Fiction > Harvard Classics > Henry James > The Portrait of a Lady > Chapter XIII
Henry James. (1843–1916).  The Portrait of a Lady.
The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction.  1917.
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 Lord Warburton had said to her. 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 it would have been disagreeable to her to confide this particular matter 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 uncle 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.   1
  Isabel approached her point very 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.”   2
  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 added.   3
  “I have not answered him definitely yet; I have taken a little time to think of it, because that seems more respectful. But I shall not accept him.”   4
  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 would be a success over here. Americans are highly appreciated.”   5
  “Very highly indeed,” said Isabel. “But at the cost of seeming ungrateful, I don’t think I can marry Lord Warburton.”   6
  “Well,” her uncle went on, “of course an old man can’t judge for a young lady. I am 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 have known all about it these three days.”   7
  “About Lord Warburton’s state of mind?”   8
  “About his intentions, as they say here. He wrote me a very pleasant letter, telling me all about them. Should you like to see it?” the old man asked, obligingly.   9
  “Thank you; I don’t think I care about that. But I am glad he wrote to you; it was right that he should, and he would be certain to do what was right.”  10
  “Ah, well, I guess you do like him!” Mr. Touchett declared. “You needn’t pretend you don’t.”  11
  “I like him extremely; I am very free to admit that. But I don’t wish to marry any one just now.”  12
  “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.  13
  “I don’t care if I don’t meet any one else; I like Lord Warburton quite well enough,” said Isabel, with that appearance of a sudden change of point of view with which she sometimes startled and even displeased her interlocutors.  14
  Her uncle, however, seemed proof against either of these sensations.  15
  “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 letters I have 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 which was about himself. I suppose he told you all that.”  16
  “He would have told me everything I wished to ask him,” Isabel said.  17
  “But you didn’t feel curious?”  18
  “My curiosity would have been idle—once I had determined to decline his offer.”  19
  “You didn’t find it sufficiently attractive?” Mr. Touchett inquired.  20
  The girl was silent a moment.  21
  “I suppose it was that,” she presently admitted. “But I don’t know why.”  22
  “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 are rather crowded. However, I suppose there is room for charming young ladies everywhere.”  23
  “There seems to have been room here for you,” said Isabel, whose eyes had been wandering over the large pleasure-spaces of the park.  24
  Mr. Touchett gave a shrewd, conscious smile.  25
  “There is room everywhere, my dear, if you will pay for it. I sometimes think I have paid too much for this. Perhaps you also might have to pay too much.”  26
  “Perhaps I might,” the girl replied.  27
  This suggestion gave her something more definite to rest upon than she had found in her own thoughts, and the fact of her uncle’s genial shrewdness being associated with her dilemma seemed to prove to her 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 handsome offer to something indefinable and possible not commendable. In so far as the indefinable had an influence upon Isabel’s behaviour at this juncture, it was not the conception, however unformulated, of a union with Caspar Goodwood; for however little she might have felt warranted in lending a receptive ear to her English suitor, she was at least as far removed from the disposition to let the young man from Boston take complete possession of her. The sentiment in which she ultimately took 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 take from her the sense of freedom. There was something too forcible, something oppressive and restrictive, in the manner in which he presented himself. She had been haunted at moments by the image of his disapproval, and she had wondered—a consideration she had never paid in one 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 gave her an impression of energy. She might like it or not, but at any rate there was something very strong about him; even in one’s usual contact with him one had to reckon with it. The idea of a diminished liberty was particularly disagreeable to Isabel at present, because it seemed to her that she had just given a sort of personal accent to her independence by making up her mind to refuse Lord Warburton. 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.  28
  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 a time 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 could not now discuss difficult questions, because she was preoccupied with the idea of going to Europe with her aunt, he declared that this was no answer at all; and it was to obtain a better one that he followed her across the seas. To say to herself that he was a kind of 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 demand a description less metaphysical.  29
