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The Portraıt Of A Lady - Chapter 10

The Portraıt Of A Lady - Chapter 10

PARTI

Isabel went one day to talk to Ralph about Lord Warbur- ton’s interest in Pansy. Ralph, as usual, was eager to talk— about this or any other matter. But he had few facts to give Isa­bel beyond those which she already knew.
 
“Yes, he claims to be seriously interested,” Ralph said. “Ap­parently he would like to marry the girl.”
 
“He has said as much to me,” Isabel returned. “But some­how I can’t quite accept the idea. Pansy still seems to me to be only a child.”
 
“Apparently Lord Warburton does not consider that to be any serious obstacle,” said Ralph. “He told me that he thought her a wonderful little person and that he had never been so pleased by a girl of that age.”
 
“But is he really in love?”
 
“Very much, I think.” Ralph waited a moment and then added, “But I am not sure that it is Pansy he is in love with.” “But you just said he wanted to marry her.”
 
“I did. And I also said I thought he was in love—but not with Pansy.”
 
Isabel shook her head gently. “That is quite foolish, you know. I suppose you are trying to suggest that he is still in love with me. I don’t understand your purpose.”
 
“I ought to tell you, I suppose, that to me he has denied it.”
 
“It’s very good of you to talk about such things,” said Isabel a little sharply. “Has he also told you that he’s not in love with Pansy?”
 
“He neither said he was nor was not in love with her,” ex­plained Ralph. “He has spoken of her very properly. He has let me know that he thinks she would do well at Lockleigh.”
 
“Does he really think it?”
 
“Ah, what Lord Warburton really thinks I can hardly say.”
 
Ralph’s tone was light, his manner still eager. But as usual he took a rather humorous view of the whole situation. He was amused, rather than concerned in any way. Isabel turned away from him, drew on her long gloves, and prepared to leave. She saw that if she needed help or advice she must look in another direction. What made her problem more difficult was that her husband, Gilbert Osmond, had recently interested himself in the matter. The idea of his daughter’s marrying an English lord seemed to have excited his imagination. And he had begun to lay plans.
 
Osmond, of course, approached the matter with his usual skill. There was seldom anything obvious in whatever he did. His first step was simply to separate Pansy from a second suitor, Mr. Edward Rosier, a young man who had turned up in Rome a month or so before, wishing to marry Pansy. Rosier had met Pansy the previous summer in Switzerland and had apparently fallen madly in love with her. He was an American who had lived, however, all of his life in Europe, his father having been in the government service there. He seemed to be interested in the arts. He had a small fortune left him by his father, and he lived well but modestly within this fortune. Yet from the begin­ning Osmond had treated him coldly, never hesitating to let him know that he did not feel him good enough for Pansy. When, later, Lord Warburton had appeared on the scene, Os­mond immediately sent the young man packing. He warned Pansy not to see him again and refused Rosier further entrance at Palazzo Roccanera.
 
Osmond also suggested to Isabel that she make use of what­ever personal influence she might have with Lord Warburton. He first mentioned this one evening after Lord Warburton had been visiting at Palazzo Roccanera. Osmond asked Isabel
 
whether her visitor had spent much time with Pansy. Isabel an­swered that he had sat with Pansy for half an hour.
“Did he talk with her much?” asked Osmond.
 
“He talked almost only to her.”
 
“It seems to me that he’s been paying her considerable ‘at­tention.’ Isn’t that what you call it?”
 
“I don’t call it anything,” said Isabel. “I’ve waited for you to give it a name.”
 
“That’s a consideration you don’t always show me,” Os­mond answered after a moment.
 
“I’m determined, this time, to try to act as you’d like. I’ve so often failed of that in the past.”
 
“Are you trying to quarrel with me?”
 
“No, I’m trying to live at peace.”
 
“Nothing’s more easy; you know I don’t quarrel myself.” “What do you call it when you try to make me angry?” Isa­bel asked.
 
“I don’t try; if I’ve done so it has been the most natural thing in the world. I’m also not trying in the least now. It simply hap­pens that you’re often in bad humor these days. That’s partly the reason why I’ve not spoken to you before about the ques­tion of my daughter. I was afraid you’d oppose my views on the subject. I’ve sent young Rosier about his business.”
 
“If you were afraid I’d take Mr. Rosier’s part you are quite mistaken. Hadn’t you noticed I’ve never spoken to you of him?” “I’ve never given you the chance. We’ve so little conversa­tion these days. I knew he was an old friend of yours.”
 
“Yes, he’s an old friend of mine,” said Isabel, thinking to herself that she cared little more about Edward Rosier than for the book she was holding in her hand. It was true she had known him a long time. She had first met him as a child during one of her trips to Europe with her father. More recently she had seen him once or twice while she was staying in Paris, where he formed part of the American colony there. But his only interest for her at present was that he belonged to her un­married life, a period for which she now seemed to have the fondest memories. “But as regards Pansy,” Isabel added in a moment, “I’ve not encouraged Mr. Rosier in any way.” “That’s fortunate,” Osmond observed, “—but of very little
 
will, you may manage it. Think that over and remember how much I count on it.” He waited a little to give her time to an­swer; but she answered nothing, and so he left the room.
 
