Left with her husband, Maggie, however, for the time, said
nothing; she only felt, on the spot, a strong, sharp wish not to
see his face again till he should have had a minute to arrange
it. She had seen it enough for her temporary clearness and her
next movement--seen it as it showed during the stare of surprise
that followed his entrance. Then it was that she knew how hugely
expert she had been made, for judging it quickly, by that vision
of it, indelibly registered for reference, that had flashed a
light into her troubled soul the night of his late return from
Matcham. The expression worn by it at that juncture, for however
few instants, had given her a sense of its possibilities, one of
the most relevant of which might have been playing up for her,
before the consummation of Fanny Assingham's retreat, just long
enough to be recognised. What she had recognised in it was HIS
recognition, the result of his having been forced, by the flush
of their visitor's attitude and the unextinguished report of her
words, to take account of the flagrant signs of the accident, of
the incident, on which he had unexpectedly dropped. He had, not
unnaturally, failed to see this occurrence represented by the
three fragments of an object apparently valuable which lay there
on the floor and which, even across the width of the room, his
kept interval, reminded him, unmistakably though confusedly, of
something known, some other unforgotten image. That was a mere
shock, that was a pain--as if Fanny's violence had been a
violence redoubled and acting beyond its intention, a violence
calling up the hot blood as a blow across the mouth might have
called it. Maggie knew as she turned away from him that she
didn't want his pain; what she wanted was her own simple
certainty--not the red mark of conviction flaming there in his
beauty. If she could have gone on with bandaged eyes she would
have liked that best; if it were a question of saying what she
now, apparently, should have to, and of taking from him what he
would say, any blindness that might wrap it would be the nearest
approach to a boon.
She went in silence to where her friend--never, in intention,
visibly, so much her friend as at that moment--had braced herself
to so amazing an energy, and there, under Amerigo's eyes, she
picked up the shining pieces. Bedizened and jewelled, in her
rustling finery, she paid, with humility of attitude, this prompt
tribute to order--only to find, however, that she could carry but
two of the fragments at once. She brought them over to the
chimney-piece, to the conspicuous place occupied by the cup
before Fanny's appropriation of it, and, after laying them
carefully down, went back for what remained, the solid detached
foot. With this she returned to the mantel-shelf, placing it with
deliberation in the centre and then, for a minute, occupying
herself as with the attempt to fit the other morsels. After she
had squared again her little objects on the chimney, she was
within an ace, in fact, of turning on him with that appeal;
besides its being lucid for her, all the while, that the occasion
was passing, that they were dining out, that he wasn't dressed,
and that, though she herself was, she was yet, in all
probability, so horribly red in the face and so awry, in many
ways, with agitation, that in view of the Ambassador's company,
of possible comments and constructions, she should need, before
her glass, some restoration of appearances.
Amerigo, meanwhile, after all, could clearly make the most of her
having enjoined on him to wait--suggested it by the positive pomp
of her dealings with the smashed cup; to wait, that is, till she
should pronounce as Mrs. Assingham had promised for her. This
delay, again, certainly tested her presence of mind--though that
strain was not what presently made her speak. Keep her eyes, for
the time, from her husband's as she might, she soon found herself
much more drivingly conscious of the strain on his own wit. There
was even a minute, when her back was turned to him, during which
she knew once more the strangeness of her desire to spare him, a
strangeness that had already, fifty times, brushed her, in the
depth of her trouble, as with the wild wing of some bird of the
air who might blindly have swooped for an instant into the shaft
of a well, darkening there by his momentary flutter the far-off
round of sky. It was extraordinary, this quality in the taste of
her wrong which made her completed sense of it seem rather to
soften than to harden and it was the more extraordinary the more
she had to recognise it; for what it came to was that seeing
herself finally sure, knowing everything, having the fact, in all
its abomination, so utterly before her that there was nothing
else to add--what it came to was that, merely by being WITH him
there in silence, she felt, within her, the sudden split between
conviction and action. They had begun to cease, on the spot,
surprisingly, to be connected; conviction, that is, budged no
inch, only planting its feet the more firmly in the soil--but
action began to hover like some lighter and larger, but easier
form, excited by its very power to keep above ground. It would be
free, it would be independent, it would go in--wouldn't it?--for
some prodigious and superior adventure of its own. What would
condemn it, so to speak, to the responsibility of freedom--this
glimmered on Maggie even now--was the possibility, richer with
every lapsing moment, that her husband would have, on the whole
question, a new need of her, a need which was in fact being born
between them in these very seconds. It struck her truly as so new
that he would have felt hitherto none to compare with it at all;
would indeed, absolutely, by this circumstance, be REALLY needing
her for the first one in their whole connection. No, he had used
her, had even exceedingly enjoyed her, before this; but there had
been no precedent for that character of a proved necessity to him
which she was rapidly taking on. The immense advantage of this
particular clue, moreover, was that she should have now to
arrange, alter, to falsify nothing; should have to be but
consistently simple and straight. She asked herself, with
concentration, while her back was still presented, what would be
the very ideal of that method; after which, the next instant, it
had all come to her and she had turned round upon him for the
application. "Fanny Assingham broke it--knowing it had a crack
and that it would go if she used sufficient force. She thought,
when I had told her, that that would be the best thing to do with
it--thought so from her own point of view. That hadn't been at
all my idea, but she acted before I understood. I had, on the
contrary," she explained, "put it here, in full view, exactly
that you might see."
