Prepared by Professor Judith Boss
Part 2 out of 5
but she answered that this was poor reasoning. She said that I
was trustworthy and that she was not, and--in short, all sorts
of nonsense. She abused herself roundly--accused herself of no end
"What defects, for instance?"
"Oh, I have n't remembered them. She said she had a bad temper--
that she led her mother a dreadful life. Now, poor Mrs. Vivian says
she is an angel."
"Ah yes," Bernard observed; "Mrs. Vivian says that, very freely."
"Angela declared that she was jealous, ungenerous, unforgiving--
all sorts of things. I remember she said 'I am very false,'
and I think she remarked that she was cruel."
"But this did n't put you off," said Bernard.
"Not at all. She was making up."
"She makes up very well!" Bernard exclaimed, laughing.
"Do you call that well?"
"I mean it was very clever."
"It was not clever from the point of view of wishing to discourage me.
"Possibly. But I am sure," said Bernard, "that if I had been
present at your interview--excuse the impudence of the hypothesis--
I should have been struck with the young lady's--" and he paused
"With her what?"
"With her ability."
"Well, her ability was not sufficient to induce me to give up my idea.
She told me that after I had known her six months I should detest her."
"I have no doubt she could make you do it if she should try.
That 's what I mean by her ability."
"She calls herself cruel," said Gordon, "but she has not had
the cruelty to try. She has been very reasonable--she has
been perfect. I agreed with her that I would drop the subject
for a while, and that meanwhile we should be good friends.
We should take time to know each other better and act in accordance
with further knowledge. There was no hurry, since we trusted
each other--wrong as my trust might be. She had no wish that I
should go away. I was not in the least disagreeable to her;
she liked me extremely, and I was perfectly free to try and
please her. Only I should drop my proposal, and be free to take
it up again or leave it alone, later, as I should choose.
If she felt differently then, I should have the benefit of it,
and if I myself felt differently, I should also have the benefit
"That 's a very comfortable arrangement. And that 's your present situation?"
Gordon hesitated a moment.
"More or less, but not exactly."
"Miss Vivian feels differently?" said Bernard.
"Not that I know of."
Gordon's companion, with a laugh, clapped him on the shoulder again.
"Admirable youth, you are a capital match!"
"Are you alluding to my money?"
"To your money and to your modesty. There is as much of one as of the other--
which is saying a great deal."
"Well," said Gordon, "in spite of that enviable combination,
I am not happy."
"I thought you seemed pensive!" Bernard exclaimed.
"It 's you, then, who feel differently."
Gordon gave a sigh.
"To say that is to say too much."
"What shall we say, then?" his companion asked, kindly.
Gordon stopped again; he stood there looking up at a certain
particularly lustrous star which twinkled--the night was cloudy--
in an open patch of sky, and the vague brightness shone down on
his honest and serious visage.
"I don't understand her," he said.
"Oh, I 'll say that with you any day!" cried Bernard.
"I can't help you there."
"You must help me;" and Gordon Wright deserted his star.
"You must keep me in good humor."
"Please to walk on, then. I don't in the least pity you;
she is very charming with you."
"True enough; but insisting on that is not the way to keep me in good humor--
when I feel as I do."
"How is it you feel?"
"Puzzled to death--bewildered--depressed!"
This was but the beginning of Gordon Wright's list; he went on to say that
though he "thought as highly" of Miss Vivian as he had ever done, he felt
less at his ease with her than in the first weeks of their acquaintance,
and this condition made him uncomfortable and unhappy.
"I don't know what 's the matter," said poor Gordon.
"I don't know what has come between us. It is n't her fault--
I don't make her responsible for it. I began to notice
it about a fortnight ago--before you came; shortly after
that talk I had with her that I have just described to you.
Her manner has n't changed and I have no reason to suppose
that she likes me any the less; but she makes a strange
impression on me--she makes me uneasy. It 's only her nature
coming out, I suppose--what you might call her originality.
She 's thoroughly original--she 's a kind of mysterious creature.
I suppose that what I feel is a sort of fascination; but that is
just what I don't like. Hang it, I don't want to be fascinated--
I object to being fascinated!"
This little story had taken some time in the telling, so that the two young
men had now reached their hotel.
"Ah, my dear Gordon," said Bernard, "we speak a different language.
If you don't want to be fascinated, what is one to say to you?
'Object to being fascinated!' There 's a man easy to satisfy!
"Well, see here now," said Gordon, stopping in the door-way of the inn;
"when it comes to the point, do you like it yourself?"
"When it comes to the point?" Bernard exclaimed. "I assure you I don't
wait till then. I like the beginning--I delight in the approach of it--
I revel in the prospect."
"That's just what I did. But now that the thing has come--I don't revel.
To be fascinated is to be mystified. Damn it, I like my liberty--
I like my judgment!"
"So do I--like yours," said Bernard, laughing, as they took
their bedroom candles.
Bernard talked of this matter rather theoretically, inasmuch as
to his own sense, he was in a state neither of incipient nor of
absorbed fascination. He got on very easily, however, with Angela Vivian,
and felt none of the mysterious discomfort alluded to by his friend.
The element of mystery attached itself rather to the young lady's mother,
who gave him the impression that for undiscoverable reasons she avoided
his society. He regretted her evasive deportment, for he found something
agreeable in this shy and scrupulous little woman, who struck him
as a curious specimen of a society of which he had once been very fond.
He learned that she was of old New England stock, but he had not needed
this information to perceive that Mrs. Vivian was animated by the genius
of Boston. "She has the Boston temperament," he said, using a phrase
with which he had become familiar and which evoked a train of associations.
But then he immediately added that if Mrs. Vivian was a daughter
of the Puritans, the Puritan strain in her disposition had been mingled
with another element. "It is the Boston temperament sophisticated,"
he said; "perverted a little--perhaps even corrupted. It is the local
east-wind with an infusion from climates less tonic." It seemed to him
that Mrs. Vivian was a Puritan grown worldly--a Bostonian relaxed;
and this impression, oddly enough, contributed to his wish to know more
of her. He felt like going up to her very politely and saying, "Dear lady
and most honored compatriot, what in the world have I done to displease you?
You don't approve of me, and I am dying to know the reason why.
I should be so happy to exert myself to be agreeable to you.
It 's no use; you give me the cold shoulder. When I speak to you,
you look the other way; it is only when I speak to your daughter that you
look at me. It is true that at those times you look at me very hard,
and if I am not greatly mistaken, you are not gratified by what you see.
You count the words I address to your beautiful Angela--you time our
harmless little interviews. You interrupt them indeed whenever you can;
you call her away--you appeal to her; you cut across the conversation.
You are always laying plots to keep us apart. Why can't you leave me alone?
I assure you I am the most innocent of men. Your beautiful Angela
can't possibly be injured by my conversation, and I have no designs
whatever upon her peace of mind. What on earth have I done to offend
These observations Bernard Longueville was disposed to make,
and one afternoon, the opportunity offering, they rose
to his lips and came very near passing them. In fact,
however, at the last moment, his eloquence took another turn.
It was the custom of the orchestra at the Kursaal to play in
the afternoon, and as the music was often good, a great many people
assembled under the trees, at three o'clock, to listen to it.
This was not, as a regular thing, an hour of re-union
for the little group in which we are especially interested;
Miss Vivian, in particular, unless an excursion of some sort
had been agreed upon the day before, was usually not to be seen
in the precincts of the Conversation-house until the evening.
Bernard, one afternoon, at three o'clock, directed his steps to this
small world-centre of Baden, and, passing along the terrace,
soon encountered little Blanche Evers strolling there under
a pink parasol and accompanied by Captain Lovelock. This young
lady was always extremely sociable; it was quite in accordance
with her habitual geniality that she should stop and say how d'
ye do to our hero.
"Mr. Longueville is growing very frivolous," she said, "coming to the Kursaal
at all sorts of hours."
"There is nothing frivolous in coming here with the hope of finding you,"
the young man answered. "That is very serious."
"It would be more serious to lose Miss Evers than to find her,"
remarked Captain Lovelock, with gallant jocosity.
"I wish you would lose me!" cried the young girl. "I think I should
like to be lost. I might have all kinds of adventures."
"I 'guess' so!" said Captain Lovelock, hilariously.
"Oh, I should find my way. I can take care of myself!"
Blanche went on.
"Mrs. Vivian does n't think so," said Bernard, who had
just perceived this lady, seated under a tree with a book,
over the top of which she was observing her pretty protege.
Blanche looked toward her and gave her a little nod and a smile.
Then chattering on to the young men--
"She 's awfully careful. I never saw any one so careful.
But I suppose she is right. She promised my mother she would
be tremendously particular; but I don't know what she thinks I
"That is n't flattering to me," said Captain Lovelock.
"Mrs. Vivian does n't approve of me--she wishes me in Jamaica.
What does she think me capable of?"
"And me, now?" Bernard asked. "She likes me least of all,
and I, on my side, think she 's so nice."
"Can't say I 'm very sweet on her," said the Captain.
"She strikes me as feline."
Blanche Evers gave a little cry of horror.
"Stop, sir, this instant! I won't have you talk that way about a lady
who has been so kind to me."
