
Mrs. Lander was thoughtfully silent. Then she said, "I declare, I've got
half a mind to make you send that letta to Miss Milray, after all. What
difference if Mrs. Milray did act so ugly to you? He never did, and
she's his sista."
"Oh, I don't want to send it, Mrs. Landa; you mustn't ask me to. I shall
get along," said Clementina. The recognition of her forlornness deepened
it, but she was cheerfuller, for no reason, the next morning; and that
afternoon, the doctor unexpectedly came upon a call which he made haste
to say was not professional.
"I've just come from another patient of mine, and I promised to ask if
you had not crossed on the same ship with a brother of hers,--Mr.
Celementina and Mrs. Lander looked guiltily at each other. "I guess we
did," Mrs. Lander owned at last, with a reluctant sigh.
"Then, she says you have a letter for her."
The doctor spoke to both, but his looks confessed that he was not
ignorant of the fact when Mrs. Lander admitted, "Well Clementina, he'e,
"She wants to know why you haven't delivered it," the doctor blurted out.
Mrs. Lander looked at Clementina. "I guess she ha'n't quite got round to
it yet, have you, Clementina?"
The doctor put in: "Well, Miss Milray is rather a dangerous person to
keep waiting. If you don't deliver it pretty soon, I shouldn't be
surprised if she came to get it." Dr. Welwright was a young man in the
early thirties, with a laugh that a great many ladies said had done more
than any one thing for them, and he now prescribed it for Clementina.
But it did not seem to help her in the trouble her face betrayed.
Mrs. Lander took the word, "Well, I wouldn't say it to everybody. But
you're our doctor, and I guess you won't mind it. We don't like the way
Mrs. Milray acted to Clementina, in the ship, and we don't want to be
beholden to any of her folks. I don't know as Clementina wants me to
tell you just what it was, and I won't; but that's the long and sho't of
"I'm sorry," the doctor said. "I've never met Mrs. Milray, but Miss
Milray has such a pleasant house, and likes to get young people about
her. There are a good many young people in your hotel, though, and I
suppose you all have a very good time here together." He ended by
speaking to Clementina, and now he said he had done his errand, and must
When he was gone, Mrs. Lander faltered, "I don't know but what we made a
"It's too late to worry about it now," said the girl.
"We ha'n't bound to stay in Florence," said Mrs. Lander, thoughtfully.
"I only took the rooms by the week, and we can go, any time, Clementina,
if you are uncomf'table bein' here on Miss Milray's account. We could go
to Rome; they say Rome's a nice place; or to Egypt."
"Mrs. Milray's in Egypt," Clementina suggested.
"That's true," Mrs. Lander admitted, with a sigh. After a while she went
on, "I don't know as we've got any right to keep the letter. It belongs
to her, don't it?"
"I guess it belongs to me, as much as it does to her," said Clementina.
"If it's to her, it's for me. I am not going to send it, Mrs. Landa."
They were still in this conclusion when early in the following afternoon
Miss Milray's cards were brought up for Mrs. Lander and Miss Claxon.
"Well, I decla'e!" cried Mrs. Lander. "That docta: must have gone
straight and told her what we said."
"He had no right to," said Clementina, but neither of them was
displeased, and after it was over, Mrs. Lander said that any one would
have thought the call was for her, instead of Clementina, from the way
Miss Milray kept talking to her. She formed a high opinion of her; and
Miss Milray put Clementina in mind of Mr. Milray; she had the same hair
of chiseled silver, and the same smile; she moved like him, and talked
like him; but with a greater liveliness. She asked fondly after him,
and made Clementina tell her if he seemed quite well, and in good
spirits; she was civilly interested in Mrs. Milray's health. At the
embarrassment which showed itself in the girl, she laughed and said,
"Don't imagine I don't know all about it, Miss Claxon! My sister-in-law
has owned up very handsomely; she isn't half bad, as the English say, and
I think she likes owning up if she can do it safely."
"And you don't think," asked Mrs. Lander, "that Clementina done wrong to
dance that way?"
Clementina blushed, and Miss Milray laughed again. "If you'll let Miss
Claxon come to a little party I'm giving she may do her dance at my
house; but she sha'n't be obliged to do it, or anything she doesn't like.
Don't say she hasn't a gown ready, or something of that kind! You don't
know the resources of Florence, and how the dress makers here doat upon
doing impossible things in no time at all, and being ready before they
promise. If you'll put Miss Claxon in my hands, I'll see that she's
dressed for my dance. I live out on one of the hills over there, that
you see from your windows"--she nodded toward them--"in a beautiful
villa, too cold for winter, and too hot for summer, but I think Miss
Claxon can endure its discomfort for a day, if you can spare her, and she
will consent to leave you to the tender mercies of your maid, and "Miss
Milray paused at the kind of unresponsive blank to which she found
herself talking, and put up her lorgnette, to glance from Mrs. Lander to
Clementina. The girl said, with embarrassment, "I don't think I ought to
leave Mrs. Landa, just now. She isn't very well, and I shouldn't like to
leave her alone."
"But we're just as much obliged to you as if she could come," Mrs. Lander
interrupted; "and later on, maybe she can. You see, we han't got any
maid, yit. Well, we did have one at Woodlake, but she made us do so many
things for her, that we thought we should like to do a few things for
If Miss Milray perhaps did not conceive the situation, exactly, she said,
Oh, they were quite right in that; but she might count upon Miss Claxon
for her dance, might not she; and might not she do anything in her power
for them? She rose to go, but Mrs. Lander took her at her word, so far
as to say, Why, yes, if she could tell Clementina the best place to get a
dress she guessed the child would be glad enough to come to the dance.
"Tell her!" Miss Milray cried. "I'll take her! Put on your hat, my
dear," she said to Clementina, "and come with me now. My carriage is at
Clementina looked at Mrs. Lander, who said, "Go, of cou'se, child. I
wish I could go, too."
"Do come, too," Miss Milray entreated.
"No, no," said Mrs. Lander, flattered. "I a'n't feeling very well, to-
day. I guess I'm better off at home. But don't you hurry back on my
account, Clementina." While the girl was gone to put on her hat she
talked on about her. "She's the best gul in the wo'ld, and she won't be
one of the poorest; and I shall feel that I'm doin' just what Mr. Landa
would have wanted I should. He picked her out himself, moa than three
yea's ago, when we was drivin' past her house at Middlemount, and it was
to humor him afta he was gone, moa than anything else, that I took her.
Well, she wa'n't so very easy to git, either, I can tell you." She cut
short her history of the affair to say when Clementina came back, "I want
you should do the odderin' yourself, Miss Milray, and not let her scrimp
with the money. She wants to git some visitin' cahds; and if you miss
anything about her that she'd ought to have, or that any otha yong lady's
got, won't you just git it for her?"
As soon as she imagined the case, Miss Milray set herself to overcome
Mrs. Lander's reluctance from a maid. She prevailed with her to try the
Italian woman whom she sent her, and in a day the genial Maddalena had
effaced the whole tradition of the bleak Ellida. It was not essential to
the understanding which instantly established itself between them that
they should have any language in common. They babbled at each other,
Mrs. Lander in her Bostonized Yankee, and Maddalena in her gutteral
Florentine, and Mrs. Lander was flattered to find how well she knew
Miss Milray had begun being nice to Clementina in fealty to her brother,
who so seldom made any proof of her devotion to him, and to whom she bad
remained passionately true through his shady past. She was eager to
humor his whim for the little country girl who had taken his fancy,
because it was his whim, and not because she had any hopes that
Clementina would justify it. She had made Dr. Welwright tell her all he
knew about her, and his report of her grace and beauty had piqued her
curiosity; his account of the forlorn dullness of her life with Mrs.
Lander in their hotel had touched her heart. But she was still skeptical
when she went to get her letter of introduction; when she brought
Clementina home from the dressmaker's she asked if she might kiss her,
and said she was already in love with her.
