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Title: The Chaperon
Author: James, Henry
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Chaperon" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



Transcribed from 1893 Macmillan and Co. edition by David Price, email
ccx074@pglaf.org.  Proofed by Nina Hall, Mohua Sen, Bridie, Francine
Smith and David.



THE CHAPERON.


I.


AN old lady, in a high drawing-room, had had her chair moved close to the
fire, where she sat knitting and warming her knees.  She was dressed in
deep mourning; her face had a faded nobleness, tempered, however, by the
somewhat illiberal compression assumed by her lips in obedience to
something that was passing in her mind.  She was far from the lamp, but
though her eyes were fixed upon her active needles she was not looking at
them.  What she really saw was quite another train of affairs.  The room
was spacious and dim; the thick London fog had oozed into it even through
its superior defences.  It was full of dusky, massive, valuable things.
The old lady sat motionless save for the regularity of her clicking
needles, which seemed as personal to her and as expressive as prolonged
fingers.  If she was thinking something out, she was thinking it
thoroughly.

When she looked up, on the entrance of a girl of twenty, it might have
been guessed that the appearance of this young lady was not an
interruption of her meditation, but rather a contribution to it.  The
young lady, who was charming to behold, was also in deep mourning, which
had a freshness, if mourning can be fresh, an air of having been lately
put on.  She went straight to the bell beside the chimney-piece and
pulled it, while in her other hand she held a sealed and directed letter.
Her companion glanced in silence at the letter; then she looked still
harder at her work.  The girl hovered near the fireplace, without
speaking, and after a due, a dignified interval the butler appeared in
response to the bell.  The time had been sufficient to make the silence
between the ladies seem long.  The younger one asked the butler to see
that her letter should be posted; and after he had gone out she moved
vaguely about the room, as if to give her grandmother—for such was the
elder personage—a chance to begin a colloquy of which she herself
preferred not to strike the first note.  As equally with herself her
companion was on the face of it capable of holding out, the tension,
though it was already late in the evening, might have lasted long.  But
the old lady after a little appeared to recognise, a trifle ungraciously,
the girl’s superior resources.

“Have you written to your mother?”

“Yes, but only a few lines, to tell her I shall come and see her in the
morning.”

“Is that all you’ve got to say?” asked the grandmother.

“I don’t quite know what you want me to say.”

“I want you to say that you’ve made up your mind.”

“Yes, I’ve done that, granny.”

“You intend to respect your father’s wishes?”

“It depends upon what you mean by respecting them.  I do justice to the
feelings by which they were dictated.”

“What do you mean by justice?” the old lady retorted.

The girl was silent a moment; then she said: “You’ll see my idea of it.”

“I see it already!  You’ll go and live with her.”

“I shall talk the situation over with her to-morrow and tell her that I
think that will be best.”

“Best for her, no doubt!”

“What’s best for her is best for me.”

“And for your brother and sister?”  As the girl made no reply to this her
grandmother went on: “What’s best for them is that you should acknowledge
some responsibility in regard to them and, considering how young they
are, try and do something for them.”

“They must do as I’ve done—they must act for themselves.  They have their
means now, and they’re free.”

“Free?  They’re mere children.”

“Let me remind you that Eric is older than I.”

“He doesn’t like his mother,” said the old lady, as if that were an
answer.

“I never said he did.  And she adores him.”

“Oh, your mother’s adorations!”

“Don’t abuse her now,” the girl rejoined, after a pause.

The old lady forbore to abuse her, but she made up for it the next moment
by saying: “It will be dreadful for Edith.”

“What will be dreadful?”

“Your desertion of her.”

“The desertion’s on her side.”

“Her consideration for her father does her honour.”

“Of course I’m a brute, _n’en parlons plus_,” said the girl.  “We must go
our respective ways,” she added, in a tone of extreme wisdom and
philosophy.

Her grandmother straightened out her knitting and began to roll it up.
“Be so good as to ring for my maid,” she said, after a minute.  The young
lady rang, and there was another wait and another conscious hush.  Before
the maid came her mistress remarked: “Of course then you’ll not come to
_me_, you know.”

“What do you mean by ‘coming’ to you?”

“I can’t receive you on that footing.”

“She’ll not come _with_ me, if you mean that.”

“I don’t mean that,” said the old lady, getting up as her maid came in.
This attendant took her work from her, gave her an arm and helped her out
of the room, while Rose Tramore, standing before the fire and looking
into it, faced the idea that her grandmother’s door would now under all
circumstances be closed to her.  She lost no time however in brooding
over this anomaly: it only added energy to her determination to act.  All
she could do to-night was to go to bed, for she felt utterly weary.  She
had been living, in imagination, in a prospective struggle, and it had
left her as exhausted as a real fight.  Moreover this was the culmination
of a crisis, of weeks of suspense, of a long, hard strain.  Her father
had been laid in his grave five days before, and that morning his will
had been read.  In the afternoon she had got Edith off to St. Leonard’s
with their aunt Julia, and then she had had a wretched talk with Eric.
Lastly, she had made up her mind to act in opposition to the formidable
will, to a clause which embodied if not exactly a provision, a
recommendation singularly emphatic.  She went to bed and slept the sleep
of the just.

“Oh, my dear, how charming!  I must take another house!”  It was in these
words that her mother responded to the announcement Rose had just
formally made and with which she had vaguely expected to produce a
certain dignity of effect.  In the way of emotion there was apparently no
effect at all, and the girl was wise enough to know that this was not
simply on account of the general line of non-allusion taken by the
extremely pretty woman before her, who looked like her elder sister.
Mrs. Tramore had never manifested, to her daughter, the slightest
consciousness that her position was peculiar; but the recollection of
something more than that fine policy was required to explain such a
failure, to appreciate Rose’s sacrifice.  It was simply a fresh reminder
that she had never appreciated anything, that she was nothing but a
tinted and stippled surface.  Her situation was peculiar indeed.  She had
been the heroine of a scandal which had grown dim only because, in the
eyes of the London world, it paled in the lurid light of the
contemporaneous.  That attention had been fixed on it for several days,
fifteen years before; there had been a high relish of the vivid evidence
as to his wife’s misconduct with which, in the divorce-court, Charles
Tramore had judged well to regale a cynical public.  The case was
pronounced awfully bad, and he obtained his decree.  The folly of the
wife had been inconceivable, in spite of other examples: she had quitted
her children, she had followed the “other fellow” abroad.  The other
fellow hadn’t married her, not having had time: he had lost his life in
the Mediterranean by the capsizing of a boat, before the prohibitory term
had expired.

Mrs. Tramore had striven to extract from this accident something of the
austerity of widowhood; but her mourning only made her deviation more
public, she was a widow whose husband was awkwardly alive.  She had not
prowled about the Continent on the classic lines; she had come back to
London to take her chance.  But London would give her no chance, would
have nothing to say to her; as many persons had remarked, you could never
tell how London would behave.  It would not receive Mrs. Tramore again on
any terms, and when she was spoken of, which now was not often, it was
inveterately said of her that she went nowhere.  Apparently she had not
the qualities for which London compounds; though in the cases in which it
does compound you may often wonder what these qualities are.  She had not
at any rate been successful: her lover was dead, her husband was liked
and her children were pitied, for in payment for a topic London will
parenthetically pity.  It was thought interesting and magnanimous that
Charles Tramore had not married again.  The disadvantage to his children
of the miserable story was thus left uncorrected, and this, rather oddly,
was counted as _his_ sacrifice.  His mother, whose arrangements were
elaborate, looked after them a great deal, and they enjoyed a mixture of
laxity and discipline under the roof of their aunt, Miss Tramore, who was
independent, having, for reasons that the two ladies had exhaustively
discussed, determined to lead her own life.  She had set up a home at St.
Leonard’s, and that contracted shore had played a considerable part in
the upbringing of the little Tramores.  They knew about their mother, as
the phrase was, but they didn’t know her; which was naturally deemed more
pathetic for them than for her.  She had a house in Chester Square and an
income and a victoria—it served all purposes, as she never went out in
the evening—and flowers on her window-sills, and a remarkable appearance
of youth.  The income was supposed to be in part the result of a bequest
from the man for whose sake she had committed the error of her life, and
in the appearance of youth there was a slightly impertinent implication
that it was a sort of afterglow of the same connection.

Her children, as they grew older, fortunately showed signs of some
individuality of disposition.  Edith, the second girl, clung to her aunt
Julia; Eric, the son, clung frantically to polo; while Rose, the elder
daughter, appeared to cling mainly to herself.  Collectively, of course,
they clung to their father, whose attitude in the family group, however,
was casual and intermittent.  He was charming and vague; he was like a
clever actor who often didn’t come to rehearsal.  Fortune, which but for
that one stroke had been generous to him, had provided him with deputies
and trouble-takers, as well as with whimsical opinions, and a reputation
for excellent taste, and whist at his club, and perpetual cigars on
morocco sofas, and a beautiful absence of purpose.  Nature had thrown in
a remarkably fine hand, which he sometimes passed over his children’s
heads when they were glossy from the nursery brush.  On Rose’s eighteenth
birthday he said to her that she might go to see her mother, on condition
that her visits should be limited to an hour each time and to four in the
year.  She was to go alone; the other children were not included in the
arrangement.  This was the result of a visit that he himself had paid his
repudiated wife at her urgent request, their only encounter during the
fifteen years.  The girl knew as much as this from her aunt Julia, who
was full of tell-tale secrecies.  She availed herself eagerly of the
license, and in course of the period that elapsed before her father’s
death she spent with Mrs. Tramore exactly eight hours by the watch.  Her
father, who was as inconsistent and disappointing as he was amiable,
spoke to her of her mother only once afterwards.  This occasion had been
the sequel of her first visit, and he had made no use of it to ask what
she thought of the personality in Chester Square or how she liked it.  He
had only said “Did she take you out?” and when Rose answered “Yes, she
put me straight into a carriage and drove me up and down Bond Street,”
had rejoined sharply “See that that never occurs again.”  It never did,
but once was enough, every one they knew having happened to be in Bond
Street at that particular hour.