"She is n't so kind to you. She would like to lock you up where I can
never see you."
"I 'm sure I should n't mind that!" cried the young girl, with a little
laugh and a toss of her head. "Mrs. Vivian has the most perfect character--
that 's why my mother wanted me to come with her. And if she promised
my mother she would be careful, is n't she right to keep her promise?
She 's a great deal more careful than mamma ever was, and that 's
just what mamma wanted. She would never take the trouble herself.
And then she was always scolding me. Mrs. Vivian never scolds me.
She only watches me, but I don't mind that."
"I wish she would watch you a little less and scold you a little more,"
said Captain Lovelock.
"I have no doubt you wish a great many horrid things," his companion rejoined,
with delightful asperity.
"Ah, unfortunately I never have anything I wish!" sighed Lovelock.
"Your wishes must be comprehensive," said Bernard. "It seems to me you
have a good deal."
The Englishman gave a shrug.
"It 's less than you might think. She is watching us more furiously
than ever," he added, in a moment, looking at Mrs. Vivian.
"Mr. Gordon Wright is the only man she likes. She is awfully fond
of Mr. Gordon Wright."
"Ah, Mrs. Vivian shows her wisdom!" said Bernard.
"He is certainly very handsome," murmured Blanche Evers,
glancing several times, with a very pretty aggressiveness,
at Captain Lovelock. "I must say I like Mr. Gordon Wright.
Why in the world did you come here without him?" she went on,
addressing herself to Bernard. "You two are so awfully inseparable.
I don't think I ever saw you alone before."
"Oh, I have often seen Mr. Gordon Wright alone," said Captain
Lovelock--"that is, alone with Miss Vivian. That 's what the old
lady likes; she can't have too much of that."
The young girl, poised for an instant in one of her pretty attitudes,
looked at him from head to foot.
"Well, I call that scandalous! Do you mean that she wants to make a match?"
"I mean that the young man has six thousand a year."
"It 's no matter what he has--six thousand a year is n't much!
And we don't do things in that way in our country.
We have n't those horrid match-making arrangements that you
have in your dreadful country. American mothers are not like
"Oh, any one can see, of course," said Captain Lovelock,
"that Mr. Gordon Wright is dying of love for Miss Vivian."
"I can't see it!" cried Blanche.
"He dies easier than I, eh?"
"I wish you would die!" said Blanche. "At any rate, Angela is not dying
of love for Mr. Wright."
"Well, she will marry him all the same," Lovelock declared.
Blanche Evers glanced at Bernard.
"Why don't you contradict that?" she asked. "Why don't you speak
up for your friend?"
"I am quite ready to speak for my friend," said Bernard,
"but I am not ready to speak for Miss Vivian."
"Well, I am," Blanche declared. "She won't marry him."
"If she does n't, I 'll eat my hat!" said Captain Lovelock.
"What do you mean," he went on, "by saying that in America a pretty
girl's mother does n't care for a young fellow's property?"
"Well, they don't--we consider that dreadful. Why don't you say so,
Mr. Longueville?" Blanche demanded. "I never saw any one take things
so quietly. Have n't you got any patriotism?"
"My patriotism is modified by an indisposition to generalize,"
said Bernard, laughing. "On this point permit me not to generalize.
I am interested in the particular case--in ascertaining whether
Mrs. Vivian thinks very often of Gordon Wright's income."
Miss Evers gave a little toss of disgust.
"If you are so awfully impartial, you had better go and ask her."
"That 's a good idea--I think I will go and ask her," said Bernard.
Captain Lovelock returned to his argument.
"Do you mean to say that your mother would be indifferent to the fact
that I have n't a shilling in the world?"
"Indifferent?" Blanche demanded. "Oh no, she would be sorry for you.
She is very charitable--she would give you a shilling!"
"She would n't let you marry me," said Lovelock.
"She would n't have much trouble to prevent it!" cried the young girl.
Bernard had had enough of this intellectual fencing.
"Yes, I will go and ask Mrs. Vivian," he repeated. And he left
his companions to resume their walk.
It had seemed to him a good idea to interrogate Mrs. Vivian;
but there are a great many good ideas that are never put into execution.
As he approached her with a smile and a salutation, and, with the air
of asking leave to take a liberty, seated himself in the empty chair
beside her, he felt a humorous relish of her own probable dismay
which relaxed the investigating impulse. His impulse was now simply
to prove to her that he was the most unobjectionable fellow in the world--
a proposition which resolved itself into several ingenious observations
upon the weather, the music, the charms and the drawbacks of Baden,
the merits of the volume that she held in her lap. If Mrs. Vivian should
be annoyed, should be fluttered, Bernard would feel very sorry for her;
there was nothing in the world that he respected more than the moral
consciousness of a little Boston woman whose view of life was serious
and whose imagination was subject to alarms. He held it to be a
temple of delicacy, where one should walk on tiptoe, and he wished
to exhibit to Mrs. Vivian the possible lightness of his own step.
She herself was incapable of being rude or ungracious, and now that she
was fairly confronted with the plausible object of her mistrust,
she composed herself to her usual attitude of refined liberality.
Her book was a volume of Victor Cousin.
"You must have an extraordinary power of abstracting your mind,"
Bernard said to her, observing it. "Studying philosophy at the Baden
Kursaal strikes me as a real intellectual feat."
"Don't you think we need a little philosophy here?"
"By all means--what we bring with us. But I should n't attempt
the use of the text-book on the spot."
"You should n't speak of yourself as if you were not clever,"
said Mrs. Vivian. "Every one says you are so very clever."
Longueville stared; there was an unexpectedness in the speech
and an incongruity in Mrs. Vivian's beginning to flatter him.
He needed to remind himself that if she was a Bostonian, she was
a Bostonian perverted.
"Ah, my dear madam, every one is no one," he said, laughing.
"It was Mr. Wright, in particular," she rejoined. "He has always
told us that."
"He is blinded by friendship."
"Ah yes, we know about your friendship," said Mrs. Vivian.
"He has told us about that."
"You are making him out a terrible talker!"
"We think he talks so well--we are so very fond of his conversation."
"It 's usually excellent," said Bernard. "But it depends a good deal
on the subject."
"Oh," rejoined Mrs. Vivian, "we always let him choose his subjects."
And dropping her eyes as if in sudden reflection, she began to smooth down
the crumpled corner of her volume.
It occurred to Bernard that--by some mysterious impulse--
she was suddenly presenting him with a chance to ask
her the question that Blanche Evers had just suggested.
Two or three other things as well occurred to him.
Captain Lovelock had been struck with the fact that she
favored Gordon Wright's addresses to her daughter, and Captain
Lovelock had a grotesque theory that she had set her heart
upon seeing this young lady come into six thousand a year.
Miss Evers's devoted swain had never struck Bernard as a
brilliant reasoner, but our friend suddenly found himself
regarding him as one of the inspired. The form of depravity
into which the New England conscience had lapsed on Mrs. Vivian's
part was an undue appreciation of a possible son-in-law's income!
In this illuminating discovery everything else became clear.
Mrs. Vivian disliked her humble servant because he had not thirty
thousand dollars a year, and because at a moment when it was
Angela's prime duty to concentrate her thoughts upon Gordon Wright's
great advantages, a clever young man of paltry fortune was a
"When you say clever, everything is relative," he presently observed.
"Now, there is Captain Lovelock; he has a certain kind of cleverness;
he is very observant."
Mrs. Vivian glanced up with a preoccupied air.
"We don't like Captain Lovelock," she said.
"I have heard him say capital things," Bernard answered.
"We think him brutal," said Mrs. Vivian. "Please don't praise
"Oh, I only want to be just."
Mrs. Vivian for a moment said nothing.
"Do you want very much to be just?" she presently asked.
"It 's my most ardent desire."
"I 'm glad to hear that--and I can easily believe it,"
said Mrs. Vivian.
Bernard gave her a grateful smile, but while he smiled,
he asked himself a serious question. "Why the deuce does she
go on flattering me?--You have always been very kind to me,"
he said aloud.
"It 's on Mr. Wright's account," she answered demurely.
In speaking the words I have just quoted, Bernard Longueville
had felt himself, with a certain compunction, to be skirting
the edge of clever impudence; but Mrs. Vivian's quiet little
reply suggested to him that her cleverness, if not her impudence,
was almost equal to his own. He remarked to himself that
he had not yet done her justice.
"You bring everything back to Gordon Wright," he said, continuing to smile.
Mrs. Vivian blushed a little.
"It is because he is really at the foundation of everything
that is pleasant for us here. When we first came we had some
very disagreeable rooms, and as soon as he arrived he found
us some excellent ones--that were less expensive. And then,
Mr. Longueville," she added, with a soft, sweet emphasis
which should properly have contradicted the idea of audacity,
but which, to Bernard's awakened sense, seemed really to impart
a vivid color to it, "he was also the cause of your joining
our little party."
"Oh, among his services that should never be forgotten. You should
set up a tablet to commemorate it, in the wall of the Kursaal!--
The wicked little woman!" Bernard mentally subjoined.
