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chapter i: the bertolini "the signora had no business to do it,"said miss bartlett, "no business at all. she promised us south rooms with a viewclose together, instead of which here are north rooms, looking into a courtyard, anda long way apart. oh, lucy!" "and a cockney, besides!" said lucy, whohad been further saddened by the signora's unexpected accent."it might be london." she looked at the two rows of englishpeople who were sitting at the table; at the row of white bottles of water and redbottles of wine that ran between the
english people; at the portraits of the late queen and the late poet laureate thathung behind the english people, heavily framed; at the notice of the english church(rev. cuthbert eager, m. a. oxon.), that was the only other decoration of the wall. "charlotte, don't you feel, too, that wemight be in london? i can hardly believe that all kinds ofother things are just outside. i suppose it is one's being so tired." "this meat has surely been used for soup,"said miss bartlett, laying down her fork. "i want so to see the arno.the rooms the signora promised us in her
letter would have looked over the arno. the signora had no business to do it atall. oh, it is a shame!" "any nook does for me," miss bartlettcontinued; "but it does seem hard that you shouldn't have a view."lucy felt that she had been selfish. "charlotte, you mustn't spoil me: ofcourse, you must look over the arno, too. i meant that. the first vacant room in the front--" "youmust have it," said miss bartlett, part of whose travelling expenses were paid bylucy's mother--a piece of generosity to
which she made many a tactful allusion. "no, no. you must have it.""i insist on it. your mother would never forgive me, lucy.""she would never forgive me." the ladies' voices grew animated, and--ifthe sad truth be owned--a little peevish. they were tired, and under the guise ofunselfishness they wrangled. some of their neighbours interchangedglances, and one of them--one of the ill- bred people whom one does meet abroad--leant forward over the table and actually intruded into their argument. he said:"i have a view, i have a view."
miss bartlett was startled. generally at a pension people looked themover for a day or two before speaking, and often did not find out that they would "do"till they had gone. she knew that the intruder was ill-bred,even before she glanced at him. he was an old man, of heavy build, with afair, shaven face and large eyes. there was something childish in those eyes,though it was not the childishness of senility. what exactly it was miss bartlett did notstop to consider, for her glance passed on to his clothes.these did not attract her.
he was probably trying to become acquaintedwith them before they got into the swim. so she assumed a dazed expression when hespoke to her, and then said: "a view? oh, a view! how delightful a view is!""this is my son," said the old man; "his name's george.he has a view too." "ah," said miss bartlett, repressing lucy,who was about to speak. "what i mean," he continued, "is that youcan have our rooms, and we'll have yours. we'll change." the better class of tourist was shocked atthis, and sympathized with the new-comers.
miss bartlett, in reply, opened her mouthas little as possible, and said "thank you very much indeed; that is out of thequestion." "why?" said the old man, with both fists onthe table. "because it is quite out of the question,thank you." "you see, we don't like to take--" beganlucy. her cousin again repressed her."but why?" he persisted. "women like looking at a view; men don't." and he thumped with his fists like anaughty child, and turned to his son, saying, "george, persuade them!""it's so obvious they should have the
rooms," said the son. "there's nothing else to say."he did not look at the ladies as he spoke, but his voice was perplexed and sorrowful. lucy, too, was perplexed; but she saw thatthey were in for what is known as "quite a scene," and she had an odd feeling thatwhenever these ill-bred tourists spoke the contest widened and deepened till it dealt, not with rooms and views, but with--well,with something quite different, whose existence she had not realized before. now the old man attacked miss bartlettalmost violently: why should she not
change?what possible objection had she? they would clear out in half an hour. miss bartlett, though skilled in thedelicacies of conversation, was powerless in the presence of brutality.it was impossible to snub any one so gross. her face reddened with displeasure. she looked around as much as to say, "areyou all like this?" and two little old ladies, who were sittingfurther up the table, with shawls hanging over the backs of the chairs, looked back,clearly indicating "we are not; we are genteel."
"eat your dinner, dear," she said to lucy,and began to toy again with the meat that she had once censured.lucy mumbled that those seemed very odd people opposite. "eat your dinner, dear.this pension is a failure. to-morrow we will make a change."hardly had she announced this fell decision when she reversed it. the curtains at the end of the room parted,and revealed a clergyman, stout but attractive, who hurried forward to take hisplace at the table, cheerfully apologizing for his lateness.
lucy, who had not yet acquired decency, atonce rose to her feet, exclaiming: "oh, oh! why, it's mr. beebe!oh, how perfectly lovely! oh, charlotte, we must stop now, howeverbad the rooms are. oh!"miss bartlett said, with more restraint: "how do you do, mr. beebe? i expect that you have forgotten us: missbartlett and miss honeychurch, who were at tunbridge wells when you helped the vicarof st. peter's that very cold easter." the clergyman, who had the air of one on aholiday, did not remember the ladies quite as clearly as they remembered him.
but he came forward pleasantly enough andaccepted the chair into which he was beckoned by lucy. "i am so glad to see you," said the girl,who was in a state of spiritual starvation, and would have been glad to see the waiterif her cousin had permitted it. "just fancy how small the world is. summer street, too, makes it so speciallyfunny." "miss honeychurch lives in the parish ofsummer street," said miss bartlett, filling up the gap, "and she happened to tell me inthe course of conversation that you have just accepted the living--"
"yes, i heard from mother so last week.she didn't know that i knew you at tunbridge wells; but i wrote back at once,and i said: 'mr. beebe is--'" "quite right," said the clergyman. "i move into the rectory at summer streetnext june. i am lucky to be appointed to such acharming neighbourhood." "oh, how glad i am! the name of our house is windy corner."mr. beebe bowed. "there is mother and me generally, and mybrother, though it's not often we get him to ch---- the church is rather far off, imean."
"lucy, dearest, let mr. beebe eat hisdinner." "i am eating it, thank you, and enjoyingit." he preferred to talk to lucy, whose playinghe remembered, rather than to miss bartlett, who probably remembered hissermons. he asked the girl whether she knew florencewell, and was informed at some length that she had never been there before.it is delightful to advise a newcomer, and he was first in the field. "don't neglect the country round," hisadvice concluded. "the first fine afternoon drive up tofiesole, and round by settignano, or
something of that sort." "no!" cried a voice from the top of thetable. "mr. beebe, you are wrong.the first fine afternoon your ladies must go to prato." "that lady looks so clever," whispered missbartlett to her cousin. "we are in luck."and, indeed, a perfect torrent of information burst on them. people told them what to see, when to seeit, how to stop the electric trams, how to get rid of the beggars, how much to givefor a vellum blotter, how much the place
would grow upon them. the pension bertolini had decided, almostenthusiastically, that they would do. whichever way they looked, kind ladiessmiled and shouted at them. and above all rose the voice of the cleverlady, crying: "prato! they must go to prato.that place is too sweetly squalid for words. i love it; i revel in shaking off thetrammels of respectability, as you know." the young man named george glanced at theclever lady, and then returned moodily to his plate.
obviously he and his father did not do.lucy, in the midst of her success, found time to wish they did. it gave her no extra pleasure that any oneshould be left in the cold; and when she rose to go, she turned back and gave thetwo outsiders a nervous little bow. the father did not see it; the sonacknowledged it, not by another bow, but by raising his eyebrows and smiling; he seemedto be smiling across something. she hastened after her cousin, who hadalready disappeared through the curtains-- curtains which smote one in the face, andseemed heavy with more than cloth. beyond them stood the unreliable signora,bowing good-evening to her guests, and
supported by 'enery, her little boy, andvictorier, her daughter. it made a curious little scene, thisattempt of the cockney to convey the grace and geniality of the south. and even more curious was the drawing-room,which attempted to rival the solid comfort of a bloomsbury boarding-house.was this really italy? miss bartlett was already seated on atightly stuffed arm-chair, which had the colour and the contours of a tomato. she was talking to mr. beebe, and as shespoke, her long narrow head drove backwards and forwards, slowly, regularly, as thoughshe were demolishing some invisible
obstacle. "we are most grateful to you," she wassaying. "the first evening means so much.when you arrived we were in for a peculiarly mauvais quart d'heure." he expressed his regret."do you, by any chance, know the name of an old man who sat opposite us at dinner?""emerson." "is he a friend of yours?" "we are friendly--as one is in pensions.""then i will say no more." he pressed her very slightly, and she saidmore.
"i am, as it were," she concluded, "thechaperon of my young cousin, lucy, and it would be a serious thing if i put her underan obligation to people of whom we know nothing. his manner was somewhat unfortunate.i hope i acted for the best." "you acted very naturally," said he. he seemed thoughtful, and after a fewmoments added: "all the same, i don't think much harm would have come of accepting.""no harm, of course. but we could not be under an obligation." "he is rather a peculiar man."again he hesitated, and then said gently:
"i think he would not take advantage ofyour acceptance, nor expect you to show gratitude. he has the merit--if it is one--of sayingexactly what he means. he has rooms he does not value, and hethinks you would value them. he no more thought of putting you under anobligation than he thought of being polite. it is so difficult--at least, i find itdifficult--to understand people who speak the truth." lucy was pleased, and said: "i was hopingthat he was nice; i do so always hope that people will be nice.""i think he is; nice and tiresome.
i differ from him on almost every point ofany importance, and so, i expect--i may say i hope--you will differ.but his is a type one disagrees with rather than deplores. when he first came here he not unnaturallyput people's backs up. he has no tact and no manners--i don't meanby that that he has bad manners--and he will not keep his opinions to himself. we nearly complained about him to ourdepressing signora, but i am glad to say we thought better of it.""am i to conclude," said miss bartlett, "that he is a socialist?"
mr. beebe accepted the convenient word, notwithout a slight twitching of the lips. "and presumably he has brought up his sonto be a socialist, too?" "i hardly know george, for he hasn't learntto talk yet. he seems a nice creature, and i think hehas brains. of course, he has all his father'smannerisms, and it is quite possible that he, too, may be a socialist.""oh, you relieve me," said miss bartlett. "so you think i ought to have acceptedtheir offer? you feel i have been narrow-minded andsuspicious?" "not at all," he answered; "i neversuggested that."
"but ought i not to apologize, at allevents, for my apparent rudeness?" he replied, with some irritation, that itwould be quite unnecessary, and got up from his seat to go to the smoking-room."was i a bore?" said miss bartlett, as soon as he had disappeared. "why didn't you talk, lucy?he prefers young people, i'm sure. i do hope i haven't monopolized him.i hoped you would have him all the evening, as well as all dinner-time." "he is nice," exclaimed lucy."just what i remember. he seems to see good in every one.no one would take him for a clergyman."
"my dear lucia--" "well, you know what i mean.and you know how clergymen generally laugh; mr. beebe laughs just like an ordinaryman." "funny girl! how you do remind me of your mother.i wonder if she will approve of mr. beebe." "i'm sure she will; and so will freddy.""i think every one at windy corner will approve; it is the fashionable world. i am used to tunbridge wells, where we areall hopelessly behind the times." "yes," said lucy despondently.
there was a haze of disapproval in the air,but whether the disapproval was of herself, or of mr. beebe, or of the fashionableworld at windy corner, or of the narrow world at tunbridge wells, she could notdetermine. she tried to locate it, but as usual sheblundered. miss bartlett sedulously denieddisapproving of any one, and added "i am afraid you are finding me a very depressingcompanion." and the girl again thought: "i must havebeen selfish or unkind; i must be more careful.it is so dreadful for charlotte, being poor."
fortunately one of the little old ladies,who for some time had been smiling very benignly, now approached and asked if shemight be allowed to sit where mr. beebe had sat. permission granted, she began to chattergently about italy, the plunge it had been to come there, the gratifying success ofthe plunge, the improvement in her sister's health, the necessity of closing the bed- room windows at night, and of thoroughlyemptying the water-bottles in the morning. she handled her subjects agreeably, andthey were, perhaps, more worthy of attention than the high discourse uponguelfs and ghibellines which was proceeding
tempestuously at the other end of the room. it was a real catastrophe, not a mereepisode, that evening of hers at venice, when she had found in her bedroom somethingthat is one worse than a flea, though one better than something else. "but here you are as safe as in england.signora bertolini is so english." "yet our rooms smell," said poor lucy."we dread going to bed." "ah, then you look into the court." she sighed."if only mr. emerson was more tactful! we were so sorry for you at dinner.""i think he was meaning to be kind."