Her love might have made her wish to do everything for her that she now
began to do, but it simplified the situation to account for her to the
world as the ward of Mrs. Lander, who was as rich as she was vulgar, and
it was with Clementina in this character that Miss Milray began to make
the round of afternoon teas, and inspired invitations for her at pleasant
houses, by giving a young ladies' lunch for her at her own. Before the
night of her little dance, she had lost any misgiving she had felt at
first, in the delight of seeing Clementina take the world as if she had
thought it would always behave as amiably as that, and as if she had
forgotten her unkind experiences to the contrary. She knew from Mrs.
Lander how the girls at their hotel had left her out, but Miss Milray
could not see that Clementina met them with rancor, when her authority
brought them together. If the child was humiliated by her past in the
gross lonely luxury of Mrs. Lander's life or the unconscious poverty of
her own home, she did not show it in the presence of the world that now
opened its arms to her. She remained so tranquil in the midst of all the
novel differences, that it made her friend feel rather vulgar in her
anxieties for her, and it was not always enough to find that she had not
gone wrong simply because she had hold still, and had the gift of waiting
for things to happen. Sometimes when Miss Milray had almost decided that
her passivity was the calm of a savage, she betrayed so sweet and
grateful a sense of all that was done for her, that her benefactress
decided that, she was not rustic, but was sylvan in a way of her own,
and not so much ignorant as innocent. She discovered that she was not
ignorant even of books, but with no literary effect from them she had
transmitted her reading into the substance of her native gentleness, and
had both ideas and convictions. When Clementina most affected her as an
untried wilderness in the conventional things she most felt her equality
to any social fortune that might befall her, and then she would have
liked to see her married to a title, and taking the glory of this world
with an unconsciousness that experience would never wholly penetrate.
But then again she felt that this would be somehow a profanation, and she
wanted to pack her up and get her back to Middlemount before anything of
the kind should happen. She gave Milray these impressions of Clementina
in the letter she wrote to thank him for her, and to scold him for
sending the girl to her. She accused him of wishing to get off on her a
riddle which he could not read himself; but she owned that the charm of
Clementina's mystery was worth a thousand times the fatigue of trying to
guess her out and that she was more and more infatuated with her every
In the meantime, Miss Milray's little dance grew upon her till it became
a very large one that filled her villa to overflowing when the time came
for it. She lived on one of the fine avenues of the Oltrarno region,
laid out in the brief period of prosperity which Florence enjoyed as the
capital of Italy. The villa was built at that time, and it was much
newer than the house on Seventeenth street in New York, where she spent
the girlhood that had since prolonged itself beyond middle life with her.
She had first lived abroad in the Paris of the Second Empire, and she had
been one winter in Rome, but she had settled definitely in Florence
before London became an American colony, so that her friends were chiefly
Americans, though she had a wide international acquaintance. Perhaps her
habit of taking her brother's part, when he was a black sheep, inclined
her to mercy with people who had not been so blameless in their morals as
they were in their minds and manners. She exacted that they should be
interesting and agreeable, and not too threadbare; but if they had
something that decently buttoned over the frayed places, she did not
frown upon their poverty. Bohemians of all kinds liked her; Philistines
liked her too; and in such a place as Florence, where the Philistines
themselves are a little Bohemian, she might be said to be very popular.
You met persons whom you did not quite wish to meet at her house, but if
these did not meet you there, it was your loss.
On the night of the dance the line of private carriages, remises and
cabs, lined the Viale Ariosto for a mile up and down before her gates,
where young artists of both sexes arrived on foot. By this time her
passion for Clementina was at its height. She had Maddalena bring her
out early in the evening, and made her dress under her own eye and her
French maid's, while Maddalena went back to comfort Mrs. Lander.
"I hated to leave her," said Clementina. "I don't believe she's very
"Isn't she always ill?" demanded Miss Milray. She embraced the girl
again, as if once were not enough. "Clementina, if Mrs. Lander won't
give you to me, I'm going to steal you. Do you know what I want you to
do tonight? I want you to stand up with me, and receive, till the
dancing begins, as if it were your coming-out. I mean to introduce
everybody to you. You'll be easily the prettiest girl, there, and you'll
have the nicest gown, and I don't mean that any of your charms shall be
thrown away. You won't be frightened?"
"No, I don't believe I shall," said Clementina. "You can tell me what to
The dress she wore was of pale green, like the light seen in thin woods;
out of it shone her white shoulders, and her young face, as if rising
through the verdurous light. The artists, to a man and woman, wished to
paint her, and severally told her so, during the evening which lasted
till morning. She was not surprised when Lord Lioncourt appeared, toward
midnight, and astonished Miss Milray by claiming acquaintance with
Clementina. He asked about Mrs. Lander, and whether she had got to
Florence without losing the way; he laughed but he seemed really to care.
He took Clementina out to supper, when the time came; and she would have
topped him by half a head as she leaned on his arm, if she had not
considerately drooped and trailed a little after him.
She could not know what a triumph he was making for her; and it was
merely part of the magic of the time that Mr. Ewins should come in
presently with one of the ladies. He had arrived in Florence that day,
and had to be brought unasked. He put on the effect of an old friend
with her; but Clementina's curiosity was chiefly taken with a tall
American, whom she thought very handsome. His light yellow hair was
brushed smooth across his forehead like a well-behaving boy's; he was
dressed like the other men, but he seemed not quite happy in his evening
coat, and his gloves which he smote together uneasily from time to time.
He appeared to think that somehow the radiant Clementina would know how
he felt; he did not dance, and he professed to have found himself at the
party by a species of accident. He told her that he was out in Europe
looking after a patent right that he had just taken hold of, and was
having only a middling good time. He pretended surprise to hear her say
that she was having a first-rate time, and he tried to reason her out of
it. He confessed that from the moment he came into the room he had made
up his mind to take her to supper, and had never been so disgusted in his
life as when he saw that little lord toddling off with her, and trying to
look as large as life. He asked her what a lord was like, anyway, and he
made her laugh all the time.
He told her his name, G. W. Hinkle, and asked whether she would be likely
to remember it if they ever met again.
Another man who interested her very much was a young Russian, with
curling hair and neat, small features who spoke better English than she
did, and said he was going to be a writer, but had not yet decided
whether to write in Russian or French; she supposed he had wanted her
advice, but he did not wait for it, or seem to expect it. He was very
much in earnest, while he fanned her, and his earnestness amused her as
much as the American's irony. He asked which city of America she came
from, and when she said none, he asked which part of America. She
answered New England, and he said, "Oh, yes, that is where they have the
conscience." She did not know what he meant, and he put before her the
ideal of New England girlhood which he had evolved from reading American
novels. "Are you like that?" he demanded.
She laughed, and said, "Not a bit," and asked him if he had ever met such
an American girl, and he said, frankly, No; the American girls were all
mercenary, and cared for nothing but money, or marrying titles. He added
that he had a title, but he would not wear it.
Clementina said she did not believe she cared for titles, and then he
said, "But you care for money." She denied it, but as if she had
confessed it, he went on: "The only American that I have seen with that
conscience was a man. I will tell you of him, if you wish."
He did not wait for her answer. "It was in Naples--at Pompeii. I saw at
the first glance that he was different from other Americans, and I
resolved to know him. He was there in company with a stupid boy, whose
tutor he was; and he told me that he was studying to be a minister of the
Protestant church. Next year he will go home to be consecrated. He
promised to pass through Florence in the spring, and he will keep his
word. Every act, every word, every thought of his is regulated by
conscience. It is terrible, but it is beautiful." All the time, the
Russian was fanning Clementina, with every outward appearance of
flirtation. "Will you dance again? No? I should like to draw such a
character as his in a romance."