  He was the son of a proprietor of certain well-known cotton-mills in Massachusetts—a gentleman who had accumulated a considerable fortune in the exercise of this industry. Caspar now managed the establishment, with a judgment and a brilliancy which, in spite of keen competition and languid years, had kept its prosperity from dwindling. He had received the better part of his education at Harvard University, where, however, he had gained more renown as a gymnast and an oarsman than as a votary of culture. Later, he had become reconciled to culture, and though he was still fond of sport, he was capable of showing an excellent understanding of other matters. He had a remarkable aptitude for 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 his name in the papers 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. He had great talent for business, for administration, and for making people execute his purpose and carry out his views—for managing men, as the phrase was; and to give its complete value to this faculty, he had an insatiable, an almost fierce, ambition. It always struck people who knew him 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 not always content himself with that. He had once said to Isabel that, if the United States were only not such a confoundedly peaceful nation, he would find his proper place in the army. He keenly regretted that the Civil War should have terminated just as he had grown old enough to wear shoulder-straps, and was sure that if something of the same kind would only occur again, he would make a display of striking military talent. It pleased Isabel to believe that he had the qualities of a famous captain, and she answered that, if it would help him on, she shouldn’t object to a war—a speech which ranked among the three or four most encouraging ones he had elicited from her, and of which the value was not diminished by her subsequent regret at having said anything so heartless, inasmuch as she never communicated this regret to him. She liked at any rate this idea of his being potentially a commander of men—liked it much better than some other points in his character and appearance. She cared nothing about his cotton-mill, and the Goodwood patent left her imagination absolutely cold. She wished him not an inch less a man than he was; but she sometimes thought he would be rather nicer if he looked, for instance, a little differently. His jaw was too square and grim, and his figure too straight and stiff; these things suggested a want of easy adaptability to some of the occasions of life. Then she regarded with disfavour 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 to be made of the same piece; the pattern, the cut, was in every case identical. She had reminded herself more than once that this was a frivolous objection to a man of Mr. Goodwood’s importance; and then she had amended the rebuke by saying that it would be a frivolous objection if she were in love with him. She was not in love with him, and therefore she might criticise his small defects as well as his great ones—which latter consisted in the collective reproach of his being too serious, or, rather, not of his being too serious, for one could never be that, but of his seeming so. He showed his seriousness too simply, too 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 the strongest man she had ever known, and she believed that at bottom he was the cleverest. It was very strange; she was far from understanding the contradictions among her own impressions. Caspar Goodwood had never corresponded to her idea of a delightful person, and she supposed that this was why he was so unsatisfactory. 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.  30
  Such incongruities were not a help to answering Mr. Goodwood’s letter, and Isabel determined to leave it a while unanswered. If he had determined to persecute her, he must take the consequences; foremost among which was his being left to perceive that she did not approve of his coming 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, Isabel had a personal shrinking from entertaining two lovers at once, even in a case where the entertainment should consist of dismissing them. She sent no answer to Mr. Goodwood; but at the end of three days she wrote to Lord Warburton, and the letter belongs to our history. It ran as follows.
          “DEAR LORD WARBURTON—A great deal of careful reflection has not led me to change my mind about the suggestion you were so kind as to make me the other day. I do not find myself able to regard you in the light of a husband, or to regard your home—your various homes—in the light of my own. 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 feeling of respect that I remain very truly yours,
  While the author of this missive was making up her mind to despatch it, Henrietta Stackpole formed a resolution which was accompanied by no hesitation. 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 confided to the reader that at this information the young man flinched; for we know that Miss Stackpole had struck him as indiscreet. The movement was unreasonable, however; for he had measured the limits of her discretion as little as he had explored its extent; and he made a very civil profession of the desire to serve her. He was afraid of her, and he presently told her so.  32
  “When you look at me in a certain way,” he said, “my knees knock together, my faculties desert me; I am filled with trepidation, and I ask only for strength to execute your commands. You have a look which I have never encountered in any woman.”  33
