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Chapter 13

CHAPTER XIII

It was this feeling and not the wish to ask advice--she had no
desire whatever for that--that led her to speak to her uncle of
what had taken place. She wished to speak to some one; she should
feel more natural, more human, and her uncle, for this purpose,
presented himself in a more attractive light than either her aunt
or her friend Henrietta. Her cousin of course was a possible
confidant; but she would have had to do herself violence to air
this special secret to Ralph. So the next day, after breakfast,
she sought her occasion. Her uncle never left his apartment till
the afternoon, but he received his cronies, as he said, in his
dressing-room. Isabel had quite taken her place in the class so
designated, which, for the rest, included the old man's son, his
physician, his personal servant, and even Miss Stackpole. Mrs.
Touchett did not figure in the list, and this was an obstacle the
less to Isabel's finding her host alone. He sat in a complicated
mechanical chair, at the open window of his room, looking
westward over the park and the river, with his newspapers and
letters piled up beside him, his toilet freshly and minutely
made, and his smooth, speculative face composed to benevolent
expectation.

She approached her point directly. "I think I ought to let you
know that Lord Warburton has asked me to marry him. I suppose I
ought to tell my aunt; but it seems best to tell you first."

The old man expressed no surprise, but thanked her for the
confidence she showed him. "Do you mind telling me whether you
accepted him?" he then enquired.

"I've not answered him definitely yet; I've taken a little time
to think of it, because that seems more respectful. But I shall
not accept him."

Mr. Touchett made no comment upon this; he had the air of
thinking that, whatever interest he might take in the matter from
the point of view of sociability, he had no active voice in it.
"Well, I told you you'd be a success over here. Americans are
highly appreciated."

"Very highly indeed," said Isabel. "But at the cost of seeming
both tasteless and ungrateful, I don't think I can marry Lord
Warburton."

"Well," her uncle went on, "of course an old man can't judge for
a young lady. I'm glad you didn't ask me before you made up your
mind. I suppose I ought to tell you," he added slowly, but as if
it were not of much consequence, "that I've known all about it
these three days."

"About Lord Warburton's state of mind?"

"About his intentions, as they say here. He wrote me a very
pleasant letter, telling me all about them. Should you like to
see his letter?" the old man obligingly asked.

"Thank you; I don't think I care about that. But I'm glad he
wrote to you; it was right that he should, and he would be
certain to do what was right."

"Ah well, I guess you do like him!" Mr. Touchett declared. "You
needn't pretend you don't."

"I like him extremely; I'm very free to admit that. But I don't
wish to marry any one just now."

"You think some one may come along whom you may like better.
Well, that's very likely," said Mr. Touchett, who appeared to
wish to show his kindness to the girl by easing off her decision,
as it were, and finding cheerful reasons for it.

"I don't care if I don't meet any one else. I like Lord Warburton
quite well enough." she fell into that appearance of a sudden
change of point of view with which she sometimes startled and
even displeased her interlocutors.

Her uncle, however, seemed proof against either of these
impressions. "He's a very fine man," he resumed in a tone which
might have passed for that of encouragement. "His letter was one
of the pleasantest I've received for some weeks. I suppose one of
the reasons I liked it was that it was all about you; that is all
except the part that was about himself. I suppose he told you all
that."

"He would have told me everything I wished to ask him," Isabel
said.

"But you didn't feel curious?"

"My curiosity would have been idle--once I had determined to
decline his offer."

"You didn't find it sufficiently attractive?" Mr. Touchett
enquired.

She was silent a little. "I suppose it was that," she presently
admitted. "But I don't know why."

"Fortunately ladies are not obliged to give reasons," said her
uncle. "There's a great deal that's attractive about such an
idea; but I don't see why the English should want to entice us
away from our native land. I know that we try to attract them
over there, but that's because our population is insufficient.
Here, you know, they're rather crowded. However, I presume
there's room for charming young ladies everywhere."

"There seems to have been room here for you," said Isabel, whose
eyes had been wandering over the large pleasure-spaces of the
park.

Mr. Touchett gave a shrewd, conscious smile. "There's room
everywhere, my dear, if you'll pay for it. I sometimes think I've
paid too much for this. Perhaps you also might have to pay too
much."

"Perhaps I might," the girl replied.