It was six o'clock in the morning before Miss Milray sent Clementina home
in her carriage. She would have kept her to breakfast, but Clementina
said she ought to go on Mrs. Lander's account, and she wished to go on
She thought she would steal to bed without waking her, but she was
stopped by the sound of groans when she entered their apartment; the
light gushed from Mrs. Lander's door. Maddalena came out, and blessed
the name of her Latin deity (so much more familiar and approachable than
the Anglo-Saxon divinity) that Clementina had come at last, and poured
upon her the story of a night of suffering for Mrs. Lander. Through her
story came the sound of Mrs. Lander's voice plaintively reproachful,
summoning Clementina to her bedside. "Oh, how could you go away and
leave me? I've been in such misery the whole night long, and the docta
didn't do a thing for me. I'm puffectly wohn out, and I couldn't make my
wants known with that Italian crazy-head. If it hadn't been for the
portyary comin' in and interpretin', when the docta left, I don't know
what I should have done. I want you should give him a twenty-leary note
just as quick as you see him; and oh, isn't the docta comin'?"
Clementina set about helping Maddalena put the room, which was in an
impassioned disorder, to rights; and she made Mrs. Lander a cup of her
own tea, which she had brought from S. S. Pierces in passing through
Boston; it was the first thing, the sufferer said, that had saved her
life. Clementina comforted her, and promised her that the doctor should
be there very soon; and before Mrs. Lander fell away to sleep, she was so
far out of danger as to be able to ask how Clementina had enjoyed
herself, and to be glad that she had such a good time.
The doctor would not wake her when he came; he said that she had been
through a pretty sharp gastric attack, which would not recur, if she ate
less of the most unwholesome things she could get, and went more into the
air, and walked a little. He did not seem alarmed, and he made
Clementina tell him about the dance, which he had been called from to
Mrs. Lander's bed of pain. He joked her for not having missed him; in
the midst of their fun, she caught herself in the act of yawning, and the
doctor laughed, and went away.
Maddalena had to call her, just before dinner, when Mrs. Lander had been
awake long enough to have sent for the doctor to explain the sort of gone
feeling which she was now the victim of. It proved, when he came, to be
hunger, and he prescribed tea and toast and a small bit of steak. Before
he came she had wished to arrange for going home at once, and dying in
her own country. But his opinion so far prevailed with her that she
consented not to telegraph for berths. "I presume," she said, "it'll do,
any time before the icebugs begin to run. But I d' know, afta this,
Clementina, as I can let you leave me quite as you be'n doin'. There was
a lot of flowas come for you, this aftanoon, but I made Maddalena put 'em
on the balcony, for I don't want you should get poisoned with 'em in your
sleep; I always head they was dangerous in a person's 'bed room. I d'
know as they are, eitha."
Maddalena seemed to know that Mrs. Lander was speaking of the flowers.
She got them and gave them to Clementina, who found they were from some
of the men she had danced with. Mr. Hinkle had sent a vast bunch of
violets, which presently began to give out their sweetness in the warmth
of the room, and the odor brought him before her with his yellow hair,
scrupulously parted at the side, and smoothly brushed, showing his
forehead very high up. Most of the gentlemen wore their hair parted in
the middle, or falling in a fringe over their brows; the Russian's was
too curly to part, and Lord Lioncourt had none except at the sides.
She laughed, and Mrs. Lander said, "Tell about it, Clementina," and she
began with Mr. Hinkle, and kept coming back to him from the others. Mrs.
Lander wished most to know how that lord had got down to Florence; and
Clementina said he was coming to see her.
"Well, I hope to goodness he won't come to-day, I a'n't fit to see
"Oh, I guess he won't come till to-morrow," said Clementina; she repeated
some of the compliments she had got, and she told of all Miss Milray's
kindness to her, but Mrs. Lander said, "Well, the next time, I'll thank
her not to keep you so late." She was astonished to hear that Mr. Ewins
was there, and "Any of the nasty things out of the hotel the'e?" she
"Yes," Clementina said, "the'e we'e, and some of them we'e very nice.
They wanted to know if I wouldn't join them, and have an aftanoon of our
own here in the hotel, so that people could come to us all at once."
She went back to the party, and described the rest of it. When she came
to the part about the Russian, she told what he had said of American
girls being fond of money, and wanting to marry foreign noblemen.
Mrs. Lander said, "Well, I hope you a'n't a going to get married in a
hurry, anyway, and when you do I hope you'll pick out a nice American."
"Oh, yes," said Clementina.
Mrs. Lander had their dinner brought to their apartment. She cheered up,
and she was in some danger of eating too much, but with Clementina's help
she denied herself. Their short evening was one of the gayest;
Clementina declared she was not the least sleepy, but she went to bed at
nine, and slept till nine the next day.
Mrs. Lander, the doctor confessed, the second morning, was more shaken up
by, her little attack than he had expected; but she decided to see the
gentleman who had asked to call on Clementina. Lord Lioncourt did not
come quite so soon as she was afraid he might, and when he came he talked
mostly to Clementina. He did not get to Mrs. Lander until just before he
was going. She hospitably asked him what his hurry was, and then he said
that he was off for Rome, that evening at seven. He was nice about
hoping she was comfortable in the hotel, and he sympathized with her in
her wish that there was a set-bowl in her room; she told him that she
always tried to have one, and he agreed that it must be very convenient
where any one was, as she said, sick so much.
Mr. Hinkle came a day later; and then it appeared that he had a mother
whose complaints almost exactly matched Mrs. Lander's. He had her
photograph with him, and showed it; he said if you had no wife to carry
round a photograph of, you had better carry your mother's; and Mrs.
Lander praised him for being a good son. A good son, she added, always
made a good husband; and he said that was just what he told the young
ladies himself, but it did not seem to make much impression on them.
He kept Clementina laughing; and he pretended that he was going to bring
a diagram of his patent right for her to see, because she would be
interested in a gleaner like that; and he said he wished her father could
see it, for it would be sure to interest the kind of man Mrs. Lander
described him to be. "I'll be along up there just about the time you get
home, Miss Clementina. Then did you say it would be?"
"I don't know; pretty ea'ly in the spring, I guess."
She looked at Mrs. Lander, who said, "Well, it depends upon how I git up
my health. I couldn't bea' the voyage now."
Mr. Hinkle said, "No, best look out for your health, if it takes all
summer. I shouldn't want you to hurry on my account. Your time is my
time. All I want is for Miss Clementina, here, to personally conduct me
to her father. If I could get him to take hold of my gleaner in New
England, we could make the blueberry crop worth twice what it is."
Mrs. Lander perceived that he was joking; and she asked what he wanted to
run away for when the young Russian's card came up. He said, "Oh, give
every man a chance," and he promised that he would look in every few
days, and see how she was getting along. He opened the door after he had
gone out, and put his head in to say in confidence to Mrs. Lander, but so
loud that Clementina could hear, "I suppose she's told you who the belle
of the ball was, the other night? Went out to supper with a lord!"
He seemed to think a lord was such a good joke that if you mentioned one
you had to laugh.
The Russian's card bore the name Baron Belsky, with the baron crossed out
in pencil, and he began to attack in Mrs. Lander the demerits of the
American character, as he had divined them. He instructed her that her
countrymen existed chiefly to make money; that they were more shopkeepers
than the English and worse snobs; that their women were trivial and their
men sordid; that their ambition was to unite their families with the
European aristocracies; and their doctrine of liberty and equality was a
shameless hypocrisy. This followed hard upon her asking, as she did very
promptly, why he had scratched out the title on his card. He told her
that he wished to be known solely as an artist, and he had to explain to
her that he was not a painter, but was going to be a novelist. She taxed
him with never having been in America, but he contended that as all
America came to Europe he had the materials for a study of the national
character at hand, without the trouble of crossing the ocean. In return
she told him that she had not been the least sea-sick during the voyage,
and that it was no trouble at all; then he abruptly left her and went
over to beg a cup of tea from Clementina, who sat behind the kettle by
"I have heard this morning from that American I met in Pompeii" he began.
"He is coming northward, and I am going down to meet him in Rome."
Mrs. Lander caught the word, and called across the room, "Why, a'n't that
whe'e that lo'd's gone?"