He stood with his hands in his pockets; he had carried his eyes
to the fragments on the chimney-piece, and she could already
distinguish the element of relief, absolutely of succour, in his
acceptance from her of the opportunity to consider the fruits of
their friend's violence--every added inch of reflection and delay
having the advantage, from this point on, of counting for him
double. It had operated within her now to the last intensity, her
glimpse of the precious truth that by her helping him, helping
him to help himself, as it were, she should help him to help HER.
Hadn't she fairly got into his labyrinth with him?--wasn't she
indeed in the very act of placing herself there, for him, at its
centre and core, whence, on that definite orientation and by an
instinct all her own, she might securely guide him out of it? She
offered him thus, assuredly, a kind of support that was not to
have been imagined in advance, and that moreover required--ah
most truly!--some close looking at before it could be believed in
and pronounced void of treachery. "Yes, look, look," she seemed
to see him hear her say even while her sounded words were other--
"look, look, both at the truth that still survives in that
smashed evidence and at the even more remarkable appearance that
I'm not such a fool as you supposed me. Look at the possibility
that, since I AM different, there may still be something in it
for you--if you're capable of working with me to get that out.
Consider of course, as you must, the question of what you may
have to surrender, on your side, what price you may have to pay,
whom you may have to pay WITH, to set this advantage free; but
take in, at any rate, that there is something for you if you
don't too blindly spoil your chance for it." He went no nearer
the damnatory pieces, but he eyed them, from where he stood, with
a degree of recognition just visibly less to be dissimulated; all
of which represented for her a certain traceable process. And her
uttered words, meanwhile, were different enough from those he
might have inserted between the lines of her already-spoken.
"It's the golden bowl, you know, that you saw at the little
antiquario's in Bloomsbury, so long ago--when you went there with
Charlotte, when you spent those hours with her, unknown to me, a
day or two before our marriage. It was shown you both, but you
didn't take it; you left it for me, and I came upon it,
extraordinarily, through happening to go into the same shop on
Monday last; in walking home, in prowling about to pick up some
small old thing for father's birthday, after my visit to the
Museum, my appointment there with Mr. Crichton, of which I told
you. It was shown me, and I was struck with it and took it--
knowing nothing about it at the time. What I now know I've
learned since--I learned this afternoon, a couple of hours ago;
receiving from it naturally a great impression. So there it is--
in its three pieces. You can handle them--don't be afraid--if you
want to make sure the thing is the thing you and Charlotte saw
together. Its having come apart makes an unfortunate difference
for its beauty, its artistic value, but none for anything else.
Its other value is just the same--I mean that of its having given
me so much of the truth about you. I don't therefore so much care
what becomes of it now--unless perhaps you may yourself, when you
come to think, have some good use for it. In that case," Maggie
wound up, "we can easily take the pieces with us to Fawns."
It was wonderful how she felt, by the time she had seen herself
through this narrow pass, that she had really achieved
something--that she was emerging a little, in fine, with the
prospect less contracted. She had done for him, that is, what her
instinct enjoined; had laid a basis not merely momentary on which
he could meet her. When, by the turn of his head, he did finally
meet her, this was the last thing that glimmered out of his look;
but it came into sight, none the less, as a perception of his
distress and almost as a question of his eyes; so that, for still
another minute, before he committed himself, there occurred
between them a kind of unprecedented moral exchange over which
her superior lucidity presided. It was not, however, that when he
did commit himself the show was promptly portentous. "But what in
the world has Fanny Assingham had to do with it?"