That suggestion gave her something more definite to rest on than
she had found in her own thoughts, and the fact of this
association of her uncle's mild acuteness with her dilemma seemed
to prove that she was concerned with the natural and reasonable
emotions of life and not altogether a victim to intellectual
eagerness and vague ambitions--ambitions reaching beyond Lord
Warburton's beautiful appeal, reaching to something indefinable
and possibly not commendable. In so far as the indefinable had an
influence upon Isabel's behaviour at this juncture, it was not
the conception, even unformulated, of a union with Caspar
Goodwood; for however she might have resisted conquest at her
English suitor's large quiet hands she was at least as far
removed from the disposition to let the young man from Boston
take positive possession of her. The sentiment in which
She sought refuge after reading his letter was a critical view of
his having come abroad; for it was part of the influence he had
upon her that he seemed to deprive her of the sense of freedom.
There was a disagreeably strong push, a kind of hardness of
presence, in his way of rising before her. She had been haunted
at moments by the image, by the danger, of his disapproval and
had wondered--a consideration she had never paid in equal degree
to any one else--whether he would like what she did. The
difficulty was that more than any man she had ever known,
more than poor Lord Warburton (she had begun now to give his
lordship the benefit of this epithet), Caspar Goodwood expressed
for her an energy--and she had already felt it as a power that was
of his very nature. It was in no degree a matter of his
"advantages"--it was a matter of the spirit that sat in his
clear-burning eyes like some tireless watcher at a window. She
might like it or not, but he insisted, ever, with his whole
weight and force: even in one's usual contact with him one had to
reckon with that. The idea of a diminished liberty was
particularly disagreeable to her at present, since she had just
given a sort of personal accent to her independence by
looking so straight at Lord Warburton's big bribe and yet turning
away from it. Sometimes Caspar Goodwood had seemed to range
himself on the side of her destiny, to be the stubbornest fact
she knew; she said to herself at such moments that she might
evade him for a time, but that she must make terms with him at
last--terms which would be certain to be favourable to himself.
Her impulse had been to avail herself of the things that helped
her to resist such an obligation; and this impulse had
been much concerned in her eager acceptance of her aunt's
invitation, which had come to her at an hour when she expected
from day to day to see Mr. Goodwood and when she was glad to have
an answer ready for something she was sure he would say to her.
When she had told him at Albany, on the evening of Mrs.
Touchett's visit, that she couldn't then discuss difficult
questions, dazzled as she was by the great immediate opening of
her aunt's offer of "Europe," he declared that this was no answer
at all; and it was now to obtain a better one that he was
following her across the sea. To say to herself that he was a
kind of grim fate was well enough for a fanciful young woman who
was able to take much for granted in him; but the reader has a
right to a nearer and a clearer view.

He was the son of a proprietor of well-known cotton-mills in
Massachusetts--a gentleman who had accumulated a considerable
fortune in the exercise of this industry. Caspar at present
managed the works, and with a judgement and a temper which,
in spite of keen competition and languid years, had kept their
prosperity from dwindling. He had received the better part of his
education at Harvard College, where, however, he had gained
renown rather as a gymnast and an oarsman than as a gleaner of
more dispersed knowledge. Later on he had learned that the finer
intelligence too could vault and pull and strain--might even,
breaking the record, treat itself to rare exploits. He had thus
discovered in himself a sharp eye for the mystery of mechanics,
and had invented an improvement in the cotton-spinning process
which was now largely used and was known by his name. You might
have seen it in the newspapers in connection with this fruitful
contrivance; assurance of which he had given to Isabel by showing
her in the columns of the New York Interviewer an exhaustive
article on the Goodwood patent--an article not prepared by Miss
Stackpole, friendly as she had proved herself to his more
sentimental interests. There were intricate, bristling things he
rejoiced in; he liked to organise, to contend, to administer; he
could make people work his will, believe in him, march before him
and justify him. This was the art, as they said, of managing men
--which rested, in him, further, on a bold though brooding
ambition. It struck those who knew him well that he might do
greater things than carry on a cotton-factory; there was nothing
cottony about Caspar Goodwood, and his friends took for granted
that he would somehow and somewhere write himself in bigger
letters. But it was as if something large and confused, something
dark and ugly, would have to call upon him: he was not after all
in harmony with mere smug peace and greed and gain, an order of
things of which the vital breath was ubiquitous advertisement. It
pleased Isabel to believe that he might have ridden, on a
plunging steed, the whirlwind of a great war--a war like the
Civil strife that had overdarkened her conscious childhood
and his ripening youth.