Clementina said yes, and while the kettle boiled, she asked if Baron
Belsky were going soon.
"Oh, in a week or ten days, perhaps. I shall know when he arrives. Then
I shall go. We write to each other every day." He drew a letter from
his breast pocket. "This will give you the idea of his character," and
he read, "If we believe that the hand of God directs all our actions, how
can we set up our theories of conduct against what we feel to be his
"What do you think of that?" he demanded.
"I don't believe that God directs our wrong actions," said Clementina.
"How! Is there anything outside of God?
"I don't know whether there is or not. But there is something that
tempts me to do wrong, sometimes, and I don't believe that is God."
The Russian seemed struck. "I will write that to him!"
"No," said Clementina, "I don't want you to say anything about me to
"No, no!" said Baron Belsky, waving his band reassuringly. "I would not
mention your name!"
Mr. Ewins came in, and the Russian said he must go. Mrs. Lander tried to
detain him, too, as she had tried to keep Mr. Hinkle, but be was
inexorable. Mr. Ewins looked at the door when it had closed upon him.
Mrs. Lander said, "That is one of the gentlemen that Clementina met the
otha night at the dance. He is a baron, but he scratches it out. You'd
ought to head him go on about Americans."
"Yes," said Mr. Ewins coldly. "He's at our hotel, and he airs his
peculiar opinions at the table d'hote pretty freely. He's a
revolutionist of some kind, I fancy." He pronounced the epithet with an
abhorrence befitting the citizen of a state born of revolution and a city
that had cradled the revolt. "He's a Nihilist, I believe."
Mrs. Lander wished to know what that was, and he explained that it was a
Russian who wanted to overthrow the Czar, and set up a government of the
people, when they were not prepared for liberty.
"Then, maybe he isn't a baron at all," said Mrs. Lander.
"Oh, I believe he has a right to his title," Ewins answered. "It's a
He said he thought that sort of man was all the more mischievous on
account of his sincerity. He instanced a Russian whom a friend of his
knew in Berlin, a man of rank like this fellow: he got to brooding upon
the condition of working people and that kind of thing, till he renounced
his title and fortune and went to work in an iron foundry.
Mr. Ewins also spoke critically of Mrs. Milray. He had met her in Egypt;
but you soon exhausted the interest of that kind of woman. He professed
a great concern that Clementina should see Florence in just the right
way, and he offered his services in showing her the place.
The Russian came the next day, and almost daily after that, in the
interest with which Clementina's novel difference from other American
girls seemed to inspire him. His imagination had transmuted her simple
Yankee facts into something appreciable to a Slav of his temperament.
He conceived of her as the daughter of a peasant, whose beauty had
charmed the widow of a rich citizen, and who was to inherit the wealth of
her adoptive mother. He imagined that the adoption had taken place at a
much earlier period than the time when Clementina's visit to Mrs. Lander
actually began, and that all which could he done had been done to efface
her real character by indulgence and luxury.
His curiosity concerning her childhood, her home, her father and mother,
her brothers and sisters, and his misunderstanding of everything she told
him, amused her. But she liked him, and she tried to give him some
notion of the things he wished so much to know. It always ended in a
dissatisfaction, more or less vehement, with the outcome of American
conditions as he conceived them.
"But you," he urged one day, "you who are a daughter of the fields and
woods, why should you forsake that pure life, and come to waste yourself
"Why, don't you think it's very nice in Florence?" she asked, with eyes
of innocent interest.
"Nice! Nice! Do we live for what is nice? Is it enough that you have
what you Americans call a nice time?"
Clementina reflected. "I wasn't doing much of anything at home, and I
thought I might as well come with Mrs. Lander, if she wanted me so much."
She thought in a certain way, that he was meddling with what was not his
affair, but she believed that he was sincere in his zeal for the ideal
life he wished her to lead, and there were some things she had heard
about him that made her pity and respect him; his self-exile and his
renunciation of home and country for his principles, whatever they were;
she did not understand exactly. She would not have liked never being
able to go back to Middlemount, or to be cut off from all her friends as
this poor young Nihilist was, and she said, now, "I didn't expect that it
was going to be anything but a visit, and I always supposed we should go
back in the spring; but now Mrs. Lander is beginning to think she won't
be well enough till fall."
"And why need you stay with her?"
"Because she's not very well," answered Clementina, and she smiled, a
little triumphantly as well as tolerantly.
"She could hire nurses and doctors, all she wants with her money."
"I don't believe it would be the same thing, exactly, and what should I
do if I went back?"
"Do? Teach! Uplift the lives about you."
"But you say it is better for people to live simply, and not read and
think so much."
"Then labor in the fields with them."
Clementina laughed outright. "I guess if anyone saw me wo'king in the
fields they would think I was a disgrace to the neighbahood."
Belsky gave her a stupified glare through his spectacles. "I cannot
undertand you Americans."
"Well, you must come ova to America, then, Mr. Belsky"--he had asked her
not to call him by his title--"and then you would."
"No, I could not endure the disappointment. You have the great
opportunity of the earth. You could be equal and just, and simple and
kind. There is nothing to hinder you. But all you try to do is to get
more and more money."
"Now, that isn't faia, Mr. Belsky, and you know it."
Well, then, you joke, joke--always joke. Like that Mr. Hinkle. He wants
to make money with his patent of a gleaner, that will take the last grain
of wheat from the poor, and he wants to joke--joke!'
Clementina said, "I won't let you say that about Mr. Hinkle. You don't
know him, or you wouldn't. If he jokes, why shouldn't he?"
Belsky made a gesture of rejection. "Oh, you are an American, too."
She had not grown less American, certainly, since she had left home; even
the little conformities to Europe that she practiced were traits of
Americanism. Clementina was not becoming sophisticated, but perhaps she
was becoming more conventionalized. The knowledge of good and evil in
things that had all seemed indifferently good to her once, had crept upon
her, and she distinguished in her actions. She sinned as little as any
young lady in Florence against the superstitions of society; but though
she would not now have done a skirt-dance before a shipful of people, she
did not afflict herself about her past errors. She put on the world, but
she wore it simply and in most matters unconsciously. Some things were
imparted to her without her asking or wishing, and merely in virtue of
her youth and impressionability. She took them from her environment
without knowing it, and in this way she was coming by an English manner
and an English tone; she was only the less American for being rather
English without trying, when other Americans tried so hard. In the
region of harsh nasals, Clementina had never spoken through her nose, and
she was now as unaffected in these alien inflections as in the tender
cooings which used to rouse the misgivings of her brother Jim. When she
was with English people she employed them involuntarily, and when she was
with Americans she measurably lost them, so that after half an hour with
Mr. Hinkle, she had scarcely a trace of them, and with Mrs. Lander she
always spoke with her native accent.
One Sunday night, toward the end of Lent, Mrs. Lander had another of her
attacks; she now began to call them so as if she had established an
ownership in them. It came on from her cumulative over-eating, again,
but the doctor was not so smiling as he had been with regard to the
first. Clementina had got ready to drive out to Miss Milray's for one of
her Sunday teas, but she put off her things, and prepared to spend the
night at Mrs. Lander's bedside. "Well, I should think you would want
to," said the sufferer. "I'm goin' to do everything for you, and you'd
ought to be willing to give up one of youa junketin's for me. I'm sure I
don't know what you see in 'em, anyway."
"Oh, I am willing, Mrs. Lander; I'm glad I hadn't stahted before it
began." Clementina busied herself with the pillows under Mrs. Lander's
dishevelled head, and the bedclothes disordered by her throes, while Mrs.
Lander went on.
"I don't see what's the use of so much gaddin', anyway. I don't see as
anything comes of it, but just to get a passal of wo'thless fellas afta
you that think you'a going to have money. There's such a thing as two
sides to everything, and if the favas is goin' to be all on one side I
guess there'd betta be a clear undastandin' about it. I think I got a
right to a little attention, as well as them that ha'n't done anything;
and if I'm goin' to be left alone he'e to die among strangers every time
one of my attacks comes on"--
The doctor interposed, "I don't think you're going to have a very bad
attack, this time, Mrs. Lander."