"undoubtedly he was," said miss bartlett. "mr. beebe has just been scolding me for mysuspicious nature. of course, i was holding back on mycousin's account." "of course," said the little old lady; andthey murmured that one could not be too careful with a young girl.lucy tried to look demure, but could not help feeling a great fool. no one was careful with her at home; or, atall events, she had not noticed it. "about old mr. emerson--i hardly know. no, he is not tactful; yet, have you evernoticed that there are people who do things
which are most indelicate, and yet at thesame time--beautiful?" "beautiful?" said miss bartlett, puzzled atthe word. "are not beauty and delicacy the same?""so one would have thought," said the other helplessly. "but things are so difficult, i sometimesthink." she proceeded no further into things, formr. beebe reappeared, looking extremely pleasant. "miss bartlett," he cried, "it's all rightabout the rooms. i'm so glad.
mr. emerson was talking about it in thesmoking-room, and knowing what i did, i encouraged him to make the offer again.he has let me come and ask you. he would be so pleased." "oh, charlotte," cried lucy to her cousin,"we must have the rooms now. the old man is just as nice and kind as hecan be." miss bartlett was silent. "i fear," said mr. beebe, after a pause,"that i have been officious. i must apologize for my interference."gravely displeased, he turned to go. not till then did miss bartlett reply: "myown wishes, dearest lucy, are unimportant
in comparison with yours. it would be hard indeed if i stopped youdoing as you liked at florence, when i am only here through your kindness.if you wish me to turn these gentlemen out of their rooms, i will do it. would you then, mr. beebe, kindly tell mr.emerson that i accept his kind offer, and then conduct him to me, in order that i maythank him personally?" she raised her voice as she spoke; it washeard all over the drawing-room, and silenced the guelfs and the ghibellines.the clergyman, inwardly cursing the female sex, bowed, and departed with her message.
"remember, lucy, i alone am implicated inthis. i do not wish the acceptance to come fromyou. grant me that, at all events." mr. beebe was back, saying rathernervously: "mr. emerson is engaged, but here is hisson instead." the young man gazed down on the threeladies, who felt seated on the floor, so low were their chairs."my father," he said, "is in his bath, so you cannot thank him personally. but any message given by you to me will begiven by me to him as soon as he comes
out."miss bartlett was unequal to the bath. all her barbed civilities came forth wrongend first. young mr. emerson scored a notable triumphto the delight of mr. beebe and to the secret delight of lucy. "poor young man!" said miss bartlett, assoon as he had gone. "how angry he is with his father about therooms! it is all he can do to keep polite." "in half an hour or so your rooms will beready," said mr. beebe. then looking rather thoughtfully at the twocousins, he retired to his own rooms, to
write up his philosophic diary. "oh, dear!" breathed the little old lady,and shuddered as if all the winds of heaven had entered the apartment. "gentlemen sometimes do not realize--" hervoice faded away, but miss bartlett seemed to understand and a conversation developed,in which gentlemen who did not thoroughly realize played a principal part. lucy, not realizing either, was reduced toliterature. taking up baedeker's handbook to northernitaly, she committed to memory the most important dates of florentine history.
for she was determined to enjoy herself onthe morrow. thus the half-hour crept profitably away,and at last miss bartlett rose with a sigh, and said: "i think one might venture now.no, lucy, do not stir. i will superintend the move.""how you do do everything," said lucy. "naturally, dear. it is my affair.""but i would like to help you." "no, dear."charlotte's energy! and her unselfishness!
she had been thus all her life, but really,on this italian tour, she was surpassing herself.so lucy felt, or strove to feel. and yet--there was a rebellious spirit inher which wondered whether the acceptance might not have been less delicate and morebeautiful. at all events, she entered her own roomwithout any feeling of joy. "i want to explain," said miss bartlett,"why it is that i have taken the largest room. naturally, of course, i should have givenit to you; but i happen to know that it belongs to the young man, and i was sureyour mother would not like it."
lucy was bewildered. "if you are to accept a favour it is moresuitable you should be under an obligation to his father than to him.i am a woman of the world, in my small way, and i know where things lead to. however, mr. beebe is a guarantee of a sortthat they will not presume on this." "mother wouldn't mind i'm sure," said lucy,but again had the sense of larger and unsuspected issues. miss bartlett only sighed, and envelopedher in a protecting embrace as she wished her good-night.
it gave lucy the sensation of a fog, andwhen she reached her own room she opened the window and breathed the clean nightair, thinking of the kind old man who had enabled her to see the lights dancing in the arno and the cypresses of san miniato,and the foot-hills of the apennines, black against the rising moon. miss bartlett, in her room, fastened thewindow-shutters and locked the door, and then made a tour of the apartment to seewhere the cupboards led, and whether there were any oubliettes or secret entrances. it was then that she saw, pinned up overthe washstand, a sheet of paper on which
was scrawled an enormous note ofinterrogation. nothing more. "what does it mean?" she thought, and sheexamined it carefully by the light of a candle.meaningless at first, it gradually became menacing, obnoxious, portentous with evil. she was seized with an impulse to destroyit, but fortunately remembered that she had no right to do so, since it must be theproperty of young mr. emerson. so she unpinned it carefully, and put itbetween two pieces of blotting-paper to keep it clean for him.
then she completed her inspection of theroom, sighed heavily according to her habit, and went to bed. > chapter ii: in santa croce with no baedeker it was pleasant to wake up in florence, toopen the eyes upon a bright bare room, with a floor of red tiles which look cleanthough they are not; with a painted ceiling whereon pink griffins and blue amorini sport in a forest of yellow violins andbassoons. it was pleasant, too, to fling wide thewindows, pinching the fingers in unfamiliar
fastenings, to lean out into sunshine withbeautiful hills and trees and marble churches opposite, and close below, the arno, gurgling against the embankment ofthe road. over the river men were at work with spadesand sieves on the sandy foreshore, and on the river was a boat, also diligentlyemployed for some mysterious end. an electric tram came rushing underneaththe window. no one was inside it, except one tourist;but its platforms were overflowing with italians, who preferred to stand. children tried to hang on behind, and theconductor, with no malice, spat in their
faces to make them let go. then soldiers appeared--good-looking,undersized men--wearing each a knapsack covered with mangy fur, and a great-coatwhich had been cut for some larger soldier. beside them walked officers, lookingfoolish and fierce, and before them went little boys, turning somersaults in timewith the band. the tramcar became entangled in theirranks, and moved on painfully, like a caterpillar in a swarm of ants.one of the little boys fell down, and some white bullocks came out of an archway. indeed, if it had not been for the goodadvice of an old man who was selling
button-hooks, the road might never have gotclear. over such trivialities as these many avaluable hour may slip away, and the traveller who has gone to italy to studythe tactile values of giotto, or the corruption of the papacy, may return remembering nothing but the blue sky andthe men and women who live under it. so it was as well that miss bartlett shouldtap and come in, and having commented on lucy's leaving the door unlocked, and onher leaning out of the window before she was fully dressed, should urge her to hasten herself, or the best of the daywould be gone.
by the time lucy was ready her cousin haddone her breakfast, and was listening to the clever lady among the crumbs. a conversation then ensued, on notunfamiliar lines. miss bartlett was, after all, a wee bittired, and thought they had better spend the morning settling in; unless lucy wouldat all like to go out? lucy would rather like to go out, as it washer first day in florence, but, of course, she could go alone.miss bartlett could not allow this. of course she would accompany lucyeverywhere. oh, certainly not; lucy would stop with hercousin.
oh, no! that would never do. oh, yes!at this point the clever lady broke in. "if it is mrs. grundy who is troubling you,i do assure you that you can neglect the good person. being english, miss honeychurch will beperfectly safe. italians understand. a dear friend of mine, contessa baroncelli,has two daughters, and when she cannot send a maid to school with them, she lets themgo in sailor-hats instead. every one takes them for english, you see,especially if their hair is strained
tightly behind."miss bartlett was unconvinced by the safety of contessa baroncelli's daughters. she was determined to take lucy herself,her head not being so very bad. the clever lady then said that she wasgoing to spend a long morning in santa croce, and if lucy would come too, shewould be delighted. "i will take you by a dear dirty back way,miss honeychurch, and if you bring me luck, we shall have an adventure." lucy said that this was most kind, and atonce opened the baedeker, to see where santa croce was."tut, tut!
miss lucy! i hope we shall soon emancipate you frombaedeker. he does but touch the surface of things.as to the true italy--he does not even dream of it. the true italy is only to be found bypatient observation." this sounded very interesting, and lucyhurried over her breakfast, and started with her new friend in high spirits. italy was coming at last.the cockney signora and her works had vanished like a bad dream.
miss lavish--for that was the clever lady'sname--turned to the right along the sunny lung' arno.how delightfully warm! but a wind down the side streets cut like aknife, didn't it? ponte alle grazie--particularlyinteresting, mentioned by dante. san miniato--beautiful as well asinteresting; the crucifix that kissed a murderer--miss honeychurch would rememberthe story. the men on the river were fishing. (untrue; but then, so is most information.)then miss lavish darted under the archway of the white bullocks, and she stopped, andshe cried:
"a smell! a true florentine smell! every city, let me teach you, has its ownsmell." "is it a very nice smell?" said lucy, whohad inherited from her mother a distaste to dirt. "one doesn't come to italy for niceness,"was the retort; "one comes for life. buon giorno!buon giorno!" bowing right and left. "look at that adorable wine-cart! how the driver stares at us, dear, simplesoul!" so miss lavish proceeded through thestreets of the city of florence, short,
fidgety, and playful as a kitten, thoughwithout a kitten's grace. it was a treat for the girl to be with anyone so clever and so cheerful; and a blue military cloak, such as an italian officerwears, only increased the sense of festivity. "buon giorno!take the word of an old woman, miss lucy: you will never repent of a little civilityto your inferiors. that is the true democracy. though i am a real radical as well.there, now you're shocked." "indeed, i'm not!" exclaimed lucy."we are radicals, too, out and out.
my father always voted for mr. gladstone,until he was so dreadful about ireland." "i see, i see.and now you have gone over to the enemy." "oh, please--! if my father was alive, i am sure he wouldvote radical again now that ireland is all right. and as it is, the glass over our front doorwas broken last election, and freddy is sure it was the tories; but mother saysnonsense, a tramp." "shameful! a manufacturing district, i suppose?""no--in the surrey hills.
about five miles from dorking, looking overthe weald." miss lavish seemed interested, andslackened her trot. "what a delightful part; i know it so well.it is full of the very nicest people. do you know sir harry otway--a radical ifever there was?" "very well indeed.""and old mrs. butterworth the philanthropist?" "why, she rents a field of us!how funny!" miss lavish looked at the narrow ribbon ofsky, and murmured: "oh, you have property in surrey?"
