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Chapter 38

Maggie was to feel, after this passage, how they had both been
helped through it by the influence of that accident of her having
been caught, a few nights before, in the familiar embrace of her
father's wife. His return to the saloon had chanced to coincide
exactly with this demonstration, missed moreover neither by her
husband nor by the Assinghams, who, their card-party suspended,
had quitted the billiard-room with him. She had been conscious
enough at the time of what such an impression, received by the
others, might, in that extended state, do for her case; and none
the less that, as no one had appeared to wish to be the first to
make a remark about it, it had taken on perceptibly the special
shade of consecration conferred by unanimities of silence. The
effect, she might have considered, had been almost awkward--the
promptitude of her separation from Charlotte, as if they had been
discovered in some absurdity, on her becoming aware of
spectators. The spectators, on the other hand--that was the
appearance--mightn't have supposed them, in the existing
relation, addicted to mutual endearments; and yet, hesitating
with a fine scruple between sympathy and hilarity, must have felt
that almost any spoken or laughed comment could be kept from
sounding vulgar only by sounding, beyond any permitted measure,
intelligent. They had evidently looked, the two young wives, like
a pair of women "making up" effusively, as women were supposed to
do, especially when approved fools, after a broil; but taking
note of the reconciliation would imply, on her father's part, on
Amerigo's, and on Fanny Assingham's, some proportionate vision of
the grounds of their difference. There had been something, there
had been but too much, in the incident, for each observer; yet
there was nothing any one could have said without seeming
essentially to say: "See, see, the dear things--their quarrel's
blissfully over!" "Our quarrel? What quarrel?" the dear things
themselves would necessarily, in that case, have demanded; and
the wits of the others would thus have been called upon for some
agility of exercise. No one had been equal to the flight of
producing, off-hand, a fictive reason for any estrangement--to
take, that is, the place of the true, which had so long, for the
finer sensibility, pervaded the air; and every one, accordingly,
not to be inconveniently challenged, was pretending, immediately
after, to have remarked nothing that any one else hadn't.

Maggie's own measure had remained, all the same, full of the
reflection caught from the total inference; which had acted,
virtually, by enabling every one present--and oh Charlotte not
least!--to draw a long breath. The message of the little scene
had been different for each, but it had been this, markedly, all
round, that it reinforced--reinforced even immensely--the general
effort, carried on from week to week and of late distinctly more
successful, to look and talk and move as if nothing in life were
the matter. Supremely, however, while this glass was held up to
her, had Maggie's sense turned to the quality of the success
constituted, on the spot, for Charlotte. Most of all, if she was
guessing how her father must have secretly started, how her
husband must have secretly wondered, how Fanny Assingham must
have secretly, in a flash, seen daylight for herself--most of all
had she tasted, by communication, of the high profit involved for
her companion. She FELT, in all her pulses, Charlotte feel it,
and how publicity had been required, absolutely, to crown her own
abasement. It was the added touch, and now nothing was wanting--
which, to do her stepmother justice, Mrs. Verver had appeared but
to desire, from that evening, to show, with the last vividness,
that she recognised. Maggie lived over again the minutes in
question--had found herself repeatedly doing so; to the degree
that the whole evening hung together, to her aftersense, as a
thing appointed by some occult power that had dealt with her,
that had for instance--animated the four with just the right
restlessness too, had decreed and directed and exactly timed it
in them, making their game of bridge--however abysmal a face it
had worn for her--give way, precisely, to their common unavowed
impulse to find out, to emulate Charlotte's impatience; a
preoccupation, this latter, attached detectedly to the member of
the party who was roaming in her queerness and was, for all their
simulated blindness, not roaming unnoted.