After this the periodical interview took place in private, in Mrs.
Tramore’s beautiful little wasted drawing-room.  Rose knew that, rare as
these occasions were, her mother would not have kept her “all to herself”
had there been anybody she could have shown her to.  But in the poor
lady’s social void there was no one; she had after all her own
correctness and she consistently preferred isolation to inferior
contacts.  So her daughter was subjected only to the maternal; it was not
necessary to be definite in qualifying that.  The girl had by this time a
collection of ideas, gathered by impenetrable processes; she had tasted,
in the ostracism of her ambiguous parent, of the acrid fruit of the tree
of knowledge.  She not only had an approximate vision of what every one
had done, but she had a private judgment for each case.  She had a
particular vision of her father, which did not interfere with his being
dear to her, but which was directly concerned in her resolution, after
his death, to do the special thing he had expressed the wish she should
not do.  In the general estimate her grandmother and her grandmother’s
money had their place, and the strong probability that any enjoyment of
the latter commodity would now be withheld from her.  It included Edith’s
marked inclination to receive the law, and doubtless eventually a more
substantial memento, from Miss Tramore, and opened the question whether
her own course might not contribute to make her sister’s appear
heartless.  The answer to this question however would depend on the
success that might attend her own, which would very possibly be small.
Eric’s attitude was eminently simple; he didn’t care to know people who
didn’t know _his_ people.  If his mother should ever get back into
society perhaps he would take her up.  Rose Tramore had decided to do
what she could to bring this consummation about; and strangely enough—so
mixed were her superstitions and her heresies—a large part of her motive
lay in the value she attached to such a consecration.

Of her mother intrinsically she thought very little now, and if her eyes
were fixed on a special achievement it was much more for the sake of that
achievement and to satisfy a latent energy that was in her than because
her heart was wrung by this sufferer.  Her heart had not been wrung at
all, though she had quite held it out for the experience.  Her purpose
was a pious game, but it was still essentially a game.  Among the ideas I
have mentioned she had her idea of triumph.  She had caught the
inevitable note, the pitch, on her very first visit to Chester Square.
She had arrived there in intense excitement, and her excitement was left
on her hands in a manner that reminded her of a difficult air she had
once heard sung at the opera when no one applauded the performer.  That
flatness had made her sick, and so did this, in another way.  A part of
her agitation proceeded from the fact that her aunt Julia had told her,
in the manner of a burst of confidence, something she was not to repeat,
that she was in appearance the very image of the lady in Chester Square.
The motive that prompted this declaration was between aunt Julia and her
conscience; but it was a great emotion to the girl to find her
entertainer so beautiful.  She was tall and exquisitely slim; she had
hair more exactly to Rose Tramore’s taste than any other she had ever
seen, even to every detail in the way it was dressed, and a complexion
and a figure of the kind that are always spoken of as “lovely.”  Her eyes
were irresistible, and so were her clothes, though the clothes were
perhaps a little more precisely the right thing than the eyes.  Her
appearance was marked to her daughter’s sense by the highest distinction;
though it may be mentioned that this had never been the opinion of all
the world.  It was a revelation to Rose that she herself might look a
little like that.  She knew however that aunt Julia had not seen her
deposed sister-in-law for a long time, and she had a general impression
that Mrs. Tramore was to-day a more complete production—for instance as
regarded her air of youth—than she had ever been.  There was no
excitement on her side—that was all her visitor’s; there was no
emotion—that was excluded by the plan, to say nothing of conditions more
primal.  Rose had from the first a glimpse of her mother’s plan.  It was
to mention nothing and imply nothing, neither to acknowledge, to explain
nor to extenuate.  She would leave everything to her child; with her
child she was secure.  She only wanted to get back into society; she
would leave even that to her child, whom she treated not as a high-strung
and heroic daughter, a creature of exaltation, of devotion, but as a new,
charming, clever, useful friend, a little younger than herself.  Already
on that first day she had talked about dressmakers.  Of course, poor
thing, it was to be remembered that in her circumstances there were not
many things she _could_ talk about.  “She wants to go out again; that’s
the only thing in the wide world she wants,” Rose had promptly,
compendiously said to herself.  There had been a sequel to this
observation, uttered, in intense engrossment, in her own room half an
hour before she had, on the important evening, made known her decision to
her grandmother: “Then I’ll _take_ her out!”

“She’ll drag you down, she’ll drag you down!” Julia Tramore permitted
herself to remark to her niece, the next day, in a tone of feverish
prophecy.

As the girl’s own theory was that all the dragging there might be would
be upward, and moreover administered by herself, she could look at her
aunt with a cold and inscrutable eye.

“Very well, then, I shall be out of your sight, from the pinnacle you
occupy, and I sha’n’t trouble you.”

“Do you reproach me for my disinterested exertions, for the way I’ve
toiled over you, the way I’ve lived for you?” Miss Tramore demanded.

“Don’t reproach _me_ for being kind to my mother and I won’t reproach you
for anything.”

“She’ll keep you out of everything—she’ll make you miss everything,” Miss
Tramore continued.

“Then she’ll make me miss a great deal that’s odious,” said the girl.

“You’re too young for such extravagances,” her aunt declared.

“And yet Edith, who is younger than I, seems to be too old for them: how
do you arrange that?  My mother’s society will make me older,” Rose
replied.

“Don’t speak to me of your mother; you _have_ no mother.”

“Then if I’m an orphan I must settle things for myself.”

“Do you justify her, do you approve of her?” cried Miss Tramore, who was
inferior to her niece in capacity for retort and whose limitations made
the girl appear pert.

Rose looked at her a moment in silence; then she said, turning away: “I
think she’s charming.”

“And do you propose to become charming in the same manner?”

“Her manner is perfect; it would be an excellent model.  But I can’t
discuss my mother with you.”

“You’ll have to discuss her with some other people!” Miss Tramore
proclaimed, going out of the room.

Rose wondered whether this were a general or a particular vaticination.
There was something her aunt might have meant by it, but her aunt rarely
meant the best thing she might have meant.  Miss Tramore had come up from
St. Leonard’s in response to a telegram from her own parent, for an
occasion like the present brought with it, for a few hours, a certain
relaxation of their dissent.  “Do what you can to stop her,” the old lady
had said; but her daughter found that the most she could do was not much.
They both had a baffled sense that Rose had thought the question out a
good deal further than they; and this was particularly irritating to Mrs.
Tramore, as consciously the cleverer of the two.  A question thought out
as far as _she_ could think it had always appeared to her to have
performed its human uses; she had never encountered a ghost emerging from
that extinction.  Their great contention was that Rose would cut herself
off; and certainly if she wasn’t afraid of that she wasn’t afraid of
anything.  Julia Tramore could only tell her mother how little the girl
was afraid.  She was already prepared to leave the house, taking with her
the possessions, or her share of them, that had accumulated there during
her father’s illness.  There had been a going and coming of her maid, a
thumping about of boxes, an ordering of four-wheelers; it appeared to old
Mrs. Tramore that something of the objectionableness, the indecency, of
her granddaughter’s prospective connection had already gathered about the
place.  It was a violation of the decorum of bereavement which was still
fresh there, and from the indignant gloom of the mistress of the house
you might have inferred not so much that the daughter was about to depart
as that the mother was about to arrive.  There had been no conversation
on the dreadful subject at luncheon; for at luncheon at Mrs. Tramore’s
(her son never came to it) there were always, even after funerals and
other miseries, stray guests of both sexes whose policy it was to be
cheerful and superficial.  Rose had sat down as if nothing had
happened—nothing worse, that is, than her father’s death; but no one had
spoken of anything that any one else was thinking of.

Before she left the house a servant brought her a message from her
grandmother—the old lady desired to see her in the drawing-room.  She had
on her bonnet, and she went down as if she were about to step into her
cab.  Mrs. Tramore sat there with her eternal knitting, from which she
forebore even to raise her eyes as, after a silence that seemed to
express the fulness of her reprobation, while Rose stood motionless, she
began: “I wonder if you really understand what you’re doing.”

“I think so.  I’m not so stupid.”

“I never thought you were; but I don’t know what to make of you now.
You’re giving up everything.”

The girl was tempted to inquire whether her grandmother called herself
“everything”; but she checked this question, answering instead that she
knew she was giving up much.

“You’re taking a step of which you will feel the effect to the end of
your days,” Mrs. Tramore went on.

“In a good conscience, I heartily hope,” said Rose.

“Your father’s conscience was good enough for his mother; it ought to be
good enough for his daughter.”

Rose sat down—she could afford to—as if she wished to be very attentive
and were still accessible to argument.  But this demonstration only
ushered in, after a moment, the surprising words “I don’t think papa had
any conscience.”

“What in the name of all that’s unnatural do you mean?” Mrs. Tramore
cried, over her glasses.  “The dearest and best creature that ever
lived!”

“He was kind, he had charming impulses, he was delightful.  But he never
reflected.”

Mrs. Tramore stared, as if at a language she had never heard, a farrago,
a _galimatias_.  Her life was made up of items, but she had never had to
deal, intellectually, with a fine shade.  Then while her needles, which
had paused an instant, began to fly again, she rejoined: “Do you know
what you are, my dear?  You’re a dreadful little prig.  Where do you pick
up such talk?”

“Of course I don’t mean to judge between them,” Rose pursued.  “I can
only judge between my mother and myself.  Papa couldn’t judge for me.”
And with this she got up.

“One would think you were horrid.  I never thought so before.”

“Thank you for that.”