"Oh, thank you, thank you, docta! But you can undastand, can't you, how
I shall want to have somebody around that can undastand a little
The doctor said, "Oh yes. And Miss Claxon and I can understand a good
deal, between us, and we're going to stay, and see how a little morphine
behaves with you."
Mrs. Lander protested, "Oh, I can't bea' mo'phine, docta."
"Did you ever try it?" he asked, preparing his little instrument to
imbibe the solution.
"No; but Mr. Landa did, and it 'most killed him; it made him sick."
"Well, you're about as sick as you can be, now, Mrs. Lander, and if you
don't die of this pin-prick"--he pushed the needle-point under the skin
of her massive fore-arm--"I guess you'll live through it."
She shrieked, but as the pain began to abate, she gathered courage, and
broke forth joyfully. "Why, it's beautiful, a'n't it? I declare it
wo'ks like a cha'm. Well, I shall always keep mo'phine around after
this, and when, I feel one of these attacks comin' on"--
"Send for a physician, Mrs. Lander," said Dr. Welwright, "and he'll know
what to do."
"I an't so sure of that," returned Mrs. Lander fondly. "He would if you
was the one. I declare I believe I could get up and walk right off, I
feel so well."
"That's good. If you'll take a walk day after tomorrow it will help you
a great deal more."
"Well, I shall always say that you've saved my life, this time, doctor;
and Clementina she's stood by, nobly; I'll say that for her." She
twisted her big head round on the pillow to get sight of the girl. "I'm
all right, now; and don't you mind what I said. It's just my misery
talkin'; I don't know what I did say; I felt so bad. But I'm fustrate,
now, and I believe I could drop off to sleep, this minute. Why don't you
go to your tea? You can, just as well as not!"
"Oh, I don't want to go, now, Mrs. Lander; I'd ratha stay."
"But there a'n't any more danger now, is the'e, docta?" Mrs. Lander
"No. There wasn't any danger before. But when you're quite yourself,
I want to have a little talk with you, Mrs. Lander, about your diet. We
must look after that."
"Why, docta, that's what I do do, now. I eat all the healthy things I
lay my hands on, don't I, Clementina? And ha'n't you always at me about
Clementina did not answer, and the doctor laughed. Well, I should like
to know what more I could do!"
"Perhaps you could do less. We'll see about that. Better go to sleep,
now, if you feel like it."
"Well, I will, if you'll make this silly child go to her tea. I s'pose
she won't because I scolded her. She's an awful hand to lay anything up
against you. You know you ah', Clementina! But I can say this, doctor:
a betta child don't breathe, and I just couldn't live without her. Come
he'e, Clementina, I want to kiss you once, before I go to sleep, so's to
make su'a you don't bea' malice." She pulled Clementina down to kiss
her, and babbled on affectionately and optimistically, till her talk
became the voice of her dreams, and then ceased altogether.
"You could go, perfectly well, Miss Claxon," said the doctor.
"No, I don't ca'e to go," answered Clementina. I'd ratha stay. If she
"She won't wake, until long after you've got back; I'll answer for that.
I'm going to stay here awhile. Go! I'll take the responsibility."
Clementina's face brightened. She wanted very much to go. She should
meet some pleasant people; she always did, at Miss Milray's. Then the
light died out of her gay eyes, and she set her lips. "No, I told her I
"I didn't hear you," said Dr. Welwright. "A doctor has no eyes and ears
except for the symptoms of his patients."
"Oh, I know," said Clementina. She had liked Dr. Welwright from the
first, and she thought it was very nice of him to stay on, after he left
Mrs. Lander's bedside, and help to make her lonesome evening pass
pleasantly in the parlor. He jumped up finally, and looked at his watch.
"Bless my soul!" he said, and he went in for another look at Mrs.
Lander. When he came back, he said, "She's all right. But you've made
me break an engagement, Miss Claxon. I was going to tea at Miss
Milray's. She promised me I should meet you there."
It seemed a great joke; and Clementina offered to carry his excuses to
Miss Milray, when she went to make her own.
She, went the next morning. Mrs. Lander insisted that she should go; she
said that she was not going to have Miss Milray thinking that she wanted
to keep her all to herself.
Miss Milray kissed the girl in full forgiveness, but she asked, "Did Dr.
Welwright think it a very bad attack?"
"Has he been he'a?" returned Clementina.
Miss Milray laughed. "Doctors don't betray their patients--good doctors.
No, he hasn't been here, if that will help you. I wish it would help me,
but it won't, quite. I don't like to think of that old woman using you
"Oh, she doesn't, Miss Milray. You mustn't think so. You don't know how
good she is to me."
"Does she ever remind you of it?"
Clementina's eyes fell. "She isn't like herself when she doesn't feel
"I knew it!" Miss Milray triumphed. "I always knew that she was a
dreadful old tabby. I wish you were safely out of her clutches. Come
and live with me, my dear, when Mrs. Lander gets tired of you. But
she'll never get tired of you. You're just the kind of helpless mouse
that such an old tabby would make her natural prey. But she sha'n't,
even if another sort of cat has to get you! I'm sorry you couldn't come
last night. Your little Russian was here, and went away early and very
bitterly because you didn't come. He seemed to think there was nobody,
and said so, in everything but words."
"Oh!" said Clementina. "Don't you think he's very nice, Miss Milray?"
"He's very mystical, or else so very simple that he seems so. I hope you
can make him out."
Don't you think he's very much in ea'nest?
"Oh, as the grave, or the asylum. I shouldn't like him to be in earnest
about me, if I were you."
"But that's just what he is!" Clementina told how the Russian had
lectured her, and wished her to go back to the country and work in the
"Oh, if that's all!" cried Miss Milray. I was afraid it was another kind
of earnestness: the kind I shouldn't like if I were you."
"There's no danger of that, I guess." Clementina laughed, and Miss
Milray went on:
"Another of your admirers was here; but be was not so inconsolable, or
else be found consolation in staying on and talking about you, or
"Oh, yes; Mr. Hinkle," cried Clementina with the smile that the thought
of him always brought. He's lovely."
"Lovely? Well, I don't know why it isn't the word. It suits him a great
deal better than some insipid girls that people give it to. Yes, I could
really fall in love with Mr. Hinkle. He's the only man I ever saw who
would know how to break the fall!"
It was lunch-time before their talk had begun to run low, and it swelled
again over the meal. Miss Milray returned to Mrs. Lander, and she made
Clementina confess that she was a little trying sometimes. But she
insisted that she was always good, and in remorse she went away as soon
as Miss Milray rose from table.
She found Mrs. Lander very much better, and willing to have had her stay
the whole afternoon with Miss Milray. "I don't want she should have
anything to say against me, to you, Clementina; she'd be glad enough to.
But I guess it's just as well you'a back. That scratched-out baron has
been he'e twice, and he's waitin' for you in the pahla', now. I presume
he'll keep comin' till you do see him. I guess you betta have it ova;
whatever it is."
"I guess you're right, Mrs. Lander."
Clementina found the Russian walking up and down the room, and as soon as
their greeting was over, he asked leave to continue his promenade, but he
stopped abruptly before her when she had sunk upon a sofa.
"I have come to tell you a strange story," he said.
"It is the story of that American friend of mine. I tell it to you
because I think you can understand, and will know what to advise, what to
He turned upon his heel, and walked the length of the room and back
before he spoke again.
"Since several years," he said, growing a little less idiomatic in his
English as his excitement mounted, "he met a young girl, a child, when he
was still not a man's full age. It was in the country, in the mountains
of America, and--he loved her. Both were very poor; he, a student,
earning the means to complete his education in the university. He had
dedicated himself to his church, and with the temperament of the
Puritans, he forbade himself all thoughts of love. But he was of a
passionate and impulsive nature, and in a moment of abandon he confessed
his love. The child was bewildered, frightened; she shrank from his
avowal, and he, filled with remorse for his self-betrayal, bade her let
it be as if it had not been; he bade her think of him no more."