If Mrs. Verver meanwhile, then, had struck her as determined in a
certain direction by the last felicity into which that night had
flowered, our young woman was yet not to fail of appreciating the
truth that she had not been put at ease, after all, with absolute
permanence. Maggie had seen her, unmistakably, desire to rise to
the occasion and be magnificent--seen her decide that the right
way for this would be to prove that the reassurance she had
extorted there, under the high, cool lustre of the saloon, a
twinkle of crystal and silver, had not only poured oil upon the
troubled waters of their question, but had fairly drenched their
whole intercourse with that lubricant. She had exceeded the limit
of discretion in this insistence on her capacity to repay in
proportion a service she acknowledged as handsome. "Why
handsome?" Maggie would have been free to ask; since if she had
been veracious the service assuredly would not have been huge. It
would in that case have come up vividly, and for each of them
alike, that the truth, on the Princess's lips, presented no
difficulty. If the latter's mood, in fact, could have turned
itself at all to private gaiety it might have failed to resist
the diversion of seeing so clever a creature so beguiled.
Charlotte's theory of a generous manner was manifestly to express
that her stepdaughter's word, wiping out, as she might have said,
everything, had restored them to the serenity of a relation
without a cloud. It had been, in short, in this light, ideally
conclusive, so that no ghost of anything it referred to could
ever walk again. What was the ecstasy of that, however, but in
itself a trifle compromising?--as truly, within the week, Maggie
had occasion to suspect her friend of beginning, and rather
abruptly, to remember. Convinced as she was of the example
already given her by her husband, and in relation to which her
profession of trust in his mistress had been an act of conformity
exquisitely calculated, her imagination yet sought in the hidden
play of his influence the explanation of any change of surface,
any difference of expression or intention. There had been,
through life, as we know, few quarters in which the Princess's
fancy could let itself loose; but it shook off restraint when it
plunged into the figured void of the detail of that relation.
This was a realm it could people with images--again and again
with fresh ones; they swarmed there like the strange combinations
that lurked in the woods at twilight; they loomed into the
definite and faded into the vague, their main present sign for
her being, however, that they were always, that they were
duskily, agitated. Her earlier vision of a state of bliss made
insecure by the very intensity of the bliss--this had dropped
from her; she had ceased to see, as she lost herself, the pair of
operatic, of high Wagnerian lovers (she found, deep within her,
these comparisons) interlocked in their wood of enchantment, a
green glade as romantic as one's dream of an old German forest.
The picture was veiled, on the contrary, with the dimness of
trouble; behind which she felt, indistinguishable, the procession
of forms that had lost, all so pitifully, their precious
confidence. Therefore, though there was in these days, for her,
with Amerigo, little enough even of the imitation, from day to
day, of unembarrassed references--as she had foreseen, for that
matter, from the first, that there would be--her active
conception of his accessibility to their companion's own private
and unextinguished right to break ground was not much less active
than before. So it was that her inner sense, in spite of
everything, represented him as still pulling wires and
controlling currents, or rather indeed as muffling the whole
possibility, keeping it down and down, leading his accomplice
continually on to some new turn of the road. As regards herself
Maggie had become more conscious from week to week of his
ingenuities of intention to make up to her for their forfeiture,
in so dire a degree, of any reality of frankness--a privation
that had left on his lips perhaps a little of the same thirst
with which she fairly felt her own distorted, the torment of the
lost pilgrim who listens in desert sands for the possible, the
impossible, plash of water. It was just this hampered state in
him, none the less, that she kept before her when she wished most
to find grounds of dignity for the hard little passion which
nothing he had done could smother. There were hours enough,
lonely hours, in which she let dignity go; then there were others
when, clinging with her winged concentration to some deep cell of
her heart, she stored away her hived tenderness as if she had
gathered it all from flowers. He was walking ostensibly beside
her, but in fact given over, without a break, to the grey medium
in which he helplessly groped; a perception on her part which was
a perpetual pang and which might last what it would--for ever if
need be--but which, if relieved at all, must be relieved by his
act alone. She herself could do nothing more for it; she had done
the utmost possible. It was meantime not the easier to bear for
this aspect under which Charlotte was presented as depending on
him for guidance, taking it from him even in doses of bitterness,
and yet lost with him in devious depths. Nothing was thus more
sharply to be inferred than that he had promptly enough warned
her, on hearing from her of the precious assurance received from
his wife, that she must take care her satisfaction didn't betray
something of her danger. Maggie had a day of still waiting, after
allowing him time to learn how unreservedly she had lied for
him--of waiting as for the light of she scarce knew what slow-
shining reflection of this knowledge in his personal attitude.
What retarded evolution, she asked herself in these hours,
mightn't poor Charlotte all unwittingly have precipitated? She
was thus poor Charlotte again for Maggie even while Maggie's own
head was bowed, and the reason for this kept coming back to our
young woman in the conception of what would secretly have passed.
She saw her, face to face with the Prince, take from him the
chill of his stiffest admonition, with the possibilities of
deeper difficulty that it represented for each. She heard her
ask, irritated and sombre, what tone, in God's name--since her
bravery didn't suit him--she was then to adopt; and, by way of a
fantastic flight of divination, she heard Amerigo reply, in a
voice of which every fine note, familiar and admirable, came home
to her, that one must really manage such prudences a little for
one's self. It was positive in the Princess that, for this, she
breathed Charlotte's cold air--turned away from him in it with
her, turned with her, in growing compassion, this way and that,
hovered behind her while she felt her ask herself where then she
should rest. Marvellous the manner in which, under such
imaginations, Maggie thus circled and lingered--quite as if she
were, materially, following her unseen, counting every step she
helplessly wasted, noting every hindrance that brought her to a
pause.