"hardly any," said lucy, fearful of beingthought a snob. "only thirty acres--just the garden, alldownhill, and some fields." miss lavish was not disgusted, and said itwas just the size of her aunt's suffolk estate.italy receded. they tried to remember the last name oflady louisa some one, who had taken a house near summer street the other year, but shehad not liked it, which was odd of her. and just as miss lavish had got the name,she broke off and exclaimed: "bless us!bless us and save us! we've lost the way."
certainly they had seemed a long time inreaching santa croce, the tower of which had been plainly visible from the landingwindow. but miss lavish had said so much aboutknowing her florence by heart, that lucy had followed her with no misgivings."lost! lost! my dear miss lucy, during our politicaldiatribes we have taken a wrong turning. how those horrid conservatives would jeerat us! what are we to do? two lone females in an unknown town.now, this is what i call an adventure." lucy, who wanted to see santa croce,suggested, as a possible solution, that
they should ask the way there. "oh, but that is the word of a craven!and no, you are not, not, not to look at your baedeker.give it to me; i shan't let you carry it. we will simply drift." accordingly they drifted through a seriesof those grey-brown streets, neither commodious nor picturesque, in which theeastern quarter of the city abounds. lucy soon lost interest in the discontentof lady louisa, and became discontented herself.for one ravishing moment italy appeared. she stood in the square of the annunziataand saw in the living terra-cotta those
divine babies whom no cheap reproductioncan ever stale. there they stood, with their shining limbsbursting from the garments of charity, and their strong white arms extended againstcirclets of heaven. lucy thought she had never seen anythingmore beautiful; but miss lavish, with a shriek of dismay, dragged her forward,declaring that they were out of their path now by at least a mile. the hour was approaching at which thecontinental breakfast begins, or rather ceases, to tell, and the ladies bought somehot chestnut paste out of a little shop, because it looked so typical.
it tasted partly of the paper in which itwas wrapped, partly of hair oil, partly of the great unknown. but it gave them strength to drift intoanother piazza, large and dusty, on the farther side of which rose a black-and-white facade of surpassing ugliness. miss lavish spoke to it dramatically. it was santa croce.the adventure was over. "stop a minute; let those two people go on,or i shall have to speak to them. i do detest conventional intercourse. nasty! they are going into the church, too.oh, the britisher abroad!"
"we sat opposite them at dinner last night.they have given us their rooms. they were so very kind." "look at their figures!" laughed misslavish. "they walk through my italy like a pair ofcows. it's very naughty of me, but i would liketo set an examination paper at dover, and turn back every tourist who couldn't passit." "what would you ask us?" miss lavish laid her hand pleasantly onlucy's arm, as if to suggest that she, at all events, would get full marks.
in this exalted mood they reached the stepsof the great church, and were about to enter it when miss lavish stopped,squeaked, flung up her arms, and cried: "there goes my local-colour box! i must have a word with him!" and in a moment she was away over thepiazza, her military cloak flapping in the wind; nor did she slacken speed till shecaught up an old man with white whiskers, and nipped him playfully upon the arm. lucy waited for nearly ten minutes.then she began to get tired. the beggars worried her, the dust blew inher eyes, and she remembered that a young
girl ought not to loiter in public places. she descended slowly into the piazza withthe intention of rejoining miss lavish, who was really almost too original. but at that moment miss lavish and herlocal-colour box moved also, and disappeared down a side street, bothgesticulating largely. tears of indignation came to lucy's eyespartly because miss lavish had jilted her, partly because she had taken her baedeker.how could she find her way home? how could she find her way about in santacroce? her first morning was ruined, and she mightnever be in florence again.
a few minutes ago she had been all highspirits, talking as a woman of culture, and half persuading herself that she was fullof originality. now she entered the church depressed andhumiliated, not even able to remember whether it was built by the franciscans orthe dominicans. of course, it must be a wonderful building. but how like a barn!and how very cold! of course, it contained frescoes by giotto,in the presence of whose tactile values she was capable of feeling what was proper. but who was to tell her which they were?she walked about disdainfully, unwilling to
be enthusiastic over monuments of uncertainauthorship or date. there was no one even to tell her which, ofall the sepulchral slabs that paved the nave and transepts, was the one that wasreally beautiful, the one that had been most praised by mr. ruskin. then the pernicious charm of italy workedon her, and, instead of acquiring information, she began to be happy. she puzzled out the italian notices--thenotices that forbade people to introduce dogs into the church--the notice thatprayed people, in the interest of health and out of respect to the sacred edifice inwhich they found themselves, not to spit.
she watched the tourists; their noses wereas red as their baedekers, so cold was santa croce. she beheld the horrible fate that overtookthree papists--two he-babies and a she- baby--who began their career by sousingeach other with the holy water, and then proceeded to the machiavelli memorial,dripping but hallowed. advancing towards it very slowly and fromimmense distances, they touched the stone with their fingers, with theirhandkerchiefs, with their heads, and then retreated. what could this mean?they did it again and again.
then lucy realized that they had mistakenmachiavelli for some saint, hoping to acquire virtue. punishment followed quickly.the smallest he-baby stumbled over one of the sepulchral slabs so much admired by mr.ruskin, and entangled his feet in the features of a recumbent bishop. protestant as she was, lucy darted forward.she was too late. he fell heavily upon the prelate's upturnedtoes. "hateful bishop!" exclaimed the voice ofold mr. emerson, who had darted forward also."hard in life, hard in death.
go out into the sunshine, little boy, andkiss your hand to the sun, for that is where you ought to be.intolerable bishop!" the child screamed frantically at thesewords, and at these dreadful people who picked him up, dusted him, rubbed hisbruises, and told him not to be superstitious. "look at him!" said mr. emerson to lucy."here's a mess: a baby hurt, cold, and frightened!but what else can you expect from a church?" the child's legs had become as melting wax.each time that old mr. emerson and lucy set
it erect it collapsed with a roar. fortunately an italian lady, who ought tohave been saying her prayers, came to the rescue. by some mysterious virtue, which mothersalone possess, she stiffened the little boy's back-bone and imparted strength tohis knees. he stood. still gibbering with agitation, he walkedaway. "you are a clever woman," said mr. emerson."you have done more than all the relics in the world.
i am not of your creed, but i do believe inthose who make their fellow-creatures happy.there is no scheme of the universe--" he paused for a phrase. "niente," said the italian lady, andreturned to her prayers. "i'm not sure she understands english,"suggested lucy. in her chastened mood she no longerdespised the emersons. she was determined to be gracious to them,beautiful rather than delicate, and, if possible, to erase miss bartlett's civilityby some gracious reference to the pleasant rooms.
"that woman understands everything," wasmr. emerson's reply. "but what are you doing here?are you doing the church? are you through with the church?" "no," cried lucy, remembering hergrievance. "i came here with miss lavish, who was toexplain everything; and just by the door-- it is too bad!--she simply ran away, andafter waiting quite a time, i had to come in by myself." "why shouldn't you?" said mr. emerson."yes, why shouldn't you come by yourself?" said the son, addressing the young lady forthe first time.
"but miss lavish has even taken awaybaedeker." "baedeker?" said mr. emerson."i'm glad it's that you minded. it's worth minding, the loss of a baedeker. that's worth minding."lucy was puzzled. she was again conscious of some new idea,and was not sure whither it would lead her. "if you've no baedeker," said the son,"you'd better join us." was this where the idea would lead?she took refuge in her dignity. "thank you very much, but i could not thinkof that. i hope you do not suppose that i came tojoin on to you.
i really came to help with the child, andto thank you for so kindly giving us your rooms last night.i hope that you have not been put to any great inconvenience." "my dear," said the old man gently, "ithink that you are repeating what you have heard older people say.you are pretending to be touchy; but you are not really. stop being so tiresome, and tell me insteadwhat part of the church you want to see. to take you to it will be a real pleasure."now, this was abominably impertinent, and she ought to have been furious.
but it is sometimes as difficult to loseone's temper as it is difficult at other times to keep it.lucy could not get cross. mr. emerson was an old man, and surely agirl might humour him. on the other hand, his son was a young man,and she felt that a girl ought to be offended with him, or at all events beoffended before him. it was at him that she gazed beforereplying. "i am not touchy, i hope.it is the giottos that i want to see, if you will kindly tell me which they are." the son nodded.with a look of sombre satisfaction, he led
the way to the peruzzi chapel.there was a hint of the teacher about him. she felt like a child in school who hadanswered a question rightly. the chapel was already filled with anearnest congregation, and out of them rose the voice of a lecturer, directing them howto worship giotto, not by tactful valuations, but by the standards of thespirit. "remember," he was saying, "the facts aboutthis church of santa croce; how it was built by faith in the full fervour ofmedievalism, before any taint of the renaissance had appeared. observe how giotto in these frescoes--now,unhappily, ruined by restoration--is
untroubled by the snares of anatomy andperspective. could anything be more majestic, morepathetic, beautiful, true? how little, we feel, avails knowledge andtechnical cleverness against a man who truly feels!" "no!" exclaimed mr. emerson, in much tooloud a voice for church. "remember nothing of the sort!built by faith indeed! that simply means the workmen weren't paidproperly. and as for the frescoes, i see no truth inthem. look at that fat man in blue!
he must weigh as much as i do, and he isshooting into the sky like an air balloon." he was referring to the fresco of the"ascension of st. john." inside, the lecturer's voice faltered, aswell it might. the audience shifted uneasily, and so didlucy. she was sure that she ought not to be withthese men; but they had cast a spell over her.they were so serious and so strange that she could not remember how to behave. "now, did this happen, or didn't it?yes or no?" george replied:"it happened like this, if it happened at
all. i would rather go up to heaven by myselfthan be pushed by cherubs; and if i got there i should like my friends to lean outof it, just as they do here." "you will never go up," said his father. "you and i, dear boy, will lie at peace inthe earth that bore us, and our names will disappear as surely as our work survives." "some of the people can only see the emptygrave, not the saint, whoever he is, going up.it did happen like that, if it happened at all."
"pardon me," said a frigid voice."the chapel is somewhat small for two parties.we will incommode you no longer." the lecturer was a clergyman, and hisaudience must be also his flock, for they held prayer-books as well as guide-books intheir hands. they filed out of the chapel in silence. amongst them were the two little old ladiesof the pension bertolini--miss teresa and miss catherine alan."stop!" cried mr. emerson. "there's plenty of room for us all. stop!"the procession disappeared without a word.
soon the lecturer could be heard in thenext chapel, describing the life of st. francis. "george, i do believe that clergyman is thebrixton curate." george went into the next chapel andreturned, saying "perhaps he is. i don't remember." "then i had better speak to him and remindhim who i am. it's that mr. eager.why did he go? did we talk too loud? how vexatious.i shall go and say we are sorry.
hadn't i better?then perhaps he will come back." "he will not come back," said george. but mr. emerson, contrite and unhappy,hurried away to apologize to the rev. cuthbert eager. lucy, apparently absorbed in a lunette,could hear the lecture again interrupted, the anxious, aggressive voice of the oldman, the curt, injured replies of his opponent. the son, who took every little contretempsas if it were a tragedy, was listening also."my father has that effect on nearly every
one," he informed her. "he will try to be kind.""i hope we all try," said she, smiling nervously."because we think it improves our characters. but he is kind to people because he lovesthem; and they find him out, and are offended, or frightened." "how silly of them!" said lucy, though inher heart she sympathized; "i think that a kind action done tactfully--""tact!" he threw up his head in disdain.
apparently she had given the wrong answer.she watched the singular creature pace up and down the chapel.for a young man his face was rugged, and-- until the shadows fell upon it--hard. enshadowed, it sprang into tenderness.she saw him once again at rome, on the ceiling of the sistine chapel, carrying aburden of acorns. healthy and muscular, he yet gave her thefeeling of greyness, of tragedy that might only find solution in the night.the feeling soon passed; it was unlike her to have entertained anything so subtle. born of silence and of unknown emotion, itpassed when mr. emerson returned, and she
could re-enter the world of rapid talk,which was alone familiar to her. "were you snubbed?" asked his sontranquilly. "but we have spoilt the pleasure of i don'tknow how many people. they won't come back." "...full of innate sympathy...quickness toperceive good in others...vision of the brotherhood of man..."scraps of the lecture on st. francis came floating round the partition wall. "don't let us spoil yours," he continued tolucy. "have you looked at those saints?""yes," said lucy.