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review
 
A. 1. What did Ralph tell Isabel about Lord Warburton’s interest in Pansy?
2. What made Isabel’s problem with Pansy more difficult?
3. What was Osmond’s first step in getting Pansy married to Lord Warburton?
4. Why had Osmond treated Rosier coldly from the beginning?
5. What did Osmond do about Rosier when Lord Warburton appeared on the scene?
6. What did Osmond suggest to Isabel?
7. How did Isabel seem to be getting along with her husband?
8. How had Isabel known Rosier before? What interest did he have for her now?
9. Why did Osmond think that Pansy would agree to marry Lord Warburton?
10.Why didn’t Osmond think that Lord Warburton was shy?
 
B. Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your own:
obstacle                   make use of
consideration         be in a bad humor
quarrel                     send him about his business
extreme                   take his part
turn away from       count on
turn up                    accordingly
fall in love with
 
PART II
 
Isabel was confused. She was not really opposed to the idea of Pansy’s becoming the wife of the master of beautiful Lock- leigh, though at first the idea had not presented itself in a man­ner to excite her enthusiasm. She recognized Lord Warburton as a man of excellent qualities. It would, in many ways, be a great opportunity for Pansy. Isabel also wished to do everything
 
possible to content her husband. She was determined not to be haunted later by the thought that she had failed him in some­thing he wanted so badly. It seemed to her that if she could only make it her duty to bring about such an event she should play the part of the good wife. Yet still she hesitated, her rea­sons being vague even to herself. For one thing, she wondered whether Pansy would be completely happy married to Lord Warburton. She had learned, in a conversation with the girl herself, that Pansy was in love with Edward Rosier. Pansy, of course, was flattered by the attentions of Lord Warburton, who talked to her of very serious matters, about the state of Italy, of tax questions, and the condition of the people. Pansy looked up at him with sweet admiring eyes. She was even ready to marry him if necessary—just to please her father, to whose every wish she was completely obedient. She had heard Os­mond say several times that he wanted her to make a better marriage than one to Mr. Rosier. Mr. Rosier’s fortune was not large. Yet when Isabel once mentioned this fact to Pansy, the girl had answered, “What does he mean a better marriage? I am in love with Mr. Rosier. Of course, I must forget him if papa says so—but it will be difficult. And, anyway, why should I look for a fortune?” Pansy’s innocence touched Isabel and, thinking of her own marriage, she was determined to make sure that her stepdaughter’s future, whether married to Lord Warburton or to someone else, was to be a more happy one.
 
What finally helped Isabel to decide upon the proper course to follow was a visit from Madame Merle. Isabel had not seen a great deal of Madame Merle since her marriage, this lady having absented herself from Rome at long periods. At one time she had spent six months in England; at another time she had passed the whole winter in Paris, going later to visit other friends in another part of Europe. Recently, she had returned to Rome—but Isabel now felt less need of her company than before. Madame Merle was still a great social success in any circle. Isabel could not help but admire her greatly—yet was she—could she be—of use in periods of personal trouble? The best way to profit by her friend—Isabel had long ago decided— was to imitate her, to be as firm and bright and cold as she. Madame Merle, for her part, remained the soul of good taste
 
 
in all her relations with Mr. and Mrs. Osmond. She recognized that Isabel had other interests now and that, though she, Mad­ame Merle, had known Gilbert Osmond and his daughter very well, better almost than anyone, this did not make her a part of the present family circle. She had a great fear of seeming to interfere between Isabel and her husband. She never spoke to anyone about their affairs, and, as she herself expressed it, was always “on her guard” not to offend Isabel in any possible way.
 
The occasion for Madame Merle’s present call upon Isabel was to talk about the matter of Pansy and her various suitors. Madame Merle used the excuse that Edward Rosier, knowing her to be so good a friend of both Isabel and Mr. Osmond, had visited her, asking that she help him in his suit for Pansy’s hand. She, like Isabel, had known Mr. Rosier from her visits to Paris. However, Madame Merle explained that Mr. Rosier was now calling upon her several times a week and was making of him­self something of a bother. She continued along these lines but then suddenly swung the conversation over to Lord Warbur- ton, whom she much preferred, she said, to Mr. Rosier, as a possible husband for Pansy. She also added that she was sure that Isabel could easily bring about such a match if she cared to. “It’s quite in your power,” said Madame Merle. “You’ve great influence with Lord Warburton. That I know very well.”
 
Isabel was not only shocked at these words of Madame Merle but a little angered as well. She had not even known that Madame Merle was aware of Lord Warburton’s interest in Pansy. How had Madame Merle found out, and what busi­ness was it of hers anyway? Had Osmond gone to her with the story? It seemed rather more than a coincidence that Madame Merle’s views in the matter should agree so nicely with those of Mr. Osmond. Isabel thought back upon her own marriage. She had now had several years in which to consider her aunt’s theory that Madame Merle had arranged her marriage to Gil­bert Osmond—yet she still felt that Madame Merle was inno­cent of this charge. Madame Merle may have made Gilbert Osmond’s marriage; but she certainly had not made Isabel Archer’s. Isabel’s own marriage was the work of—Isabel hard­ly knew what—of nature, chance, of the great and lasting mys­tery of things. In the present case, however, there did appear