Clementina sat as if powerless to move, staring at Belsky. He paused in
his walk, and allowed an impressive silence to ensue upon his words.
"Time passed: days, months, years; and he did not see her again. He
pursued his studies in the university; at their completion, he entered
upon the course of divinity, and he is soon to be a minister of his
church. In all that time the image of the young girl has remained in his
heart, and has held him true to the only love he has ever known. He will
know no other while he lives."
Again he stopped in front of Clementina; she looked helplessly up at him,
and he resumed his walk.
"He, with his dreams of renunciation, of abnegation, had thought some day
to return to her and ask her to be his. He believed her capable of equal
sacrifice with himself, and he hoped to win her not for himself alone,
but for the religion which he put before himself. He would have invited
her to join her fate with his that they might go together on some mission
to the pagan--in the South Seas, in the heart of Africa, in the jungle of
India. He had always thought of her as gay but good, unworldly in soul,
and exalted in spirit. She has remained with him a vision of angelic
loveliness, as he had seen her last in the moonlight, on the banks of a
mountain torrent. But he believes that he has disgraced himself before
her; that the very scruple for her youth, her ignorance, which made him
entreat her to forget him, must have made her doubt and despise him. He
has never had the courage to write to her one word since all those years,
but he maintains himself bound to her forever." He stopped short before
Clementina and seized her hands. "If you knew such a girl, what would
you have her do? Should she bid him hope again? Would you have her say
to him that she, too, had been faithful to their dream, and that she
"Let me go, Mr. Belsky, let me go, I say!" Clementina wrenched her hands
from him, and ran out of the room. Belsky hesitated, then he found his
hat, and after a glance at his face in the mirror, left the house.
The tide of travel began to set northward in April. Many English, many
Americans appeared in Florence from Naples and Rome; many who had
wintered in Florence went on to Venice and the towns of northern Italy,
on their way to Switzerland and France and Germany.
The spring was cold and rainy, and the irresolute Italian railroads were
interrupted by the floods. A tawny deluge rolled down from the mountains
through the bed of the Arno, and kept the Florentine fire-department on
the alert night and day. "It is a curious thing about this country,"
said Mr. Hinkle, encountering Baron Belsky on the Ponte Trinita, "that
the only thing they ever have here for a fire company to put out is a
freshet. If they had a real conflagration once, I reckon they would want
to bring their life-preservers."
The Russian was looking down over the parapet at the boiling river. He
lifted his head as if he had not heard the American, and stared at him a
moment before he spoke. It is said that the railway to Rome is broken at
"Well, I'm not going to Rome," said Hinkle, easily. "Are you?"
"I was to meet a friend there; but he wrote to me that be was starting to
Florence, and now"--
"He's resting on the way? Well, he'll get here about as quick as he
would in the ordinary course of travel. One good thing about Italy is,
you don't want to hurry; if you did, you'd get left."
Belsky stared at him in the stupefaction to which the American humor
commonly reduced him. "If he gets left on the Grossetto line, he can go
back and come up by Orvieto, no?"
"He can, if he isn't in a hurry," Hinkle assented.
"It's a good way, if you've got time to burn."
Belsky did not attempt to explore the American's meaning. "Do you know,"
he asked, "whether Mrs. Lander and her young friend are still in
"I guess they are."
"It was said they were going to Venice for the summer."
"That's what the doctor advised for the old lady. But they don't start
for a week or two yet."
"Are you going to Miss Milray's, Sunday night? Last of the season, I
Belsky seemed to recall himself from a distance.
"No--no," he said, and he moved away, forgetful of the ceremonious
salutation which he commonly used at meeting and parting. Hinkle looked
after him with the impression people have of a difference in the
appearance and behavior of some one whose appearance and behavior do not
particularly concern them.
The day that followed, Belsky haunted the hotel where Gregory was to
arrive with his pupil, and where the pupil's family were waiting for
them. That night, long after their belated train was due, they came; the
pupil was with his father and mother, and Gregory was alone, when Belsky
asked for him, the fourth or fifth time.
"You are not well," he said, as they shook bands. You are fevered!"
"I'm tired," said Gregory. "We've bad a bad time getting through."
"I come inconveniently! You have not dined, perhaps?"
"Yes, Yes. I've had dinner. Sit down. How have you been yourself?"
"Oh, always well." Belsky sat down, and the friends stared at each
other. "I have strange news for you."
"You. She is here."
Yes. The young girl of whom you told me. If I had not forbidden myself
by my loyalty to you--if I had not said to myself every moment in her
presence, 'No, it is for your friend alone that she is beautiful and
good!'--But you will have nothing to reproach me in that regard."
"What do you mean?" demanded Gregory.
"I mean that Miss Claxon is in Florence, with her protectress, the rich
Mrs. Lander. The most admired young lady in society, going everywhere,
and everywhere courted and welcomed; the favorite of the fashionable Miss
Milray. But why should this surprise you?"
"You said nothing about it in your letters. You"--
"I was not sure it was she; you never told me her name. When I had
divined the fact, I was so soon to see you, that I thought best to keep
it till we met."
Gregory tried to speak, but he let Belsky go on.
"If you think that the world has spoiled her, that she will be different
from what she was in her home among your mountains, let me reassure you.
In her you will find the miracle of a woman whom no flattery can turn the
head. I have watched her in your interest; I have tested her. She is
what you saw her last."
"Surely," asked Gregory, in an anguish for what he now dreaded, "you
haven't spoken to her of me?"
"Not by name, no. I could not have that indiscretion"--
"The name is nothing. Have you said that you knew me--Of course not!
But have you hinted at any knowledge--Because"--
"You will hear!" said Belsky; and he poured out upon Gregory the story of
what he had done. "She did not deny anything. She was greatly moved,
but she did not refuse to let me bid you hope"--
"Oh!" Gregory took his head between his hands. "You have spoiled my
"Spoiled" Belsky stopped aghast.
"I told you my story in a moment of despicable weakness--of impulsive
folly. But how could I dream that you would ever meet her? How could I
imagine that you would speak to her as you have done?" He groaned, and
began to creep giddily about the room in his misery. "Oh, oh, oh!
What shall I do?"
"But I do not understand!" Belsky began. "If I have committed an error"--
"Oh, an error that never could be put right in all eternity!"
"Then let me go to her--let me tell her"--
"Keep away from her!" shouted Gregory. "Do you hear? Never go near her
"Ah, I beg your pardon! I don't know what I'm doing-saying. What will
she think--what will she think of me!" He had ceased to speak to Belsky;
he collapsed into a chair, and hid his face in his arms stretched out on
the table before him.
Belsky watched him in the stupefaction which the artistic nature feels
when life proves sentient under its hand, and not the mere material of
situations and effects. He could not conceive the full measure of the
disaster he had wrought, the outrage of his own behavior had been lost to
him in his preoccupation with the romantic end to be accomplished. He
had meant to be the friend, the prophet, to these American lovers, whom
he was reconciling and interpreting to each other; but in some point he
must have misunderstood. Yet the error was not inexpiable; and in his
expiation he could put the seal to his devotion. He left the room, where
Gregory made no effort to keep him.
He walked down the street from the hotel to the Arno, and in a few
moments he stood on the bridge, where he had talked with that joker in
the morning, as they looked down together on the boiling river. He had a
strange wish that the joker might have been with him again, to learn that
there were some things which could not be joked away.
The night was blustering, and the wind that blew the ragged clouds across
the face of the moon, swooped in sudden gusts upon the bridge, and the
deluge rolling under it and hoarsely washing against its piers. Belsky
leaned over the parapet and looked down into the eddies and currents as
the fitful light revealed them. He had a fantastic pleasure in studying
them, and choosing the moment when he should leap the parapet and be lost
in them. The incident could not be used in any novel of his, and no one
else could do such perfect justice to the situation, but perhaps
afterwards, when the facts leading to his death should be known through
the remorse of the lovers whom he had sought to serve, some other artist-
nature could distil their subtlest meaning in a memoir delicate as the
aroma of a faded flower.