“You’re embarking on a struggle with society,” continued Mrs. Tramore,
indulging in an unusual flight of oratory.  “Society will put you in your
place.”

“Hasn’t it too many other things to do?” asked the girl.

This question had an ingenuity which led her grandmother to meet it with
a merely provisional and somewhat sketchy answer.  “Your ignorance would
be melancholy if your behaviour were not so insane.”

“Oh, no; I know perfectly what she’ll do!” Rose replied, almost gaily.
“She’ll drag me down.”

“She won’t even do that,” the old lady declared contradictiously.
“She’ll keep you forever in the same dull hole.”

“I shall come and see _you_, granny, when I want something more lively.”

“You may come if you like, but you’ll come no further than the door.  If
you leave this house now you don’t enter it again.”

Rose hesitated a moment.  “Do you really mean that?”

“You may judge whether I choose such a time to joke.”

“Good-bye, then,” said the girl.

“Good-bye.”

Rose quitted the room successfully enough; but on the other side of the
door, on the landing, she sank into a chair and buried her face in her
hands.  She had burst into tears, and she sobbed there for a moment,
trying hard to recover herself, so as to go downstairs without showing
any traces of emotion, passing before the servants and again perhaps
before aunt Julia.  Mrs. Tramore was too old to cry; she could only drop
her knitting and, for a long time, sit with her head bowed and her eyes
closed.

Rose had reckoned justly with her aunt Julia; there were no footmen, but
this vigilant virgin was posted at the foot of the stairs.  She offered
no challenge however; she only said: “There’s some one in the parlour who
wants to see you.”  The girl demanded a name, but Miss Tramore only
mouthed inaudibly and winked and waved.  Rose instantly reflected that
there was only one man in the world her aunt would look such deep things
about.  “Captain Jay?” her own eyes asked, while Miss Tramore’s were
those of a conspirator: they were, for a moment, the only embarrassed
eyes Rose had encountered that day.  They contributed to make aunt
Julia’s further response evasive, after her niece inquired if she had
communicated in advance with this visitor.  Miss Tramore merely said that
he had been upstairs with her mother—hadn’t she mentioned it?—and had
been waiting for her.  She thought herself acute in not putting the
question of the girl’s seeing him before her as a favour to him or to
herself; she presented it as a duty, and wound up with the proposition:
“It’s not fair to him, it’s not kind, not to let him speak to you before
you go.”

“What does he want to say?” Rose demanded.

“Go in and find out.”

She really knew, for she had found out before; but after standing
uncertain an instant she went in.  “The parlour” was the name that had
always been borne by a spacious sitting-room downstairs, an apartment
occupied by her father during his frequent phases of residence in Hill
Street—episodes increasingly frequent after his house in the country had,
in consequence, as Rose perfectly knew, of his spending too much money,
been disposed of at a sacrifice which he always characterised as horrid.
He had been left with the place in Hertfordshire and his mother with the
London house, on the general understanding that they would change about;
but during the last years the community had grown more rigid, mainly at
his mother’s expense.  The parlour was full of his memory and his habits
and his things—his books and pictures and _bibelots_, objects that
belonged now to Eric.  Rose had sat in it for hours since his death; it
was the place in which she could still be nearest to him.  But she felt
far from him as Captain Jay rose erect on her opening the door.  This was
a very different presence.  He had not liked Captain Jay.  She herself
had, but not enough to make a great complication of her father’s
coldness.  This afternoon however she foresaw complications.  At the very
outset for instance she was not pleased with his having arranged such a
surprise for her with her grandmother and her aunt.  It was probably aunt
Julia who had sent for him; her grandmother wouldn’t have done it.  It
placed him immediately on their side, and Rose was almost as disappointed
at this as if she had not known it was quite where he would naturally be.
He had never paid her a special visit, but if that was what he wished to
do why shouldn’t he have waited till she should be under her mother’s
roof?  She knew the reason, but she had an angry prospect of enjoyment in
making him express it.  She liked him enough, after all, if it were
measured by the idea of what she could make him do.

In Bertram Jay the elements were surprisingly mingled; you would have
gone astray, in reading him, if you had counted on finding the
complements of some of his qualities.  He would not however have struck
you in the least as incomplete, for in every case in which you didn’t
find the complement you would have found the contradiction.  He was in
the Royal Engineers, and was tall, lean and high-shouldered.  He looked
every inch a soldier, yet there were people who considered that he had
missed his vocation in not becoming a parson.  He took a public interest
in the spiritual life of the army.  Other persons still, on closer
observation, would have felt that his most appropriate field was neither
the army nor the church, but simply the world—the social, successful,
worldly world.  If he had a sword in one hand and a Bible in the other he
had a Court Guide concealed somewhere about his person.  His profile was
hard and handsome, his eyes were both cold and kind, his dark straight
hair was imperturbably smooth and prematurely streaked with grey.  There
was nothing in existence that he didn’t take seriously.  He had a
first-rate power of work and an ambition as minutely organised as a
German plan of invasion.  His only real recreation was to go to church,
but he went to parties when he had time.  If he was in love with Rose
Tramore this was distracting to him only in the same sense as his
religion, and it was included in that department of his extremely
sub-divided life.  His religion indeed was of an encroaching, annexing
sort.  Seen from in front he looked diffident and blank, but he was
capable of exposing himself in a way (to speak only of the paths of
peace) wholly inconsistent with shyness.  He had a passion for instance
for open-air speaking, but was not thought on the whole to excel in it
unless he could help himself out with a hymn.  In conversation he kept
his eyes on you with a kind of colourless candour, as if he had not
understood what you were saying and, in a fashion that made many people
turn red, waited before answering.  This was only because he was
considering their remarks in more relations than they had intended.  He
had in his face no expression whatever save the one just mentioned, and
was, in his profession, already very distinguished.

He had seen Rose Tramore for the first time on a Sunday of the previous
March, at a house in the country at which she was staying with her
father, and five weeks later he had made her, by letter, an offer of
marriage.  She showed her father the letter of course, and he told her
that it would give him great pleasure that she should send Captain Jay
about his business.  “My dear child,” he said, “we must really have some
one who will be better fun than that.”  Rose had declined the honour,
very considerately and kindly, but not simply because her father wished
it.  She didn’t herself wish to detach this flower from the stem, though
when the young man wrote again, to express the hope that he _might_
hope—so long was he willing to wait—and ask if he might not still
sometimes see her, she answered even more indulgently than at first.  She
had shown her father her former letter, but she didn’t show him this one;
she only told him what it contained, submitting to him also that of her
correspondent.  Captain Jay moreover wrote to Mr. Tramore, who replied
sociably, but so vaguely that he almost neglected the subject under
discussion—a communication that made poor Bertram ponder long.  He could
never get to the bottom of the superficial, and all the proprieties and
conventions of life were profound to him.  Fortunately for him old Mrs.
Tramore liked him, he was satisfactory to her long-sightedness; so that a
relation was established under cover of which he still occasionally
presented himself in Hill Street—presented himself nominally to the
mistress of the house.  He had had scruples about the veracity of his
visits, but he had disposed of them; he had scruples about so many things
that he had had to invent a general way, to dig a central drain.  Julia
Tramore happened to meet him when she came up to town, and she took a
view of him more benevolent than her usual estimate of people encouraged
by her mother.  The fear of agreeing with that lady was a motive, but
there was a stronger one, in this particular case, in the fear of
agreeing with her niece, who had rejected him.  His situation might be
held to have improved when Mr. Tramore was taken so gravely ill that with
regard to his recovery those about him left their eyes to speak for their
lips; and in the light of the poor gentleman’s recent death it was
doubtless better than it had ever been.

He was only a quarter of an hour with the girl, but this gave him time to
take the measure of it.  After he had spoken to her about her
bereavement, very much as an especially mild missionary might have spoken
to a beautiful Polynesian, he let her know that he had learned from her
companions the very strong step she was about to take.  This led to their
spending together ten minutes which, to her mind, threw more light on his
character than anything that had ever passed between them.  She had
always felt with him as if she were standing on an edge, looking down
into something decidedly deep.  To-day the impression of the
perpendicular shaft was there, but it was rather an abyss of confusion
and disorder than the large bright space in which she had figured
everything as ranged and pigeon-holed, presenting the appearance of the
labelled shelves and drawers at a chemist’s.  He discussed without an
invitation to discuss, he appealed without a right to appeal.  He was
nothing but a suitor tolerated after dismissal, but he took strangely for
granted a participation in her affairs.  He assumed all sorts of things
that made her draw back.  He implied that there was everything now to
assist them in arriving at an agreement, since she had never informed him
that he was positively objectionable; but that this symmetry would be
spoiled if she should not be willing to take a little longer to think of
certain consequences.  She was greatly disconcerted when she saw what
consequences he meant and at his reminding her of them.  What on earth
was the use of a lover if he was to speak only like one’s grandmother and
one’s aunt?  He struck her as much in love with her and as particularly
careful at the same time as to what he might say.  He never mentioned her
mother; he only alluded, indirectly but earnestly, to the “step.”  He
disapproved of it altogether, took an unexpectedly prudent, politic view
of it.  He evidently also believed that she would be dragged down; in
other words that she would not be asked out.  It was his idea that her
mother would contaminate her, so that he should find himself interested
in a young person discredited and virtually unmarriageable.  All this was
more obvious to him than the consideration that a daughter should be
merciful.  Where was his religion if he understood mercy so little, and
where were his talent and his courage if he were so miserably afraid of
trumpery social penalties?  Rose’s heart sank when she reflected that a
man supposed to be first-rate hadn’t guessed that rather than not do what
she could for her mother she would give up all the Engineers in the
world.  She became aware that she probably would have been moved to place
her hand in his on the spot if he had come to her saying “Your idea is
the right one; put it through at every cost.”  She couldn’t discuss this
with him, though he impressed her as having too much at stake for her to
treat him with mere disdain.  She sickened at the revelation that a
gentleman could see so much in mere vulgarities of opinion, and though
she uttered as few words as possible, conversing only in sad smiles and
headshakes and in intercepted movements toward the door, she happened, in
some unguarded lapse from her reticence, to use the expression that she
was disappointed in him.  He caught at it and, seeming to drop his
field-glass, pressed upon her with nearer, tenderer eyes.