Mrs. Vivian appeared quite unruffled by his sportive sarcasm,
and she continued to enumerate her obligations to Gordon Wright.
"There are so many ways in which a gentleman can be of assistance
to three poor lonely women, especially when he is at the same time
so friendly and so delicate as Mr. Wright. I don't know what we should
have done without him, and I feel as if every one ought to know it.
He seems like a very old friend. My daughter and I quite worship him.
I will not conceal from you that when I saw you coming through the grounds
a short time ago without him I was very much disappointed. I hope he is
Bernard sat listening, with his eyes on the ground.
"Oh no, he is simply at home writing letters."
Mrs. Vivian was silent a moment.
"I suppose he has a very large correspondence."
"I really don't know. Just now that I am with him he has a smaller
one than usual."
"Ah yes. When you are separated I suppose you write volumes to each other.
But he must have a great many business letters."
"It is very likely," said Bernard. "And if he has, you may be sure
he writes them."
"Order and method!" Mrs. Vivian exclaimed. "With his immense property
those virtues are necessary."
Bernard glanced at her a moment.
"My dear Lovelock," he said to himself, "you are not such a fool as you seem.--
Gordon's virtues are always necessary, doubtless," he went on. "But should
you say his property was immense?"
Mrs. Vivian made a delicate little movement of deprecation.
"Oh, don't ask me to say! I know nothing about it; I only supposed
he was rich."
"He is rich; but he is not a Croesus."
"Oh, you fashionable young men have a standard of luxury!"
said Mrs. Vivian, with a little laugh. "To a poverty-stricken
widow such a fortune as Mr. Wright's seems magnificent."
"Don't call me such horrible names!" exclaimed Bernard.
"Our friend has certainly money enough and to spare."
"That was all I meant. He once had occasion to allude to his property,
but he was so modest, so reserved in the tone he took about it, that one
hardly knew what to think."
"He is ashamed of being rich," said Bernard. "He would be sure
to represent everything unfavorably."
"That 's just what I thought!" This ejaculation was more eager
than Mrs. Vivian might have intended, but even had it been less so,
Bernard was in a mood to appreciate it. "I felt that we should
make allowances for his modesty. But it was in very good taste,"
Mrs. Vivian added.
"He 's a fortunate man," said Bernard. "He gets credit for his good taste--
and he gets credit for the full figure of his income as well!"
"Ah," murmured Mrs. Vivian, rising lightly, as if to make her words
appear more casual, "I don't know the full figure of his income.
She was turning away, and Bernard, as he raised his hat
and separated from her, felt that it was rather cruel that
he should let her go without enlightening her ignorance.
But he said to himself that she knew quite enough. Indeed, he took
a walk along the Lichtenthal Alley and carried out this line
of reflection. Whether or no Miss Vivian were in love with
Gordon Wright, her mother was enamored of Gordon's fortune,
and it had suddenly occurred to her that instead of treating
the friend of her daughter's suitor with civil mistrust,
she would help her case better by giving him a hint of her
state of mind and appealing to his sense of propriety.
Nothing could be more natural than that Mrs. Vivian should suppose
that Bernard desired his friend's success; for, as our thoughtful
hero said to himself, what she had hitherto taken it into her
head to fear was not that Bernard should fall in love with
her daughter, but that her daughter should fall in love with him.
Watering-place life is notoriously conducive to idleness of mind,
and Bernard strolled for half an hour along the overarched avenue,
glancing alternately at these two insupposable cases.
A few days afterward, late in the evening, Gordon Wright came
to his room at the hotel.
"I have just received a letter from my sister," he said.
"I am afraid I shall have to go away."
"Ah, I 'm sorry for that," said Bernard, who was so well pleased
with the actual that he desired no mutation.
"I mean only for a short time," Gordon explained. "My poor sister writes from
England, telling me that my brother-in-law is suddenly obliged to go home.
She has decided not to remain behind, and they are to sail a fortnight hence.
She wants very much to see me before she goes, and as I don't know when I
shall see her again, I feel as if I ought to join her immediately and spend
the interval with her. That will take about a fortnight."
"I appreciate the sanctity of family ties and I project myself
into your situation," said Bernard. "On the other hand,
I don't envy you a breathless journey from Baden to Folkestone."
"It 's the coming back that will be breathless," exclaimed Gordon, smiling.
"You will certainly come back, then?"
"Most certainly. Mrs. Vivian is to be here another month."
"I understand. Well, we shall miss you very much."
Gordon Wright looked for a moment at his companion.
"You will stay here, then? I am so glad of that."
"I was taking it for granted; but on reflection--what do you recommend?"
"I recommend you to stay."
"My dear fellow, your word is law," said Bernard.
"I want you to take care of those ladies," his friend went on.
"I don't like to leave them alone."
"You are joking!" cried Bernard. "When did you ever hear of my 'taking care'
of any one? It 's as much as I can do to take care of myself."
"This is very easy," said Gordon. "I simply want to feel that they
have a man about them."
"They will have a man at any rate--they have the devoted Lovelock."
"That 's just why I want them to have another. He has only an eye
to Miss Evers, who, by the way, is extremely bored with him.
You look after the others. You have made yourself very agreeable to them,
and they like you extremely."
"Ah," said Bernard, laughing, "if you are going to be coarse and flattering,
I collapse. If you are going to titillate my vanity, I succumb."
"It won't be so disagreeable," Gordon observed, with an intention
"Oh no, it won't be disagreeable. I will go to Mrs. Vivian every morning,
hat in hand, for my orders."
Gordon Wright, with his hands in his pockets and a meditative expression,
took several turns about the room.
"It will be a capital chance," he said, at last, stopping in front
of his companion.
"A chance for what?"
"A chance to arrive at a conclusion about my young friend."
Bernard gave a gentle groan.
"Are you coming back to that? Did n't I arrive at a conclusion long ago?
Did n't I tell you she was a delightful girl?"
"Do you call that a conclusion? The first comer could tell
me that at the end of an hour."
"Do you want me to invent something different?" Bernard asked.
"I can't invent anything better."
"I don't want you to invent anything. I only want you to observe her--
to study her in complete independence. You will have her to yourself--
my absence will leave you at liberty. Hang it, sir," Gordon declared,
"I should think you would like it!"
"Damn it, sir, you 're delicious!" Bernard answered;
and he broke into an irrepressible laugh. "I don't suppose it
's for my pleasure that you suggest the arrangement."
Gordon took a turn about the room again.
"No, it 's for mine. At least, it 's for my benefit."
"For your benefit?"
"I have got all sorts of ideas--I told you the other day.
They are all mixed up together and I want a fresh impression."
"My impressions are never fresh," Bernard replied.
"They would be if you had a little good-will--if you entered a little
into my dilemma." The note of reproach was so distinct in these words
that Bernard stood staring. "You never take anything seriously,"
his companion went on.
Bernard tried to answer as seriously as possible.
"Your dilemma seems to me of all dilemmas the strangest."
"That may be; but different people take things differently.
Don't you see," Gordon went on with a sudden outbreak of
passion--"don't you see that I am horribly divided in mind?
I care immensely for Angela Vivian--and yet--and yet--I am afraid
"Afraid of her?"
"I am afraid she 's cleverer than I--that she would be a difficult wife;
that she might do strange things."
"What sort of things?"
"Well, that she might flirt, for instance."
"That 's not a thing for a man to fear."
"Not when he supposes his wife to be fond of him--no. But I don't
suppose that--I have given that up. If I should induce Angela
Vivian to accept me she would do it on grounds purely reasonable.
She would think it best, simply. That would give her a chance
Bernard sat for some time looking at his friend.
"You say she is cleverer than you. It 's impossible to be cleverer than you."
"Oh, come, Longueville!" said Gordon, angrily.
"I am speaking very seriously. You have done a remarkably clever thing.
You have impressed me with the reality, and with--what shall I term it?--
the estimable character of what you call your dilemma. Now this
fresh impression of mine--what do you propose to do with it when you
"Such things are always useful. It will be a good thing to have."
"I am much obliged to you; but do you propose to let anything depend upon it?
Do you propose to take or to leave Miss Vivian--that is, to return to the
charge or to give up trying--in consequence of my fresh impression?"
Gordon seemed perfectly unembarrassed by this question,
in spite of the ironical light which it projected upon his
"I propose to do what I choose!" he said.
"That 's a relief to me," Bernard rejoined. "This idea of yours is,
after all, only the play of the scientific mind."
"I shall contradict you flat if I choose," Gordon went on.
"Ah, it 's well to warn me of that," said Bernard, laughing.
"Even the most sincere judgment in the world likes to be
notified a little of the danger of being contradicted."
"Is yours the most sincere judgment in the world?" Gordon demanded.
"That 's a very pertinent question. Does n't it occur to you that you
may have reason to be jealous--leaving me alone, with an open field,
with the woman of your choice?"
"I wish to heaven I could be jealous!" Gordon exclaimed.
"That would simplify the thing--that would give me a lift."
And the next day, after some more talk, it seemed really with a
hope of this contingency--though, indeed, he laughed about it--
that he started for England.
For the three or four days that followed Gordon Wright's departure,
Bernard saw nothing of the ladies who had been committed to his charge.