She could verily, out of all her smothered soreness, almost have
smiled: his question so affected her as giving the whole thing up
to her. But it left her only to go the straighter. "She has had
to do with it that I immediately sent for her and that she
immediately came. She was the first person I wanted to see--
because I knew she would know. Know more about what I had
learned, I mean, than I could make out for myself. I made out as
much as I could for myself--that I also wanted to have done; but
it didn't, in spite of everything, take me very far, and she has
really been a help. Not so much as she would like to be--not so
much as, poor dear, she just now tried to be; yet she has done
her very best for you--never forget that!--and has kept me along
immeasurably better than I should have been able to come without
her. She has gained me time; and that, these three months, don't
you see? has been everything."
She had said "Don't you see?" on purpose, and was to feel the
next moment that it had acted. "These three months'?" the Prince
"Counting from the night you came home so late from Matcham.
Counting from the hours you spent with Charlotte at Gloucester;
your visit to the cathedral--which you won't have forgotten
describing to me in so much detail. For that was the beginning of
my being sure. Before it I had been sufficiently in doubt. Sure,"
Maggie developed, "of your having, and of your having for a long
time had, TWO relations with Charlotte."
He stared, a little at sea, as he took it up. "Two--?"
Something in the tone of it gave it a sense, or an ambiguity,
almost foolish--leaving Maggie to feel, as in a flash, how such a
consequence, a foredoomed infelicity, partaking of the ridiculous
even in one of the cleverest, might be of the very essence of the
penalty of wrong-doing. "Oh, you may have had fifty--had the same
relation with her fifty times! It's of the number of KINDS of
relation with her that I speak--a number that doesn't matter,
really, so long as there wasn't only one kind, as father and I
supposed. One kind," she went on, "was there before us; we took
that fully for granted, as you saw, and accepted it. We never
thought of there being another, kept out of our sight. But after
the evening I speak of I knew there was something else. As I say,
I had, before that, my idea--which you never dreamed I had. From
the moment I speak of it had more to go upon, and you became
yourselves, you and she, vaguely, yet uneasily, conscious of the
difference. But it's within these last hours that I've most seen
where we are; and as I've been in communication with Fanny
Assingham about my doubts, so I wanted to let her know my
certainty--with the determination of which, however, you must
understand, she has had nothing to do. She defends you," Maggie
He had given her all his attention, and with this impression for
her, again, that he was, in essence, fairly reaching out to her
for time--time, only time--she could sufficiently imagine, and to
whatever strangeness, that he absolutely liked her to talk, even
at the cost of his losing almost everything else by it. It was
still, for a minute, as if he waited for something worse; wanted
everything that was in her to come out, any definite fact,
anything more precisely nameable, so that he too--as was his
right--should know where he was. What stirred in him above all,
while he followed in her face the clear train of her speech, must
have been the impulse to take up something she put before him
that he was yet afraid directly to touch. He wanted to make free
with it, but had to keep his hands off--for reasons he had
already made out; and the discomfort of his privation yearned at
her out of his eyes with an announcing gleam of the fever, the
none too tolerable chill, of specific recognition. She affected
him as speaking more or less for her father as well, and his eyes
might have been trying to hypnotise her into giving him the
answer without his asking the question. "Had HE his idea, and has
he now, with you, anything more?"--those were the words he had to
hold himself from not speaking and that she would as yet,
certainly, do nothing to make easy. She felt with her sharpest
thrill how he was straitened and tied, and with the miserable
pity of it her present conscious purpose of keeping him so could
none the less perfectly accord. To name her father, on any such
basis of anxiety, of compunction, would be to do the impossible
thing, to do neither more nor less than give Charlotte away.
Visibly, palpably, traceably, he stood off from this, moved
back from it as from an open chasm now suddenly perceived, but
which had been, between the two, with so much, so strangely much
else, quite uncalculated. Verily it towered before her, this
history of their confidence. They had built strong and piled
high--based as it was on such appearances--their conviction that,
thanks to her native complacencies of so many sorts, she would
always, quite to the end and through and through, take them as
nobly sparing her. Amerigo was at any rate having the sensation
of a particular ugliness to avoid, a particular difficulty to
count with, that practically found him as unprepared as if he had
been, like his wife, an abjectly simple person. And she
meanwhile, however abjectly simple, was further discerning, for
herself, that, whatever he might have to take from her--she
being, on her side, beautifully free--he would absolutely not be
able, for any qualifying purpose, to name Charlotte either. As
his father-in-law's wife Mrs. Verver rose between them there, for
the time, in august and prohibitive form; to protect her, defend
her, explain about her, was, at the least, to bring her into the
question--which would be by the same stroke to bring her husband.