“Can I be so happy as to believe, then, that you had thought of me with
some confidence, with some faith?”

“If you didn’t suppose so, what is the sense of this visit?” Rose asked.

“One can be faithful without reciprocity,” said the young man.  “I regard
you in a light which makes me want to protect you even if I have nothing
to gain by it.”

“Yet you speak as if you thought you might keep me for yourself.”

“For _yourself_.  I don’t want you to suffer.”

“Nor to suffer yourself by my doing so,” said Rose, looking down.

“Ah, if you would only marry me next month!” he broke out inconsequently.

“And give up going to mamma?” Rose waited to see if he would say “What
need that matter?  Can’t your mother come to us?”  But he said nothing of
the sort; he only answered—

“She surely would be sorry to interfere with the exercise of any other
affection which I might have the bliss of believing that you are now
free, in however small a degree, to entertain.”

Rose knew that her mother wouldn’t be sorry at all; but she contented
herself with rejoining, her hand on the door: “Good-bye.  I sha’n’t
suffer.  I’m not afraid.”

“You don’t know how terrible, how cruel, the world can be.”

“Yes, I do know.  I know everything!”

The declaration sprang from her lips in a tone which made him look at her
as he had never looked before, as if he saw something new in her face, as
if he had never yet known her.  He hadn’t displeased her so much but that
she would like to give him that impression, and since she felt that she
was doing so she lingered an instant for the purpose.  It enabled her to
see, further, that he turned red; then to become aware that a carriage
had stopped at the door.  Captain Jay’s eyes, from where he stood, fell
upon this arrival, and the nature of their glance made Rose step forward
to look.  Her mother sat there, brilliant, conspicuous, in the eternal
victoria, and the footman was already sounding the knocker.  It had been
no part of the arrangement that she should come to fetch her; it had been
out of the question—a stroke in such bad taste as would have put Rose in
the wrong.  The girl had never dreamed of it, but somehow, suddenly,
perversely, she was glad of it now; she even hoped that her grandmother
and her aunt were looking out upstairs.

“My mother has come for me.  Good-bye,” she repeated; but this time her
visitor had got between her and the door.

“Listen to me before you go.  I will give you a life’s devotion,” the
young man pleaded.  He really barred the way.

She wondered whether her grandmother had told him that if her flight were
not prevented she would forfeit money.  Then, vividly, it came over her
that this would be what he was occupied with.  “I shall never think of
you—let me go!” she cried, with passion.

Captain Jay opened the door, but Rose didn’t see his face, and in a
moment she was out of the house.  Aunt Julia, who was sure to have been
hovering, had taken flight before the profanity of the knock.

“Heavens, dear, where did you get your mourning?” the lady in the
victoria asked of her daughter as they drove away.



II.


LADY MARESFIELD had given her boy a push in his plump back and had said
to him, “Go and speak to her now; it’s your chance.”  She had for a long
time wanted this scion to make himself audible to Rose Tramore, but the
opportunity was not easy to come by.  The case was complicated.  Lady
Maresfield had four daughters, of whom only one was married.  It so
happened moreover that this one, Mrs. Vaughan-Vesey, the only person in
the world her mother was afraid of, was the most to be reckoned with.
The Honourable Guy was in appearance all his mother’s child, though he
was really a simpler soul.  He was large and pink; large, that is, as to
everything but the eyes, which were diminishing points, and pink as to
everything but the hair, which was comparable, faintly, to the hue of the
richer rose.  He had also, it must be conceded, very small neat teeth,
which made his smile look like a young lady’s.  He had no wish to
resemble any such person, but he was perpetually smiling, and he smiled
more than ever as he approached Rose Tramore, who, looking altogether, to
his mind, as a pretty girl should, and wearing a soft white opera-cloak
over a softer black dress, leaned alone against the wall of the vestibule
at Covent Garden while, a few paces off, an old gentleman engaged her
mother in conversation.  Madame Patti had been singing, and they were all
waiting for their carriages.  To their ears at present came a
vociferation of names and a rattle of wheels.  The air, through banging
doors, entered in damp, warm gusts, heavy with the stale, slightly sweet
taste of the London season when the London season is overripe and
spoiling.

Guy Mangler had only three minutes to reëstablish an interrupted
acquaintance with our young lady.  He reminded her that he had danced
with her the year before, and he mentioned that he knew her brother.  His
mother had lately been to see old Mrs. Tramore, but this he did not
mention, not being aware of it.  That visit had produced, on Lady
Maresfield’s part, a private crisis, engendered ideas.  One of them was
that the grandmother in Hill Street had really forgiven the wilful girl
much more than she admitted.  Another was that there would still be some
money for Rose when the others should come into theirs.  Still another
was that the others would come into theirs at no distant date; the old
lady was so visibly going to pieces.  There were several more besides, as
for instance that Rose had already fifteen hundred a year from her
father.  The figure had been betrayed in Hill Street; it was part of the
proof of Mrs. Tramore’s decrepitude.  Then there was an equal amount that
her mother had to dispose of and on which the girl could absolutely
count, though of course it might involve much waiting, as the mother, a
person of gross insensibility, evidently wouldn’t die of
cold-shouldering.  Equally definite, to do it justice, was the conception
that Rose was in truth remarkably good looking, and that what she had
undertaken to do showed, and would show even should it fail, cleverness
of the right sort.  Cleverness of the right sort was exactly the quality
that Lady Maresfield prefigured as indispensable in a young lady to whom
she should marry her second son, over whose own deficiencies she flung
the veil of a maternal theory that _his_ cleverness was of a sort that
was wrong.  Those who knew him less well were content to wish that he
might not conceal it for such a scruple.  This enumeration of his
mother’s views does not exhaust the list, and it was in obedience to one
too profound to be uttered even by the historian that, after a very brief
delay, she decided to move across the crowded lobby.  Her daughter Bessie
was the only one with her; Maggie was dining with the Vaughan-Veseys, and
Fanny was not of an age.  Mrs. Tramore the younger showed only an
admirable back—her face was to her old gentleman—and Bessie had drifted
to some other people; so that it was comparatively easy for Lady
Maresfield to say to Rose, in a moment: “My dear child, are you never
coming to see us?”

“We shall be delighted to come if you’ll ask us,” Rose smiled.

Lady Maresfield had been prepared for the plural number, and she was a
woman whom it took many plurals to disconcert.  “I’m sure Guy is longing
for another dance with you,” she rejoined, with the most unblinking
irrelevance.

“I’m afraid we’re not dancing again quite yet,” said Rose, glancing at
her mother’s exposed shoulders, but speaking as if they were muffled in
crape.

Lady Maresfield leaned her head on one side and seemed almost wistful.
“Not even at my sister’s ball?  She’s to have something next week.
She’ll write to you.”

Rose Tramore, on the spot, looking bright but vague, turned three or four
things over in her mind.  She remembered that the sister of her
interlocutress was the proverbially rich Mrs. Bray, a bankeress or a
breweress or a builderess, who had so big a house that she couldn’t fill
it unless she opened her doors, or her mouth, very wide.  Rose had learnt
more about London society during these lonely months with her mother than
she had ever picked up in Hill Street.  The younger Mrs. Tramore was a
mine of _commérages_, and she had no need to go out to bring home the
latest intelligence.  At any rate Mrs. Bray might serve as the end of a
wedge.  “Oh, I dare say we might think of that,” Rose said.  “It would be
very kind of your sister.”

“Guy’ll think of it, won’t you, Guy?” asked Lady Maresfield.

“Rather!” Guy responded, with an intonation as fine as if he had learnt
it at a music hall; while at the same moment the name of his mother’s
carriage was bawled through the place.  Mrs. Tramore had parted with her
old gentleman; she turned again to her daughter.  Nothing occurred but
what always occurred, which was exactly this absence of everything—a
universal lapse.  She didn’t exist, even for a second, to any recognising
eye.  The people who looked at her—of course there were plenty of
those—were only the people who didn’t exist for hers.  Lady Maresfield
surged away on her son’s arm.

It was this noble matron herself who wrote, the next day, inclosing a
card of invitation from Mrs. Bray and expressing the hope that Rose would
come and dine and let her ladyship take her.  She should have only one of
her own girls; Gwendolen Vesey was to take the other.  Rose handed both
the note and the card in silence to her mother; the latter exhibited only
the name of Miss Tramore.  “You had much better go, dear,” her mother
said; in answer to which Miss Tramore slowly tore up the documents,
looking with clear, meditative eyes out of the window.  Her mother always
said “You had better go”—there had been other incidents—and Rose had
never even once taken account of the observation.  She would make no
first advances, only plenty of second ones, and, condoning no
discrimination, would treat no omission as venial.  She would keep all
concessions till afterwards; then she would make them one by one.
Fighting society was quite as hard as her grandmother had said it would
be; but there was a tension in it which made the dreariness vibrate—the
dreariness of such a winter as she had just passed.  Her companion had
cried at the end of it, and she had cried all through; only her tears had
been private, while her mother’s had fallen once for all, at luncheon on
the bleak Easter Monday—produced by the way a silent survey of the deadly
square brought home to her that every creature but themselves was out of
town and having tremendous fun.  Rose felt that it was useless to attempt
to explain simply by her mourning this severity of solitude; for if
people didn’t go to parties (at least a few didn’t) for six months after
their father died, this was the very time other people took for coming to
see them.  It was not too much to say that during this first winter of
Rose’s period with her mother she had no communication whatever with the
world.  It had the effect of making her take to reading the new American
books: she wanted to see how girls got on by themselves.  She had never
read so much before, and there was a legitimate indifference in it when
topics failed with her mother.  They often failed after the first days,
and then, while she bent over instructive volumes, this lady, dressed as
if for an impending function, sat on the sofa and watched her.  Rose was
not embarrassed by such an appearance, for she could reflect that, a
little before, her companion had not even a girl who had taken refuge in
queer researches to look at.  She was moreover used to her mother’s
attitude by this time.  She had her own description of it: it was the
attitude of waiting for the carriage.  If they didn’t go out it was not
that Mrs. Tramore was not ready in time, and Rose had even an alarmed
prevision of their some day always arriving first.  Mrs. Tramore’s
conversation at such moments was abrupt, inconsequent and personal.  She
sat on the edge of sofas and chairs and glanced occasionally at the fit
of her gloves (she was perpetually gloved, and the fit was a thing it was
melancholy to see wasted), as people do who are expecting guests to
dinner.  Rose used almost to fancy herself at times a perfunctory husband
on the other side of the fire.