They chose to remain in seclusion, and he was at liberty to interpret this
fact as an expression of regret at the loss of Gordon's good offices.
He knew other people at Baden, and he went to see them and endeavored,
by cultivating their society, to await in patience the re-appearance
of Mrs. Vivian and her companions. But on the fourth day he became
conscious that other people were much less interesting than the trio
of American ladies who had lodgings above the confectioner's, and he made
bold to go and knock at their door. He had been asked to take care of them,
and this function presupposed contact. He had met Captain Lovelock
the day before, wandering about with a rather crest-fallen aspect,
and the young Englishman had questioned him eagerly as to the whereabouts of
"Gad, I believe they 've left the place--left the place without giving
a fellow warning!" cried Lovelock.
"Oh no, I think they are here still," said Bernard. "My friend Wright
has gone away for a week or two, but I suspect the ladies are simply
staying at home."
"Gad, I was afraid your friend Wright had taken them away with him;
he seems to keep them all in his pocket. I was afraid he had given them
marching orders; they 'd have been sure to go--they 're so awfully fond
of his pocket! I went to look them up yesterday--upon my word I did.
They live at a baker's in a little back-street; people do live in rum
places when they come abroad! But I assure you, when I got there,
I 'm damned if I could make out whether they were there or not. I don't
speak a word of German, and there was no one there but the baker's wife.
She was a low brute of a woman--she could n't understand a word I said,
though she gave me plenty of her own tongue. I had to give it up.
They were not at home, but whether they had left Baden or not--that was
beyond my finding out. If they are here, why the deuce don't they show?
Fancy coming to Baden-Baden to sit moping at a pastry-cook's!"
Captain Lovelock was evidently irritated, and it was Bernard's
impression that the turn of luck over yonder where the gold-pieces
were chinking had something to do with the state of his temper.
But more fortunate himself, he ascertained from the baker's
wife that though Mrs. Vivian and her daughter had gone out,
their companion, "the youngest lady--the little young lady"--
was above in the sitting-room.
Blanche Evers was sitting at the window with a book, but she relinquished
the volume with an alacrity that showed it had not been absorbing,
and began to chatter with her customary frankness.
"Well, I must say I am glad to see some one!" cried the young girl,
passing before the mirror and giving a touch to her charming tresses.
"Even if it 's only me," Bernard exclaimed, laughing.
"I did n't mean that. I am sure I am very glad to see you--
I should think you would have found out that by this time.
I mean I 'm glad to see any one--especially a man.
I suppose it 's improper for me to say that--especially to you!
There--you see I do think more of you than of some gentlemen.
Why especially to you? Well, because you always seem to me
to want to take advantage. I did n't say a base advantage;
I did n't accuse you of anything dreadful. I 'm sure I
want to take advantage, too--I take it whenever I can.
You see I take advantage of your being here--I 've got so
many things to say. I have n't spoken a word in three days,
and I 'm sure it is a pleasant change--a gentleman's visit.
All of a sudden we have gone into mourning; I 'm sure
I don't know who 's dead. Is it Mr. Gordon Wright?
It 's some idea of Mrs. Vivian's--I 'm sure it is n't mine.
She thinks we have been often enough to the Kursaal. I don't
know whether she thinks it 's wicked, or what. If it 's wicked
the harm 's already done; I can't be any worse than I am now.
I have seen all the improper people and I have learnt all their names;
Captain Lovelock has told me their names, plenty of times.
I don't see what good it does me to be shut up here with all
those names running in my ears. I must say I do prefer society.
We have n't been to the Kursaal for four days--we have only gone
out for a drive. We have taken the most interminable drives.
I do believe we have seen every old ruin in the whole country.
Mrs. Vivian and Angela are so awfully fond of scenery--they talk
about it by the half-hour. They talk about the mountains and trees
as if they were people they knew--as if they were gentlemen!
I mean as if the mountains and trees were gentlemen.
Of course scenery 's lovely, but you can't walk about with a tree.
At any rate, that has been all our society--foliage!
Foliage and women; but I suppose women are a sort of foliage.
They are always rustling about and dropping off. That 's why I
could n't make up my mind to go out with them this afternoon.
They 've gone to see the Waterworths--the Waterworths arrived
yesterday and are staying at some hotel. Five daughters--
all unmarried! I don't know what kind of foliage they are;
some peculiar kind--they don't drop off. I thought I had had
about enough ladies' society--three women all sticking together!
I don't think it 's good for a young girl to have nothing
but ladies' society--it 's so awfully limited. I suppose I ought
to stand up for my own sex and tell you that when we are alone
together we want for nothing. But we want for everything,
as it happens! Women's talk is limited--every one knows that.
That 's just what mamma did n't want when she asked Mrs. Vivian to
take charge of me. Now, Mr. Longueville, what are you laughing at?--
you are always laughing at me. She wanted me to be unlimited--
is that what you say? Well, she did n't want me to be
narrowed down; she wanted me to have plenty of conversation.
She wanted me to be fitted for society--that 's what mamma wanted.
She wanted me to have ease of manner; she thinks that if you
don't acquire it when you are young you never have it at all.
She was so happy to think I should come to Baden; but she would
n't approve of the life I 've been leading the last four days.
That 's no way to acquire ease of manner--sitting all day
in a small parlor with two persons of one's own sex!
Of course Mrs. Vivian's influence--that 's the great thing.
Mamma said it was like the odor of a flower. But you don't
want to keep smelling a flower all day, even the sweetest;
that 's the shortest way to get a headache. Apropos of flowers,
do you happen to have heard whether Captain Lovelock is alive
or dead? Do I call him a flower? No; I call him a flower-pot.
He always has some fine young plant in his button-hole. He has
n't been near me these ten years--I never heard of anything so
Captain Lovelock came on the morrow, Bernard finding him
in Mrs. Vivian's little sitting-room on paying a second visit.
On this occasion the two other ladies were at home and Bernard
was not exclusively indebted to Miss Evers for entertainment.
It was to this source of hospitality, however, that Lovelock
mainly appealed, following the young girl out upon the little
balcony that was suspended above the confectioner's window.
Mrs. Vivian sat writing at one of the windows of the sitting-room,
and Bernard addressed his conversation to Angela.
"Wright requested me to keep an eye on you," he said; "but you seem
very much inclined to keep out of my jurisdiction."
"I supposed you had gone away," she answered--"now that your friend is gone."
"By no means. Gordon is a charming fellow, but he is by no means the only
attraction of Baden. Besides, I have promised him to look after you--
to take care of you."
The girl looked at him a moment in silence--a little askance.
"I thought you had probably undertaken something of that sort,"
she presently said.
"It was of course a very natural request for Gordon to make."
Angela got up and turned away; she wandered about the room and went
and stood at one of the windows. Bernard found the movement abrupt
and not particularly gracious; but the young man was not easy to snub.
He followed her, and they stood at the second window--the long window
that opened upon the balcony. Miss Evers and Captain Lovelock were leaning
on the railing, looking into the street and apparently amusing themselves
highly with what they saw.
"I am not sure it was a natural request for him to make,"
"What could have been more so--devoted as he is to you?"
She hesitated a moment; then with a little laugh--
"He ought to have locked us up and said nothing about it."
"It 's not so easy to lock you up," said Bernard. "I know Wright has
great influence with you, but you are after all independent beings."
"I am not an independent being. If my mother and Mr. Wright were to agree
together to put me out of harm's way they could easily manage it."
"You seem to have been trying something of that sort," said Bernard.
"You have been so terribly invisible."
"It was because I thought you had designs upon us; that you
were watching for us--to take care of us."
"You contradict yourself! You said just now that you believed I
had left Baden."
"That was an artificial--a conventional speech. Is n't a lady always
supposed to say something of that sort to a visitor by way of pretending
to have noticed that she has not seen him?"
"You know I would never have left Baden without coming to bid you good-bye,"
The girl made no rejoinder; she stood looking out at the little sunny,
slanting, rough-paved German street.
"Are you taking care of us now?" she asked in a moment.
"Has the operation begun? Have you heard the news, mamma?"
she went on. "Do you know that Mr. Wright has made us
over to Mr. Longueville, to be kept till called for?
Suppose Mr. Wright should never call for us!"
Mrs. Vivian left her writing-table and came toward Bernard,
smiling at him and pressing her hands together.
"There is no fear of that, I think," she said.
"I am sure I am very glad we have a gentleman near us.
I think you will be a very good care-taker, Mr. Longueville,
and I recommend my daughter to put great faith in your judgment."
And Mrs. Vivian gave him an intense--a pleading, almost affecting--
"I am greatly touched by your confidence and I shall do everything
I can think of to merit it," said the young man.
"Ah, mamma's confidence is wonderful!" Angela exclaimed.
"There was never anything like mamma's confidence. I am very different;
I have no confidence. And then I don't like being deposited,
like a parcel, or being watched, like a curious animal. I am too fond
of my liberty."
"That is the second time you have contradicted yourself," said Bernard.
"You said just now that you were not an independent being."
Angela turned toward him quickly, smiling and frowning at once.
"You do watch one, certainly! I see it has already begun."