  “Well,” Henrietta replied, good-humouredly, “if I had not known before that you were trying to turn me into ridicule, I should know it now. Of course I am easy game—I was brought up with such different customs and ideas. I am not used to your arbitrary standards, and I have 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 are a great deal more simple. I admit that; I am very simple myself. Of course, if you choose to laugh at me for that, you are very welcome; but I think on the whole I would rather be myself than you. I am quite content to be myself; I don’t want to change. There are plenty of people that appreciate me just as I am; it is true they are only 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 am perfectly willing that your amusement should be your reward. I want you to help me about Isabel.”  34
  “Has she injured you?” Ralph asked.  35
  “If she had I shouldn’t mind, and I should never tell you. What I am afraid of is that she will injure herself.”  36
  “I think that is very possible,” said Ralph.  37
  His companion stopped in the garden-walk, fixing on him a gaze which may perhaps have contained the quality that caused his knees to knock together. “That, too, would amuse you, I suppose. The way you do say things! I never heard any one so indifferent.”  38
  “To Isabel? Never in the world.”  39
  “Well, you are not in love with her, I hope.”  40
  “How can that be, when I am in love with another?”  41
  “You are 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 is 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 will supply the necessary intelligence.”  42
  “I shall enjoy that immensely!” Ralph exclaimed. “I will be Caliban, and you shall be Ariel.”  43
  “You are not at all like Caliban, because you are sophisticated, and Caliban was not. But I am not talking about imaginary characters; I am talking about Isabel. Isabel is intensely real. What I wish to tell you is that I find her fearfully changed.”  44
  “Since you came, do you mean?”  45
  “Since I came, and before I came. She is not the same as she was.”  46
  “As she was in America?”  47
  “Yes, in America. I suppose you know that she comes from there. She can’t help it, but she does.”  48
  “Do you want to change her back again?”  49
  “Of course I do; and I want you to help me.”  50
  “Ah,” said Ralph, “I am only Caliban; I am not Prospero.”  51
  “You were Prospero enough to make her what she has become. You have acted on Isabel Archer since she came here, Mr. Touchett.”  52
  “I, my dear Miss Stackpole? Never in the world. Isabel Archer has acted on me—yes; she acts on every one. But I have been absolutely passive.”  53
  “You are too passive, then. You had better stir yourself and be careful. Isabel is changing every day; she is drifting away—right out to sea. I have watched her and I can see it. She is not the bright American girl she was. She is taking different views, and turning away from her old ideals. I want to save those ideals, Mr. Touchett, and that is where you come in.”  54
  “Not surely as an ideal?”  55
  “Well, I hope not,” Henrietta replied, promptly. “I have got a fear in my heart that she is going to marry one of these Europeans, and I want to prevent it.”  56
  “Ah, I see,” cried Ralph; “and to prevent it, you want me to step in and marry her?”  57
  “Not quite; that remedy would be as bad as the disease, for you are the typical 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 noble fellow, and a very dear friend of mine, and I wish very much you would invite him to pay a visit here.”  58
  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, 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 scarcely call anything less than 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 gaze a moment, consciously, resisting an inclination to frown, as one frowns in the presence of larger luminaries. “Who is the gentleman you speak of?”  59
  “Mr. Caspar Goodwood, from 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 is at present in London. I don’t know his address, but I guess I can obtain it.”  60
  “I have never heard of him,” said Ralph.  61
  “Well, I suppose you haven’t heard of every one. I don’t believe he has ever heard of you; but that is no reason why Isabel shouldn’t marry him.”  62
  Ralph gave a small laugh. “What a rage you have for marrying people! Do you remember how you wanted to marry me the other day?”  63
  “I have 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.”  64
  “Is she very fond of him?”  65
  “If she isn’t she ought to be. He is simply wrapped up in her.”  66
  “And you wish me to ask him here,” said Ralph, reflectively.  67
  “It would be an act of true hospitality.”  68
  “Caspar Goodwood,” Ralph continued—“it’s rather a striking name.”  69
  “I don’t care anything about his name. It might be Ezekiel Jenkins, and I should say the same. He is the only man I have ever seen whom I think worthy of Isabel.”  70
  “You are a very devoted friend,” said Ralph.  71
  “Of course I am. If you say that to laugh at me, I don’t care.”  72
  “I don’t say it to laugh at you; I am very much struck with it.”  73
  “You are laughing worse than ever; but I advise you not to laugh at Mr. Goodwood.”  74
  “I assure you I am very serious; you ought to understand that,” said Ralph.  75
  In a moment his companion understood it. “I believe you are; now you are too serious.”  76
  “You are difficult to please.”  77
  “Oh, you are very serious indeed. You won’t invite Mr. Goodwood.”  78
  “I don’t know,” said Ralph. “I am capable of strange things. Tell me a little about Mr. Goodwood. What is he like?”  79
  “He is just the opposite of you. He is at the head of a cotton factory; a very fine one.”  80
  “Has he pleasant manners?” asked Ralph.  81
  “Splendid manners—in the American style.”  82
  “Would he be an agreeable member of our little circle?”  83
  “I don’t think he would care much about our little circle. He would concentrate on Isabel.”  84