A few days of this, accordingly, had wrought a change in that
apprehension of the instant beatitude of triumph--of triumph
magnanimous and serene--with which the upshot of the night-scene
on the terrace had condemned our young woman to make terms. She
had had, as we know, her vision of the gilt bars bent, of the
door of the cage forced open from within and the creature
imprisoned roaming at large--a movement, on the creature's part,
that was to have even, for the short interval, its impressive
beauty, but of which the limit, and in yet another direction, had
loomed straight into view during her last talk under the great
trees with her father. It was when she saw his wife's face
ruefully attached to the quarter to which, in the course of their
session, he had so significantly addressed his own--it was then
that Maggie could watch for its turning pale, it was then she
seemed to know what she had meant by thinking of her, in she
shadow of his most ominous reference, as "doomed." If, as I say,
her attention now, day after day, so circled and hovered, it
found itself arrested for certain passages during which she
absolutely looked with Charlotte's grave eyes. What she
unfailingly made out through them was the figure of a little
quiet gentleman who mostly wore, as he moved, alone, across the
field of vision, a straw hat, a white waistcoat and a blue
necktie, keeping a cigar in his teeth and his hands in his
pockets, and who, oftener than not, presented a somewhat
meditative back while he slowly measured the perspectives of the
park and broodingly counted (it might have appeared) his steps.
There were hours of intensity, for a week or two, when it was for
all the world as if she had guardedly tracked her stepmother, in
the great house, from room to room and from window to window,
only to see her, here and there and everywhere, TRY her uneasy
outlook, question her issue and her fate. Something,
unmistakably, had come up for her that had never come up before;
it represented a new complication and had begotten a new
anxiety--things, these, that she carried about with her done up
in the napkin of her lover's accepted rebuke, while she vainly
hunted for some corner where she might put them safely down. The
disguised solemnity, the prolonged futility of her search might
have been grotesque to a more ironic eye; but Maggie's provision
of irony, which we have taken for naturally small, had never been
so scant as now, and there were moments while she watched with
her, thus unseen, when the mere effect of being near her was to
feel her own heart in her throat, was to be almost moved to
saying to her: "Hold on tight, my poor dear--without TOO MUCH
terror--and it will all come out somehow."

Even to that indeed, she could reflect, Charlotte might have
replied that it was easy to say; even to that no great meaning
could attach so long as the little meditative man in the straw
hat kept coming into view with his indescribable air of weaving
his spell, weaving it off there by himself. In whatever quarter
of the horizon the appearances were scanned he was to be noticed
as absorbed in this occupation; and Maggie was to become aware of
two or three extraordinary occasions of receiving from him the
hint that he measured the impression he produced. It was not
really till after their recent long talk in the park that she
knew how deeply, how quite exhaustively, they had then
communicated--so that they were to remain together, for the time,
in consequence, quite in the form of a couple of sociable
drinkers who sit back from the table over which they have been
resting their elbows, over which they have emptied to the last
drop their respective charged cups. The cups were still there on
the table, but turned upside down; and nothing was left for the
companions but to confirm by placid silences the fact that the
wine had been good. They had parted, positively, as if, on either
side, primed with it--primed for whatever was to be; and
everything between them, as the month waned, added its touch of
truth to this similitude. Nothing, truly, WAS at present between
them save that they were looking at each other in infinite trust;
it fairly wanted no more words, and when they met, during the
deep summer days, met even without witnesses, when they kissed at
morning and evening, or on any of the other occasions of contact
that they had always so freely celebrated, a pair of birds of the
upper air could scarce have appeared less to invite each other to
sit down and worry afresh. So it was that in the house itself,
where more of his waiting treasures than ever were provisionally
ranged, she sometimes only looked at him--from end to end of the
great gallery, the pride of the house, for instance--as if, in
one of the halls of a museum, she had been an earnest young woman
with a Baedeker and he a vague gentleman to whom even Baedekers
were unknown. He had ever, of course, had his way of walking
about to review his possessions and verify their condition; but
this was a pastime to which he now struck her as almost
extravagantly addicted, and when she passed near him and he
turned to give her a smile she caught--or so she fancied--the
greater depth of his small, perpetual hum of contemplation. It
was as if he were singing to himself, sotto voce, as he went--and
it was also, on occasion, quite ineffably, as if Charlotte,
hovering, watching, listening, on her side too, kept sufficiently
within earshot to make it out as song, and yet, for some reason
connected with the very manner of it, stood off and didn't dare.