He was willing to make this sacrifice, too, and he stepped back a pace
from the parapet when the fitful blast caught his hat from his head, and
whirled it along the bridge. The whole current of his purpose changed,
and as if it had been impossible to drown himself in his bare head, he
set out in chase of his hat, which rolled and gamboled away, and escaped
from his clutch whenever he stooped for it, till a final whiff of wind
flung it up and tossed it over the bridge into the river, where he
helplessly watched it floating down the flood, till it was carried out of
Gregory did not sleep, and he did not find peace in the prayers he put up
for guidance. He tried to think of some one with whom he might take
counsel; but he knew no one in Florence except the parents of his pupil,
and they were impossible. He felt himself abandoned to the impulse which
he dreaded, in going to Clementina, and he went without hope, willing to
suffer whatever penalty she should visit upon him, after he had disavowed
Belsky's action, and claimed the responsibility for it.
He was prepared for her refusal to see him; he had imagined her wounded
and pathetic; he had fancied her insulted and indignant; but she met him
eagerly and with a mystifying appeal in her welcome. He began at once,
without attempting to bridge the time since they had met with any
"I have come to speak to you about--that--Russian, about Baron Belsky"--
"Yes, yes!" she returned, anxiously. "Then you have hea'd"
"He came to me last night, and--I want to say that I feel myself to blame
for what he has done."
"Yes; I. I never spoke of you by name to him; I didn't dream of his ever
seeing you, or that he would dare to speak to you of what I told him.
But I believe he meant no wrong; and it was I who did the harm, whether I
authorized it or not."
"Yes, yes!" she returned, with the effect of putting his words aside as
something of no moment. "Have they head anything more?"
"How, anything more?" he returned, in a daze.
"Then, don't you know? About his falling into the river? I know he
didn't drown himself."
Gregory shook his head. "When--what makes them think"--He stopped and
stared at her.
"Why, they know that he went down to the Ponte Trinity last night;
somebody saw him going: And then that peasant found his hat with his name
in it in the drift-wood below the Cascine"--
"Yes," said Gregory, lifelessly. He let his arms drop forward, and his
helpless hands hang over his knees; his gaze fell from her face to the
Neither spoke for a time that seemed long, and then it was Clementina who
spoke. "But it isn't true!"
"Oh, yes, it is," said Gregory, as before.
"Mr. Hinkle doesn't believe it is," she urged.
"He's an American who's staying in Florence. He came this mo'ning to
tell me about it. Even if he's drowned Mr. Hinkle believes he didn't
mean to; he must have just fallen in."
"What does it matter?" demanded Gregory, lifting his heavy eyes.
"Whether he meant it or not, I caused it. I drove him to it."
"You drove him?"
"Yes. He told me what he had said to you, and I--said that he had
spoiled my life--I don't know!"
"Well, he had no right to do it; but I didn't blame you," Clementina
"It's too late. It can't be helped now." Gregory turned from the mercy
that could no longer save him. He rose dizzily, and tried to get himself
"You mustn't go!" she interposed. "I don't believe you made him do it.
Mr. Hinkle will be back soon, and he will"--
"If he should bring word that it was true?" Gregory asked.
"Well," said Clementina, "then we should have to bear it."
A sense of something finer than the surface meaning of her words pierced
his morbid egotism. "I'm ashamed," he said. "Will you let me stay?"
"Why, yes, you must," she said, and if there was any censure of him at
the bottom of her heart, she kept it there, and tried to talk him away
from his remorse, which was in his temperament, perhaps, rather than his
conscience; she made the time pass till there came a knock at the door,
and she opened it to Hinkle.
"I didn't send up my name; I thought I wouldn't stand upon ceremony just
now," he said.
"Oh, no!" she returned. "Mr. Hinkle, this is Mr. Gregory. Mr. Gregory
knew Mr. Belsky, and he thinks"--
She turned to Gregory for prompting, and he managed to say, "I don't
believe he was quite the sort of person to--And yet he might--he was in
"Money trouble?" asked Hinkle. "They say these Russians have a perfect
genius for debt. I had a little inspiration, since I saw you, but there
doesn't seems to be anything in it, so far." He addressed himself to
Clementina, but he included Gregory in what he said. "It struck me that
he might have been running his board, and had used this drowning episode
as a blind. But I've been around to his hotel, and he's settled up, all
fair and square enough. The landlord tried to think of something he
hadn't paid, but he couldn't; and I never saw a man try harder, either."
Clementina smiled; she put her hand to her mouth to keep from laughing;
but Gregory frowned his distress in the untimely droning.
"I don't give up my theory that it's a fake of some kind, though. He
could leave behind a good many creditors besides his landlord. The
authorities have sealed up his effects, and they've done everything but
call out the fire department; that's on duty looking after the freshet,
and it couldn't be spared. I'll go out now and slop round a little more
in the cause, "Hinkle looked down at his shoes and his drabbled trousers,
and wiped the perspiration from his face, "but I thought I'd drop in, and
tell you not to worry about it, Miss Clementina. I would stake anything
you pleased on Mr. Belsky's safety. Mr. Gregory, here, looks like he
would be willing to take odds," he suggested.
Gregory commanded himself from his misery to say, "I wish I could
"Of course, we don't want to think that the man's a fraud, any more than
that he's dead. Perhaps we might hit upon some middle course. At any
rate, it's worth trying."
"May I--do you object to my joining you?" Gregory asked.
"Why, come!" Hinkle hospitably assented. "Glad to have you. I'll be
back again, Miss Clementina!"
Gregory was going away without any form of leavetaking; but he turned
back to ask, "Will you let me come back, too?"
"Why, suttainly, Mr. Gregory," said Clementina, and she went to find Mrs.
Lander, whom she found in bed.
"I thought I'd lay down," she explained. "I don't believe I'm goin' to
be sick, but it's one of my pooa days, and I might just as well be in bed
as not." Clementina agreed with her, and Mrs. Lander asked: "You hea'd
"No. Mr. Hinkle has just been he'a, but he hadn't any news."
Mrs. Lander turned her face toward the wall. "Next thing, he'll be
drownin' himself. I neva wanted you should have anything to do with the
fellas that go to that woman's. There ain't any of 'em to be depended
It was the first time that her growing jealousy of Miss Milray had openly
declared itself; but Clementina had felt it before, without knowing how
to meet it. As an escape from it now she was almost willing to say,
"Mrs. Lander, I want to tell you that Mr. Gregory has just been he'a,
"Yes. Don't you remember? At the Middlemount? The first summa? He was
the headwaita--that student."
Mrs. Lander jerked her head round on the pillow. "Well, of all the--What
does he want, over he'a?"
"Nothing. That is--he's travelling with a pupil that he's preparing for
college, and--he came to see us"--
"D'you tell him I couldn't see him?"
"I guess he'd think I was a pretty changed pusson! Now, I want you
should stay with me, Clementina, and if anybody else comes"--
Maddalena entered the room with a card which she gave to the girl.
"Who is it?" Mrs. Lander demanded.
"Of cou'se! Well, you may just send wo'd that you can't--Or, no; you
must! She'd have it all ova the place, by night, that I wouldn't let
you see her. But don't you make any excuse for me! If she asks after
me, don't you say I'm sick! You say I'm not at home."
"I've come about that little wretch," Miss Milray began, after kissing
Clementina. "I didn't know but you had heard something I hadn't, or I
had heard something you hadn't. You know I belong to the Hinkle
persuasion: I think Belsky's run his board--as Mr. Hinkle calls it."