  “And how would my cousin like that?”  85
  “Very possibly not at all. But it will be good for her. It will call back her thoughts.”  86
  “Call them back—from where?”  87
  “From foreign parts and other unnatural places. Three months ago she gave Mr. Goodwood every reason to suppose that he was acceptable to her, and it is not worthy of Isabel to turn her back upon a real friend simply because she has changed the scene. I have 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.”  88
  “Are you not a little too much in a hurry?” Ralph inquired. “Don’t you think you ought to give her more of a chance in poor old England?”  89
  “A chance to ruin her bright young life? One is never too much in a hurry to save a precious human creature from drowning.”  90
  “As I understand it, then,” said Ralph, “you wish me to push Mr. Goodwood overboard after her. Do you know,” he added, “that I have never heard her mention his name?”  91
  Henrietta Stackpole gave a brilliant smile. “I am delighted to hear that; it proves how much she thinks of him.”  92
  Ralph appeared to admit that there was a good deal in this, and he surrendered himself to meditation, while his companion watched him askance. “If I should invite Mr. Goodwood,” he said, “it would be to quarrel with him.”  93
  “Don’t do that; he would prove the better man.”  94
  “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.”  95
  “It’s just as you please,” said Henrietta. “I had no idea you were in love with her yourself.”  96
  “Do you really believe that?” the young man asked, with lifted eyebrows.  97
  “That’s the most natural speech I have ever heard you make! Of course I believe it,” Miss Stackpole answered, ingeniously.  98
  “Well,” said Ralph, “to prove to you that you are wrong, I will invite him. It must be, of course, as a friend of yours.”  99
  “It will not be as a friend of mine that he will come; and it will not be to prove to me that I am wrong that you will ask him—but to prove it to yourself!” 100
  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 that it would be rather more indiscreet to keep his promise than it would be to break it, 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 of Mr. Casper Goodwood by name for the first time; for when his mother mentioned to him on her arrival that there was a story about the girl’s having an “admirer” at home, the idea seemed deficient in reality, and Ralph took no pains to ask questions, the answers to which would suggest 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 American style. Ralph had two theories about this young man. 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 would 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.” 101
  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— 102
  “Well, I never have heard of anything so stiff!” 103
  “I am afraid he doesn’t care so much about my cousin as you suppose,” Ralph observed. 104
  “No, it’s not that; it’s some deeper motive. His nature is very deep. But I am determined to fathom it, and I will write to him to know what he means.” 105
  His refusal of Ralph’s overtures made this young man vaguely uncomfortable; from the moment he declined to come to Gardencourt Ralph 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 inquiry into the causes of Mr. Goodwood’s stiffness—a curiosity for the present ungratified, inasmuch as when he asked her three days later whether she had written to London, she was obliged to confess that she had written in vain. Mr. Goodwood had not answered her. 106
  “I suppose he is thinking it over,” she said; “he thinks everything over; he is not at all impulsive. But I am accustomed to having my letters answered the same day.” 107
  Whether it was to pursue her investigations, or whether it was in compliance with still larger interests, is a point which remains somewhat uncertain; at all events, she presently proposed to Isabel that they should make an excursion to London together. 108
  “If I must tell the truth,” she said, “I am not seeing much at this place, and I shouldn’t think you were either. I have not even seen that aristocrat—what’s his name?—Lord Washburton. He seems to let you severely alone.” 109
  “Lord Warburton is coming to-morrow, I happen to know,” replied Isabel, who had received a note from the master of Lockleigh in answer to her own letter. “You will have every opportunity of examining him.” 110
  “Well, he may do for one letter, but what is one letter when you want to write fifty? I have described all the scenery in this vicinity, and raved about all the old women and donkeys. You may say what you please, scenery makes a thin 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 is hardly time to get started.” 111
  As Isabel, on her journey from New York to Gardencourt, had seen even less of the metropolis 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; she had a great desire to see something of London, which had always been the city of her imagination. They turned over their scheme together and indulged in visions of æsthetic 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 mentioned these bright intentions to Ralph, who burst into a fit of laughter, which did not express the sympathy she had desired. 112
  “It’s a delightful plan,” he said. “I advise you to go to the Tavistock Hotel in Covent Garden, an easy, informal, old-fashioned place, and I will have you put down at my club.” 113
  “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 she can surely find her way about this simple little island.” 114
  “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!” 115


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