Mrs. Vivian laid her hand upon her daughter's with a little murmur
of tender deprecation, and the girl bent over and kissed her.
"Mamma will tell you it 's the effect of agitation,"
she said--"that I am nervous, and don't know what I say.
I am supposed to be agitated by Mr. Wright's departure; is n't
that it, mamma?"
Mrs. Vivian turned away, with a certain soft severity.
"I don't know, my daughter. I don't understand you."
A charming pink flush had come into Angela's cheek and a noticeable light into
her eye. She looked admirably handsome, and Bernard frankly gazed at her.
She met his gaze an instant, and then she went on.
"Mr. Longueville does n't understand me either. You must know
that I am agitated," she continued. "Every now and then I have
moments of talking nonsense. It 's the air of Baden, I think;
it 's too exciting. It 's only lately I have been so. When you go
away I shall be horribly ashamed."
"If the air of Baden has such an effect upon you," said Bernard,
"it is only a proof the more that you need the solicitous attention
of your friends."
"That may be; but, as I told you just now, I have no confidence--
none whatever, in any one or anything. Therefore, for the present,
I shall withdraw from the world--I shall seclude myself.
Let us go on being quiet, mamma. Three or four days of it have
been so charming. Let the parcel lie till it 's called for.
It is much safer it should n't be touched at all. I shall assume that,
metaphorically speaking, Mr. Wright, who, as you have intimated,
is our earthly providence, has turned the key upon us. I am locked up.
I shall not go out, except upon the balcony!" And with this,
Angela stepped out of the long window and went and stood beside
Bernard was extremely amused, but he was also a good deal puzzled,
and it came over him that it was not a wonder that poor Wright should not
have found this young lady's disposition a perfectly decipherable page.
He remained in the room with Mrs. Vivian--he stood there looking at her
with his agreeably mystified smile. She had turned away, but on perceiving
that her daughter had gone outside she came toward Bernard again,
with her habitual little air of eagerness mitigated by discretion.
There instantly rose before his mind the vision of that moment
when he had stood face to face with this same apologetic mamma,
after Angela had turned her back, on the grass-grown terrace at Siena.
To make the vision complete, Mrs. Vivian took it into her head to utter the
"I am sure you think she is a strange girl."
Bernard recognized them, and he gave a light laugh.
"You told me that the first time you ever saw me--in that quiet little
corner of an Italian town."
Mrs. Vivian gave a little faded, elderly blush.
"Don't speak of that," she murmured, glancing at the open window.
"It was a little accident of travel."
"I am dying to speak of it," said Bernard. "It was such a charming accident
for me! Tell me this, at least--have you kept my sketch?"
Mrs. Vivian colored more deeply and glanced at the window again.
"No," she just whispered.
Bernard looked out of the window too. Angela was leaning against the railing
of the balcony, in profile, just as she had stood while he painted her,
against the polished parapet at Siena. The young man's eyes rested on her
a moment, then, as he glanced back at her mother:
"Has she kept it?" he asked.
"I don't know," said Mrs. Vivian, with decision.
The decision was excessive--it expressed the poor lady's distress
at having her veracity tested. "Dear little daughter of the Puritans--
she can't tell a fib!" Bernard exclaimed to himself. And with this
flattering conclusion he took leave of her.
It was affirmed at an early stage of this narrative that
he was a young man of a contemplative and speculative turn,
and he had perhaps never been more true to his character
than during an hour or two that evening as he sat by himself
on the terrace of the Conversation-house, surrounded by
the crowd of its frequenters, but lost in his meditations.
The place was full of movement and sound, but he had tilted back
his chair against the great green box of an orange-tree, and in this
easy attitude, vaguely and agreeably conscious of the music,
he directed his gaze to the star-sprinkled vault of the night.
There were people coming and going whom he knew, but he said
nothing to any one--he preferred to be alone; he found his own
company quite absorbing. He felt very happy, very much amused,
very curiously preoccupied. The feeling was a singular one.
It partook of the nature of intellectual excitement.
He had a sense of having received carte blanche for the expenditure
of his wits. Bernard liked to feel his intelligence at play;
this is, perhaps, the highest luxury of a clever man.
It played at present over the whole field of Angela Vivian's
oddities of conduct--for, since his visit in the afternoon,
Bernard had felt that the spectacle was considerably enlarged.
He had come to feel, also, that poor Gordon's predicament was
by no means an unnatural one. Longueville had begun to take his
friend's dilemma very seriously indeed. The girl was certainly a
The evening drew to a close and the crowd of Bernard's
fellow-loungers dispersed. The lighted windows of the Kursaal
still glittered in the bosky darkness, and the lamps along
the terrace had not been extinguished; but the great promenade
was almost deserted; here and there only a lingering couple--
the red tip of a cigar and the vague radiance of a light dress--
gave animation to the place. But Bernard sat there still
in his tilted chair, beneath his orange-tree; his imagination
had wandered very far and he was awaiting its return to the fold.
He was on the point of rising, however, when he saw
three figures come down the empty vista of the terrace--
figures which even at a distance had a familiar air.
He immediately left his seat and, taking a dozen steps,
recognized Angela Vivian, Blanche Evers and Captain Lovelock.
In a moment he met them in the middle of the terrace.
Blanche immediately announced that they had come for a midnight walk.
"And if you think it 's improper," she exclaimed, "it 's not my invention--
it 's Miss Vivian's."
"I beg pardon--it 's mine," said Captain Lovelock. "I desire the credit
of it. I started the idea; you never would have come without me."
"I think it would have been more proper to come without you than with you,"
Blanche declared. "You know you 're a dreadful character."
"I 'm much worse when I 'm away from you than when I 'm with you,"
said Lovelock. "You keep me in order."
The young girl gave a little cry.
"I don't know what you call order! You can't be worse than you
have been to-night."
Angela was not listening to this; she turned away a little,
looking about at the empty garden.
"This is the third time to-day that you have contradicted yourself,"
he said. Though he spoke softly he went nearer to her; but she appeared
not to hear him--she looked away.
"You ought to have been there, Mr. Longueville," Blanche went on.
"We have had a most lovely night; we sat all the evening on
Mrs. Vivian's balcony, eating ices. To sit on a balcony, eating ices--
that 's my idea of heaven."
"With an angel by your side," said Captain Lovelock.
"You are not my idea of an angel," retorted Blanche.
"I 'm afraid you 'll never learn what the angels are really like,"
said the Captain. "That 's why Miss Evers got Mrs. Vivian to take
rooms over the baker's--so that she could have ices sent up several
times a day. Well, I 'm bound to say the baker's ices are not bad."
"Considering that they have been baked! But they affect the mind,"
Blanche went on. "They would have affected Captain Lovelock's--
only he has n't any. They certainly affected Angela's--
putting it into her head, at eleven o'clock, to come out
Angela did nothing whatever to defend herself against this ingenious sally;
she simply stood there in graceful abstraction. Bernard was vaguely vexed
at her neither looking at him nor speaking to him; her indifference seemed
a contravention of that right of criticism which Gordon had bequeathed
"I supposed people went to bed at eleven o'clock," he said.
Angela glanced about her, without meeting his eye.
"They seem to have gone."
Miss Evers strolled on, and her Captain of course kept pace with her;
so that Bernard and Miss Vivian were left standing together.
He looked at her a moment in silence, but her eye still avoided
"You are remarkably inconsistent," Bernard presently said.
"You take a solemn vow of seclusion this afternoon, and no
sooner have you taken it than you proceed to break it in this
She looked at him now--a long time--longer than she had ever done before.
"This is part of the examination, I suppose," she said.
Bernard hesitated an instant.
"The one you have undertaken--on Mr. Wright's behalf."
"What do you know about that?"
"Ah, you admit it then?" the girl exclaimed, with an eager laugh.
"I don't in the least admit it," said Bernard, conscious only for the moment
of the duty of loyalty to his friend and feeling that negation here was simply
a point of honor.
"I trust more to my own conviction than to your denial.
You have engaged to bring your superior wisdom and your immense
experience to bear upon me! That 's the understanding."
"You must think us a pretty pair of wiseacres," said Bernard.
"There it is--you already begin to answer for what I think.
When Mr. Wright comes back you will be able to tell him
that I am 'outrageous'!" And she turned away and walked on,
slowly following her companions.
"What do you care what I tell him?" Bernard asked. "You don't care a straw."
She said nothing for a moment, then, suddenly, she stopped again,
dropping her eyes.
"I beg your pardon," she said, very gently; "I care a great deal.
It 's as well that you should know that."
Bernard stood looking at her; her eyes were still lowered.
"Do you know what I shall tell him? I shall tell him that about eleven
o'clock at night you become peculiarly attractive."
She went on again a few steps; Miss Evers and Captain Lovelock had turned
round and were coming toward her.
"It is very true that I am outrageous," she said; "it was
extremely silly and in very bad taste to come out at this hour.
Mamma was not at all pleased, and I was very unkind to her.
I only wanted to take a turn, and now we will go back."
On the others coming up she announced this resolution,
and though Captain Lovelock and his companion made a great outcry,
she carried her point. Bernard offered no opposition.