But this was exactly the door Maggie wouldn't open to him; on all
of which she was the next moment asking herself if, thus warned
and embarrassed, he were not fairly writhing in his pain. He
writhed, on that hypothesis, some seconds more, for it was not
till then that he had chosen between what he could do and what he
"You're apparently drawing immense conclusions from very small
matters. Won't you perhaps feel, in fairness, that you're
striking out, triumphing, or whatever I may call it, rather too
easily--feel it when I perfectly admit that your smashed cup
there does come back to me? I frankly confess, now, to the
occasion, and to having wished not to speak of it to you at the
time. We took two or three hours together, by arrangement; it WAS
on the eve of my marriage--at the moment you say. But that put it
on the eve of yours too, my dear--which was directly the point.
It was desired to find for you, at the eleventh hour, some small
wedding-present--a hunt, for something worth giving you, and yet
possible from other points of view as well, in which it seemed I
could be of use. You were naturally not to be told--precisely
because it was all FOR you. We went forth together and we looked;
we rummaged about and, as I remember we called it, we prowled;
then it was that, as I freely recognise, we came across that
crystal cup--which I'm bound to say, upon my honour, I think it
rather a pity Fanny Assingham, from whatever good motive, should
have treated so." He had kept his hands in his pockets; he turned
his eyes again, but more complacently now, to the ruins of the
precious vessel; and Maggie could feel him exhale into the
achieved quietness of his explanation a long, deep breath of
comparative relief. Behind everything, beneath everything, it was
somehow a comfort to him at last to be talking with her--and he
seemed to be proving to himself that he COULD talk. "It was at a
little shop in Bloomsbury--I think I could go to the place now.
The man understood Italian, I remember; he wanted awfully to work
off his bowl. But I didn't believe in it, and we didn't take it."
Maggie had listened with an interest that wore all the expression
of candour. "Oh, you left it for me. But what did you take?"
He looked at her; first as if he were trying to remember, then as
if he might have been trying to forget. "Nothing, I think--at
"What did you take then at any other? What did you get me--since
that was your aim and end--for a wedding-gift?"
The Prince continued very nobly to bethink himself. "Didn't we
get you anything?"
Maggie waited a little; she had for some time, now, kept her eyes
on him steadily; but they wandered, at this, to the fragments on
her chimney. "Yes; it comes round, after all, to your having got
me the bowl. I myself was to come upon it, the other day, by so
wonderful a chance; was to find it in the same place and to have
it pressed upon me by the same little man, who does, as you say,
understand Italian. I did 'believe in it,' you see--must have
believed in it somehow instinctively; for I took it as soon as I
saw it. Though I didn't know at all then," she added, "what I was
taking WITH it."
The Prince paid her for an instant, visibly, the deference of
trying to imagine what this might have been. "I agree with you
that the coincidence is extraordinary--the sort of thing that
happens mainly in novels and plays. But I don't see, you must let
me say, the importance or the connexion--"
"Of my having made the purchase where you failed of it?" She had
quickly taken him up; but she had, with her eyes on him once
more, another drop into the order of her thoughts, to which,
through whatever he might say, she was still adhering. "It's not
my having gone into the place, at the end of four years, that
makes the strangeness of the coincidence; for don't such chances
as that, in London, easily occur? The strangeness," she lucidly
said, "is in what my purchase was to represent to me after I had
got it home; which value came," she explained, "from the wonder
of my having found such a friend."
"'Such a friend'?" As a wonder, assuredly, her husband could but
"As the little man in the shop. He did for me more than he knew--
I owe it to him. He took an interest in me," Maggie said; "and,
taking that interest, he recalled your visit, he remembered you
and spoke of you to me."
On which the Prince passed the comment of a sceptical smile. "Ah
but, my dear, if extraordinary things come from people's taking
an interest in you--"
"My life in that case," she asked, "must be very agitated? Well,
he liked me, I mean--very particularly. It's only so I can
account for my afterwards hearing from him--and in fact he gave
me that to-day," she pursued, "he gave me it frankly as his
"To-day?" the Prince inquiringly echoed.
