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Chapter 3

"Is it the shock of the resemblance to her grandmother?" Vanderbank had
asked of Mr. Longdon on rejoining him in his retreat. This victim of
memory, with his back turned, was gazing out of the window, and when in
answer he showed his face there were tears in his eyes. His answer in
fact was just these tears, the significance of which Vanderbank
immediately recognised. "It's still greater then than you gathered from
her photograph?"

"It's the most extraordinary thing in the world. I'm too absurd to be so
upset"--Mr. Longdon smiled through his tears--"but if you had known Lady
Julia you'd understand. It's SHE again, as I first knew her, to the
life; and not only in feature, in stature, in colour, in movement, but
in every bodily mark and sign, in every look of the eyes above all--oh
to a degree!--in the sound, in the charm of the voice." He spoke low and
confidentially, but with an intensity that now relieved him--he was as
restless as with a discovery. He moved about as with a sacred awe--he
might a few steps away have been in the very presence. "She's ALL Lady
Julia. There isn't a touch of her mother. It's unique--an absolute
revival. I see nothing of her father, I see nothing of any one else.
Isn't it thought wonderful by every one?" he went on. "Why didn't you
tell me?"

"To have prepared you a little?"--Vanderbank felt almost guilty. "I see
--I should have liked to make more of it; though," he added all lucidly,
"I might so, by putting you on your guard, have caused myself to lose
what, if you'll allow me to say it, strikes me as one of the most
touching tributes I've ever seen rendered to a woman. In fact, however,
how could I know? I never saw Lady Julia, and you had in advance all the
evidence I could have: the portrait--pretty bad, in the taste of the
time, I admit--and the three or four photographs you must have noticed
with it at Mrs. Brook's. These things must have compared themselves for
you with my photograph in there of the granddaughter. The similarity of
course we had all observed, but it has taken your wonderful memory and
your happy vision to put into it all the detail."

Mr. Longdon thought a moment, giving a dab with his pocket-handkerchief.
"Very true--you're quite right. It's far beyond any identity in the
pictures. But why did you tell me," he added more sharply, "that she
isn't beautiful?"

"You've deprived me," Vanderbank laughed, "of the power of expressing
civilly any surprise at your finding her so. But I said to you, please
remember, nothing that qualified a jot my sense of the special stamp of
her face. I've always positively found in it a recall of the type of the
period you must be thinking of. It isn't a bit modern. It's a face of
Sir Thomas Lawrence--"

"It's a face of Gainsborough!" Mr. Longdon returned with spirit. "Lady
Julia herself harked back."

Vanderbank, clearly, was equally touched and amused. "Let us say at
once that it's a face of Raphael."

His old friend's hand was instantly on his arm. "That's exactly what I
often said to myself of Lady Julia's."

"The forehead's a little too high," said Vanderbank.

"But it's just that excess that, with the exquisite eyes and the
particular disposition round it of the fair hair, makes the individual
grace, makes the beauty of the resemblance."

Released by Lady Julia's lover, the young man in turn grasped him as an
encouragement to confidence. "It's a face that should have the long
side-ringlets of 1830. It should have the rest of the personal
arrangement, the pelisse, the shape of bonnet, the sprigged muslin dress
and the cross-laced sandals. It should have arrived in a pea-green
'tilbury' and be a reader of Mrs. Radcliffe. And all this to complete
the Raphael!"

Mr. Longdon, who, his discovery proclaimed, had begun, as might have
been said, to live with it, looked hard a moment at his companion. "How
you've observed her!"

Vanderbank met it without confusion. "Whom haven't I observed? Do you
like her?" he then rather oddly and abruptly asked.

The old man broke away again. "How can I tell--with such disparities?"

"The manner must be different," Vanderbank suggested. "And the things
she says."

His visitor was before him again. "I don't know what to make of them.
They don't go with the rest of her. Lady Julia," said Mr. Longdon, "was
rather shy."

On this too his host could meet him. "She must have been. And Nanda--
yes, certainly--doesn't give that impression."

"On the contrary. But Lady Julia was gay!" he added with an eagerness
that made Vanderbank smile.

"I can also see that. Nanda doesn't joke. And yet," Vanderbank continued
with his exemplary candour, "we mustn't speak of her, must we? as if
she were bold and grim."

Mr. Longdon fixed him. "Do you think she's sad?"

They had preserved their lowered tone and might, with their heads
together, have been conferring as the party "out" in some game with the
couple in the other room. "Yes. Sad." But Vanderbank broke off. "I'll
send her to you." Thus it was he had come back to her.