What she was not yet used to—there was still a charm in it—was her
mother’s extraordinary tact.  During the years they lived together they
never had a discussion; a circumstance all the more remarkable since if
the girl had a reason for sparing her companion (that of being sorry for
her) Mrs. Tramore had none for sparing her child.  She only showed in
doing so a happy instinct—the happiest thing about her.  She took in
perfection a course which represented everything and covered everything;
she utterly abjured all authority.  She testified to her abjuration in
hourly ingenious, touching ways.  In this manner nothing had to be talked
over, which was a mercy all round.  The tears on Easter Monday were
merely a nervous gust, to help show she was not a Christmas doll from the
Burlington Arcade; and there was no lifting up of the repentant Magdalen,
no uttered remorse for the former abandonment of children.  Of the way
she could treat her children her demeanour to this one was an example; it
was an uninterrupted appeal to her eldest daughter for direction.  She
took the law from Rose in every circumstance, and if you had noticed
these ladies without knowing their history you would have wondered what
tie was fine enough to make maturity so respectful to youth.  No mother
was ever so filial as Mrs. Tramore, and there had never been such a
difference of position between sisters.  Not that the elder one fawned,
which would have been fearful; she only renounced—whatever she had to
renounce.  If the amount was not much she at any rate made no scene over
it.  Her hand was so light that Rose said of her secretly, in vague
glances at the past, “No wonder people liked her!”  She never
characterised the old element of interference with her mother’s
respectability more definitely than as “people.”  They were people, it
was true, for whom gentleness must have been everything and who didn’t
demand a variety of interests.  The desire to “go out” was the one
passion that even a closer acquaintance with her parent revealed to Rose
Tramore.  She marvelled at its strength, in the light of the poor lady’s
history: there was comedy enough in this unquenchable flame on the part
of a woman who had known such misery.  She had drunk deep of every
dishonour, but the bitter cup had left her with a taste for lighted
candles, for squeezing up staircases and hooking herself to the human
elbow.  Rose had a vision of the future years in which this taste would
grow with restored exercise—of her mother, in a long-tailed dress,
jogging on and on and on, jogging further and further from her sins,
through a century of the “Morning Post” and down the fashionable avenue
of time.  She herself would then be very old—she herself would be dead.
Mrs. Tramore would cover a span of life for which such an allowance of
sin was small.  The girl could laugh indeed now at that theory of her
being dragged down.  If one thing were more present to her than another
it was the very desolation of their propriety.  As she glanced at her
companion, it sometimes seemed to her that if she had been a bad woman
she would have been worse than that.  There were compensations for being
“cut” which Mrs. Tramore too much neglected.

The lonely old lady in Hill Street—Rose thought of her that way now—was
the one person to whom she was ready to say that she would come to her on
any terms.  She wrote this to her three times over, and she knocked still
oftener at her door.  But the old lady answered no letters; if Rose had
remained in Hill Street it would have been her own function to answer
them; and at the door, the butler, whom the girl had known for ten years,
considered her, when he told her his mistress was not at home, quite as
he might have considered a young person who had come about a place and of
whose eligibility he took a negative view.  That was Rose’s one pang,
that she probably appeared rather heartless.  Her aunt Julia had gone to
Florence with Edith for the winter, on purpose to make her appear more
so; for Miss Tramore was still the person most scandalised by her
secession.  Edith and she, doubtless, often talked over in Florence the
destitution of the aged victim in Hill Street.  Eric never came to see
his sister, because, being full both of family and of personal feeling,
he thought she really ought to have stayed with his grandmother.  If she
had had such an appurtenance all to herself she might have done what she
liked with it; but he couldn’t forgive such a want of consideration for
anything of his.  There were moments when Rose would have been ready to
take her hand from the plough and insist upon reintegration, if only the
fierce voice of the old house had allowed people to look her up.  But she
read, ever so clearly, that her grandmother had made this a question of
loyalty to seventy years of virtue.  Mrs. Tramore’s forlornness didn’t
prevent her drawing-room from being a very public place, in which Rose
could hear certain words reverberate: “Leave her alone; it’s the only way
to see how long she’ll hold out.”  The old woman’s visitors were people
who didn’t wish to quarrel, and the girl was conscious that if they had
not let her alone—that is if they had come to her from her
grandmother—she might perhaps not have held out.  She had no friends
quite of her own; she had not been brought up to have them, and it would
not have been easy in a house which two such persons as her father and
his mother divided between them.  Her father disapproved of crude
intimacies, and all the intimacies of youth were crude.  He had married
at five-and-twenty and could testify to such a truth.  Rose felt that she
shared even Captain Jay with her grandmother; she had seen what _he_ was
worth.  Moreover, she had spoken to him at that last moment in Hill
Street in a way which, taken with her former refusal, made it impossible
that he should come near her again.  She hoped he went to see his
protectress: he could be a kind of substitute and administer comfort.

It so happened, however, that the day after she threw Lady Maresfield’s
invitation into the wastepaper basket she received a visit from a certain
Mrs. Donovan, whom she had occasionally seen in Hill Street.  She vaguely
knew this lady for a busybody, but she was in a situation which even
busybodies might alleviate.  Mrs. Donovan was poor, but honest—so
scrupulously honest that she was perpetually returning visits she had
never received.  She was always clad in weather-beaten sealskin, and had
an odd air of being prepared for the worst, which was borne out by her
denying that she was Irish.  She was of the English Donovans.

“Dear child, won’t you go out with me?” she asked.

Rose looked at her a moment and then rang the bell.  She spoke of
something else, without answering the question, and when the servant came
she said: “Please tell Mrs. Tramore that Mrs. Donovan has come to see
her.”

“Oh, that’ll be delightful; only you mustn’t tell your grandmother!” the
visitor exclaimed.

“Tell her what?”

“That I come to see your mamma.”

“You don’t,” said Rose.

“Sure I hoped you’d introduce me!” cried Mrs. Donovan, compromising
herself in her embarrassment.

“It’s not necessary; you knew her once.”

“Indeed and I’ve known every one once,” the visitor confessed.

Mrs. Tramore, when she came in, was charming and exactly right; she
greeted Mrs. Donovan as if she had met her the week before last, giving
her daughter such a new illustration of her tact that Rose again had the
idea that it was no wonder “people” had liked her.  The girl grudged Mrs.
Donovan so fresh a morsel as a description of her mother at home,
rejoicing that she would be inconvenienced by having to keep the story
out of Hill Street.  Her mother went away before Mrs. Donovan departed,
and Rose was touched by guessing her reason—the thought that since even
this circuitous personage had been moved to come, the two might, if left
together, invent some remedy.  Rose waited to see what Mrs. Donovan had
in fact invented.

“You won’t come out with me then?”

“Come out with you?”

“My daughters are married.  You know I’m a lone woman.  It would be an
immense pleasure to me to have so charming a creature as yourself to
present to the world.”

“I go out with my mother,” said Rose, after a moment.

“Yes, but sometimes when she’s not inclined?”

“She goes everywhere she wants to go,” Rose continued, uttering the
biggest fib of her life and only regretting it should be wasted on Mrs.
Donovan.

“Ah, but do you go everywhere _you_ want?” the lady asked sociably.

“One goes even to places one hates.  Every one does that.”

“Oh, what I go through!” this social martyr cried.  Then she laid a
persuasive hand on the girl’s arm.  “Let me show you at a few places
first, and then we’ll see.  I’ll bring them all here.”

“I don’t think I understand you,” replied Rose, though in Mrs. Donovan’s
words she perfectly saw her own theory of the case reflected.  For a
quarter of a minute she asked herself whether she might not, after all,
do so much evil that good might come.  Mrs. Donovan would take her out
the next day, and be thankful enough to annex such an attraction as a
pretty girl.  Various consequences would ensue and the long delay would
be shortened; her mother’s drawing-room would resound with the clatter of
teacups.

“Mrs. Bray’s having some big thing next week; come with me there and I’ll
show you what I mane,” Mrs. Donovan pleaded.

“I see what you mane,” Rose answered, brushing away her temptation and
getting up.  “I’m much obliged to you.”

“You know you’re wrong, my dear,” said her interlocutress, with angry
little eyes.

“I’m not going to Mrs. Bray’s.”

“I’ll get you a kyard; it’ll only cost me a penny stamp.”

“I’ve got one,” said the girl, smiling.

“Do you mean a penny stamp?”  Mrs. Donovan, especially at departure,
always observed all the forms of amity.  “You can’t do it alone, my
darling,” she declared.

“Shall they call you a cab?” Rose asked.

“I’ll pick one up.  I choose my horse.  You know you require your start,”
her visitor went on.