"they are lovely. do you know which is the tombstone that ispraised in ruskin?" he did not know, and suggested that theyshould try to guess it. george, rather to her relief, refused tomove, and she and the old man wandered not unpleasantly about santa croce, which,though it is like a barn, has harvested many beautiful things inside its walls. there were also beggars to avoid and guidesto dodge round the pillars, and an old lady with her dog, and here and there a priestmodestly edging to his mass through the groups of tourists.
but mr. emerson was only half interested.he watched the lecturer, whose success he believed he had impaired, and then heanxiously watched his son. "why will he look at that fresco?" he saiduneasily. "i saw nothing in it.""i like giotto," she replied. "it is so wonderful what they say about histactile values. though i like things like the della robbiababies better." "so you ought. a baby is worth a dozen saints.and my baby's worth the whole of paradise, and as far as i can see he lives in hell."lucy again felt that this did not do.
"in hell," he repeated. "he's unhappy.""oh, dear!" said lucy. "how can he be unhappy when he is strongand alive? what more is one to give him? and think how he has been brought up--freefrom all the superstition and ignorance that lead men to hate one another in thename of god. with such an education as that, i thoughthe was bound to grow up happy." she was no theologian, but she felt thathere was a very foolish old man, as well as a very irreligious one.
she also felt that her mother might notlike her talking to that kind of person, and that charlotte would object moststrongly. "what are we to do with him?" he asked. "he comes out for his holiday to italy, andbehaves--like that; like the little child who ought to have been playing, and whohurt himself upon the tombstone. eh? what did you say?" lucy had made no suggestion.suddenly he said: "now don't be stupid over this. i don't require you to fall in love with myboy, but i do think you might try and
understand him.you are nearer his age, and if you let yourself go i am sure you are sensible. you might help me.he has known so few women, and you have the time.you stop here several weeks, i suppose? but let yourself go. you are inclined to get muddled, if i mayjudge from last night. let yourself go. pull out from the depths those thoughtsthat you do not understand, and spread them out in the sunlight and know the meaning ofthem.
by understanding george you may learn tounderstand yourself. it will be good for both of you."to this extraordinary speech lucy found no answer. "i only know what it is that's wrong withhim; not why it is." "and what is it?" asked lucy fearfully,expecting some harrowing tale. "the old trouble; things won't fit." "what things?""the things of the universe. it is quite true.they don't." "oh, mr. emerson, whatever do you mean?"
in his ordinary voice, so that she scarcelyrealized he was quoting poetry, he said: "'from far, from eve and morning,and yon twelve-winded sky, the stuff of life to knit meblew hither: here am i' george and i both know this, but why doesit distress him? we know that we come from the winds, andthat we shall return to them; that all life is perhaps a knot, a tangle, a blemish inthe eternal smoothness. but why should this make us unhappy? let us rather love one another, and workand rejoice. i don't believe in this world sorrow."miss honeychurch assented.
"then make my boy think like us. make him realize that by the side of theeverlasting why there is a yes--a transitory yes if you like, but a yes."suddenly she laughed; surely one ought to laugh. a young man melancholy because the universewouldn't fit, because life was a tangle or a wind, or a yes, or something!"i'm very sorry," she cried. "you'll think me unfeeling, but--but--"then she became matronly. "oh, but your son wants employment.has he no particular hobby? why, i myself have worries, but i cangenerally forget them at the piano; and
collecting stamps did no end of good for mybrother. perhaps italy bores him; you ought to trythe alps or the lakes." the old man's face saddened, and he touchedher gently with his hand. this did not alarm her; she thought thather advice had impressed him and that he was thanking her for it. indeed, he no longer alarmed her at all;she regarded him as a kind thing, but quite silly. her feelings were as inflated spirituallyas they had been an hour ago esthetically, before she lost baedeker.
the dear george, now striding towards themover the tombstones, seemed both pitiable and absurd.he approached, his face in the shadow. he said: "miss bartlett.""oh, good gracious me!" said lucy, suddenly collapsing and again seeing the whole oflife in a new perspective. "where? where?""in the nave." "i see.those gossiping little miss alans must have--" she checked herself.
"poor girl!" exploded mr. emerson."poor girl!" she could not let this pass, for it wasjust what she was feeling herself. "poor girl? i fail to understand the point of thatremark. i think myself a very fortunate girl, iassure you. i'm thoroughly happy, and having a splendidtime. pray don't waste time mourning over me.there's enough sorrow in the world, isn't there, without trying to invent it. good-bye.thank you both so much for all your
kindness.ah, yes! there does come my cousin. a delightful morning! santa croce is a wonderful church."she joined her cousin. chapter iii: music, violets, and the letter"s" it so happened that lucy, who found dailylife rather chaotic, entered a more solid world when she opened the piano. she was then no longer either deferentialor patronizing; no longer either a rebel or a slave. the kingdom of music is not the kingdom ofthis world; it will accept those whom
breeding and intellect and culture havealike rejected. the commonplace person begins to play, andshoots into the empyrean without effort, whilst we look up, marvelling how he hasescaped us, and thinking how we could worship him and love him, would he but translate his visions into human words, andhis experiences into human actions. perhaps he cannot; certainly he does not,or does so very seldom. lucy had done so never. she was no dazzling executante; her runswere not at all like strings of pearls, and she struck no more right notes than wassuitable for one of her age and situation.
nor was she the passionate young lady, whoperforms so tragically on a summer's evening with the window open. passion was there, but it could not beeasily labelled; it slipped between love and hatred and jealousy, and all thefurniture of the pictorial style. and she was tragical only in the sense thatshe was great, for she loved to play on the side of victory.victory of what and over what--that is more than the words of daily life can tell us. but that some sonatas of beethoven arewritten tragic no one can gainsay; yet they can triumph or despair as the playerdecides, and lucy had decided that they
should triumph. a very wet afternoon at the bertolinipermitted her to do the thing she really liked, and after lunch she opened thelittle draped piano. a few people lingered round and praised herplaying, but finding that she made no reply, dispersed to their rooms to write uptheir diaries or to sleep. she took no notice of mr. emerson lookingfor his son, nor of miss bartlett looking for miss lavish, nor of miss lavish lookingfor her cigarette-case. like every true performer, she wasintoxicated by the mere feel of the notes: they were fingers caressing her own; and bytouch, not by sound alone, did she come to
her desire. mr. beebe, sitting unnoticed in the window,pondered this illogical element in miss honeychurch, and recalled the occasion attunbridge wells when he had discovered it. it was at one of those entertainments wherethe upper classes entertain the lower. the seats were filled with a respectfulaudience, and the ladies and gentlemen of the parish, under the auspices of theirvicar, sang, or recited, or imitated the drawing of a champagne cork. among the promised items was "misshoneychurch. piano.
beethoven," and mr. beebe was wonderingwhether it would be adelaida, or the march of the ruins of athens, when his composurewas disturbed by the opening bars of opus iii. he was in suspense all through theintroduction, for not until the pace quickens does one know what the performerintends. with the roar of the opening theme he knewthat things were going extraordinarily; in the chords that herald the conclusion heheard the hammer strokes of victory. he was glad that she only played the firstmovement, for he could have paid no attention to the winding intricacies of themeasures of nine-sixteen.
the audience clapped, no less respectful. it was mr. beebe who started the stamping;it was all that one could do. "who is she?" he asked the vicarafterwards. "cousin of one of my parishioners. i do not consider her choice of a piecehappy. beethoven is so usually simple and directin his appeal that it is sheer perversity to choose a thing like that, which, ifanything, disturbs." "introduce me." "she will be delighted.she and miss bartlett are full of the
praises of your sermon.""my sermon?" cried mr. beebe. "why ever did she listen to it?" when he was introduced he understood why,for miss honeychurch, disjoined from her music stool, was only a young lady with aquantity of dark hair and a very pretty, pale, undeveloped face. she loved going to concerts, she lovedstopping with her cousin, she loved iced coffee and meringues.he did not doubt that she loved his sermon also. but before he left tunbridge wells he madea remark to the vicar, which he now made to
lucy herself when she closed the littlepiano and moved dreamily towards him: "if miss honeychurch ever takes to live asshe plays, it will be very exciting both for us and for her."lucy at once re-entered daily life. "oh, what a funny thing! some one said just the same to mother, andshe said she trusted i should never live a duet.""doesn't mrs. honeychurch like music?" "she doesn't mind it. but she doesn't like one to get excitedover anything; she thinks i am silly about it.she thinks--i can't make out.
once, you know, i said that i liked my ownplaying better than any one's. she has never got over it.of course, i didn't mean that i played well; i only meant--" "of course," said he, wondering why shebothered to explain. "music--" said lucy, as if attempting somegenerality. she could not complete it, and looked outabsently upon italy in the wet. the whole life of the south wasdisorganized, and the most graceful nation in europe had turned into formless lumps ofclothes. the street and the river were dirty yellow,the bridge was dirty grey, and the hills
were dirty purple. somewhere in their folds were concealedmiss lavish and miss bartlett, who had chosen this afternoon to visit the torredel gallo. "what about music?" said mr. beebe. "poor charlotte will be sopped," was lucy'sreply. the expedition was typical of missbartlett, who would return cold, tired, hungry, and angelic, with a ruined skirt, apulpy baedeker, and a tickling cough in her throat. on another day, when the whole world wassinging and the air ran into the mouth,
like wine, she would refuse to stir fromthe drawing-room, saying that she was an old thing, and no fit companion for ahearty girl. "miss lavish has led your cousin astray.she hopes to find the true italy in the wet i believe." "miss lavish is so original," murmuredlucy. this was a stock remark, the supremeachievement of the pension bertolini in the way of definition. miss lavish was so original.mr. beebe had his doubts, but they would have been put down to clerical narrowness.for that, and for other reasons, he held
his peace. "is it true," continued lucy in awe-strucktone, "that miss lavish is writing a book?" "they do say so.""what is it about?" "it will be a novel," replied mr. beebe,"dealing with modern italy. let me refer you for an account to misscatharine alan, who uses words herself more admirably than any one i know." "i wish miss lavish would tell me herself.we started such friends. but i don't think she ought to have runaway with baedeker that morning in santa croce.
charlotte was most annoyed at finding mepractically alone, and so i couldn't help being a little annoyed with miss lavish.""the two ladies, at all events, have made it up." he was interested in the sudden friendshipbetween women so apparently dissimilar as miss bartlett and miss lavish.they were always in each other's company, with lucy a slighted third. miss lavish he believed he understood, butmiss bartlett might reveal unknown depths of strangeness, though not perhaps, ofmeaning. was italy deflecting her from the path ofprim chaperon, which he had assigned to her
at tunbridge wells? all his life he had loved to study maidenladies; they were his specialty, and his profession had provided him with ampleopportunities for the work. girls like lucy were charming to look at,but mr. beebe was, from rather profound reasons, somewhat chilly in his attitudetowards the other sex, and preferred to be interested rather than enthralled. lucy, for the third time, said that poorcharlotte would be sopped. the arno was rising in flood, washing awaythe traces of the little carts upon the foreshore.