She liked at any rate this idea of his being by character and in
fact a mover of men--liked it much better than some other points
in his nature and aspect. She cared nothing for his cotton-mill--
the Goodwood patent left her imagination absolutely cold. She
wished him no ounce less of his manhood, but she sometimes
thought he would be rather nicer if he looked, for instance, a
little differently. His jaw was too square and set and his figure
too straight and stiff: these things suggested a want of easy
consonance with the deeper rhythms of life. Then she viewed with
reserve a habit he had of dressing always in the same manner; it
was not apparently that he wore the same clothes continually,
for, on the contrary, his garments had a way of looking rather
too new. But they all seemed of the same piece; the figure, the
stuff, was so drearily usual. She had reminded herself more than
once that this was a frivolous objection to a person of his
importance; and then she had amended the rebuke by saying that it
would be a frivolous objection only if she were in love with him.
She was not in love with him and therefore might criticise his
small defects as well as his great--which latter consisted in the
collective reproach of his being too serious, or, rather, not of
his being so, since one could never be, but certainly of his
seeming so. He showed his appetites and designs too simply and
artlessly; when one was alone with him he talked too much about
the same subject, and when other people were present he talked
too little about anything. And yet he was of supremely strong,
clean make--which was so much she saw the different fitted parts
of him as she had seen, in museums and portraits, the different
fitted parts of armoured warriors--in plates of steel handsomely
inlaid with gold. It was very strange: where, ever, was any
tangible link between her impression and her act? Caspar Goodwood
had never corresponded to her idea of a delightful person, and
she supposed that this was why he left her so harshly critical.
When, however, Lord Warburton, who not only did correspond with
it, but gave an extension to the term, appealed to her approval,
she found herself still unsatisfied. It was certainly strange.

The sense of her incoherence was not a help to answering Mr.
Goodwood's letter, and Isabel determined to leave it a while
unhonoured. If he had determined to persecute her he must take
the consequences; foremost among which was his being left to
perceive how little it charmed her that he should come down to
Gardencourt. She was already liable to the incursions of one
suitor at this place, and though it might be pleasant to be
appreciated in opposite quarters there was a kind of grossness in
entertaining two such passionate pleaders at once, even in a case
where the entertainment should consist of dismissing them. She
made no reply to Mr. Goodwood; but at the end of three days she
wrote to Lord Warburton, and the letter belongs to our history.

DEAR LORD WARBURTON--A great deal of earnest thought has not led
me to change my mind about the suggestion you were so kind as to
make me the other day. I am not, I am really and truly not, able
to regard you in the light of a companion for life; or to think
of your home--your various homes--as the settled seat of my
existence. These things cannot be reasoned about, and I very
earnestly entreat you not to return to the subject we discussed
so exhaustively. We see our lives from our own point of view;
that is the privilege of the weakest and humblest of us; and I
shall never be able to see mine in the manner you proposed.
Kindly let this suffice you, and do me the justice to believe
that I have given your proposal the deeply respectful
consideration it deserves. It is with this very great regard that
I remain sincerely yours,

ISABEL ARCHER.

While the author of this missive was making up her mind to
dispatch it Henrietta Stackpole formed a resolve which was
accompanied by no demur. She invited Ralph Touchett to take a
walk with her in the garden, and when he had assented with that
alacrity which seemed constantly to testify to his high
expectations, she informed him that she had a favour to ask of
him. It may be admitted that at this information the young man
flinched; for we know that Miss Stackpole had struck him as apt
to push an advantage. The alarm was unreasoned, however; for he
was clear about the area of her indiscretion as little as advised
of its vertical depth, and he made a very civil profession of the
desire to serve her. He was afraid of her and presently told
her so. "When you look at me in a certain way my knees knock
together, my faculties desert me; I'm filled with trepidation
and I ask only for strength to execute your commands. You've an
address that I've never encountered in any woman."

"Well," Henrietta replied good-humouredly, "if I had not known
before that you were trying somehow to abash me I should know it
now. Of course I'm easy game--I was brought up with such
different customs and ideas. I'm not used to your arbitrary
standards, and I've never been spoken to in America as you have
spoken to me. If a gentleman conversing with me over there were
to speak to me like that I shouldn't know what to make of it. We
take everything more naturally over there, and, after all, we're
a great deal more simple. I admit that; I'm very simple
myself. Of course if you choose to laugh at me for it you're very
welcome; but I think on the whole I would rather be myself than
you. I'm quite content to be myself; I don't want to change.
There are plenty of people that appreciate me just as I am. It's
true they're nice fresh free-born Americans!" Henrietta had
lately taken up the tone of helpless innocence and large
concession. "I want you to assist me a little," she went on. "I
don't care in the least whether I amuse you while you do so; or,
rather, I'm perfectly willing your amusement should be your
reward. I want you to help me about Isabel."