One of the attentions she had from immediately after her marriage
most freely paid him was that of her interest in his rarities,
her appreciation of his taste, her native passion for beautiful
objects and her grateful desire not to miss anything he could
teach her about them. Maggie had in due course seen her begin
to "work" this fortunately natural source of sympathy for all it
was worth. She took possession of the mound throughout its
extent; she abounded, to odd excess, one might have remarked, in
the assumption of its being for her, with her husband, ALL the
ground, the finest, clearest air and most breathable medium
common to them. It had been given to Maggie to wonder if she
didn't, in these intensities of approbation, too much shut him up
to his province; but this was a complaint he had never made his
daughter, and Charlotte must at least have had for her that,
thanks to her admirable instinct, her range of perception
marching with his own and never falling behind, she had probably
not so much as once treated him to a rasping mistake or a
revealing stupidity. Maggie, wonderfully, in the summer days,
felt it forced upon her that that was one way, after all, of
being a genial wife; and it was never so much forced upon her as
at these odd moments of her encountering the sposi, as Amerigo
called them, under the coved ceilings of Fawns while, so
together, yet at the same time so separate, they were making
their daily round. Charlotte hung behind, with emphasised
attention; she stopped when her husband stopped, but at the
distance of a case or two, or of whatever other succession of
objects; and the likeness of their connection would not have been
wrongly figured if he had been thought of as holding in one of
his pocketed hands the end of a long silken halter looped round
her beautiful neck. He didn't twitch it, yet it was there; he
didn't drag her, but she came; and those indications that I have
described the Princess as finding extraordinary in him were two
or three mute facial intimations which his wife's presence didn't
prevent his addressing his daughter--nor prevent his daughter, as
she passed, it was doubtless to be added, from flushing a little
at the receipt of. They amounted perhaps only to a wordless,
wordless smile, but the smile was the soft shake of the twisted
silken rope, and Maggie's translation of it, held in her breast
till she got well away, came out only, as if it might have been
overheard, when some door was closed behind her. "Yes, you see--I
lead her now by the neck, I lead her to her doom, and she doesn't
so much as know what it is, though she has a fear in her heart
which, if you had the chances to apply your ear there that I, as
a husband, have, you would hear thump and thump and thump. She
thinks it MAY be, her doom, the awful place over there--awful for
HER; but she's afraid to ask, don't you see? just as she's afraid
of not asking; just as she's afraid of so many other things that
she sees multiplied round her now as portents and betrayals.
She'll know, however--when she does know."