but in the south-west there had appeared adull haze of yellow, which might mean better weather if it did not mean worse. she opened the window to inspect, and acold blast entered the room, drawing a plaintive cry from miss catharine alan, whoentered at the same moment by the door. "oh, dear miss honeychurch, you will catcha chill! and mr. beebe here besides.who would suppose this is italy? there is my sister actually nursing thehot-water can; no comforts or proper provisions." she sidled towards them and sat down, self-conscious as she always was on entering a
room which contained one man, or a man andone woman. "i could hear your beautiful playing, misshoneychurch, though i was in my room with the door shut.doors shut; indeed, most necessary. no one has the least idea of privacy inthis country. and one person catches it from another."lucy answered suitably. mr. beebe was not able to tell the ladiesof his adventure at modena, where the chambermaid burst in upon him in his bath,exclaiming cheerfully, "fa niente, sono vecchia." he contented himself with saying: "i quiteagree with you, miss alan.
the italians are a most unpleasant people. they pry everywhere, they see everything,and they know what we want before we know it ourselves.we are at their mercy. they read our thoughts, they foretell ourdesires. from the cab-driver down to--to giotto,they turn us inside out, and i resent it. yet in their heart of hearts they are--howsuperficial! they have no conception of the intellectuallife. how right is signora bertolini, whoexclaimed to me the other day: 'ho, mr. beebe, if you knew what i suffer over thechildren's edjucaishion.
hi won't 'ave my little victorier taught bya hignorant italian what can't explain nothink!'"miss alan did not follow, but gathered that she was being mocked in an agreeable way. her sister was a little disappointed in mr.beebe, having expected better things from a clergyman whose head was bald and who worea pair of russet whiskers. indeed, who would have supposed thattolerance, sympathy, and a sense of humour would inhabit that militant form? in the midst of her satisfaction shecontinued to sidle, and at last the cause was disclosed.
from the chair beneath her she extracted agun-metal cigarette-case, on which were powdered in turquoise the initials "e. l.""that belongs to lavish." said the clergyman. "a good fellow, lavish, but i wish she'dstart a pipe." "oh, mr. beebe," said miss alan, dividedbetween awe and mirth. "indeed, though it is dreadful for her tosmoke, it is not quite as dreadful as you suppose. she took to it, practically in despair,after her life's work was carried away in a landslip.surely that makes it more excusable."
"what was that?" asked lucy. mr. beebe sat back complacently, and missalan began as follows: "it was a novel--and i am afraid, from what i can gather, not avery nice novel. it is so sad when people who have abilitiesmisuse them, and i must say they nearly always do. anyhow, she left it almost finished in thegrotto of the calvary at the capuccini hotel at amalfi while she went for a littleink. she said: 'can i have a little ink,please?' but you know what italians are, andmeanwhile the grotto fell roaring on to the
beach, and the saddest thing of all is thatshe cannot remember what she has written. the poor thing was very ill after it, andso got tempted into cigarettes. it is a great secret, but i am glad to saythat she is writing another novel. she told teresa and miss pole the other daythat she had got up all the local colour-- this novel is to be about modern italy; theother was historical--but that she could not start till she had an idea. first she tried perugia for an inspiration,then she came here--this must on no account get round.and so cheerful through it all! i cannot help thinking that there issomething to admire in every one, even if
you do not approve of them."miss alan was always thus being charitable against her better judgment. a delicate pathos perfumed her disconnectedremarks, giving them unexpected beauty, just as in the decaying autumn woods theresometimes rise odours reminiscent of spring. she felt she had made almost too manyallowances, and apologized hurriedly for her toleration. "all the same, she is a little too--ihardly like to say unwomanly, but she behaved most strangely when the emersonsarrived."
mr. beebe smiled as miss alan plunged intoan anecdote which he knew she would be unable to finish in the presence of agentleman. "i don't know, miss honeychurch, if youhave noticed that miss pole, the lady who has so much yellow hair, takes lemonade.that old mr. emerson, who puts things very strangely--" her jaw dropped.she was silent. mr. beebe, whose social resources wereendless, went out to order some tea, and she continued to lucy in a hasty whisper: "stomach.he warned miss pole of her stomach-acidity,
he called it--and he may have meant to bekind. i must say i forgot myself and laughed; itwas so sudden. as teresa truly said, it was no laughingmatter. but the point is that miss lavish waspositively attracted by his mentioning s., and said she liked plain speaking, andmeeting different grades of thought. she thought they were commercialtravellers--'drummers' was the word she used--and all through dinner she tried toprove that england, our great and beloved country, rests on nothing but commerce. teresa was very much annoyed, and left thetable before the cheese, saying as she did
so: 'there, miss lavish, is one who canconfute you better than i,' and pointed to that beautiful picture of lord tennyson. then miss lavish said: 'tut!the early victorians.' just imagine!'tut! the early victorians.' my sister had gone, and i felt bound tospeak. i said: 'miss lavish, i am an earlyvictorian; at least, that is to say, i will hear no breath of censure against our dearqueen.' it was horrible speaking. i reminded her how the queen had been toireland when she did not want to go, and i
must say she was dumbfounded, and made noreply. but, unluckily, mr. emerson overheard thispart, and called in his deep voice: 'quite so, quite so!i honour the woman for her irish visit.' the woman! i tell things so badly; but you see what atangle we were in by this time, all on account of s. having been mentioned in thefirst place. but that was not all. after dinner miss lavish actually came upand said: 'miss alan, i am going into the smoking-room to talk to those two nice men.come, too.'
needless to say, i refused such anunsuitable invitation, and she had the impertinence to tell me that it wouldbroaden my ideas, and said that she had four brothers, all university men, except one who was in the army, who always made apoint of talking to commercial travellers." "let me finish the story," said mr. beebe,who had returned. "miss lavish tried miss pole, myself, everyone, and finally said: 'i shall go alone.' she went. at the end of five minutes she returnedunobtrusively with a green baize board, and began playing patience.""whatever happened?" cried lucy.
"no one knows. no one will ever know.miss lavish will never dare to tell, and mr. emerson does not think it worthtelling." "mr. beebe--old mr. emerson, is he nice ornot nice? i do so want to know."mr. beebe laughed and suggested that she should settle the question for herself. "no; but it is so difficult.sometimes he is so silly, and then i do not mind him.miss alan, what do you think? is he nice?"
the little old lady shook her head, andsighed disapprovingly. mr. beebe, whom the conversation amused,stirred her up by saying: "i consider that you are bound to class himas nice, miss alan, after that business of the violets.""violets? oh, dear! who told you about the violets?how do things get round? a pension is a bad place for gossips.no, i cannot forget how they behaved at mr. eager's lecture at santa croce. oh, poor miss honeychurch!it really was too bad.
no, i have quite changed.i do not like the emersons. they are not nice." mr. beebe smiled nonchalantly.he had made a gentle effort to introduce the emersons into bertolini society, andthe effort had failed. he was almost the only person who remainedfriendly to them. miss lavish, who represented intellect, wasavowedly hostile, and now the miss alans, who stood for good breeding, were followingher. miss bartlett, smarting under anobligation, would scarcely be civil. the case of lucy was different.
she had given him a hazy account of heradventures in santa croce, and he gathered that the two men had made a curious andpossibly concerted attempt to annex her, to show her the world from their own strange standpoint, to interest her in theirprivate sorrows and joys. this was impertinent; he did not wish theircause to be championed by a young girl: he would rather it should fail. after all, he knew nothing about them, andpension joys, pension sorrows, are flimsy things; whereas lucy would be hisparishioner. lucy, with one eye upon the weather,finally said that she thought the emersons
were nice; not that she saw anything ofthem now. even their seats at dinner had been moved. "but aren't they always waylaying you to goout with them, dear?" said the little lady inquisitively."only once. charlotte didn't like it, and saidsomething--quite politely, of course." "most right of her.they don't understand our ways. they must find their level." mr. beebe rather felt that they had goneunder. they had given up their attempt--if it wasone--to conquer society, and now the father
was almost as silent as the son. he wondered whether he would not plan apleasant day for these folk before they left--some expedition, perhaps, with lucywell chaperoned to be nice to them. it was one of mr. beebe's chief pleasuresto provide people with happy memories. evening approached while they chatted; theair became brighter; the colours on the trees and hills were purified, and the arnolost its muddy solidity and began to twinkle. there were a few streaks of bluish-greenamong the clouds, a few patches of watery light upon the earth, and then the drippingfacade of san miniato shone brilliantly in
the declining sun. "too late to go out," said miss alan in avoice of relief. "all the galleries are shut.""i think i shall go out," said lucy. "i want to go round the town in thecircular tram--on the platform by the driver."her two companions looked grave. mr. beebe, who felt responsible for her inthe absence of miss bartlett, ventured to say:"i wish we could. unluckily i have letters. if you do want to go out alone, won't yoube better on your feet?"
"italians, dear, you know," said miss alan."perhaps i shall meet some one who reads me through and through!" but they still looked disapproval, and sheso far conceded to mr. beebe as to say that she would only go for a little walk, andkeep to the street frequented by tourists. "she oughtn't really to go at all," saidmr. beebe, as they watched her from the window, "and she knows it.i put it down to too much beethoven." chapter iv: fourth chapter mr. beebe was right.lucy never knew her desires so clearly as after music.
she had not really appreciated theclergyman's wit, nor the suggestive twitterings of miss alan. conversation was tedious; she wantedsomething big, and she believed that it would have come to her on the wind-sweptplatform of an electric tram. this she might not attempt. it was unladylike.why? why were most big things unladylike?charlotte had once explained to her why. it was not that ladies were inferior tomen; it was that they were different. their mission was to inspire others toachievement rather than to achieve
themselves. indirectly, by means of tact and a spotlessname, a lady could accomplish much. but if she rushed into the fray herself shewould be first censured, then despised, and finally ignored. poems had been written to illustrate thispoint. there is much that is immortal in thismedieval lady. the dragons have gone, and so have theknights, but still she lingers in our midst. she reigned in many an early victoriancastle, and was queen of much early
victorian song. it is sweet to protect her in the intervalsof business, sweet to pay her honour when she has cooked our dinner well.but alas! the creature grows degenerate. in her heart also there are springing upstrange desires. she too is enamoured of heavy winds, andvast panoramas, and green expanses of the sea. she has marked the kingdom of this world,how full it is of wealth, and beauty, and war--a radiant crust, built around thecentral fires, spinning towards the receding heavens.
men, declaring that she inspires them toit, move joyfully over the surface, having the most delightful meetings with othermen, happy, not because they are masculine, but because they are alive. before the show breaks up she would like todrop the august title of the eternal woman, and go there as her transitory self. lucy does not stand for the medieval lady,who was rather an ideal to which she was bidden to lift her eyes when feelingserious. nor has she any system of revolt. here and there a restriction annoyed herparticularly, and she would transgress it,
and perhaps be sorry that she had done so.this afternoon she was peculiarly restive. she would really like to do something ofwhich her well-wishers disapproved. as she might not go on the electric tram,she went to alinari's shop. there she bought a photograph ofbotticelli's "birth of venus." venus, being a pity, spoilt the picture,otherwise so charming, and miss bartlett had persuaded her to do without it. (a pity in art of course signified thenude.) giorgione's "tempesta," the "idolino," someof the sistine frescoes and the apoxyomenos, were added to it.