"Has she injured you?" Ralph asked.

"If she had I shouldn't mind, and I should never tell you. What
I'm afraid of is that she'll injure herself."

"I think that's very possible," said Ralph.

His companion stopped in the garden-walk, fixing on him perhaps
the very gaze that unnerved him. "That too would amuse you, I
suppose. The way you do say things! I never heard any one so
indifferent."

"To Isabel? Ah, not that!"

"Well, you're not in love with her, I hope."

"How can that be, when I'm in love with Another?"

"You're in love with yourself, that's the Other!" Miss Stackpole
declared. "Much good may it do you! But if you wish to be serious
once in your life here's a chance; and if you really care for
your cousin here's an opportunity to prove it. I don't expect you
to understand her; that's too much to ask. But you needn't do
that to grant my favour. I'll supply the necessary intelligence."

"I shall enjoy that immensely!" Ralph exclaimed. "I'll be Caliban
and you shall be Ariel."

"You're not at all like Caliban, because you're sophisticated,
and Caliban was not. But I'm not talking about imaginary
characters; I'm talking about Isabel. Isabel's intensely real.
What I wish to tell you is that I find her fearfully changed."

"Since you came, do you mean?"

"Since I came and before I came. She's not the same as she once
so beautifully was."

"As she was in America?"

"Yes, in America. I suppose you know she comes from there. She
can't help it, but she does."

"Do you want to change her back again?"

"Of course I do, and I want you to help me."

"Ah," said Ralph, "I'm only Caliban; I'm not Prospero."

"You were Prospero enough to make her what she has become. You've
acted on Isabel Archer since she came here, Mr. Touchett."

"I, my dear Miss Stackpole? Never in the world. Isabel Archer has
acted on me--yes; she acts on every one. But I've been absolutely
passive."

"You're too passive then. You had better stir yourself and be
careful. Isabel's changing every day; she's drifting away--
right out to sea. I've watched her and I can see it. She's not
the bright American girl she was. She's taking different views, a
different colour, and turning away from her old ideals. I want to
save those ideals, Mr. Touchett, and that's where you come in."

"Not surely as an ideal?"

"Well, I hope not," Henrietta replied promptly. "I've got a
fear in my heart that she's going to marry one of these fell
Europeans, and I want to prevent it.

"Ah, I see," cried Ralph; "and to prevent it you want me to step
in and marry her?"

"Not quite; that remedy would be as bad as the disease, for
you're the typical, the fell European from whom I wish to
rescue her. No; I wish you to take an interest in another person--
a young man to whom she once gave great encouragement and whom she
now doesn't seem to think good enough. He's a thoroughly grand
man and a very dear friend of mine, and I wish very much you
would invite him to pay a visit here."

Ralph was much puzzled by this appeal, and it is perhaps not to
the credit of his purity of mind that he failed to look at it at
first in the simplest light. It wore, to his eyes, a tortuous
air, and his fault was that he was not quite sure that anything
in the world could really be as candid as this request of Miss
Stackpole's appeared. That a young woman should demand that a
gentleman whom she described as her very dear friend should be
furnished with an opportunity to make himself agreeable to another
young woman, a young woman whose attention had wandered and whose
charms were greater--this was an anomaly which for the moment
challenged all his ingenuity of interpretation. To read between
the lines was easier than to follow the text, and to suppose that
Miss Stackpole wished the gentleman invited to Gardencourt on her
own account was the sign not so much of a vulgar as of an
embarrassed mind. Even from this venial act of vulgarity, however,
Ralph was saved, and saved by a force that I can only speak of as
inspiration. With no more outward light on the subject than he
already possessed he suddenly acquired the conviction that it
would be a sovereign injustice to the correspondent of the
Interviewer to assign a dishonourable motive to any act of hers.
This conviction passed into his mind with extreme rapidity; it was
perhaps kindled by the pure radiance of the young lady's
imperturbable gaze. He returned this challenge a moment,
consciously, resisting an inclination to frown as one frowns in
the presence of larger luminaries. "Who's the gentleman you speak
of?"

"Mr. Caspar Goodwood--of Boston. He has been extremely attentive
to Isabel--just as devoted to her as he can live. He has
followed her out here and he's at present in London. I don't know
his address, but I guess I can obtain it."

"I've never heard of him," said Ralph.