He contented himself with walking back to her mother's
lodging with her almost in silence. The little winding
streets were still and empty; there was no sound but the
chatter and laughter of Blanche and her attendant swain.
Angela said nothing.
This incident presented itself at first to Bernard's mind
as a sort of declaration of war. The girl had guessed
that she was to be made a subject of speculative scrutiny.
The idea was not agreeable to her independent spirit, and she
placed herself boldly on the defensive. She took her stand
upon her right to defeat his purpose by every possible means--
to perplex, elude, deceive him--in plain English, to make a fool of him.
This was the construction which for several days Bernard put upon
her deportment, at the same time that he thought it immensely
clever of her to have guessed what had been going on in his mind.
She made him feel very much ashamed of his critical attitude,
and he did everything he could think of to put her off her guard
and persuade her that for the moment he had ceased to be an observer.
His position at moments seemed to him an odious one, for he was firmly
resolved that between him and the woman to whom his friend had
proposed there should be nothing in the way of a vulgar flirtation.
Under the circumstances, it savoured both of flirtation and
of vulgarity that they should even fall out with each other--
a consummation which appeared to be more or less definitely impending.
Bernard remarked to himself that his own only reasonable line
of conduct would be instantly to leave Baden, but I am almost
ashamed to mention the fact which led him to modify this decision.
It was simply that he was induced to make the reflection that
he had really succeeded in putting Miss Vivian off her guard.
How he had done so he would have found it difficult to explain,
inasmuch as in one way or another, for a week, he had spent several
hours in talk with her. The most effective way of putting her off
her guard would have been to leave her alone, to forswear the privilege
of conversation with her, to pass the days in other society.
This course would have had the drawback of not enabling him to
measure the operation of so ingenious a policy, and Bernard liked,
of all the things in the world, to know when he was successful.
He believed, at all events, that he was successful now, and that the virtue
of his conversation itself had persuaded this keen and brilliant
girl that he was thinking of anything in the world but herself.
He flattered himself that the civil indifference of his manner,
the abstract character of the topics he selected, the irrelevancy of
his allusions and the laxity of his attention, all contributed to this
Such a result was certainly a remarkable one, for it is almost superfluous
to intimate that Miss Vivian was, in fact, perpetually in his thoughts.
He made it a point of conscience not to think of her, but he was thinking
of her most when his conscience was most lively. Bernard had a conscience--
a conscience which, though a little irregular in its motions, gave itself
in the long run a great deal of exercise; but nothing could have been more
natural than that, curious, imaginative, audacious as he was, and delighting,
as I have said, in the play of his singularly nimble intelligence,
he should have given himself up to a sort of unconscious experimentation.
"I will leave her alone--I will be hanged if I attempt to draw her out!"
he said to himself; and meanwhile he was roaming afield and plucking personal
impressions in great fragrant handfuls. All this, as I say, was natural,
given the man and the situation; the only oddity is that he should have
fancied himself able to persuade the person most interested that he had
renounced his advantage.
He remembered her telling him that she cared very much
what he should say of her on Gordon Wright's return,
and he felt that this declaration had a particular significance.
After this, of her own movement, she never spoke of Gordon,
and Bernard made up his mind that she had promised her mother
to accept him if he should repeat his proposal, and that as her
heart was not in the matter she preferred to drop a veil over
the prospect. "She is going to marry him for his money," he said,
"because her mother has brought out the advantages of the thing.
Mrs. Vivian's persuasive powers have carried the day,
and the girl has made herself believe that it does n't matter
that she does n't love him. Perhaps it does n't--to her;
it 's hard, in such a case, to put one's self in the woman's
point of view. But I should think it would matter, some day
or other, to poor Gordon. She herself can't help suspecting
it may make a difference in his happiness, and she therefore
does n't wish to seem any worse to him than is necessary.
She wants me to speak well of her; if she intends to deceive him
she expects me to back her up. The wish is doubtless natural,
but for a proud girl it is rather an odd favor to ask.
Oh yes, she 's a proud girl, even though she has been able
to arrange it with her conscience to make a mercenary marriage.
To expect me to help her is perhaps to treat me as a friend;
but she ought to remember--or at least I ought to remember--
that Gordon is an older friend than she. Inviting me to help her
as against my oldest friend--is n't there a grain of impudence in
It will be gathered that Bernard's meditations were not on the whole
favorable to this young lady, and it must be affirmed that he was
forcibly struck with an element of cynicism in her conduct.
On the evening of her so-called midnight visit to the Kursaal she had
suddenly sounded a note of sweet submissiveness which re-appeared again
at frequent intervals. She was gentle, accessible, tenderly gracious,
expressive, demonstrative, almost flattering. From his own personal
point of view Bernard had no complaint to make of this maidenly urbanity,
but he kept reminding himself that he was not in question and that
everything must be looked at in the light of Gordon's requirements.
There was all this time an absurd logical twist in his view of things.
In the first place he was not to judge at all; and in the second he was
to judge strictly on Gordon's behalf. This latter clause always served
as a justification when the former had failed to serve as a deterrent.
When Bernard reproached himself for thinking too much of the girl,
he drew comfort from the reflection that he was not thinking well.
To let it gradually filter into one's mind, through a superficial
complexity of more reverent preconceptions, that she was an extremely
clever coquette--this, surely, was not to think well! Bernard had
luminous glimpses of another situation, in which Angela Vivian's
coquetry should meet with a different appreciation; but just now it
was not an item to be entered on the credit side of Wright's account.
Bernard wiped his pen, mentally speaking, as he made this reflection,
and felt like a grizzled old book-keeper, of incorruptible probity.
He saw her, as I have said, very often; she continued to break her
vow of shutting herself up, and at the end of a fortnight she had
reduced it to imperceptible particles. On four different occasions,
presenting himself at Mrs. Vivian's lodgings, Bernard found Angela
there alone. She made him welcome, receiving him as an American girl,
in such circumstances, is free to receive the most gallant of visitors.
She smiled and talked and gave herself up to charming gayety,
so that there was nothing for Bernard to say but that now at least
she was off her guard with a vengeance. Happily he was on his own!
He flattered himself that he remained so on occasions that were even more
insidiously relaxing--when, in the evening, she strolled away with him
to parts of the grounds of the Conversation-house, where the music sank
to sweeter softness and the murmur of the tree-tops of the Black Forest,
stirred by the warm night-air, became almost audible; or when,
in the long afternoons, they wandered in the woods apart from the others--
from Mrs. Vivian and the amiable object of her more avowed solicitude,
the object of the sportive adoration of the irrepressible,
the ever-present Lovelock. They were constantly having parties in
the woods at this time--driving over the hills to points of interest
which Bernard had looked out in the guide-book. Bernard, in such matters,
was extremely alert and considerate; he developed an unexpected talent
for arranging excursions, and he had taken regularly into his service
the red-waistcoated proprietor of a big Teutonic landau, which had
a courier's seat behind and was always at the service of the ladies.
The functionary in the red waistcoat was a capital charioteer; he was
constantly proposing new drives, and he introduced our little party to
treasures of romantic scenery.
More than a fortnight had elapsed, but Gordon Wright had not
re-appeared, and Bernard suddenly decided that he would leave Baden.
He found Mrs. Vivian and her daughter, very opportunely, in the garden
of the pleasant, homely Schloss which forms the residence of the Grand
Dukes of Baden during their visits to the scene of our narrative,
and which, perched upon the hill-side directly above the little town,
is surrounded with charming old shrubberies and terraces. To this garden
a portion of the public is admitted, and Bernard, who liked the place,
had been there more than once. One of the terraces had a high parapet,
against which Angela was leaning, looking across the valley.
Mrs. Vivian was not at first in sight, but Bernard presently
perceived her seated under a tree with Victor Cousin in her hand.
As Bernard approached the young girl, Angela, who had not seen him,
"Don't move," he said. "You were just in the position in which I
painted your portrait at Siena."
"Don't speak of that," she answered.
"I have never understood," said Bernard, "why you insist upon ignoring
that charming incident."
She resumed for a moment her former position, and stood looking
at the opposite hills.
"That 's just how you were--in profile--with your head a little thrown back."
"It was an odious incident!" Angela exclaimed, rapidly changing her attitude.
Bernard was on the point of making a rejoinder, but he thought of Gordon
Wright and held his tongue. He presently told her that he intended to leave
Baden on the morrow.
They were walking toward her mother. She looked round at him quickly.
"Where are you going?"
"To Paris," he said, quite at hazard; for he had not in the least
determined where to go.
"To Paris--in the month of August?" And she gave a little laugh.
"What a happy inspiration!"
She gave a little laugh, but she said nothing more,
and Bernard gave no further account of his plan. They went
and sat down near Mrs. Vivian for ten minutes, and then they
got up again and strolled to another part of the garden.
They had it all to themselves, and it was filled with things
that Bernard liked--inequalities of level, with mossy steps
connecting them, rose-trees trained upon old brick walls,
horizontal trellises arranged like Italian pergolas,
and here and there a towering poplar, looking as if it had
survived from some more primitive stage of culture, with its
stiff boughs motionless and its leaves forever trembling.