she felt a little calmer then, and boughtfra angelico's "coronation," giotto's "ascension of st. john," some della robbiababies, and some guido reni madonnas. for her taste was catholic, and sheextended uncritical approval to every well- known name.but though she spent nearly seven lire, the gates of liberty seemed still unopened. she was conscious of her discontent; it wasnew to her to be conscious of it. "the world," she thought, "is certainlyfull of beautiful things, if only i could come across them." it was not surprising that mrs. honeychurchdisapproved of music, declaring that it
always left her daughter peevish,unpractical, and touchy. "nothing ever happens to me," shereflected, as she entered the piazza signoria and looked nonchalantly at itsmarvels, now fairly familiar to her. the great square was in shadow; thesunshine had come too late to strike it. neptune was already unsubstantial in thetwilight, half god, half ghost, and his fountain plashed dreamily to the men andsatyrs who idled together on its marge. the loggia showed as the triple entrance ofa cave, wherein many a deity, shadowy, but immortal, looking forth upon the arrivalsand departures of mankind. it was the hour of unreality--the hour,that is, when unfamiliar things are real.
an older person at such an hour and in sucha place might think that sufficient was happening to him, and rest content. lucy desired more.she fixed her eyes wistfully on the tower of the palace, which rose out of the lowerdarkness like a pillar of roughened gold. it seemed no longer a tower, no longersupported by earth, but some unattainable treasure throbbing in the tranquil sky. its brightness mesmerized her, stilldancing before her eyes when she bent them to the ground and started towards home.then something did happen. two italians by the loggia had beenbickering about a debt.
"cinque lire," they had cried, "cinquelire!" they sparred at each other, and one of themwas hit lightly upon the chest. he frowned; he bent towards lucy with alook of interest, as if he had an important message for her. he opened his lips to deliver it, and astream of red came out between them and trickled down his unshaven chin.that was all. a crowd rose out of the dusk. it hid this extraordinary man from her, andbore him away to the fountain. mr. george emerson happened to be a fewpaces away, looking at her across the spot
where the man had been. how very odd!across something. even as she caught sight of him he grewdim; the palace itself grew dim, swayed above her, fell on to her softly, slowly,noiselessly, and the sky fell with it. she thought: "oh, what have i done?" "oh, what have i done?" she murmured, andopened her eyes. george emerson still looked at her, but notacross anything. she had complained of dullness, and lo! oneman was stabbed, and another held her in his arms.they were sitting on some steps in the
uffizi arcade. he must have carried her.he rose when she spoke, and began to dust his knees.she repeated: "oh, what have i done?" "you fainted.""i--i am very sorry." "how are you now?""perfectly well--absolutely well." and she began to nod and smile. "then let us come home.there's no point in our stopping." he held out his hand to pull her up.she pretended not to see it.
the cries from the fountain--they had neverceased--rang emptily. the whole world seemed pale and void of itsoriginal meaning. "how very kind you have been! i might have hurt myself falling.but now i am well. i can go alone, thank you."his hand was still extended. "oh, my photographs!" she exclaimedsuddenly. "what photographs?""i bought some photographs at alinari's. i must have dropped them out there in thesquare." she looked at him cautiously."would you add to your kindness by fetching
them?" he added to his kindness.as soon as he had turned his back, lucy arose with the running of a maniac andstole down the arcade towards the arno. "miss honeychurch!" she stopped with her hand on her heart."you sit still; you aren't fit to go home alone.""yes, i am, thank you so very much." "no, you aren't. you'd go openly if you were.""but i had rather--" "then i don't fetch your photographs.""i had rather be alone."
he said imperiously: "the man is dead--theman is probably dead; sit down till you are rested."she was bewildered, and obeyed him. "and don't move till i come back." in the distance she saw creatures withblack hoods, such as appear in dreams. the palace tower had lost the reflection ofthe declining day, and joined itself to earth. how should she talk to mr. emerson when hereturned from the shadowy square? again the thought occurred to her, "oh,what have i done?"--the thought that she, as well as the dying man, had crossed somespiritual boundary.
he returned, and she talked of the murder. oddly enough, it was an easy topic.she spoke of the italian character; she became almost garrulous over the incidentthat had made her faint five minutes before. being strong physically, she soon overcamethe horror of blood. she rose without his assistance, and thoughwings seemed to flutter inside her, she walked firmly enough towards the arno. there a cabman signalled to them; theyrefused him. "and the murderer tried to kiss him, yousay--how very odd italians are!--and gave
himself up to the police! mr. beebe was saying that italians knoweverything, but i think they are rather childish.when my cousin and i were at the pitti yesterday--what was that?" he had thrown something into the stream."what did you throw in?" "things i didn't want," he said crossly."mr. emerson!" "well?" "where are the photographs?"he was silent. "i believe it was my photographs that youthrew away."
"i didn't know what to do with them," hecried, and his voice was that of an anxious boy.her heart warmed towards him for the first time. "they were covered with blood.there! i'm glad i've told you; and all the time wewere making conversation i was wondering what to do with them." he pointed down-stream."they've gone." the river swirled under the bridge, "i didmind them so, and one is so foolish, it seemed better that they should go out tothe sea--i don't know; i may just mean that
they frightened me." then the boy verged into a man."for something tremendous has happened; i must face it without getting muddled.it isn't exactly that a man has died." something warned lucy that she must stophim. "it has happened," he repeated, "and i meanto find out what it is." "mr. emerson--" he turned towards her frowning, as if shehad disturbed him in some abstract quest. "i want to ask you something before we goin." they were close to their pension.
she stopped and leant her elbows againstthe parapet of the embankment. he did likewise. there is at times a magic in identity ofposition; it is one of the things that have suggested to us eternal comradeship.she moved her elbows before saying: "i have behaved ridiculously." he was following his own thoughts."i was never so much ashamed of myself in my life; i cannot think what came over me.""i nearly fainted myself," he said; but she felt that her attitude repelled him. "well, i owe you a thousand apologies.""oh, all right."
"and--this is the real point--you know howsilly people are gossiping--ladies especially, i am afraid--you understandwhat i mean?" "i'm afraid i don't." "i mean, would you not mention it to anyone, my foolish behaviour?" "your behaviour?oh, yes, all right--all right." "thank you so much. and would you--"she could not carry her request any further.the river was rushing below them, almost black in the advancing night.
he had thrown her photographs into it, andthen he had told her the reason. it struck her that it was hopeless to lookfor chivalry in such a man. he would do her no harm by idle gossip; hewas trustworthy, intelligent, and even kind; he might even have a high opinion ofher. but he lacked chivalry; his thoughts, likehis behaviour, would not be modified by awe. it was useless to say to him, "and wouldyou--" and hope that he would complete the sentence for himself, averting his eyesfrom her nakedness like the knight in that beautiful picture.
she had been in his arms, and he rememberedit, just as he remembered the blood on the photographs that she had bought inalinari's shop. it was not exactly that a man had died;something had happened to the living: they had come to a situation where charactertells, and where childhood enters upon the branching paths of youth. "well, thank you so much," she repeated,"how quickly these accidents do happen, and then one returns to the old life!""i don't." anxiety moved her to question him. his answer was puzzling: "i shall probablywant to live."
"but why, mr. emerson?what do you mean?" "i shall want to live, i say." leaning her elbows on the parapet, shecontemplated the river arno, whose roar was suggesting some unexpected melody to herears. chapter v: possibilities of a pleasantouting it was a family saying that "you never knewwhich way charlotte bartlett would turn." she was perfectly pleasant and sensibleover lucy's adventure, found the abridged account of it quite adequate, and paidsuitable tribute to the courtesy of mr. george emerson.
she and miss lavish had had an adventurealso. they had been stopped at the dazio comingback, and the young officials there, who seemed impudent and desoeuvre, had tried tosearch their reticules for provisions. it might have been most unpleasant. fortunately miss lavish was a match for anyone. for good or for evil, lucy was left to faceher problem alone. none of her friends had seen her, either inthe piazza or, later on, by the embankment. mr. beebe, indeed, noticing her startledeyes at dinner-time, had again passed to himself the remark of "too much beethoven."
but he only supposed that she was ready foran adventure, not that she had encountered it. this solitude oppressed her; she wasaccustomed to have her thoughts confirmed by others or, at all events, contradicted;it was too dreadful not to know whether she was thinking right or wrong. at breakfast next morning she took decisiveaction. there were two plans between which she hadto choose. mr. beebe was walking up to the torre delgallo with the emersons and some american ladies.would miss bartlett and miss honeychurch
join the party? charlotte declined for herself; she hadbeen there in the rain the previous afternoon. but she thought it an admirable idea forlucy, who hated shopping, changing money, fetching letters, and other irksome duties--all of which miss bartlett must accomplish this morning and could easily accomplishalone. "no, charlotte!" cried the girl, with realwarmth. "it's very kind of mr. beebe, but i amcertainly coming with you. i had much rather."
"very well, dear," said miss bartlett, witha faint flush of pleasure that called forth a deep flush of shame on the cheeks oflucy. how abominably she behaved to charlotte,now as always! but now she should alter.all morning she would be really nice to her. she slipped her arm into her cousin's, andthey started off along the lung' arno. the river was a lion that morning instrength, voice, and colour. miss bartlett insisted on leaning over theparapet to look at it. she then made her usual remark, which was"how i do wish freddy and your mother could
see this, too!" lucy fidgeted; it was tiresome of charlotteto have stopped exactly where she did. "look, lucia!oh, you are watching for the torre del gallo party. i feared you would repent you of yourchoice." serious as the choice had been, lucy didnot repent. yesterday had been a muddle--queer and odd,the kind of thing one could not write down easily on paper--but she had a feeling thatcharlotte and her shopping were preferable to george emerson and the summit of thetorre del gallo.
since she could not unravel the tangle, shemust take care not to re-enter it. she could protest sincerely against missbartlett's insinuations. but though she had avoided the chief actor,the scenery unfortunately remained. charlotte, with the complacency of fate,led her from the river to the piazza signoria. she could not have believed that stones, aloggia, a fountain, a palace tower, would have such significance.for a moment she understood the nature of ghosts. the exact site of the murder was occupied,not by a ghost, but by miss lavish, who had
the morning newspaper in her hand.she hailed them briskly. the dreadful catastrophe of the previousday had given her an idea which she thought would work up into a book."oh, let me congratulate you!" said miss bartlett. "after your despair of yesterday!what a fortunate thing!" "aha! miss honeychurch, come you here i amin luck. now, you are to tell me absolutelyeverything that you saw from the beginning."lucy poked at the ground with her parasol. "but perhaps you would rather not?"