"Well, I suppose you haven't heard of every one. I don't believe
he has ever heard of you; but that's no reason why
Isabel shouldn't marry him."

Ralph gave a mild ambiguous laugh. "What a rage you have for
marrying people! Do you remember how you wanted to marry me the
other day?"

"I've got over that. You don't know how to take such ideas. Mr.
Goodwood does, however; and that's what I like about him. He's
a splendid man and a perfect gentleman, and Isabel knows it."

"Is she very fond of him?"

"If she isn't she ought to be. He's simply wrapped up in her."

"And you wish me to ask him here," said Ralph reflectively.

"It would be an act of true hospitality."

"Caspar Goodwood," Ralph continued--"it's rather a striking
name."

"I don't care anything about his name. It might be Ezekiel
Jenkins, and I should say the same. He's the only man I have
ever seen whom I think worthy of Isabel."

"You're a very devoted friend," said Ralph.

"Of course I am. If you say that to pour scorn on me I don't
care."

"I don't say it to pour scorn on you; I'm very much struck with
it."

"You're more satiric than ever, but I advise you not to laugh at
Mr. Goodwood."

"I assure you I'm very serious; you ought to understand that,"
said Ralph.

In a moment his companion understood it. "I believe you are;
now you're too serious."

"You're difficult to please."

"Oh, you're very serious indeed. You won't invite Mr. Goodwood."

"I don't know," said Ralph. "I'm capable of strange things. Tell
me a little about Mr. Goodwood. What's he like?"

"He's just the opposite of you. He's at the head of a
cotton-factory; a very fine one."

"Has he pleasant manners?" asked Ralph.

"Splendid manners--in the American style."

"Would he be an agreeable member of our little circle?"

"I don't think he'd care much about our little circle. He'd
concentrate on Isabel."

"And how would my cousin like that?"

"Very possibly not at all. But it will be good for her. It will
call back her thoughts."

"Call them back--from where?"

"From foreign parts and other unnatural places. Three months
ago she gave Mr. Goodwood every reason to suppose he was
acceptable to her, and it's not worthy of Isabel to go back on a
real friend simply because she has changed the scene. I've
changed the scene too, and the effect of it has been to make me
care more for my old associations than ever. It's my belief that
the sooner Isabel changes it back again the better. I know her
well enough to know that she would never be truly happy over
here, and I wish her to form some strong American tie that will
act as a preservative."

"Aren't you perhaps a little too much in a hurry?" Ralph
enquired. "Don't you think you ought to give her more of a chance
in poor old England?"

"A chance to ruin her bright young life? One's never too much in
a hurry to save a precious human creature from drowning."

"As I understand it then," said Ralph, "you wish me to push Mr.
Goodwood overboard after her. Do you know," he added, "that I've
never heard her mention his name?"

Henrietta gave a brilliant smile. "I'm delighted to hear that; it
proves how much she thinks of him."

Ralph appeared to allow that there was a good deal in this, and
he surrendered to thought while his companion watched him askance.
"If I should invite Mr. Goodwood," he finally said, "it would be
to quarrel with him."

"Don't do that; he'd prove the better man."

"You certainly are doing your best to make me hate him! I really
don't think I can ask him. I should be afraid of being rude to
him."

"It's just as you please," Henrietta returned. "I had no idea you
were in love with her yourself."

"Do you really believe that?" the young man asked with lifted
eyebrows.

"That's the most natural speech I've ever heard you make! Of
course I believe it," Miss Stackpole ingeniously said.

"Well," Ralph concluded, "to prove to you that you're wrong I'll
invite him. It must be of course as a friend of yours."

"It will not be as a friend of mine that he'll come; and it will
not be to prove to me that I'm wrong that you'll ask him--but to
prove it to yourself!"

