BEGINNER
ELEMENTARY
  •  
INTERMEDIATE
  •  
UPPER INTERMEDIATE
  •  
Ders Konuları

The Portraıt Of A Lady - Chapter 14

The Portraıt Of A Lady - Chapter 14

 

There was a train for Turin and Paris that evening. After the Countess had left her, Isabel called her maid and began to prepare to leave Rome at once. She had reached a decision, and there was no turning back now. The trip to England was made without difficulty. When Isabel arrived in London, Henrietta Stackpole was there waiting for her in Charing Cross Station. Isabel had sent her a telegram from Turin, but was not sure her friend could arrange to meet her. She was happy to see Henrietta; it would have been awful to arrive alone in Lon­don. The dirty, smoke-filled station, the half-yellow lights, the pushing crowds, filled her with nervous fear. The two friends kissed and greeted each other warmly. Henrietta then took Isa­bel to her own rooms in Wimpole Street, where Isabel passed the night. It was too late to start that evening for Gardencourt. Henrietta informed her that she had had a telegram that very day saying that Ralph continued about the same. Henrietta had seen him only a few days before. He did not leave his bed, was very ill, and could not speak. Isabel was very eager to reach Gardencourt before Ralph died, and so left London on the earliest train possible the next morning
 
Her arrival at Gardencourt on this second occasion was even quieter than it had been on the first. Ralph Touchett kept but few servants, and to the new servants Isabel was a stranger, so that instead of being led to her own room she was left wait­ing in the drawing room for some time while her name was
 
carried up to her aunt. She waited a long time; Mrs. Touchett seemed in no hurry to come down. At last she appeared, just after Isabel had spent some minutes walking about downstairs, impressed once more by the beauty of the great house, and by the fact that nothing at all was changed. Mrs. Touchett, Isabel observed, was not changed in any way either. She looked per­haps a little older, but her eyes were as sharp and bright as ever. Her lips, as usual, felt cold and thin as she kissed Isabel lightly.
 
“I’ve kept you waiting because I’ve been sitting with Ralph,” Mrs. Touchett said. “The nurse had gone to lunch and I was taking her place. He seems to be sleeping and I was afraid that if I moved I might disturb him. I remembered you knew the house.”
 
“I find I know it better even than I thought,” Isabel an­swered. Then she asked if Ralph slept much.
 
“He lies with his eyes closed; he doesn’t move. But I’m not sure that it’s always sleep.”
 
“Will he see me? Can he speak to me?” Isabel asked.
 
Mrs. Touchett suggested that Isabel wait until Ralph woke rather than run the risk of disturbing him now. She led Isabel to her room. “I thought they had already taken you there,” Mrs. Touchett explained. “But it’s not my house, it’s Ralph’s, and I don’t know what the servants do. They should at least have taken your baggage. I believe they’ve given you the same room as before. When Ralph heard you were coming, he said you must have that one.”
 
Mrs. Touchett later left Isabel alone for a half-hour to give her a chance to refresh herself after her trip. They met again at lunch, where they faced each other across a narrow table. They had some conversation about
 
 Mrs. Touchett’s recent trip to America; while in Boston she had seen Isabel’s sisters. But Isabel’s thoughts continued on Ralph.
 
“Is there really no hope for him?” Isabel asked her aunt.
 
“None at all. There never has been any hope. It has not been a successful life.”
 
“No—but it has been a beautiful one,” Isabel found herself objecting.
 
“I don’t know what you mean by that. There is no beauty
 
without health,” said Mrs. Touchett in her usual short, rather stiff manner, “unless you are referring to what he did for you.”
 
“Ralph has always been very kind to me and has done me many services—” Isabel began
.
“Yes, but one was much above the rest. He made you a rich woman,” Mrs. Touchett broke in.
 
“He made me—I don’t understand you. It was my uncle’s money.”
 
“Yes, it was your uncle’s money, but it was Ralph’s idea. He brought his father over to it. I know nothing, of course, but what I’ve guessed. But I’ve guessed that.”
 
Isabel stared at her. “You never mentioned this to me be­fore.”
 
“The subject never came up,” Mrs. Touchett returned. '“I supposed you probably understood. But it’s no longer of im­portance now.”
 
“But it is important,” said Isabel slowly. Her world of late seemed to be lighted by sudden flashes of knowledge. This dis­covery, coming so close upon those she had made a few days earlier in Rome, was almost too much for her to take in.
 
Mrs. Touchett, however, observing the strange look that had suddenly come into Isabel’s eyes, now changed the conversa­tion. “Lord Warburton was here yesterday to see Ralph,” she said.
 
Isabel mumbled something to the effect that Lord Warbur­ton had always been very kind to Ralph; she had seen some­thing of this in Rome. She wanted to go on talking about what her aunt had just told her—but what more was there to tell? Mrs. Touchett’s voice seemed to be coming to her from a great distance.
 
“He has something else to think about now,” said Mrs. Tou­chett. “He has told Ralph he’s engaged to be married.”
 
“Ah, to be married.”
 
“He seemed to think Ralph would like to know. Poor Ralph can’t go to the wedding, though I believe it’s to take place very soon,” Mrs. Touchett went on.
 
“Who’s the young lady?” Isabel managed to ask after a long pause.
 