Clementina explained how this part of the Hinkle theory had failed, and
then Miss Milray devolved upon the belief that he had run his tailor's
bill or his shoemaker's. "They are delightful, those Russians, but
they're born insolvent. I don't believe he's drowned himself. How," she
broke off to ask, in a burlesque whisper, "is-the-old-tabby?" She
laughed, for answer to her own question, and then with another sudden
diversion she demanded of a look in Clementina's face which would not be
laughed away, "Well, my dear, what is it?"
"Miss Milray," said the girl, "should you think me very silly, if I told
"Not in the least!" cried Miss Milray, joyously. "It's the final proof
of your wisdom that I've been waiting for?"
"It's because Mr. Belsky is all mixed up in it," said Clementina, as if
some excuse were necessary, and then she told the story of her love
affair with Gregory. Miss Milray punctuated the several facts with vivid
nods, but at the end she did not ask her anything, and the girl somehow
felt the freer to add: "I believe I will tell you his name. It is Mr.
"And he's been in Egypt?"
"Yes, the whole winta."
"Then he's the one that my sister-in-law has been writing me about!"
"Oh, did he meet her the'a?"
"I should think so! And he'll meet her there, very soon. She's coming,
with my poor brother. I meant to tell you, but this ridiculous Belsky
business drove it out of my head."
"And do you think," Clementina entreated, "that he was to blame?"
"Why, I don't believe he's done it, you know."
"Oh, I didn't mean Mr. Belsky. I meant--Mr. Gregory. For telling Mr.
"Certainly not. Men always tell those things to some one, I suppose.
Nobody was to blame but Belsky, for his meddling."
Miss Milray rose and shook out her plumes for flight, as if she were
rather eager for flight, but at the little sigh with which Clementina
said, "Yes, that is what I thought," she faltered.
"I was going to run away, for I shouldn't like to mix myself up in your
affair--it's certainly a very strange one--unless I was sure I could help
you. But if you think I can"--
Clementina shook her head. "I don't believe you can," she said, with a
candor so wistful that Miss Milray stopped quite short. "How does Mr.
Gregory take this Belsky business?" she asked.
"I guess he feels it moa than I do," said the girl.
"He shows his feeling more?"
"Yes--no--He believes he drove him to it."
Miss Milray took her hand, for parting, but did not kiss her. "I won't
advise you, my dear. In fact, yon haven't asked me to. You'll know what
to do, if you haven't done it already; girls usually have, when they want
advice. Was there something you were going to say?"
"Oh, no. Nothing. Do you think," she hesitated, appealingly, "do you
think we are-engaged?"
"If he's anything of a man at all, he must think he is."
"Yes," said Clementina, wistfully, "I guess he does."
Miss Milray looked sharply at her. "And does he think you are?"
"I don't know--he didn't say."
"Well," said Miss Milray, rather dryly, "then it's something for you to
think over pretty carefully."
Hinkle came back in the afternoon to make a hopeful report of his failure
to learn anything more of Belsky, but Gregory did not come with him. He
came the next morning long before Clementina expected visitors, and he
was walking nervously up and down the room when she appeared. As if he
could not speak, he held toward her without speaking a telegram in
English, dated that day in Rome:
"Deny report of my death. Have written.
She looked up at Gregory from the paper, when she had read it, with
joyful eyes. "Oh, I am so glad for you! I am so glad he is alive."
He took the dispatch from her hand. "I brought it to you as soon as it
"Yes, yes! Of cou'se!"
"I must go now and do what he says--I don't know how yet." He stopped,
and then went on from a different impulse. "Clementina, it isn't a
question now of that wretch's life and death, and I wish I need never
speak of him again. But what he told you was true." He looked
steadfastly at her, and she realized how handsome he was, and how well
dressed. His thick red hair seemed to have grown darker above his
forehead; his moustache was heavier, and it curved in at the corners of
his mouth; he bore himself with a sort of self-disdain that enhanced his
splendor. "I have never changed toward you; I don't say it to make favor
with you; I don't expect to do that now; but it is true. That night,
there at Middlemount, I tried to take back what I said, because I
believed that I ought."
"Oh, yes, I knew that," said Clementina, in the pause he made.
"We were both too young; I had no prospect in life; I saw, the instant
after I had spoken, that I had no right to let you promise anything.
I tried to forget you; I couldn't. I tried to make you forget me."
He faltered, and she did not speak, but her head drooped a little.
"I won't ask how far I succeeded. I always hoped that the time would
come when I could speak to you again. When I heard from Fane that you
were at Woodlake, I wished to come out and see you, but I hadn't the
courage, I hadn't the right. I've had to come to you without either,
now. Did he speak to you about me?"
"I thought he was beginning to, once; but he neva did."
"It didn't matter; it could only have made bad worse. It can't help me
to say that somehow I was wishing and trying to do what was right; but I
"Oh, I know that, Mr. Gregory," said Clementina, generously.
"Then you didn't doubt me, in spite of all?"
"I thought you would know what to do. No, I didn't doubt you, exactly."
"I didn't deserve your trust!" he cried. "How came that man to mention
me?" he demanded, abruptly, after a moment's silence.
"Mr. Belsky? It was the first night I saw him, and we were talking about
Americans, and he began to tell me about an American friend of his, who
was very conscientious. I thought it must be you the fust moment," said
Clementina, smiling with an impersonal pleasure in the fact.
"From the conscientiousness?" he asked, in bitter self-irony.
"Why, yes," she returned, simply. "That was what made me think of you.
And the last time when he began to talk about you, I couldn't stop him,
although I knew he had no right to."
"He had no right. But I gave him the power to do it! He meant no harm,
but I enabled him to do all the harm."
"Oh, if he's only alive, now, there is no harm!"
He looked into her eyes with a misgiving from which be burst impetuously.
"Then you do care for me still, after all that I have done to make you
detest me?" He started toward her, but she shrank back.
"I didn't mean that," she hesitated.
"You know that I love you,--that I have always loved you?"
"Yes," she assented. "But you might be sorry again that you had said
it." It sounded like coquetry, but he knew it was not coquetry.
"Never! I've wished to say it again, ever since that night at
Middlemount; I have always felt bound by what I said then, though I took
back my words for your sake. But the promise was always there, and my
life was in it. You believe that?"
"Why, I always believed what you said, Mr. Gregory."
Clementina paused, with her head seriously on one side. "I should want
to think about it before I said anything."
"You are right," he submitted, dropping his outstretched arms to his
side. "I have been thinking only of myself, as usual."
"No," she protested, compassionately. "But doesn't it seem as if we
ought to be su'a, this time? I did ca'e for you then, but I was very
young, and I don't know yet--I thought I had always felt just; as you
did, but now--Don't you think we had both betta wait a little while till
we ah' moa suttain?"
They stood looking at each other, and he said, with a kind of passionate
self-denial, "Yes, think it over for me, too. I will come back, if you
will let me."
"Oh, thank you!" she cried after him, gratefully, as if his forbearance
were the greatest favor.
When he was gone she tried to release herself from the kind of abeyance
in which she seemed to have gone back and been as subject to him as in
the first days when he had awed her and charmed her with his superiority
at Middlemount, and he again older and freer as she had grown since.
He came back late in the afternoon, looking jaded and distraught.
Hinkle, who looked neither, was with him. "Well," he began, "this is the
greatest thing in my experience. Belsky's not only alive and well, but
Mr. Gregory and I are both at large. I did think, one time, that the
police would take us into custody on account of our morbid interest in
the thing, and I don't believe we should have got off, if the Consul
hadn't gone bail for us, so to speak. I thought we had better take the
Consul in, on our way, and it was lucky we did."
Clementina did not understand all the implications, but she was willing
to take Mr. Hinkle's fun on trust. "I don't believe you'll convince Mrs.
Landa that Mr. Belsky's alive and well, till you bring him back to say
"Is that so!" said Hinkle. "Well, we must have him brought back by the
authorities, then. Perhaps they'll bring him, anyway. They can't try
him for suicide, but as I understand the police, here, a man can't lose
his hat over a bridge in Florence with impunity, especially in a time of
high water. Anyway, they're identifying Belsky by due process of law in
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