"i'm sorry--if you could manage without it,i think i would rather not." the elder ladies exchanged glances, not ofdisapproval; it is suitable that a girl should feel deeply. "it is i who am sorry," said miss lavish"literary hacks are shameless creatures. i believe there's no secret of the humanheart into which we wouldn't pry." she marched cheerfully to the fountain andback, and did a few calculations in realism. then she said that she had been in thepiazza since eight o'clock collecting material.a good deal of it was unsuitable, but of
course one always had to adapt. the two men had quarrelled over a five-franc note. for the five-franc note she shouldsubstitute a young lady, which would raise the tone of the tragedy, and at the sametime furnish an excellent plot. "what is the heroine's name?" asked missbartlett. "leonora," said miss lavish; her own namewas eleanor. "i do hope she's nice." that desideratum would not be omitted."and what is the plot?" love, murder, abduction, revenge, was theplot.
but it all came while the fountain plashedto the satyrs in the morning sun. "i hope you will excuse me for boring onlike this," miss lavish concluded. "it is so tempting to talk to reallysympathetic people. of course, this is the barest outline. there will be a deal of local colouring,descriptions of florence and the neighbourhood, and i shall also introducesome humorous characters. and let me give you all fair warning: iintend to be unmerciful to the british tourist.""oh, you wicked woman," cried miss "i am sure you are thinking of theemersons."
miss lavish gave a machiavellian smile."i confess that in italy my sympathies are not with my own countrymen. it is the neglected italians who attractme, and whose lives i am going to paint so far as i can. for i repeat and i insist, and i havealways held most strongly, that a tragedy such as yesterday's is not the less tragicbecause it happened in humble life." there was a fitting silence when misslavish had concluded. then the cousins wished success to herlabours, and walked slowly away across the square.
"she is my idea of a really clever woman,"said miss bartlett. "that last remark struck me as soparticularly true. it should be a most pathetic novel." lucy assented.at present her great aim was not to get put into it. her perceptions this morning were curiouslykeen, and she believed that miss lavish had her on trial for an ingenue. "she is emancipated, but only in the verybest sense of the word," continued miss bartlett slowly."none but the superficial would be shocked
at her. we had a long talk yesterday.she believes in justice and truth and human interest.she told me also that she has a high opinion of the destiny of woman--mr. eager! why, how nice!what a pleasant surprise!" "ah, not for me," said the chaplainblandly, "for i have been watching you and miss honeychurch for quite a little time." "we were chatting to miss lavish."his brow contracted. "so i saw.were you indeed?
andate via! sono occupato!" the last remark was made to a vender ofpanoramic photographs who was approaching with a courteous smile."i am about to venture a suggestion. would you and miss honeychurch be disposedto join me in a drive some day this week--a drive in the hills?we might go up by fiesole and back by settignano. there is a point on that road where wecould get down and have an hour's ramble on the hillside. the view thence of florence is mostbeautiful--far better than the hackneyed
view of fiesole.it is the view that alessio baldovinetti is fond of introducing into his pictures. that man had a decided feeling forlandscape. decidedly.but who looks at it to-day? ah, the world is too much for us." miss bartlett had not heard of alessiobaldovinetti, but she knew that mr. eager was no commonplace chaplain.he was a member of the residential colony who had made florence their home. he knew the people who never walked aboutwith baedekers, who had learnt to take a
siesta after lunch, who took drives thepension tourists had never heard of, and saw by private influence galleries whichwere closed to them. living in delicate seclusion, some infurnished flats, others in renaissance villas on fiesole's slope, they read,wrote, studied, and exchanged ideas, thus attaining to that intimate knowledge, or rather perception, of florence which isdenied to all who carry in their pockets the coupons of cook.therefore an invitation from the chaplain was something to be proud of. between the two sections of his flock hewas often the only link, and it was his
avowed custom to select those of hismigratory sheep who seemed worthy, and give them a few hours in the pastures of thepermanent. tea at a renaissance villa?nothing had been said about it yet. but if it did come to that--how lucy wouldenjoy it! a few days ago and lucy would have felt thesame. but the joys of life were groupingthemselves anew. a drive in the hills with mr. eager andmiss bartlett--even if culminating in a residential tea-party--was no longer thegreatest of them. she echoed the raptures of charlottesomewhat faintly.
only when she heard that mr. beebe was alsocoming did her thanks become more sincere. "so we shall be a partie carree," said thechaplain. "in these days of toil and tumult one hasgreat needs of the country and its message of purity. andate via! andate presto, presto!ah, the town! beautiful as it is, it is the town."they assented. "this very square--so i am told--witnessedyesterday the most sordid of tragedies. to one who loves the florence of dante andsavonarola there is something portentous in such desecration--portentous andhumiliating."
"humiliating indeed," said miss bartlett. "miss honeychurch happened to be passingthrough as it happened. she can hardly bear to speak of it."she glanced at lucy proudly. "and how came we to have you here?" askedthe chaplain paternally. miss bartlett's recent liberalism oozedaway at the question. "do not blame her, please, mr. eager. the fault is mine: i left herunchaperoned." "so you were here alone, miss honeychurch?" his voice suggested sympathetic reproof butat the same time indicated that a few
harrowing details would not beunacceptable. his dark, handsome face drooped mournfullytowards her to catch her reply. "practically." "one of our pension acquaintances kindlybrought her home," said miss bartlett, adroitly concealing the sex of thepreserver. "for her also it must have been a terribleexperience. i trust that neither of you was at all--that it was not in your immediate proximity?" of the many things lucy was noticing to-day, not the least remarkable was this: the
ghoulish fashion in which respectablepeople will nibble after blood. george emerson had kept the subjectstrangely pure. "he died by the fountain, i believe," washer reply. "and you and your friend--" "were over at the loggia.""that must have saved you much. you have not, of course, seen thedisgraceful illustrations which the gutter press--this man is a public nuisance; heknows that i am a resident perfectly well, and yet he goes on worrying me to buy hisvulgar views." surely the vendor of photographs was inleague with lucy--in the eternal league of
italy with youth. he had suddenly extended his book beforemiss bartlett and mr. eager, binding their hands together by a long glossy ribbon ofchurches, pictures, and views. "this is too much!" cried the chaplain,striking petulantly at one of fra angelico's angels.she tore. a shrill cry rose from the vendor. the book it seemed, was more valuable thanone would have supposed. "willingly would i purchase--" began missbartlett. "ignore him," said mr. eager sharply, andthey all walked rapidly away from the
square.but an italian can never be ignored, least of all when he has a grievance. his mysterious persecution of mr. eagerbecame relentless; the air rang with his threats and lamentations.he appealed to lucy; would not she intercede? he was poor--he sheltered a family--the taxon bread. he waited, he gibbered, he was recompensed,he was dissatisfied, he did not leave them until he had swept their minds clean of allthoughts whether pleasant or unpleasant. shopping was the topic that now ensued.
under the chaplain's guidance they selectedmany hideous presents and mementoes--florid little picture-frames that seemed fashionedin gilded pastry; other little frames, more severe, that stood on little easels, and were carven out of oak; a blotting book ofvellum; a dante of the same material; cheap mosaic brooches, which the maids, nextchristmas, would never tell from real; pins, pots, heraldic saucers, brown art- photographs; eros and psyche in alabaster;st. peter to match--all of which would have cost less in london.this successful morning left no pleasant impressions on lucy.
she had been a little frightened, both bymiss lavish and by mr. eager, she knew not why.and as they frightened her, she had, strangely enough, ceased to respect them. she doubted that miss lavish was a greatartist. she doubted that mr. eager was as full ofspirituality and culture as she had been led to suppose. they were tried by some new test, and theywere found wanting. as for charlotte--as for charlotte she wasexactly the same. it might be possible to be nice to her; itwas impossible to love her.
"the son of a labourer; i happen to know itfor a fact. a mechanic of some sort himself when he wasyoung; then he took to writing for the socialistic press.i came across him at brixton." they were talking about the emersons. "how wonderfully people rise in thesedays!" sighed miss bartlett, fingering a model of the leaning tower of pisa."generally," replied mr. eager, "one has only sympathy for their success. the desire for education and for socialadvance--in these things there is something not wholly vile.
there are some working men whom one wouldbe very willing to see out here in florence--little as they would make of it.""is he a journalist now?" miss bartlett asked, "he is not; he made anadvantageous marriage." he uttered this remark with a voice full ofmeaning, and ended with a sigh. "oh, so he has a wife." "dead, miss bartlett, dead.i wonder--yes i wonder how he has the effrontery to look me in the face, to dareto claim acquaintance with me. he was in my london parish long ago. the other day in santa croce, when he waswith miss honeychurch, i snubbed him.
let him beware that he does not get morethan a snub." "what?" cried lucy, flushing. "exposure!" hissed mr. eager.he tried to change the subject; but in scoring a dramatic point he had interestedhis audience more than he had intended. miss bartlett was full of very naturalcuriosity. lucy, though she wished never to see theemersons again, was not disposed to condemn them on a single word. "do you mean," she asked, "that he is anirreligious man? we know that already.""lucy, dear--" said miss bartlett, gently
reproving her cousin's penetration. "i should be astonished if you knew all.the boy--an innocent child at the time--i will exclude.god knows what his education and his inherited qualities may have made him." "perhaps," said miss bartlett, "it issomething that we had better not hear." "to speak plainly," said mr. eager, "it is.i will say no more." for the first time lucy's rebelliousthoughts swept out in words--for the first time in her life."you have said very little." "it was my intention to say very little,"was his frigid reply.
he gazed indignantly at the girl, who methim with equal indignation. she turned towards him from the shopcounter; her breast heaved quickly. he observed her brow, and the suddenstrength of her lips. it was intolerable that she shoulddisbelieve him. "murder, if you want to know," he criedangrily. "that man murdered his wife!" "how?" she retorted."to all intents and purposes he murdered her.that day in santa croce--did they say anything against me?"
"not a word, mr. eager--not a single word.""oh, i thought they had been libelling me to you.but i suppose it is only their personal charms that makes you defend them." "i'm not defending them," said lucy, losingher courage, and relapsing into the old chaotic methods."they're nothing to me." "how could you think she was defendingthem?" said miss bartlett, much discomfited by the unpleasant scene.the shopman was possibly listening. "she will find it difficult. for that man has murdered his wife in thesight of god."
the addition of god was striking.but the chaplain was really trying to qualify a rash remark. a silence followed which might have beenimpressive, but was merely awkward. then miss bartlett hastily purchased theleaning tower, and led the way into the street. "i must be going," said he, shutting hiseyes and taking out his watch. miss bartlett thanked him for his kindness,and spoke with enthusiasm of the approaching drive. "drive?oh, is our drive to come off?"
lucy was recalled to her manners, and aftera little exertion the complacency of mr. eager was restored. "bother the drive!" exclaimed the girl, assoon as he had departed. "it is just the drive we had arranged withmr. beebe without any fuss at all. why should he invite us in that absurdmanner? we might as well invite him.we are each paying for ourselves." miss bartlett, who had intended to lamentover the emersons, was launched by this remark into unexpected thoughts. "if that is so, dear--if the drive we andmr. beebe are going with mr. eager is
really the same as the one we are goingwith mr. beebe, then i foresee a sad kettle of fish." "how?""because mr. beebe has asked eleanor lavish to come, too.""that will mean another carriage." "far worse. mr. eager does not like eleanor.she knows it herself. the truth must be told; she is toounconventional for him." they were now in the newspaper-room at theenglish bank. lucy stood by the central table, heedlessof punch and the graphic, trying to answer,
or at all events to formulate the questionsrioting in her brain. the well-known world had broken up, andthere emerged florence, a magic city where people thought and did the mostextraordinary things. murder, accusations of murder, a ladyclinging to one man and being rude to another--were these the daily incidents ofher streets? was there more in her frank beauty than metthe eye--the power, perhaps, to evoke passions, good and bad, and to bring themspeedily to a fulfillment? happy charlotte, who, though greatlytroubled over things that did not matter, seemed oblivious to things that did; whocould conjecture with admirable delicacy
"where things might lead to," but apparently lost sight of the goal as sheapproached it. now she was crouching in the corner tryingto extract a circular note from a kind of linen nose-bag which hung in chasteconcealment round her neck. she had been told that this was the onlysafe way to carry money in italy; it must only be broached within the walls of theenglish bank. as she groped she murmured: "whether it ismr. beebe who forgot to tell mr. eager, or mr. eager who forgot when he told us, orwhether they have decided to leave eleanor out altogether--which they could scarcelydo--but in any case we must be prepared.
it is you they really want; i am only askedfor appearances. you shall go with the two gentlemen, and iand eleanor will follow behind. a one-horse carriage would do for us.yet how difficult it is!" "it is indeed," replied the girl, with agravity that sounded sympathetic. "what do you think about it?" asked missbartlett, flushed from the struggle, and buttoning up her dress. "i don't know what i think, nor what iwant." "oh, dear, lucy!i do hope florence isn't boring you. speak the word, and, as you know, i wouldtake you to the ends of the earth to-
morrow.""thank you, charlotte," said lucy, and pondered over the offer. there were letters for her at the bureau--one from her brother, full of athletics and biology; one from her mother, delightful asonly her mother's letters could be. she had read in it of the crocuses whichhad been bought for yellow and were coming up puce, of the new parlour-maid, who hadwatered the ferns with essence of lemonade, of the semi-detached cottages which were ruining summer street, and breaking theheart of sir harry otway. she recalled the free, pleasant life of herhome, where she was allowed to do
everything, and where nothing ever happenedto her. the road up through the pine-woods, theclean drawing-room, the view over the sussex weald--all hung before her brightand distinct, but pathetic as the pictures in a gallery to which, after muchexperience, a traveller returns. "and the news?" asked miss bartlett. "mrs. vyse and her son have gone to rome,"said lucy, giving the news that interested her least."do you know the vyses?" "oh, not that way back. we can never have too much of the dearpiazza signoria."
