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Chapter 3

She was therefore all the more startled when her mother said to her in
connexion with something to be done before her next migration: "You
understand of course that she's not going with you."

Maisie turned quite faint. "Oh I thought she was."

"It doesn't in the least matter, you know, what you think," Mrs. Farange
loudly replied; "and you had better indeed for the future, miss, learn
to keep your thoughts to yourself." This was exactly what Maisie had
already learned, and the accomplishment was just the source of her
mother's irritation. It was of a horrid little critical system, a
tendency, in her silence, to judge her elders, that this lady suspected
her, liking as she did, for her own part, a child to be simple and
confiding. She liked also to hear the report of the whacks she
administered to Mr. Farange's character, to his pretensions to peace
of mind: the satisfaction of dealing them diminished when nothing came
back. The day was at hand, and she saw it, when she should feel more
delight in hurling Maisie at him than in snatching her away; so much so
that her conscience winced under the acuteness of a candid friend who
had remarked that the real end of all their tugging would be that each
parent would try to make the little girl a burden to the other--a sort
of game in which a fond mother clearly wouldn't show to advantage. The
prospect of not showing to advantage, a distinction in which she held
she had never failed, begot in Ida Farange an ill humour of which
several persons felt the effect. She determined that Beale at any rate
should feel it; she reflected afresh that in the study of how to be
odious to him she must never give way. Nothing could incommode him more
than not to get the good, for the child, of a nice female appendage who
had clearly taken a fancy to her. One of the things Ida said to the
appendage was that Beale's was a house in which no decent woman could
consent to be seen. It was Miss Overmore herself who explained to
Maisie that she had had a hope of being allowed to accompany her to her
father's, and that this hope had been dashed by the way her mother took
it. "She says that if I ever do such a thing as enter his service I must
never expect to show my face in this house again. So I've promised not
to attempt to go with you. If I wait patiently till you come back here
we shall certainly be together once more."

Waiting patiently, and above all waiting till she should come back
there, seemed to Maisie a long way round--it reminded her of all the
things she had been told, first and last, that she should have if she'd
be good and that in spite of her goodness she had never had at all.
"Then who'll take care of me at papa's?"

"Heaven only knows, my own precious!" Miss Overmore replied, tenderly
embracing her. There was indeed no doubt that she was dear to this
beautiful friend. What could have proved it better than the fact that
before a week was out, in spite of their distressing separation and her
mother's prohibition and Miss Overmore's scruples and Miss Overmore's
promise, the beautiful friend had turned up at her father's? The little
lady already engaged there to come by the hour, a fat dark little lady
with a foreign name and dirty fingers, who wore, throughout, a bonnet
that had at first given her a deceptive air, too soon dispelled, of
not staying long, besides asking her pupil questions that had nothing
to do with lessons, questions that Beale Farange himself, when two or
three were repeated to him, admitted to be awfully low--this strange
apparition faded before the bright creature who had braved everything
for Maisie's sake. The bright creature told her little charge frankly
what had happened--that she had really been unable to hold out. She had
broken her vow to Mrs. Farange; she had struggled for three days and
then had come straight to Maisie's papa and told him the simple truth.
She adored his daughter; she couldn't give her up; she'd make for her
any sacrifice. On this basis it had been arranged that she should stay;
her courage had been rewarded; she left Maisie in no doubt as to the
amount of courage she had required. Some of the things she said made
a particular impression on the child--her declaration for instance
that when her pupil should get older she'd understand better just how
"dreadfully bold" a young lady, to do exactly what she had done, had
to be.

"Fortunately your papa appreciates it; he appreciates it IMMENSELY"--
that was one of the things Miss Overmore also said, with a striking
insistence on the adverb. Maisie herself was no less impressed with
what this martyr had gone through, especially after hearing of the
terrible letter that had come from Mrs. Farange. Mamma had been so
angry that, in Miss Overmore's own words, she had loaded her with
insult--proof enough indeed that they must never look forward to being
together again under mamma's roof. Mamma's roof, however, had its turn,
this time, for the child, of appearing but remotely contingent, so that,
to reassure her, there was scarce a need of her companion's secret,
solemnly confided--the probability there would be no going back to mamma
at all. It was Miss Overmore's private conviction, and a part of the
same communication, that if Mr. Farange's daughter would only show a
really marked preference she would be backed up by "public opinion" in
holding on to him. Poor Maisie could scarcely grasp that incentive, but
she could surrender herself to the day. She had conceived her first
passion, and the object of it was her governess. It hadn't been put to
her, and she couldn't, or at any rate she didn't, put it to herself,
that she liked Miss Overmore better than she liked papa; but it would
have sustained her under such an imputation to feel herself able
to reply that papa too liked Miss Overmore exactly as much. He had
particularly told her so. Besides she could easily see it.

Henry James