They made almost the whole circuit of the garden, and then
Angela mentioned very quietly that she had heard that morning
from Mr. Wright, and that he would not return for another week.
"You had better stay," she presently added, as if Gordon's continued
absence were an added reason.
"I don't know," said Bernard. "It is sometimes difficult to say
what one had better do."
I hesitate to bring against him that most inglorious of all charges,
an accusation of sentimental fatuity, of the disposition to invent
obstacles to enjoyment so that he might have the pleasure of seeing
a pretty girl attempt to remove them. But it must be admitted that
if Bernard really thought at present that he had better leave Baden,
the observation I have just quoted was not so much a sign of this
conviction as of the hope that his companion would proceed to gainsay it.
The hope was not disappointed, though I must add that no sooner had it been
gratified than Bernard began to feel ashamed of it.
"This certainly is not one of those cases," said Angela.
"The thing is surely very simple now."
"What makes it so simple?"
She hesitated a moment.
"The fact that I ask you to stay."
"You ask me?" he repeated, softly.
"Ah," she exclaimed, "one does n't say those things twice!"
She turned away, and they went back to her mother, who gave Bernard
a wonderful little look of half urgent, half remonstrant inquiry.
As they left the garden he walked beside Mrs. Vivian, Angela going
in front of them at a distance. The elder lady began immediately
to talk to him of Gordon Wright.
"He 's not coming back for another week, you know," she said.
"I am sorry he stays away so long."
"Ah yes," Bernard answered, "it seems very long indeed."
And it had, in fact, seemed to him very long.
"I suppose he is always likely to have business," said Mrs. Vivian.
"You may be very sure it is not for his pleasure that he stays away."
"I know he is faithful to old friends," said Mrs. Vivian.
"I am sure he has not forgotten us."
"I certainly count upon that," Bernard exclaimed--"remembering him as we do!"
Mrs. Vivian glanced at him gratefully.
"Oh yes, we remember him--we remember him daily, hourly.
At least, I can speak for my daughter and myself. He has been
so very kind to us." Bernard said nothing, and she went on.
"And you have been so very kind to us, too, Mr. Longueville.
I want so much to thank you."
"Oh no, don't!" said Bernard, frowning. "I would rather you should n't."
"Of course," Mrs. Vivian added, "I know it 's all on his account;
but that makes me wish to thank you all the more. Let me express
my gratitude, in advance, for the rest of the time, till he comes back.
That 's more responsibility than you bargained for," she said, with a
little nervous laugh.
"Yes, it 's more than I bargained for. I am thinking of going away."
Mrs. Vivian almost gave a little jump, and then she paused on the Baden
cobble-stones, looking up at him.
"If you must go, Mr. Longueville--don't sacrifice yourself!"
The exclamation fell upon Bernard's ear with a certain softly mocking
cadence which was sufficient, however, to make this organ tingle.
"Oh, after all, you know," he said, as they walked on--"after all,
you know, I am not like Wright--I have no business."
He walked with the ladies to the door of their lodging.
Angela kept always in front. She stood there, however,
at the little confectioner's window until the others came up.
She let her mother pass in, and then she said to Bernard,
looking at him--
"Shall I see you again?"
"Some time, I hope."
"I mean--are you going away?"
Bernard looked for a moment at a little pink sugar cherub--
a species of Cupid, with a gilded bow--which figured among
the pastry-cook's enticements. Then he said--
"I will come and tell you this evening."
And in the evening he went to tell her; she had mentioned during
the walk in the garden of the Schloss that they should not go out.
As he approached Mrs. Vivian's door he saw a figure in a light dress
standing in the little balcony. He stopped and looked up, and then
the person in the light dress, leaning her hands on the railing,
with her shoulders a little raised, bent over and looked down at him.
It was very dark, but even through the thick dusk he thought he perceived
the finest brilliancy of Angela Vivian's smile.
"I shall not go away," he said, lifting his voice a little.
She made no answer; she only stood looking down at him through the warm dusk
and smiling. He went into the house, and he remained at Baden-Baden till
Gordon came back.
Gordon asked him no questions for twenty-four hours after his return,
then suddenly he began:
"Well, have n't you something to say to me?"
It was at the hotel, in Gordon's apartment, late in the afternoon.
A heavy thunder-storm had broken over the place an hour before,
and Bernard had been standing at one of his friend's windows,
rather idly, with his hands in his pockets, watching the rain-torrents
dance upon the empty pavements. At last the deluge abated,
the clouds began to break--there was a promise of a fine evening.
Gordon Wright, while the storm was at its climax, sat down to
write letters, and wrote half a dozen. It was after he had sealed,
directed and affixed a postage-stamp to the last of the series that
he addressed to his companion the question I have just quoted.
"Do you mean about Miss Vivian?" Bernard asked, without turning
round from the window.
"About Miss Vivian, of course." Bernard said nothing and his companion
went on. "Have you nothing to tell me about Miss Vivian?"
Bernard presently turned round looking at Gordon and smiling a little.
"She 's a delightful creature!"
"That won't do--you have tried that before," said Gordon.
"No," he added in a moment, "that won't do." Bernard turned back
to the window, and Gordon continued, as he remained silent.
"I shall have a right to consider your saying nothing a proof
of an unfavorable judgment. You don't like her!"
Bernard faced quickly about again, and for an instant the two men
looked at each other.
"Ah, my dear Gordon," Longueville murmured.
"Do you like her then?" asked Wright, getting up.
"No!" said Longueville.
"That 's just what I wanted to know, and I am much obliged to you
for telling me."
"I am not obliged to you for asking me. I was in hopes you would n't."
"You dislike her very much then?" Gordon exclaimed, gravely.
"Won't disliking her, simply, do?" said Bernard.
"It will do very well. But it will do a little better if you will tell
me why. Give me a reason or two."
"Well," said Bernard, "I tried to make love to her and she boxed my ears."
"The devil!" cried Gordon.
"I mean morally, you know."
Gordon stared; he seemed a little puzzled.
"You tried to make love to her morally?"
"She boxed my ears morally," said Bernard, laughing out.
"Why did you try to make love to her?"
This inquiry was made in a tone so expressive of an unbiassed
truth-seeking habit that Bernard's mirth was not immediately quenched.
Nevertheless, he replied with sufficient gravity--
"To test her fidelity to you. Could you have expected anything else?
You told me you were afraid she was a latent coquette. You gave me a chance,
and I tried to ascertain."
"And you found she was not. Is that what you mean?"
"She 's as firm as a rock. My dear Gordon, Miss Vivian is as firm
as the firmest of your geological formations."
Gordon shook his head with a strange positive persistence.
"You are talking nonsense. You are not serious. You are not telling
me the truth. I don't believe that you attempted to make love to her.
You would n't have played such a game as that. It would n't have
Bernard flushed a little; he was irritated.
"Oh come, don't make too much of a point of that! Did n't you tell me
before that it was a great opportunity?"
"An opportunity to be wise--not to be foolish!"
"Ah, there is only one sort of opportunity," cried Bernard.
"You exaggerate the reach of human wisdom."
"Suppose she had let you make love to her," said Gordon.
"That would have been a beautiful result of your experiment."
"I should have seemed to you a rascal, perhaps, but I should have saved you
from a latent coquette. You would owe some thanks for that."
"And now you have n't saved me," said Gordon, with a simple
air of noting a fact.
"You assume--in spite of what I say--that she is a coquette!"
"I assume something because you evidently conceal something.
I want the whole truth."
Bernard turned back to the window with increasing irritation.
"If he wants the whole truth he shall have it," he said to himself.
He stood a moment in thought and then he looked at his companion again.
"I think she would marry you--but I don't think she cares for you."
Gordon turned a little pale, but he clapped his hands together.
"Very good," he exclaimed. "That 's exactly how I want you to speak."
"Her mother has taken a great fancy to your fortune and it
has rubbed off on the girl, who has made up her mind that it
would be a pleasant thing to have thirty thousand a year,
and that her not caring for you is an unimportant detail."
"I see--I see," said Gordon, looking at his friend with an air of admiration
for his frank and lucid way of putting things.
Now that he had begun to be frank and lucid, Bernard found a charm in it,
and the impulse under which he had spoken urged him almost violently forward.
"The mother and daughter have agreed together to bag you, and Angela,
I am sure, has made a vow to be as nice to you after marriage as possible.
Mrs. Vivian has insisted upon the importance of that; Mrs. Vivian is a
Gordon kept gazing at his friend; he seemed positively fascinated.
"Yes, I have noticed that in Mrs. Vivian," he said.
"Ah, she 's a very nice woman!"
"It 's not true, then," said Gordon, "that you tried to make love to Angela?"
Bernard hesitated a single instant.
"No, it is n't true. I calumniated myself, to save her reputation.
You insisted on my giving you a reason for my not liking her--
I gave you that one."
"And your real reason--"
"My real reason is that I believe she would do you what I can't
help regarding as an injury."
"Of course!" and Gordon, dropping his interested eyes, stared for some
moments at the carpet. "But it is n't true, then, that you discovered
her to be a coquette?"
"Ah, that 's another matter."
"You did discover it all the same?"