“Excuse my mother,” was Rose’s only reply.

“Don’t mention it.  Come to me when you need me.  You’ll find me in the
Red Book.”

“It’s awfully kind of you.”

Mrs. Donovan lingered a moment on the threshold.  “Who will you _have_
now, my child?” she appealed.

“I won’t have any one!”  Rose turned away, blushing for her.  “She came
on speculation,” she said afterwards to Mrs. Tramore.

Her mother looked at her a moment in silence.  “You can do it if you
like, you know.”

Rose made no direct answer to this observation; she remarked instead:
“See what our quiet life allows us to escape.”

“We don’t escape it.  She has been here an hour.”

“Once in twenty years!  We might meet her three times a day.”

“Oh, I’d take her with the rest!” sighed Mrs. Tramore; while her daughter
recognised that what her companion wanted to do was just what Mrs.
Donovan was doing.  Mrs. Donovan’s life was her ideal.

On a Sunday, ten days later, Rose went to see one of her old governesses,
of whom she had lost sight for some time and who had written to her that
she was in London, unoccupied and ill.  This was just the sort of
relation into which she could throw herself now with inordinate zeal; the
idea of it, however, not preventing a foretaste of the queer expression
in the excellent lady’s face when she should mention with whom she was
living.  While she smiled at this picture she threw in another joke,
asking herself if Miss Hack could be held in any degree to constitute the
nucleus of a circle.  She would come to see her, in any event—come the
more the further she was dragged down.  Sunday was always a difficult day
with the two ladies—the afternoons made it so apparent that they were not
frequented.  Her mother, it is true, was comprised in the habits of two
or three old gentlemen—she had for a long time avoided male friends of
less than seventy—who disliked each other enough to make the room, when
they were there at once, crack with pressure.  Rose sat for a long time
with Miss Hack, doing conscientious justice to the conception that there
could be troubles in the world worse than her own; and when she came back
her mother was alone, but with a story to tell of a long visit from Mr.
Guy Mangler, who had waited and waited for her return.  “He’s in love
with you; he’s coming again on Tuesday,” Mrs. Tramore announced.

“Did he say so?”

“That he’s coming back on Tuesday?”

“No, that he’s in love with me.”

“He didn’t need, when he stayed two hours.”

“With you?  It’s you he’s in love with, mamma!”

“That will do as well,” laughed Mrs. Tramore.  “For all the use we shall
make of him!” she added in a moment.

“We shall make great use of him.  His mother sent him.”

“Oh, she’ll never come!”

“Then _he_ sha’n’t,” said Rose.  Yet he was admitted on the Tuesday, and
after she had given him his tea Mrs. Tramore left the young people alone.
Rose wished she hadn’t—she herself had another view.  At any rate she
disliked her mother’s view, which she had easily guessed.  Mr. Mangler
did nothing but say how charming he thought his hostess of the Sunday,
and what a tremendously jolly visit he had had.  He didn’t remark in so
many words “I had no idea your mother was such a good sort”; but this was
the spirit of his simple discourse.  Rose liked it at first—a little of
it gratified her; then she thought there was too much of it for good
taste.  She had to reflect that one does what one can and that Mr.
Mangler probably thought he was delicate.  He wished to convey that he
desired to make up to her for the injustice of society.  Why shouldn’t
her mother receive gracefully, she asked (not audibly) and who had ever
said she didn’t?  Mr. Mangler had a great deal to say about the
disappointment of his own parent over Miss Tramore’s not having come to
dine with them the night of his aunt’s ball.

“Lady Maresfield knows why I didn’t come,” Rose answered at last.

“Ah, now, but _I_ don’t, you know; can’t you tell _me_?” asked the young
man.

“It doesn’t matter, if your mother’s clear about it.”

“Oh, but why make such an awful mystery of it, when I’m dying to know?”

He talked about this, he chaffed her about it for the rest of his visit:
he had at last found a topic after his own heart.  If her mother
considered that he might be the emblem of their redemption he was an
engine of the most primitive construction.  He stayed and stayed; he
struck Rose as on the point of bringing out something for which he had
not quite, as he would have said, the cheek.  Sometimes she thought he
was going to begin: “By the way, my mother told me to propose to you.”
At other moments he seemed charged with the admission: “I say, of course
I really know what you’re trying to do for her,” nodding at the door:
“therefore hadn’t we better speak of it frankly, so that I can help you
with my mother, and more particularly with my sister Gwendolen, who’s the
difficult one?  The fact is, you see, they won’t do anything for nothing.
If you’ll accept me they’ll call, but they won’t call without something
‘down.’”  Mr. Mangler departed without their speaking frankly, and Rose
Tramore had a hot hour during which she almost entertained, vindictively,
the project of “accepting” the limpid youth until after she should have
got her mother into circulation.  The cream of the vision was that she
might break with him later.  She could read that this was what her mother
would have liked, but the next time he came the door was closed to him,
and the next and the next.

In August there was nothing to do but to go abroad, with the sense on
Rose’s part that the battle was still all to fight; for a round of
country visits was not in prospect, and English watering-places
constituted one of the few subjects on which the girl had heard her
mother express herself with disgust.  Continental autumns had been indeed
for years, one of the various forms of Mrs. Tramore’s atonement, but Rose
could only infer that such fruit as they had borne was bitter.  The stony
stare of Belgravia could be practised at Homburg; and somehow it was
inveterately only gentlemen who sat next to her at the _table d’hôte_ at
Cadenabbia.  Gentlemen had never been of any use to Mrs. Tramore for
getting back into society; they had only helped her effectually to get
out of it.  She once dropped, to her daughter, in a moralising mood, the
remark that it was astonishing how many of them one could know without
its doing one any good.  Fifty of them—even very clever ones—represented
a value inferior to that of one stupid woman.  Rose wondered at the
offhand way in which her mother could talk of fifty clever men; it seemed
to her that the whole world couldn’t contain such a number.  She had a
sombre sense that mankind must be dull and mean.  These cogitations took
place in a cold hotel, in an eternal Swiss rain, and they had a flat echo
in the transalpine valleys, as the lonely ladies went vaguely down to the
Italian lakes and cities.  Rose guided their course, at moments, with a
kind of aimless ferocity; she moved abruptly, feeling vulgar and hating
their life, though destitute of any definite vision of another life that
would have been open to her.  She had set herself a task and she clung to
it; but she appeared to herself despicably idle.  She had succeeded in
not going to Homburg waters, where London was trying to wash away some of
its stains; that would be too staring an advertisement of their
situation.  The main difference in situations to her now was the
difference of being more or less pitied, at the best an intolerable
danger; so that the places she preferred were the unsuspicious ones.  She
wanted to triumph with contempt, not with submission.

One morning in September, coming with her mother out of the marble church
at Milan, she perceived that a gentleman who had just passed her on his
way into the cathedral and whose face she had not noticed, had quickly
raised his hat, with a suppressed ejaculation.  She involuntarily glanced
back; the gentleman had paused, again uncovering, and Captain Jay stood
saluting her in the Italian sunshine.  “Oh, good-morning!” she said, and
walked on, pursuing her course; her mother was a little in front.  She
overtook her in a moment, with an unreasonable sense, like a gust of cold
air, that men were worse than ever, for Captain Jay had apparently moved
into the church.  Her mother turned as they met, and suddenly, as she
looked back, an expression of peculiar sweetness came into this lady’s
eyes.  It made Rose’s take the same direction and rest a second time on
Captain Jay, who was planted just where he had stood a minute before.  He
immediately came forward, asking Rose with great gravity if he might
speak to her a moment, while Mrs. Tramore went her way again.  He had the
expression of a man who wished to say something very important; yet his
next words were simple enough and consisted of the remark that he had not
seen her for a year.

“Is it really so much as that?” asked Rose.

“Very nearly.  I would have looked you up, but in the first place I have
been very little in London, and in the second I believed it wouldn’t have
done any good.”

“You should have put that first,” said the girl.  “It wouldn’t have done
any good.”

He was silent over this a moment, in his customary deciphering way; but
the view he took of it did not prevent him from inquiring, as she slowly
followed her mother, if he mightn’t walk with her now.  She answered with
a laugh that it wouldn’t do any good but that he might do as he liked.
He replied without the slightest manifestation of levity that it would do
more good than if he didn’t, and they strolled together, with Mrs.
Tramore well before them, across the big, amusing piazza, where the front
of the cathedral makes a sort of builded light.  He asked a question or
two and he explained his own presence: having a month’s holiday, the
first clear time for several years, he had just popped over the Alps.  He
inquired if Rose had recent news of the old lady in Hill Street, and it
was the only tortuous thing she had ever heard him say.

“I have had no communication of any kind from her since I parted with you
under her roof.  Hasn’t she mentioned that?” said Rose.

“I haven’t seen her.”

“I thought you were such great friends.”

Bertram Jay hesitated a moment.  “Well, not so much now.”

“What has she done to you?” Rose demanded.

He fidgeted a little, as if he were thinking of something that made him
unconscious of her question; then, with mild violence, he brought out the
inquiry: “Miss Tramore, are you happy?”

She was startled by the words, for she on her side had been
reflecting—reflecting that he had broken with her grandmother and that
this pointed to a reason.  It suggested at least that he wouldn’t now be
so much like a mouthpiece for that cold ancestral tone.  She turned off
his question—said it never was a fair one, as you gave yourself away
however you answered it.  When he repeated “You give yourself away?” as
if he didn’t understand, she remembered that he had not read the funny
American books.  This brought them to a silence, for she had enlightened
him only by another laugh, and he was evidently preparing another
question, which he wished carefully to disconnect from the former.
Presently, just as they were coming near Mrs. Tramore, it arrived in the
words “Is this lady your mother?”  On Rose’s assenting, with the addition
that she was travelling with her, he said: “Will you be so kind as to
introduce me to her?”  They were so close to Mrs. Tramore that she
probably heard, but she floated away with a single stroke of her paddle
and an inattentive poise of her head.  It was a striking exhibition of
the famous tact, for Rose delayed to answer, which was exactly what might
have made her mother wish to turn; and indeed when at last the girl spoke
she only said to her companion: “Why do you ask me that?”