“An aristocrat—naturally. Lady Flora—Lady Felicia—some­thing of the kind.”
“I’m very glad.”
“Have you ever been sorry you didn’t marry Lord Warbur- ton?” her aunt next asked.
Isabel shook her head slowly. She made a final, determined effort to clear her thoughts. “No, dear aunt.”
“Good. I should tell you that I propose-to believe what you say. I would also like to know whether you are still fond of Serena Merle.”
“Not as I once was. But it doesn’t matter now, for I heard recently that she’s going to America.”
“To America? She must haye done something very bad.” “I only know she made a convenience of me.”
“Ah,” cried Mrs. Touchett, “so she did of me. She does of everyone.”
“She’ll make a convenience of America,” said Isabel indif­ferently, glad that the lunch was at an end and her aunt’s ques­tions seemed to be over.
It was not until evening that Isabel was able to see Ralph. He had been dozing all day—at least he had been lying uncon­scious—but toward evening he raised himself and said he knew Isabel had come. How he knew this was not apparent, for no one had told him. Isabel then came in and sat by his bed. She told the nurse she could leave, and she sat with him until very late, when the nurse returned. He might have passed away while she looked at him; he was already a figure of death. She had thought him far gone in Rome, but this was worse. There was but one change possible now. Occasionally, he opened his eyes and recognized her and then moved his hand, which lay helpless beside him, so that Isabel could take it. He continued in this state of silence for the next three days, recognizing Isa­bel at times when she went to sit by his bed and seeming to wish to speak to her, but he found no voice.
Then, on the evening of the third day, he said weakly, “I feel better tonight. I think I can say something.” Isabel sank upon her knees beside him, took his thin hand in her own. She begged him not to make an effort—not to tire himself. “What does it matter if I’m tired? I will have a long time to rest,” he
 
said. “There’s no harm in making an effort when it’s the very last of all. Ever since you’ve been here I’ve tried. I was afraid you’d get tired sitting here.” He spoke very slowly, with long pauses between his words. “It was very good of you to come. I thought you would, but I wasn’t sure.”
 
“I was not sure either until I came,” said Isabel.
 
“You’ve been like an angel beside my bed—like an angel of death, the most beautiful of all—waiting for me.”
 
“I was not waiting for your death—I was waiting for this— to talk with you.”
 
“No, Isabel, with me it’s all over,” Ralph said. He paused again and Isabel bowed her head further until it rested on her own two hands which held Ralph’s hands between them. “Isa­bel,” he went on suddenly, “I wish it were over for you. You are so good—you have done so much for me.”
 
“What is it you have done for me?” Isabel cried, bursting into sobs. It seemed to her that she had suddenly lost all her pride, all wish to hide things. Now Ralph must know. She wished him to know. It brought them closer together. “You did something once—you know it. Oh, Ralph, you’ve been ev­erything. What have I done for you—what can I do today? I would die if you could live. I would die myself, not to lose you.” 
 
“You won’t lose me—you’ll keep me. Keep me in your heart —I shall be nearer to you there than ever before.”
 
“I never thanked yoıi—I never spoke—I never was what I should have been. What must you have thought of me? I was so stupid. Yet I never knew—and I only know today because there are people less stupid than I. Is it true? Is it true?”
 
“That you have been stupid? Oh, no!”
 
“That you made me rich—that all I have is yours?”
 
He turned away his head, and for some time said nothing. Then at last, “Ah, don’t speak of that—that was not happy. But for that—but for that—” He paused again. “I believe I ruined you.”
 
Isabel felt that at last they were looking at the truth together. She wished to say everything. She was afraid Ralph might die before she had done so. “Osmond married me for my money,” she cried. “I think he was in love with me—but he wouldn’t have married me if I’d been poor. I always tried to keep you
 
from understanding; but that’s all over.”
 
“I always understood,” said Ralph.
 
“I thought you did, and I didn’t like it. But now I like it.” “Was he very bad about your coming?”
 
“He made it very hard for me. But I don’t care.”
 
“It is all over between you then?”
 
“Oh, I don’t think anything’s over.”
 
“Are you going back to him?”
 
“I don’t know—I can’t tell. I shall stay here as long as I may. I don’t care for anything but you, and that’s enough for the present.”
 
“But there are many other things in life, Isabel. You are still young.”
 
“I feel very old.”
 
“You’ll soon grow young again. That’s how I see you. I don’t believe that such a generous mistake as yours can hurt you for more than a little.”
 
“Oh, Ralph, I’m happy now,” Isabel cried—through her tears.
 
“And remember this,” he continued, his voice growing con­tinuously weaker, “that if you’ve been hated, you’ve also been loved. Ah, but, Isabel—adored.” He just barely breathed now.
 
“Oh, my brother,” Isabel cried, in a voice of even greater sadness.
 
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review
 
A. 1. What did Isabel decide to do after the Countess had left her?
2.Why was Isabel glad that Henrietta met her in London?
3.What news did Henrietta have about Ralph?
4.Why did Mrs. Touchett keep Isabel waiting when she ar­rived at Gardencourt?
5.When did Mrs. Touchett think that Isabel should see Ralph?
6.What did Mrs. Touchett say that Ralph had done for Isabel?
7.What news did Mrs. Touchett have about Lord Warburton?
8.What did Mrs. Touchett say about Madame Merle?
9.In what condition was Ralph for the next three days?
10.What did Ralph believe he had done by arranging for Isabel to have money?
11.What had Ralph always understood?
12.What did Ralph tell Isabel to remember?
 
B. Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your own:
 
arrival                  adore
lunch                   bare
refresh                at once
convenience      turn back
doze                    once more
helpless            run the risk of
sob                      take in