Nanda, on joining the elder man, went straight to the point. "He says
it's so beautiful--what you feel on seeing me: if that IS what he
meant." Mr. Longdon kept silent again at first, only smiling at her, but
less strangely now, and then appeared to look about him for some place
where she could sit near him. There was a sofa in this room too, on
which, observing it, she quickly sank down, so that they were presently
together, placed a little sideways and face to face. She had shown
perhaps that she supposed him to have wished to take her hand, but he
forbore to touch her, though letting her feel all the kindness of his
eyes and their long backward vision. These things she evidently felt
soon enough; she went on before he had spoken. "I know how well you knew
my grandmother. Mother has told me--and I'm so glad. She told me to say
to you that she wants YOU to tell me." Just a shade, at this, might have
appeared to drop over his face, but who was there to know if the girl
observed it? It didn't prevent at any rate her completing her statement.
"That's why she wished me to-day to come alone. She said she wished you
to have me all to yourself."

No, decidedly, she wasn't shy: that mute reflexion was in the air an
instant. "That, no doubt, is the best way. I thank her very much. I
called, after having had the honour of dining--I called, I think, three
times," he went on with a sudden displacement of the question; "but I
had the misfortune each time to miss her."

She kept looking at him with her crude young clearness. "I didn't know
about that. Mother thinks she's more at home than almost any one. She
does it on purpose: she knows what it is," Nanda pursued with her
perfect gravity, "for people to be disappointed of finding her."

"Oh I shall find her yet," said Mr. Longdon. "And then I hope I shall
also find YOU."

She appeared simply to consider the possibility and after an instant to
think well of it. "I dare say you will now, for now I shall be down."

Her companion just blinked. "In the drawing-room, you mean--always?"

It was quite what she meant. "Always. I shall see all the people who
come. It will be a great thing for me. I want to hear all the talk. Mr.
Mitchett says I ought to--that it helps to form the young mind. I hoped,
for that reason," she went on with the directness that made her honesty
almost violent--"I hoped there would be more people here to-day."

"I'm very glad there are not!"--the old man rang equally clear. "Mr.
Vanderbank kindly arranged the matter for me just this way. I met him at
dinner, at your mother's, three weeks ago, and he brought me home here
that night, when, as knowing you so differently, we took the liberty of
talking you all over. It naturally had the effect of making me want to
begin with you afresh--only that seemed difficult too without further
help. This he good-naturedly offered me; he said"--and Mr. Longdon
recovered his spirits to repeat it--"'Hang it, I'll have 'em here for
you!'"

"I see--he knew we'd come." Then she caught herself up. "But we haven't
come, have we?"

"Oh it's all right--it's all right. To me the occasion's brilliant and
the affluence great. I've had such talk with those young men--"

"I see"--she was again prompt, but beyond any young person he had ever
met she might have struck him as literal. "You're not used to such talk.
Neither am I. It's rather wonderful, isn't it? They're thought awfully
clever, Mr. Van and Mr. Mitchy. Do you like them?" she pushed on.

Mr. Longdon, who, as compared with her, might have struck a spectator as
infernally subtle, took an instant to think. "I've never met Mr.
Mitchett before."

"Well, he always thinks one doesn't like him," Nanda explained. "But one
does. One ought to," she added.

Her companion had another pause. "He likes YOU."

Oh Mr. Longdon needn't have hesitated! "I know he does. He has told
mother. He has told lots of people."

"He has told even you," Mr. Longdon smiled.

"Yes--but that isn't the same. I don't think he's a bit dreadful," she
pursued. Still, there was a greater interest. "Do you like Mr. Van?"

This time her interlocutor indeed hung fire. "How can I tell? He dazzles
me."

"But don't you like that?" Then before he could really say: "You're
afraid he may be false?"

At this he fairly laughed. "You go to the point!" She just coloured to
have amused him so, but he quickly went on: "I think one has a little
natural nervousness at being carried off one's feet. I'm afraid I've
always liked too much to see where I'm going."

"And you don't with him?" She spoke with her curious hard interest. "I
understand. But I think I like to be dazzled."

"Oh you've got time--you can come round again; you've a margin for
accidents, for disappointments and recoveries: you can take one thing
with another. But I've only my last little scrap."

"And you want to make no mistakes--I see."

"Well, I'm too easily upset."

"Ah so am I," said Nanda. "I assure you that in spite of what you say I
want to make no mistakes either. I've seen a great many--though you
mightn't think it," she persisted; "I really know what they may be. Do
you like ME?" she brought forth. But even on this she spared him too; a
look appeared to have been enough for her. "How can you say, of course,
already?--if you can't say for Mr. Van. I mean as you've seen him so
much. When he asked me just now if I liked YOU I told him it was too
soon. But it isn't now; you see it goes fast. I DO like you." She gave
him no time to acknowledge this tribute, but--as if it were a matter of
course--tried him quickly with something else. "Can you say if you like
mother?"

He could meet it pretty well now. "There are immense reasons why I
should."

"Yes--I know about them, as I mentioned: mother has told me." But what
she had to put to him kept up his surprise. "Have reasons anything to do
with it? I don't believe you like her!" she exclaimed. "SHE doesn't
think so," she added.