These last words of Miss Stackpole's (on which the two presently
separated) contained an amount of truth which Ralph Touchett was
obliged to recognise; but it so far took the edge from too sharp
a recognition that, in spite of his suspecting it would be rather
more indiscreet to keep than to break his promise, he wrote Mr.
Goodwood a note of six lines, expressing the pleasure it would
give Mr. Touchett the elder that he should join a little party at
Gardencourt, of which Miss Stackpole was a valued member. Having
sent his letter (to the care of a banker whom Henrietta
suggested) he waited in some suspense. He had heard this fresh
formidable figure named for the first time; for when his mother
had mentioned on her arrival that there was a story about the
girl's having an "admirer" at home, the idea had seemed deficient
in reality and he had taken no pains to ask questions the answers
to which would involve only the vague or the disagreeable. Now,
however, the native admiration of which his cousin was the object
had become more concrete; it took the form of a young man who had
followed her to London, who was interested in a cotton-mill and
had manners in the most splendid of the American styles. Ralph
had two theories about this intervenes. Either his passion was a
sentimental fiction of Miss Stackpole's (there was always a sort
of tacit understanding among women, born of the solidarity of the
sex, that they should discover or invent lovers for each other),
in which case he was not to be feared and would probably not
accept the invitation; or else he would accept the invitation and
in this event prove himself a creature too irrational to demand
further consideration. The latter clause of Ralph's argument
might have seemed incoherent; but it embodied his conviction that
if Mr. Goodwood were interested in Isabel in the serious manner
described by Miss Stackpole he would not care to present himself
at Gardencourt on a summons from the latter lady. "On this
supposition," said Ralph, "he must regard her as a thorn on the
stem of his rose; as an intercessor he must find her wanting in
tact."

Two days after he had sent his invitation he received a very
short note from Caspar Goodwood, thanking him for it, regretting
that other engagements made a visit to Gardencourt impossible and
presenting many compliments to Miss Stackpole. Ralph handed the
note to Henrietta, who, when she had read it, exclaimed: "Well,
I never have heard of anything so stiff!"

"I'm afraid he doesn't care so much about my cousin as you
suppose," Ralph observed.

"No, it's not that; it's some subtler motive. His nature's very
deep. But I'm determined to fathom it, and I shall write to him
to know what he means."

His refusal of Ralph's overtures was vaguely disconcerting; from
the moment he declined to come to Gardencourt our friend began to
think him of importance. He asked himself what it signified to
him whether Isabel's admirers should be desperadoes or laggards;
they were not rivals of his and were perfectly welcome to act out
their genius. Nevertheless he felt much curiosity as to the
result of Miss Stackpole's promised enquiry into the causes of
Mr. Goodwood's stiffness--a curiosity for the present ungratified,
inasmuch as when he asked her three days later if she had written
to London she was obliged to confess she had written in vain. Mr.
Goodwood had not replied.

"I suppose he's thinking it over," she said; "he thinks
everything over; he's not really at all impetuous. But I'm
accustomed to having my letters answered the same day." She
presently proposed to Isabel, at all events, that they should
make an excursion to London together. "If I must tell the truth,"
she observed, "I'm not seeing much at this place, and I shouldn't
think you were either. I've not even seen that aristocrat--
what's his name?--Lord Washburton. He seems to let you severely
alone."

"Lord Warburton's coming to-morrow, I happen to know," replied
her friend, who had received a note from the master of Lockleigh
in answer to her own letter. "You'll have every opportunity of
turning him inside out."

"Well, he may do for one letter, but what's one letter when you
want to write fifty? I've described all the scenery in this
vicinity and raved about all the old women and donkeys. You
may say what you please, scenery doesn't make a vital letter. I
must go back to London and get some impressions of real life. I
was there but three days before I came away, and that's hardly
time to get in touch."

As Isabel, on her journey from New York to Gardencourt, had seen
even less of the British capital than this, it appeared a
happy suggestion of Henrietta's that the two should go thither on
a visit of pleasure. The idea struck Isabel as charming; he was
curious of the thick detail of London, which had always loomed
large and rich to her. They turned over their schemes together
and indulged in visions of romantic hours. They would stay at
some picturesque old inn--one of the inns described by Dickens--
and drive over the town in those delightful hansoms. Henrietta
was a literary woman, and the great advantage of being a literary
woman was that you could go everywhere and do everything. They
would dine at a coffee-house and go afterwards to the play; they
would frequent the Abbey and the British Museum and find out
where Doctor Johnson had lived, and Goldsmith and Addison. Isabel
grew eager and presently unveiled the bright vision to Ralph, who
burst into a fit of laughter which scarce expressed the sympathy
she had desired.

"It's a delightful plan," he said. "I advise you to go to the
Duke's Head in Covent Garden, an easy, informal, old-fashioned
place, and I'll have you put down at my club."

"Do you mean it's improper?" Isabel asked. "Dear me, isn't
anything proper here? With Henrietta surely I may go anywhere;
she isn't hampered in that way. She has travelled over the whole
American continent and can at least find her way about this
minute island."

"Ah then," said Ralph, "let me take advantage of her protection
to go up to town as well. I may never have a chance to
travel so safely!"

Henry James