Charlotte's one opportunity, meanwhile, for the air of confidence
she had formerly worn so well and that agreed so with her firm
and charming type, was the presence of visitors, never, as the
season advanced, wholly intermitted--rather, in fact, so
constant, with all the people who turned up for luncheon and for
tea and to see the house, now replete, now famous, that
Maggie grew to think again of this large element of "company" as
of a kind of renewed water-supply for the tank in which, like a
party of panting gold-fish, they kept afloat. It helped them,
unmistakably, with each other, weakening the emphasis of so many
of the silences of which their intimate intercourse would
otherwise have consisted. Beautiful and wonderful for her, even,
at times, was the effect of these interventions--their effect
above all in bringing home to each the possible heroism of
perfunctory things. They learned fairly to live in the
perfunctory; they remained in it as many hours of the day as
might be; it took on finally the likeness of some spacious
central chamber in a haunted house, a great overarched and
overglazed rotunda, where gaiety might reign, but the doors of
which opened into sinister circular passages. Here they turned up
for each other, as they said, with the blank faces that denied
any uneasiness felt in the approach; here they closed numerous
doors carefully behind them--all save the door that connected the
place, as by a straight tented corridor, with the outer world,
and, encouraging thus the irruption of society, imitated the
aperture through which the bedizened performers of the circus are
poured into the ring. The great part Mrs. Verver had socially
played came luckily, Maggie could make out, to her assistance;
she had "personal friends"--Charlotte's personal friends had ever
been, in London, at the two houses, one of the most convenient
pleasantries--who actually tempered, at this crisis, her aspect
of isolation; and it wouldn't have been hard to guess that her
best moments were those in which she suffered no fear of becoming
a bore to restrain her appeal to their curiosity. Their curiosity
might be vague, but their clever hostess was distinct, and she
marched them about, sparing them nothing, as if she counted, each
day, on a harvest of half crowns. Maggie met her again, in the
gallery, at the oddest hours, with the party she was
entertaining; heard her draw out the lesson, insist upon the
interest, snub, even, the particular presumption and smile for
the general bewilderment--inevitable features, these latter, of
almost any occasion--in a manner that made our young woman,
herself incurably dazzled, marvel afresh at the mystery by which
a creature who could be in some connexions so earnestly right
could be in others so perversely wrong. When her father, vaguely
circulating, was attended by his wife, it was always Charlotte
who seemed to bring up the rear; but he hung in the background
when she did cicerone, and it was then perhaps that, moving
mildly and modestly to and fro on the skirts of the exhibition,
his appearance of weaving his spell was, for the initiated
conscience, least to be resisted. Brilliant women turned to him
in vague emotion, but his response scarce committed him more than
if he had been the person employed to see that, after the
invading wave was spent, the cabinets were all locked and the
symmetries all restored.

There was a morning when, during the hour before luncheon and
shortly after the arrival of a neighbourly contingent--
neighbourly from ten miles off--whom Mrs. Verver had taken in
charge, Maggie paused on the threshold of the gallery through
which she had been about to pass, faltered there for the very
impression of his face as it met her from an opposite door.
Charlotte, half-way down the vista, held together, as if by
something almost austere in the grace of her authority, the
semi-scared (now that they were there!) knot of her visitors,
who, since they had announced themselves by telegram as yearning
to inquire and admire, saw themselves restricted to this
consistency. Her voice, high and clear and a little hard, reached
her husband and her step-daughter while she thus placed beyond
doubt her cheerful submission to duty. Her words, addressed to
the largest publicity, rang for some minutes through the place,
every one as quiet to listen as if it had been a church ablaze
with tapers and she were taking her part in some hymn of praise.
Fanny Assingham looked rapt in devotion--Fanny Assingham who
forsook this other friend as little as she forsook either her
host or the Princess or the Prince or the Principino; she
supported her, in slow revolutions, in murmurous attestations of
presence, at all such times, and Maggie, advancing after a first
hesitation, was not to fail of noting her solemn, inscrutable
attitude, her eyes attentively lifted, so that she might escape
being provoked to betray an impression. She betrayed one,
however, as Maggie approached, dropping her gaze to the latter's
level long enough to seem to adventure, marvellously, on a mute
appeal. "You understand, don't you, that if she didn't do this
there would be no knowing what she might do?" This light Mrs.
Assingham richly launched while her younger friend, unresistingly
moved, became uncertain again, and then, not too much to show
it--or, rather, positively to conceal it, and to conceal
something more as well--turned short round to one of the windows
and awkwardly, pointlessly waited. "The largest of the three
pieces has the rare peculiarity that the garlands, looped round
it, which, as you see, are the finest possible vieux Saxe, are
not of the same origin or period, or even, wonderful as they are,
of a taste quite so perfect. They have been put on at a later
time, by a process of which there are very few examples, and none
so important as this, which is really quite unique--so that,
though the whole thing is a little baroque, its value as a
specimen is, I believe, almost inestimable."