The old man's face at last, partly bewildered, partly reassured, showed
something finer still in the effect she produced. "Into what mysteries
you plunge!"

"Oh we do; that's what every one says of us. We discuss everything and
every one--we're always discussing each other. I think we must be rather
celebrated for it, and it's a kind of trick--isn't it?--that's catching.
But don't you think it's the most interesting sort of talk? Mother says
we haven't any prejudices. YOU have, probably, quantities--and beautiful
ones: so perhaps I oughtn't to tell you. But you'll find out for
yourself."

"Yes--I'm rather slow; but I generally end by finding out. And I've got,
thank heaven," said Mr. Longdon, "quite prejudices enough."

"Then I hope you'll tell me some of them," Nanda replied in a tone
evidently marking how much he pleased her.

"Ah you must do as _I_ do--you must find out for yourself. Your
resemblance to your grandmother is quite prodigious," he immediately
added.

"That's what I wish you'd tell me about--your recollection of her and
your wonderful feeling about her. Mother has told me things, but that I
should have something straight from you is exactly what she also wants.
My grandmother must have been awfully nice," the girl rambled on, "and I
somehow don't see myself at all as the same sort of person."

"Oh I don't say you're in the least the same sort: all I allude to," Mr.
Longdon returned, "is the miracle of the physical heredity. Nothing
could be less like her than your manner and your talk."

Nanda looked at him with all her honesty. "They're not so good, you must
think."

He hung fire an instant, but was as honest as she. "You're separated
from her by a gulf--and not only of time. Personally, you see, you
breathe a different air."

She thought--she quite took it in. "Of course. And you breathe the same
--the same old one, I mean, as my grandmother."

"The same old one," Mr. Longdon smiled, "as much as possible. Some day
I'll tell you more of what you're curious of. I can't go into it now."

"Because I've upset you so?" Nanda frankly asked.

"That's one of the reasons."

"I think I can see another too," she observed after a moment. "You're
not sure how much I shall understand. But I shall understand," she went
on, "more, perhaps, than you think. In fact," she said earnestly, "I
PROMISE to understand. I've some imagination. Had my grandmother?" she
asked. Her actual sequences were not rapid, but she had already
anticipated him. "I've thought of that before, because I put the same
question to mother."

"And what did your mother say?"

"'Imagination--dear mamma? Not a grain!'"

The old man showed a faint flush. "Your mother then has a supply that
makes up for it."

The girl fixed him on this with a deeper attention. "You don't like her
having said that."

His colour came stronger, though a slightly strained smile did what it
could to diffuse coolness. "I don't care a single scrap, my dear, in
respect to the friend I'm speaking of, for any judgement but my own."

"Not even for her daughter's?"

"Not even for her daughter's." Mr. Longdon had not spoken loud, but he
rang as clear as a bell.

Nanda, for admiration of it, broke almost for the first time into the
semblance of a smile. "You feel as if my grandmother were quite YOUR
property!"

"Oh quite."

"I say--that's splendid!"

"I'm glad you like it," he answered kindly.

The very kindness pulled her up. "Pardon my speaking so, but I'm sure
you know what I mean. You mustn't think," she eagerly continued, "that
mother won't also want to hear you."

"On the subject of Lady Julia?" He gently, but very effectively, shook
his head. "Your mother shall never hear me."

Nanda appeared to wonder at it an instant, and it made her completely
grave again. "It will be all for ME?"

"Whatever there may be of it, my dear."

"Oh I shall get it all out of you," she returned without hesitation. Her
mixture of free familiarity and of the vividness of evocation of
something, whatever it was, sharply opposed--the little worry of this
contradiction, not altogether unpleasant, continued to fill his
consciousness more discernibly than anything else. It was really
reflected in his quick brown eyes that she alternately drew him on and
warned him off, but also that what they were beginning more and more to
make out was an emotion of her own trembling there beneath her tension.
His glimpse of it widened--his glimpse of it fairly triumphed when
suddenly, after this last declaration, she threw off with quite the same
accent but quite another effect: "I'm glad to be like any one the
thought of whom makes you so good! You ARE good," she continued; "I see
already how I shall feel it." She stared at him with tears, the sight of
which brought his own straight back; so that thus for a moment they sat
there together.

"My dear child!" he at last simply murmured. But he laid his hand on her
now, and her own immediately met it.

"You'll get used to me," she said with the same gentleness that the
response of her touch had tried to express; "and I shall be so careful
with you that--well, you'll see!" She broke short off with a quaver and
the next instant she turned--there was some one at the door. Vanderbank,
still not quite at his ease, had come back to smile upon them. Detaching
herself from Mr. Longdon she got straight up to meet him. "You were
right, Mr. Van. It's beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!"


Henry James

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