“Because I desire the pleasure of making her acquaintance.”

Rose had stopped, and in the middle of the square they stood looking at
each other.  “Do you remember what you said to me the last time I saw
you?”

“Oh, don’t speak of that!”

“It’s better to speak of it now than to speak of it later.”

Bertram Jay looked round him, as if to see whether any one would hear;
but the bright foreignness gave him a sense of safety, and he
unexpectedly exclaimed: “Miss Tramore, I love you more than ever!”

“Then you ought to have come to see us,” declared the girl, quickly
walking on.

“You treated me the last time as if I were positively offensive to you.”

“So I did, but you know my reason.”

“Because I protested against the course you were taking?  I did, I did!”
the young man rang out, as if he still, a little, stuck to that.

His tone made Rose say gaily: “Perhaps you do so yet?”

“I can’t tell till I’ve seen more of your circumstances,” he replied with
eminent honesty.

The girl stared; her light laugh filled the air.  “And it’s in order to
see more of them and judge that you wish to make my mother’s
acquaintance?”

He coloured at this and he evaded; then he broke out with a confused
“Miss Tramore, let me stay with you a little!” which made her stop again.

“Your company will do us great honour, but there must be a rigid
condition attached to our acceptance of it.”

“Kindly mention it,” said Captain Jay, staring at the façade of the
cathedral.

“You don’t take us on trial.”

“On trial?”

“You don’t make an observation to me—not a single one, ever, ever!—on the
matter that, in Hill Street, we had our last words about.”

Captain Jay appeared to be counting the thousand pinnacles of the church.
“I think you really must be right,” he remarked at last.

“There you are!” cried Rose Tramore, and walked rapidly away.

He caught up with her, he laid his hand upon her arm to stay her.  “If
you’re going to Venice, let me go to Venice with you!”

“You don’t even understand my condition.”

“I’m sure you’re right, then: you must be right about everything.”

“That’s not in the least true, and I don’t care a fig whether you’re sure
or not.  Please let me go.”

He had barred her way, he kept her longer.  “I’ll go and speak to your
mother myself!”

Even in the midst of another emotion she was amused at the air of
audacity accompanying this declaration.  Poor Captain Jay might have been
on the point of marching up to a battery.  She looked at him a moment;
then she said: “You’ll be disappointed!”

“Disappointed?”

“She’s much more proper than grandmamma, because she’s much more
amiable.”

“Dear Miss Tramore—dear Miss Tramore!” the young man murmured helplessly.

“You’ll see for yourself.  Only there’s another condition,” Rose went on.

“Another?” he cried, with discouragement and alarm.

“You must understand thoroughly, before you throw in your lot with us
even for a few days, what our position really is.”

“Is it very bad?” asked Bertram Jay artlessly.

“No one has anything to do with us, no one speaks to us, no one looks at
us.”

“Really?” stared the young man.

“We’ve no social existence, we’re utterly despised.”

“Oh, Miss Tramore!” Captain Jay interposed.  He added quickly, vaguely,
and with a want of presence of mind of which he as quickly felt ashamed:
“Do none of your family—?”  The question collapsed; the brilliant girl
was looking at him.

“We’re extraordinarily happy,” she threw out.

“Now that’s all I wanted to know!” he exclaimed, with a kind of
exaggerated cheery reproach, walking on with her briskly to overtake her
mother.

He was not dining at their inn, but he insisted on coming that evening to
their _table d’hôte_.  He sat next Mrs. Tramore, and in the evening he
accompanied them gallantly to the opera, at a third-rate theatre where
they were almost the only ladies in the boxes.  The next day they went
together by rail to the Charterhouse of Pavia, and while he strolled with
the girl, as they waited for the homeward train, he said to her candidly:
“Your mother’s remarkably pretty.”  She remembered the words and the
feeling they gave her: they were the first note of new era.  The feeling
was somewhat that of an anxious, gratified matron who has “presented” her
child and is thinking of the matrimonial market.  Men might be of no use,
as Mrs. Tramore said, yet it was from this moment Rose dated the rosy
dawn of her confidence that her _protégée_ would go off; and when later,
in crowded assemblies, the phrase, or something like it behind a hat or a
fan, fell repeatedly on her anxious ear, “Your mother _is_ in beauty!” or
“I’ve never seen her look better!” she had a faint vision of the yellow
sunshine and the afternoon shadows on the dusty Italian platform.

Mrs. Tramore’s behaviour at this period was a revelation of her native
understanding of delicate situations.  She needed no account of this one
from her daughter—it was one of the things for which she had a scent; and
there was a kind of loyalty to the rules of a game in the silent
sweetness with which she smoothed the path of Bertram Jay.  It was clear
that she was in her element in fostering the exercise of the affections,
and if she ever spoke without thinking twice it is probable that she
would have exclaimed, with some gaiety, “Oh, I know all about _love_!”
Rose could see that she thought their companion would be a help, in spite
of his being no dispenser of patronage.  The key to the gates of fashion
had not been placed in his hand, and no one had ever heard of the ladies
of his family, who lived in some vague hollow of the Yorkshire moors; but
none the less he might administer a muscular push.  Yes indeed, men in
general were broken reeds, but Captain Jay was peculiarly representative.
Respectability was the woman’s maximum, as honour was the man’s, but this
distinguished young soldier inspired more than one kind of confidence.
Rose had a great deal of attention for the use to which his
respectability was put; and there mingled with this attention some
amusement and much compassion.  She saw that after a couple of days he
decidedly liked her mother, and that he was yet not in the least aware of
it.  He took for granted that he believed in her but little;
notwithstanding which he would have trusted her with anything except Rose
herself.  His trusting her with Rose would come very soon.  He never
spoke to her daughter about her qualities of character, but two or three
of them (and indeed these were all the poor lady had, and they made the
best show) were what he had in mind in praising her appearance.  When he
remarked: “What attention Mrs. Tramore seems to attract everywhere!” he
meant: “What a beautifully simple nature it is!” and when he said:
“There’s something extraordinarily harmonious in the colours she wears,”
it signified: “Upon my word, I never saw such a sweet temper in my life!”
She lost one of her boxes at Verona, and made the prettiest joke of it to
Captain Jay.  When Rose saw this she said to herself, “Next season we
shall have only to choose.”  Rose knew what was in the box.

By the time they reached Venice (they had stopped at half a dozen little
old romantic cities in the most frolicsome æsthetic way) she liked their
companion better than she had ever liked him before.  She did him the
justice to recognise that if he was not quite honest with himself he was
at least wholly honest with _her_.  She reckoned up everything he had
been since he joined them, and put upon it all an interpretation so
favourable to his devotion that, catching herself in the act of glossing
over one or two episodes that had not struck her at the time as
disinterested she exclaimed, beneath her breath, “Look out—you’re falling
in love!”  But if he liked correctness wasn’t he quite right?  Could any
one possibly like it more than _she_ did?  And if he had protested
against her throwing in her lot with her mother, this was not because of
the benefit conferred but because of the injury received.  He exaggerated
that injury, but this was the privilege of a lover perfectly willing to
be selfish on behalf of his mistress.  He might have wanted her
grandmother’s money for her, but if he had given her up on first
discovering that she was throwing away her chance of it (oh, this was
_her_ doing too!) he had given up her grandmother as much: not keeping
well with the old woman, as some men would have done; not waiting to see
how the perverse experiment would turn out and appeasing her, if it
should promise tolerably, with a view to future operations.  He had had a
simple-minded, evangelical, lurid view of what the girl he loved would
find herself in for.  She could see this now—she could see it from his
present bewilderment and mystification, and she liked him and pitied him,
with the kindest smile, for the original _naïveté_ as well as for the
actual meekness.  No wonder he hadn’t known what she was in for, since he
now didn’t even know what he was in for himself.  Were there not moments
when he thought his companions almost unnaturally good, almost
suspiciously safe?  He had lost all power to verify that sketch of their
isolation and _déclassement_ to which she had treated him on the great
square at Milan.  The last thing he noticed was that they were neglected,
and he had never, for himself, had such an impression of society.

It could scarcely be enhanced even by the apparition of a large, fair,
hot, red-haired young man, carrying a lady’s fan in his hand, who
suddenly stood before their little party as, on the third evening after
their arrival in Venice, it partook of ices at one of the tables before
the celebrated Café Florian.  The lamplit Venetian dusk appeared to have
revealed them to this gentleman as he sat with other friends at a
neighbouring table, and he had sprung up, with unsophisticated glee, to
shake hands with Mrs. Tramore and her daughter.  Rose recalled him to her
mother, who looked at first as though she didn’t remember him but
presently bestowed a sufficiently gracious smile on Mr. Guy Mangler.  He
gave with youthful candour the history of his movements and indicated the
whereabouts of his family: he was with his mother and sisters; they had
met the Bob Veseys, who had taken Lord Whiteroy’s yacht and were going to
Constantinople.  His mother and the girls, poor things, were at the Grand
Hotel, but he was on the yacht with the Veseys, where they had Lord
Whiteroy’s cook.  Wasn’t the food in Venice filthy, and wouldn’t they
come and look at the yacht?  She wasn’t very fast, but she was awfully
jolly.  His mother might have come if she would, but she wouldn’t at
first, and now, when she wanted to, there were other people, who
naturally wouldn’t turn out for her.  Mr. Mangler sat down; he alluded
with artless resentment to the way, in July, the door of his friends had
been closed to him.  He was going to Constantinople, but he didn’t
care—if _they_ were going anywhere; meanwhile his mother hoped awfully
they would look her up.