So the high voice quavered, aiming truly at effects far over the
heads of gaping neighbours; so the speaker, piling it up,
sticking at nothing, as less interested judges might have said,
seemed to justify the faith with which she was honoured. Maggie
meanwhile, at the window, knew the strangest thing to be
happening: she had turned suddenly to crying, or was at least on
the point of it--the lighted square before her all blurred and
dim. The high voice went on; its quaver was doubtless for
conscious ears only, but there were verily thirty seconds during
which it sounded, for our young woman, like the shriek of a soul
in pain. Kept up a minute longer it would break and collapse--so
that Maggie felt herself, the next thing, turn with a start to
her father. "Can't she be stopped? Hasn't she done it ENOUGH?"--
some such question as that she let herself ask him to suppose in
her. Then it was that, across half the gallery--for he had not
moved from where she had first seen him--he struck her as
confessing, with strange tears in his own eyes, to sharp identity
of emotion. "Poor thing, poor thing"--it reached straight--
"ISN'T she, for one's credit, on the swagger?" After which, as,
held thus together they had still another strained minute, the
shame, the pity, the better knowledge, the smothered protest, the
divined anguish even, so overcame him that, blushing to his eyes,
he turned short away. The affair but of a few muffled moments,
this snatched communion yet lifted Maggie as on air--so much, for
deep guesses on her own side too, it gave her to think of. There
was, honestly, an awful mixture in things, and it was not closed
to her aftersense of such passages--we have already indeed, in
other cases, seen it open--that the deepest depth of all, in a
perceived penalty, was that you couldn't be sure some of your
compunctions and contortions wouldn't show for ridiculous.
Amerigo, that morning, for instance, had been as absent as he at
this juncture appeared to desire he should mainly be noted as
being; he had gone to London for the day and the night--a
necessity that now frequently rose for him and that he had more
than once suffered to operate during the presence of guests,
successions of pretty women, the theory of his fond interest in
whom had been publicly cultivated. It had never occurred to his
wife to pronounce him ingenuous, but there came at last a high
dim August dawn when she couldn't sleep and when, creeping
restlessly about and breathing at her window the coolness of
wooded acres, she found the faint flush of the east march with
the perception of that other almost equal prodigy. It rosily
coloured her vision that--even such as he was, yes--her husband
could on occasion sin by excess of candour. He wouldn't otherwise
have given as his reason for going up to Portland Place in the
August days that he was arranging books there. He had bought a
great many of late, and he had had others, a large number, sent
from Rome--wonders of old print in which her father had been
interested. But when her imagination tracked him to the dusty
town, to the house where drawn blinds and pale shrouds, where a
caretaker and a kitchenmaid were alone in possession, it wasn't
to see him, in his shirtsleeves, unpacking battered boxes.

She saw him, in truth, less easily beguiled--saw him wander, in
the closed dusky rooms, from place to place, or else, for long
periods, recline on deep sofas and stare before him through the
smoke of ceaseless cigarettes. She made him out as liking better
than anything in the world just now to be alone with his
thoughts. Being herself connected with his thoughts, she
continued to believe, more than she had ever been, it was thereby
a good deal as if he were alone with HER. She made him out as
resting so from that constant strain of the perfunctory to which
he was exposed at Fawns; and she was accessible to the impression
of the almost beggared aspect of this alternative. It was like
his doing penance in sordid ways--being sent to prison or being
kept without money; it wouldn't have taken much to make her think
of him as really kept without food. He might have broken away,
might easily have started to travel; he had a right--thought
wonderful Maggie now--to so many more freedoms than he took! His
secret was of course that at Fawns he all the while winced, was
all the while in presences in respect to which he had thrown
himself back, with a hard pressure, on whatever mysteries of
pride, whatever inward springs familiar to the man of the world,
he could keep from snapping. Maggie, for some reason, had that
morning, while she watched the sunrise, taken an extraordinary
measure of the ground on which he would have HAD to snatch at
pretexts for absence. It all came to her there--he got off to
escape from a sound. The sound was in her own ears still--that of
Charlotte's high coerced quaver before the cabinets in the hushed
gallery; the voice by which she herself had been pierced the day
before as by that of a creature in anguish and by which, while
she sought refuge at the blurred window, the tears had been
forced into her eyes. Her comprehension soared so high that the
wonder for her became really his not feeling the need of wider
intervals and thicker walls. Before THAT admiration she also
meditated; consider as she might now, she kept reading not less
into what he omitted than into what he performed a beauty of
intention that touched her fairly the more by being obscure. It
was like hanging over a garden in the dark; nothing was to be
made of the confusion of growing things, but one felt they were
folded flowers, and their vague sweetness made the whole air
their medium. He had to turn away, but he wasn't at least a
coward; he would wait on the spot for the issue of what he had
done on the spot. She sank to her knees with her arm on the ledge
of her window-seat, where she blinded her eyes from the full
glare of seeing that his idea could only be to wait, whatever
might come, at her side. It was to her buried face that she thus,
for a long time, felt him draw nearest; though after a while,
when the strange wail of the gallery began to repeat its
inevitable echo, she was conscious of how that brought out his
pale hard grimace.

Henry James

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