But she was singularly able--it had been marvellously "given"
her, she afterwards said to herself--to abide, for her light, for
her clue, by her own order.
"I inspired him with sympathy--there you are! But the miracle is
that he should have a sympathy to offer that could be of use to
me. That was really the oddity of my chance," the Princess
proceeded--"that I should have been moved, in my ignorance, to go
precisely to him."
He saw her so keep her course that it was as if he could, at the
best, but stand aside to watch her and let her pass; he only made
a vague demonstration that was like an ineffective gesture. "I'm
sorry to say any ill of your friends, and the thing was a long
time ago; besides which there was nothing to make me recur to it.
But I remember the man's striking me as a decided little beast."
She gave a slow headshake--as if, no, after consideration, not
THAT way were an issue. "I can only think of him as kind, for he
had nothing to gain. He had in fact only to lose. It was what he
came to tell me--that he had asked me too high a price, more than
the object was really worth. There was a particular reason, which
he hadn't mentioned, and which had made him consider and repent.
He wrote for leave to see me again--wrote in such terms that I
saw him here this afternoon."
"Here?"--it made the Prince look about him.
"Downstairs--in the little red room. While he was waiting he
looked at the few photographs that stand about there and
recognised two of them. Though it was so long ago, he remembered
the visit made him by the lady and the gentleman, and that gave
him his connexion. It gave me mine, for he remembered everything
and told me everything. You see you too had produced your effect;
only, unlike you, he had thought of it again--he HAD recurred to
it. He told me of your having wished to make each other
presents--but of that's not having come off. The lady was greatly
taken with the piece I had bought of him, but you had your reason
against receiving it from her, and you had been right. He would
think that of you more than ever now," Maggie went on; "he would
see how wisely you had guessed the flaw and how easily the bowl
could be broken. I had bought it myself, you see, for a
present--he knew I was doing that. This was what had worked in
him--especially after the price I had paid."
Her story had dropped an instant; she still brought it out in
small waves of energy, each of which spent its force; so that he
had an opportunity to speak before this force was renewed. But
the quaint thing was what he now said. "And what, pray, WAS the
She paused again a little. "It was high, certainly--for those
fragments. I think I feel, as I look at them there, rather
ashamed to say."
The Prince then again looked at them; he might have been growing
used to the sight. "But shall you at least get your money back?"
"Oh, I'm far from wanting it back--I feel so that I'm getting its
worth." With which, before he could reply, she had a quick
transition. "The great fact about the day we're talking of seems
to me to have been, quite remarkably, that no present was then
made me. If your undertaking had been for that, that was not at
least what came of it."
"You received then nothing at all?" The Prince looked vague and
grave, almost retrospectively concerned.
"Nothing but an apology for empty hands and empty pockets; which
was made me--as if it mattered a mite!--ever so frankly, ever so
beautifully and touchingly."
This Amerigo heard with interest, yet not with confusion. "Ah, of
course you couldn't have minded!" Distinctly, as she went on, he
was getting the better of the mere awkwardness of his arrest;
quite as if making out that he need SUFFER arrest from her now--
before they should go forth to show themselves in the world
together--in no greater quantity than an occasion ill-chosen at
the best for a scene might decently make room for. He looked at
his watch; their engagement, all the while, remained before him.
"But I don't make out, you see, what case against me you
"On everything I'm telling you? Why, the whole case--the case of
your having for so long so successfully deceived me. The idea of
your finding something for me--charming as that would have been--
was what had least to do with your taking a morning together at
that moment. What had really to do with it," said Maggie, "was
that you had to: you couldn't not, from the moment you were again
face to face. And the reason of that was that there had been so
much between you before--before I came between you at all."
Her husband had been for these last moments moving about under
her eyes; but at this, as to check any show of impatience, he
again stood still. "You've never been more sacred to me than you
were at that hour--unless perhaps you've become so at this one."
The assurance of his speech, she could note, quite held up its
head in him; his eyes met her own so, for the declaration, that
it was as if something cold and momentarily unimaginable breathed
upon her, from afar off, out of his strange consistency. She kept
her direction still, however, under that. "Oh, the thing I've
known best of all is that you've never wanted, together, to
offend us. You've wanted quite intensely not to, and the
precautions you've had to take for it have been for a long time
one of the strongest of my impressions. That, I think," she
added, "is the way I've best known."