Lady Maresfield, if she had given her son any such message, which Rose
disbelieved, entertained her hope in a manner compatible with her sitting
for half an hour, surrounded by her little retinue, without glancing in
the direction of Mrs. Tramore.  The girl, however, was aware that this
was not a good enough instance of their humiliation; inasmuch as it was
rather she who, on the occasion of their last contact, had held off from
Lady Maresfield.  She was a little ashamed now of not having answered the
note in which this affable personage ignored her mother.  She couldn’t
help perceiving indeed a dim movement on the part of some of the other
members of the group; she made out an attitude of observation in the
high-plumed head of Mrs. Vaughan-Vesey.  Mrs. Vesey, perhaps, might have
been looking at Captain Jay, for as this gentleman walked back to the
hotel with our young lady (they were at the “Britannia,” and young
Mangler, who clung to them, went in front with Mrs. Tramore) he revealed
to Rose that he had some acquaintance with Lady Maresfield’s eldest
daughter, though he didn’t know and didn’t particularly want to know, her
ladyship.  He expressed himself with more acerbity than she had ever
heard him use (Christian charity so generally governed his speech) about
the young donkey who had been prattling to them.  They separated at the
door of the hotel.  Mrs. Tramore had got rid of Mr. Mangler, and Bertram
Jay was in other quarters.

“If you know Mrs. Vesey, why didn’t you go and speak to her?  I’m sure
she saw you,” Rose said.

Captain Jay replied even more circumspectly than usual.  “Because I
didn’t want to leave you.”

“Well, you can go now; you’re free,” Rose rejoined.

“Thank you.  I shall never go again.”

“That won’t be civil,” said Rose.

“I don’t care to be civil.  I don’t like her.”

“Why don’t you like her?”

“You ask too many questions.”

“I know I do,” the girl acknowledged.

Captain Jay had already shaken hands with her, but at this he put out his
hand again.  “She’s too worldly,” he murmured, while he held Rose
Tramore’s a moment.

“Ah, you dear!” Rose exclaimed almost audibly as, with her mother, she
turned away.

The next morning, upon the Grand Canal, the gondola of our three friends
encountered a stately barge which, though it contained several persons,
seemed pervaded mainly by one majestic presence.  During the instant the
gondolas were passing each other it was impossible either for Rose
Tramore or for her companions not to become conscious that this
distinguished identity had markedly inclined itself—a circumstance
commemorated the next moment, almost within earshot of the other boat, by
the most spontaneous cry that had issued for many a day from the lips of
Mrs. Tramore.  “Fancy, my dear, Lady Maresfield has bowed to us!”

“We ought to have returned it,” Rose answered; but she looked at Bertram
Jay, who was opposite to her.  He blushed, and she blushed, and during
this moment was born a deeper understanding than had yet existed between
these associated spirits.  It had something to do with their going
together that afternoon, without her mother, to look at certain
out-of-the-way pictures as to which Ruskin had inspired her with a desire
to see sincerely.  Mrs. Tramore expressed the wish to stay at home, and
the motive of this wish—a finer shade than any that even Ruskin had ever
found a phrase for—was not translated into misrepresenting words by
either the mother or the daughter.  At San Giovanni in Bragora the girl
and her companion came upon Mrs. Vaughan-Vesey, who, with one of her
sisters, was also endeavouring to do the earnest thing.  She did it to
Rose, she did it to Captain Jay, as well as to Gianbellini; she was a
handsome, long-necked, aquiline person, of a different type from the rest
of her family, and she did it remarkably well.  She secured our
friends—it was her own expression—for luncheon, on the morrow, on the
yacht, and she made it public to Rose that she would come that afternoon
to invite her mother.  When the girl returned to the hotel, Mrs. Tramore
mentioned, before Captain Jay, who had come up to their sitting-room,
that Lady Maresfield had called.  “She stayed a long time—at least it
seemed long!” laughed Mrs. Tramore.

The poor lady could laugh freely now; yet there was some grimness in a
colloquy that she had with her daughter after Bertram Jay had departed.
Before this happened Mrs. Vesey’s card, scrawled over in pencil and
referring to the morrow’s luncheon, was brought up to Mrs. Tramore.

“They mean it all as a bribe,” said the principal recipient of these
civilities.

“As a bribe?” Rose repeated.

“She wants to marry you to that boy; they’ve seen Captain Jay and they’re
frightened.”

“Well, dear mamma, I can’t take Mr. Mangler for a husband.”

“Of course not.  But oughtn’t we to go to the luncheon?”

“Certainly we’ll go to the luncheon,” Rose said; and when the affair took
place, on the morrow, she could feel for the first time that she was
taking her mother out.  This appearance was somehow brought home to every
one else, and it was really the agent of her success.  For it is of the
essence of this simple history that, in the first place, that success
dated from Mrs. Vesey’s Venetian _déjeuner_, and in the second reposed,
by a subtle social logic, on the very anomaly that had made it dubious.
There is always a chance in things, and Rose Tramore’s chance was in the
fact that Gwendolen Vesey was, as some one had said, awfully modern, an
immense improvement on the exploded science of her mother, and capable of
seeing what a “draw” there would be in the comedy, if properly brought
out, of the reversed positions of Mrs. Tramore and Mrs. Tramore’s
diplomatic daughter.  With a first-rate managerial eye she perceived that
people would flock into any room—and all the more into one of hers—to see
Rose bring in her dreadful mother.  She treated the cream of English
society to this thrilling spectacle later in the autumn, when she once
more “secured” both the performers for a week at Brimble.  It made a hit
on the spot, the very first evening—the girl was felt to play her part so
well.  The rumour of the performance spread; every one wanted to see it.
It was an entertainment of which, that winter in the country, and the
next season in town, persons of taste desired to give their friends the
freshness.  The thing was to make the Tramores come late, after every one
had arrived.  They were engaged for a fixed hour, like the American
imitator and the Patagonian contralto.  Mrs. Vesey had been the first to
say the girl was awfully original, but that became the general view.

Gwendolen Vesey had with her mother one of the few quarrels in which Lady
Maresfield had really stood up to such an antagonist (the elder woman had
to recognise in general in whose veins it was that the blood of the
Manglers flowed) on account of this very circumstance of her attaching
more importance to Miss Tramore’s originality (“Her originality be
hanged!” her ladyship had gone so far as unintelligently to exclaim) than
to the prospects of the unfortunate Guy.  Mrs. Vesey actually lost sight
of these pressing problems in her admiration of the way the mother and
the daughter, or rather the daughter and the mother (it was slightly
confusing) “drew.”  It was Lady Maresfield’s version of the case that the
brazen girl (she was shockingly coarse) had treated poor Guy abominably.
At any rate it was made known, just after Easter, that Miss Tramore was
to be married to Captain Jay.  The marriage was not to take place till
the summer; but Rose felt that before this the field would practically be
won.  There had been some bad moments, there had been several warm
corners and a certain number of cold shoulders and closed doors and stony
stares; but the breach was effectually made—the rest was only a question
of time.  Mrs. Tramore could be trusted to keep what she had gained, and
it was the dowagers, the old dragons with prominent fangs and glittering
scales, whom the trick had already mainly caught.  By this time there
were several houses into which the liberated lady had crept alone.  Her
daughter had been expected with her, but they couldn’t turn her out
because the girl had stayed behind, and she was fast acquiring a new
identity, that of a parental connection with the heroine of such a
romantic story.  She was at least the next best thing to her daughter,
and Rose foresaw the day when she would be valued principally as a
memento of one of the prettiest episodes in the annals of London.  At a
big official party, in June, Rose had the joy of introducing Eric to his
mother.  She was a little sorry it was an official party—there were some
other such queer people there; but Eric called, observing the shade, the
next day but one.

No observer, probably, would have been acute enough to fix exactly the
moment at which the girl ceased to take out her mother and began to be
taken out by her.  A later phase was more distinguishable—that at which
Rose forbore to inflict on her companion a duality that might become
oppressive.  She began to economise her force, she went only when the
particular effect was required.  Her marriage was delayed by the period
of mourning consequent upon the death of her grandmother, who, the
younger Mrs. Tramore averred, was killed by the rumour of her own new
birth.  She was the only one of the dragons who had not been tamed.
Julia Tramore knew the truth about this—she was determined such things
should not kill _her_.  She would live to do something—she hardly knew
what.  The provisions of her mother’s will were published in the
“Illustrated News”; from which it appeared that everything that was not
to go to Eric and to Julia was to go to the fortunate Edith.  Miss
Tramore makes no secret of her own intentions as regards this favourite.

Edith is not pretty, but Lady Maresfield is waiting for her; she is
determined Gwendolen Vesey shall not get hold of her.  Mrs. Vesey however
takes no interest in her at all.  She is whimsical, as befits a woman of
her fashion; but there are two persons she is still very fond of, the
delightful Bertram Jays.  The fondness of this pair, it must be added, is
not wholly expended in return.  They are extremely united, but their life
is more domestic than might have been expected from the preliminary
signs.  It owes a portion of its concentration to the fact that Mrs.
Tramore has now so many places to go to that she has almost no time to
come to her daughter’s.  She is, under her son-in-law’s roof, a brilliant
but a rare apparition, and the other day he remarked upon the
circumstance to his wife.

“If it hadn’t been for you,” she replied, smiling, “she might have had
her regular place at our fireside.”

“Good heavens, how did I prevent it?” cried Captain Jay, with all the
consciousness of virtue.

“You ordered it otherwise, you goose!”  And she says, in the same spirit,
whenever her husband commends her (which he does, sometimes,
extravagantly) for the way she launched her mother: “Nonsense, my
dear—practically it was _you_!”





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