"Since you want the whole truth--I did!"
"How did you discover it?" Gordon asked, clinging to his right
"You must remember that I saw a great deal of her."
"You mean that she encouraged you?"
"If I had not been a very faithful friend I might have thought so."
Gordon laid his hand appreciatively, gratefully, on Bernard's shoulder.
"And even that did n't make you like her?"
"Confound it, you make me blush!" cried Bernard, blushing a little in fact.
"I have said quite enough; excuse me from drawing the portrait of too
insensible a man. It was my point of view; I kept thinking of you."
Gordon, with his hand still on his friend's arm, patted it an instant
in response to this declaration; then he turned away.
"I am much obliged to you. That 's my notion of friendship.
You have spoken out like a man."
"Like a man, yes. Remember that. Not in the least like an oracle."
"I prefer an honest man to all the oracles," said Gordon.
"An honest man has his impressions! I have given you mine--
they pretend to be nothing more. I hope they have n't
"Not in the least."
"Nor distressed, nor depressed, nor in any way discomposed you?"
"For what do you take me? I asked you a favor--a service;
I imposed it on you. You have done the thing, and my part is
"Thank you for nothing," said Bernard, smiling. "You have asked me a great
many questions; there is one that in turn I have a right to ask you.
What do you propose to do in consequence of what I have told you?"
"I propose to do nothing."
This declaration closed the colloquy, and the young men separated.
Bernard saw Gordon no more that evening; he took for granted
he had gone to Mrs. Vivian's. The burden of Longueville's
confidences was a heavy load to carry there, but Bernard
ventured to hope that he would deposit it at the door.
He had given Gordon his impressions, and the latter might do
with them what he chose--toss them out of the window, or let
them grow stale with heedless keeping. So Bernard meditated,
as he wandered about alone for the rest of the evening.
It was useless to look for Mrs. Vivian's little circle,
on the terrace of the Conversation-house, for the storm in the
afternoon had made the place so damp that it was almost forsaken
of its frequenters. Bernard spent the evening in the gaming-rooms,
in the thick of the crowd that pressed about the tables,
and by way of a change--he had hitherto been almost nothing
of a gambler--he laid down a couple of pieces at roulette.
He had played but two or three times, without winning a penny;
but now he had the agreeable sensation of drawing in a small
handful of gold. He continued to play, and he continued to win.
His luck surprised and excited him--so much so that after it
had repeated itself half a dozen times he left the place
and walked about for half an hour in the outer darkness.
He felt amused and exhilarated, but the feeling amounted
almost to agitation. He, nevertheless, returned to
the tables, where he again found success awaiting him.
Again and again he put his money on a happy number, and so
steady a run of luck began at last to attract attention.
The rumor of it spread through the rooms, and the crowd
about the roulette received a large contingent of spectators.
Bernard felt that they were looking more or less eagerly for a turn
of the tide; but he was in the humor for disappointing them,
and he left the place, while his luck was still running high,
with ten thousand francs in his pocket. It was very late
when he returned to the inn--so late that he forbore to knock at
Gordon's door. But though he betook himself to his own quarters,
he was far from finding, or even seeking, immediate rest.
He knocked about, as he would have said, for half the night--
not because he was delighted at having won ten thousand francs,
but rather because all of a sudden he found himself
disgusted at the manner in which he had spent the evening.
It was extremely characteristic of Bernard Longueville
that his pleasure should suddenly transform itself
into flatness. What he felt was not regret or repentance.
He had it not in the least on his conscience that he had
given countenance to the reprehensible practice of gaming.
It was annoyance that he had passed out of his own control--
that he had obeyed a force which he was unable to measure
at the time. He had been drunk and he was turning sober.
In spite of a great momentary appearance of frankness and a
lively relish of any conjunction of agreeable circumstances
exerting a pressure to which one could respond, Bernard had
really little taste for giving himself up, and he never
did so without very soon wishing to take himself back.
He had now given himself to something that was not himself,
and the fact that he had gained ten thousand francs by it
was an insufficient salve to an aching sense of having
ceased to be his own master. He had not been playing--
he had been played with. He had been the sport of a blind,
brutal chance, and he felt humiliated by having been favored
by so rudely-operating a divinity. Good luck and bad luck?
Bernard felt very scornful of the distinction, save that good
luck seemed to him rather the more vulgar. As the night
went on his disgust deepened, and at last the weariness it
brought with it sent him to sleep. He slept very late,
and woke up to a disagreeable consciousness. At first,
before collecting his thoughts, he could not imagine what he had
on his mind--was it that he had spoken ill of Angela Vivian?
It brought him extraordinary relief to remember that he had gone
to bed in extreme ill-humor with his exploits at roulette.
After he had dressed himself and just as he was leaving
his room, a servant brought him a note superscribed in
Gordon's hand--a note of which the following proved to be the
"Seven o'clock, A.M.
"My dear Bernard: Circumstances have determined me to leave
Baden immediately, and I shall take the train that starts
an hour hence. I am told that you came in very late last night,
so I won't disturb you for a painful parting at this unnatural hour.
I came to this decision last evening, and I put up my things;
so I have nothing to do but to take myself off. I shall
go to Basel, but after that I don't know where, and in so
comfortless an uncertainty I don't ask you to follow me.
Perhaps I shall go to America; but in any case I shall see
you sooner or later. Meanwhile, my dear Bernard, be as happy
as your brilliant talents should properly make you, and believe me
"P.S. It is perhaps as well that I should say that I am leaving
in consequence of something that happened last evening, but not--
by any traceable process--in consequence of the talk we had together.
I may also add that I am in very good health and spirits."
Bernard lost no time in learning that his friend had in fact
departed by the eight o'clock train--the morning was now
well advanced; and then, over his breakfast, he gave himself up
to meditative surprise. What had happened during the evening--
what had happened after their conversation in Gordon's room?
He had gone to Mrs. Vivian's--what had happened there?
Bernard found it difficult to believe that he had gone there simply
to notify her that, having talked it over with an intimate friend,
he gave up her daughter, or to mention to the young lady
herself that he had ceased to desire the honor of her hand.
Gordon alluded to some definite occurrence, yet it was
inconceivable that he should have allowed himself to be determined
by Bernard's words--his diffident and irresponsible impression.
Bernard resented this idea as an injury to himself, yet it
was difficult to imagine what else could have happened.
There was Gordon's word for it, however, that there
was no "traceable" connection between the circumstances
which led to his sudden departure and the information he had
succeeded in extracting from his friend. What did he mean
by a "traceable" connection? Gordon never used words idly,
and he meant to make of this point an intelligible distinction.
It was this sense of his usual accuracy of expression
that assisted Bernard in fitting a meaning to his late
companion's letter. He intended to intimate that he had come
back to Baden with his mind made up to relinquish his suit,
and that he had questioned Bernard simply from moral curiosity--
for the sake of intellectual satisfaction. Nothing was altered
by the fact that Bernard had told him a sorry tale; it had not
modified his behavior--that effect would have been traceable.
It had simply affected his imagination, which was a consequence
of the imponderable sort. This view of the case was supported
by Gordon's mention of his good spirits. A man always had
good spirits when he had acted in harmony with a conviction.
Of course, after renouncing the attempt to make himself
acceptable to Miss Vivian, the only possible thing for Gordon
had been to leave Baden. Bernard, continuing to meditate,
at last convinced himself that there had been no explicit rupture,
that Gordon's last visit had simply been a visit of farewell,
that its character had sufficiently signified his withdrawal,
and that he had now gone away because, after giving the girl up,
he wished very naturally not to meet her again. This was,
on Bernard's part, a sufficiently coherent view of the case;
but nevertheless, an hour afterward, as he strolled along
the Lichtenthal Alley, he found himself stopping suddenly
and exclaiming under his breath--"Have I done her an injury?
Have I affected her prospects?" Later in the day he said
to himself half a dozen times that he had simply warned Gordon
against an incongruous union.
Now that gordon was gone, at any rate, gone for good, and not
to return, he felt a sudden and singular sense of freedom.
It was a feeling of unbounded expansion, quite out of proportion,
as he said to himself, to any assignable cause.
Everything suddenly appeared to have become very optional;
but he was quite at a loss what to do with his liberty.
It seemed a harmless use to make of it, in the afternoon,
to go and pay another visit to the ladies who lived at the
confectioner's. Here, however, he met a reception which introduced
a fresh element of perplexity into the situation that Gordon
had left behind him. The door was opened to him by Mrs. Vivian's
maid-servant, a sturdy daughter of the Schwartzwald, who informed
him that the ladies--with much regret--were unable to receive
"They are very busy--and they are ill," said the young woman,
by way of explanation.
Bernard was disappointed, and he felt like arguing the case.
"Surely," he said, "they are not both ill and busy! When you make excuses,
you should make them agree with each other."
The Teutonic soubrette fixed her round blue eyes a minute upon
the patch of blue sky revealed to her by her open door.
"I say what I can, lieber Herr. It 's not my fault if I 'm not so clever
as a French mamsell. One of the ladies is busy, the other is ill.
There you have it."
"Not quite," said Bernard. "You must remember that there are three of them."
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