"Known?" he repeated after a moment.
"Known. Known that you were older friends, and so much more
intimate ones, than I had any reason to suppose when we married.
Known there were things that hadn't been told me--and that gave
their meaning, little by little, to other things that were before
"Would they have made a difference, in the matter of our
marriage," the Prince presently asked, "if you HAD known them?"
She took her time to think. "I grant you not--in the matter of
OURS." And then as he again fixed her with his hard yearning,
which he couldn't keep down: "The question is so much bigger than
that. You see how much what I know makes of it for me." That was
what acted on him, this iteration of her knowledge, into the
question of the validity, of the various bearings of which, he
couldn't on the spot trust himself to pretend, in any high way,
to go. What her claim, as she made it, represented for him--that
he couldn't help betraying, if only as a consequence of the
effect of the word itself, her repeated distinct "know, know," on
his nerves. She was capable of being sorry for his nerves at a
time when he should need them for dining out, pompously, rather
responsibly, without his heart in it; yet she was not to let that
prevent her using, with all economy, so precious a chance for
supreme clearness. "I didn't force this upon you, you must
recollect, and it probably wouldn't have happened for you if you
hadn't come in."
"Ah," said the Prince, "I was liable to come in, you know."
"I didn't think you were this evening."
"And why not?"
"Well," she answered, "you have many liabilities--of different
sorts." With which she recalled what she had said to Fanny
Assingham. "And then you're so deep."
It produced in his features, in spite of his control of them, one
of those quick plays of expression, the shade of a grimace, that
testified as nothing else did to his race. "It's you, cara, who
Which, after an instant, she had accepted from him; she could so
feel at last that it was true. "Then I shall have need of it
"But what would you have done," he was by this time asking, "if I
HADN'T come in?"
"I don't know." She had hesitated. "What would you?"
"Oh; io--that isn't the question. I depend upon you. I go on. You
would have spoken to-morrow?"
"I think I would have waited."
"And for what?" he asked.
"To see what difference it would make for myself. My possession
at last, I mean, of real knowledge."
"Oh!" said the Prince.
"My only point now, at any rate," she went on, "is the
difference, as I say, that it may make for YOU. Your knowing
was--from the moment you did come in--all I had in view." And she
sounded it again--he should have it once more. "Your knowing that
"That you've ceased--?" With her pause, in fact, she had fairly
made him press her for it.
"Why, to be as I was. NOT to know."
It was once more then, after a little, that he had had to stand
receptive; yet the singular effect of this was that there was
still something of the same sort he was made to want. He had
another hesitation, but at last this odd quantity showed. "Then
does any one else know?"
It was as near as he could come to naming her father, and she
kept him at that distance. "Any one--?"
"Any one, I mean, but Fanny Assingham."
"I should have supposed you had had by this time particular means
of learning. I don't see," she said, "why you ask me."
Then, after an instant--and only after an instant, as she saw--he
made out what she meant; and it gave her, all strangely enough,
the still further light that Charlotte, for herself, knew as
little as he had known. The vision loomed, in this light, it
fairly glared, for the few seconds--the vision of the two others
alone together at Fawns, and Charlotte, as one of them, having
gropingly to go on, always not knowing and not knowing! The
picture flushed at the same time with all its essential colour--
that of the so possible identity of her father's motive and
principle with her own. HE was "deep," as Amerigo called it, so
that no vibration of the still air should reach his daughter;
just as she had earned that description by making and by, for
that matter, intending still to make, her care for his serenity,
or at any rate for the firm outer shell of his dignity, all
marvellous enamel, her paramount law. More strangely even than
anything else, her husband seemed to speak now but to help her in
this. "I know nothing but what you tell me."
"Then I've told you all I intended. Find out the rest--!"
"Find it out--?" He waited.
She stood before him a moment--it took that time to go on. Depth
upon depth of her situation, as she met his face, surged and sank
within her; but with the effect somehow, once more, that they
rather lifted her than let her drop. She had her feet somewhere,
through it all--it was her companion, absolutely, who was at sea.
And she kept her feet; she pressed them to what was beneath her.
She went over to the bell beside the chimney and gave a ring that
he could but take as a summons for her maid. It stopped
everything for the present; it was an intimation to him to go and
dress. But she had to insist. "Find out for yourself!"