"they're nice people, the vyses.so clever--my idea of what's really clever. don't you long to be in rome?" "i die for it!"the piazza signoria is too stony to be brilliant. it has no grass, no flowers, no frescoes,no glittering walls of marble or comforting patches of ruddy brick. by an odd chance--unless we believe in apresiding genius of places--the statues that relieve its severity suggest, not theinnocence of childhood, nor the glorious bewilderment of youth, but the consciousachievements of maturity.
perseus and judith, hercules and thusnelda,they have done or suffered something, and though they are immortal, immortality hascome to them after experience, not before. here, not only in the solitude of nature,might a hero meet a goddess, or a heroine a god."charlotte!" cried the girl suddenly. "here's an idea. what if we popped off to rome to-morrow--straight to the vyses' hotel? for i do know what i want.i'm sick of florence. no, you said you'd go to the ends of theearth! do! do!"miss bartlett, with equal vivacity,
replied: "oh, you droll person!pray, what would become of your drive in the hills?" they passed together through the gauntbeauty of the square, laughing over the unpractical suggestion. chapter vi: the rev. arthur beebe, the rev.cuthbert eager,mr.emerson,mr.george emerson, miss eleanor lavish,miss charlottebartlett, and miss lucy honeychurch drive out in carriages to see a view; italiansdrive them. it was phaethon who drove them to fiesolethat memorable day, a youth all
irresponsibility and fire, recklesslyurging his master's horses up the stony hill. mr. beebe recognized him at once.neither the ages of faith nor the age of doubt had touched him; he was phaethon intuscany driving a cab. and it was persephone whom he asked leaveto pick up on the way, saying that she was his sister--persephone, tall and slenderand pale, returning with the spring to her mother's cottage, and still shading hereyes from the unaccustomed light. to her mr. eager objected, saying that herewas the thin edge of the wedge, and one must guard against imposition.
but the ladies interceded, and when it hadbeen made clear that it was a very great favour, the goddess was allowed to mountbeside the god. phaethon at once slipped the left rein overher head, thus enabling himself to drive with his arm round her waist.she did not mind. mr. eager, who sat with his back to thehorses, saw nothing of the indecorous proceeding, and continued his conversationwith lucy. the other two occupants of the carriagewere old mr. emerson and miss lavish. for a dreadful thing had happened: mr.beebe, without consulting mr. eager, had doubled the size of the party.
and though miss bartlett and miss lavishhad planned all the morning how the people were to sit, at the critical moment whenthe carriages came round they lost their heads, and miss lavish got in with lucy, while miss bartlett, with george emersonand mr. beebe, followed on behind. it was hard on the poor chaplain to havehis partie carree thus transformed. tea at a renaissance villa, if he had evermeditated it, was now impossible. lucy and miss bartlett had a certain styleabout them, and mr. beebe, though unreliable, was a man of parts. but a shoddy lady writer and a journalistwho had murdered his wife in the sight of
god--they should enter no villa at hisintroduction. lucy, elegantly dressed in white, sat erectand nervous amid these explosive ingredients, attentive to mr. eager,repressive towards miss lavish, watchful of old mr. emerson, hitherto fortunately asleep, thanks to a heavy lunch and thedrowsy atmosphere of spring. she looked on the expedition as the work offate. but for it she would have avoided georgeemerson successfully. in an open manner he had shown that hewished to continue their intimacy. she had refused, not because she dislikedhim, but because she did not know what had
happened, and suspected that he did know.and this frightened her. for the real event--whatever it was--hadtaken place, not in the loggia, but by the river.to behave wildly at the sight of death is pardonable. but to discuss it afterwards, to pass fromdiscussion into silence, and through silence into sympathy, that is an error,not of a startled emotion, but of the whole fabric. there was really something blameworthy (shethought) in their joint contemplation of the shadowy stream, in the common impulsewhich had turned them to the house without
the passing of a look or word. this sense of wickedness had been slight atfirst. she had nearly joined the party to thetorre del gallo. but each time that she avoided george itbecame more imperative that she should avoid him again. and now celestial irony, working throughher cousin and two clergymen, did not suffer her to leave florence till she hadmade this expedition with him through the hills. meanwhile mr. eager held her in civilconverse; their little tiff was over.
"so, miss honeychurch, you are travelling?as a student of art?" "oh, dear me, no--oh, no!" "perhaps as a student of human nature,"interposed miss lavish, "like myself?" "oh, no.i am here as a tourist." "oh, indeed," said mr. eager. "are you indeed? if you will not think me rude, we residentssometimes pity you poor tourists not a little--handed about like a parcel of goodsfrom venice to florence, from florence to rome, living herded together in pensions or
hotels, quite unconscious of anything thatis outside baedeker, their one anxiety to get 'done' or 'through' and go on somewhereelse. the result is, they mix up towns, rivers,palaces in one inextricable whirl. you know the american girl in punch whosays: 'say, poppa, what did we see at rome?' and the father replies: 'why, guess romewas the place where we saw the yaller dog.' there's travelling for you.ha! ha! ha!" "i quite agree," said miss lavish, who hadseveral times tried to interrupt his mordant wit.
"the narrowness and superficiality of theanglo-saxon tourist is nothing less than a menace.""quite so. now, the english colony at florence, misshoneychurch--and it is of considerable size, though, of course, not all equally--afew are here for trade, for example. but the greater part are students. lady helen laverstock is at present busyover fra angelico. i mention her name because we are passingher villa on the left. no, you can only see it if you stand--no,do not stand; you will fall. she is very proud of that thick hedge.inside, perfect seclusion.
one might have gone back six hundred years. some critics believe that her garden wasthe scene of the decameron, which lends it an additional interest, does it not?""it does indeed!" cried miss lavish. "tell me, where do they place the scene ofthat wonderful seventh day?" but mr. eager proceeded to tell misshoneychurch that on the right lived mr. someone something, an american of the besttype--so rare!--and that the somebody elses were farther down the hill. "doubtless you know her monographs in theseries of 'mediaeval byways'? he is working at gemistus pletho.
sometimes as i take tea in their beautifulgrounds i hear, over the wall, the electric tram squealing up the new road with itsloads of hot, dusty, unintelligent tourists who are going to 'do' fiesole in an hour in order that they may say they have beenthere, and i think--think--i think how little they think what lies so near them." during this speech the two figures on thebox were sporting with each other disgracefully.lucy had a spasm of envy. granted that they wished to misbehave, itwas pleasant for them to be able to do so. they were probably the only people enjoyingthe expedition.
the carriage swept with agonizing jolts upthrough the piazza of fiesole and into the settignano road."piano! piano!" said mr. eager, elegantly waving his hand over his head. "va bene, signore, va bene, va bene,"crooned the driver, and whipped his horses up again. now mr. eager and miss lavish began to talkagainst each other on the subject of alessio baldovinetti.was he a cause of the renaissance, or was he one of its manifestations? the other carriage was left behind.as the pace increased to a gallop the
large, slumbering form of mr. emerson wasthrown against the chaplain with the regularity of a machine. "piano! piano!" said he, with a martyredlook at lucy. an extra lurch made him turn angrily in hisseat. phaethon, who for some time had beenendeavouring to kiss persephone, had just succeeded. a little scene ensued, which, as missbartlett said afterwards, was most unpleasant. the horses were stopped, the lovers wereordered to disentangle themselves, the boy
was to lose his pourboire, the girl wasimmediately to get down. "she is my sister," said he, turning roundon them with piteous eyes. mr. eager took the trouble to tell him thathe was a liar. phaethon hung down his head, not at thematter of the accusation, but at its manner. at this point mr. emerson, whom the shockof stopping had awoke, declared that the lovers must on no account be separated, andpatted them on the back to signify his approval. and miss lavish, though unwilling to allyhim, felt bound to support the cause of
bohemianism."most certainly i would let them be," she cried. "but i dare say i shall receive scantsupport. i have always flown in the face of theconventions all my life. this is what i call an adventure." "we must not submit," said mr. eager."i knew he was trying it on. he is treating us as if we were a party ofcook's tourists." "surely no!" said miss lavish, her ardourvisibly decreasing. the other carriage had drawn up behind, andsensible mr. beebe called out that after
this warning the couple would be sure tobehave themselves properly. "leave them alone," mr. emerson begged thechaplain, of whom he stood in no awe. "do we find happiness so often that weshould turn it off the box when it happens to sit there? to be driven by lovers--a king might envyus, and if we part them it's more like sacrilege than anything i know."here the voice of miss bartlett was heard saying that a crowd had begun to collect. mr. eager, who suffered from an over-fluenttongue rather than a resolute will, was determined to make himself heard.he addressed the driver again.
italian in the mouth of italians is a deep-voiced stream, with unexpected cataracts and boulders to preserve it from monotony. in mr. eager's mouth it resembled nothingso much as an acid whistling fountain which played ever higher and higher, and quickerand quicker, and more and more shrilly, till abruptly it was turned off with aclick. "signorina!" said the man to lucy, when thedisplay had ceased. why should he appeal to lucy? "signorina!" echoed persephone in herglorious contralto. she pointed at the other carriage.why?
for a moment the two girls looked at eachother. then persephone got down from the box. "victory at last!" said mr. eager, smitinghis hands together as the carriages started again."it is not victory," said mr. emerson. "it is defeat. you have parted two people who were happy."mr. eager shut his eyes. he was obliged to sit next to mr. emerson,but he would not speak to him. the old man was refreshed by sleep, andtook up the matter warmly. he commanded lucy to agree with him; heshouted for support to his son.
"we have tried to buy what cannot be boughtwith money. he has bargained to drive us, and he isdoing it. we have no rights over his soul." miss lavish frowned.it is hard when a person you have classed as typically british speaks out of hischaracter. "he was not driving us well," she said. "he jolted us.""that i deny. it was as restful as sleeping.aha! he is jolting us now. can you wonder?
he would like to throw us out, and mostcertainly he is justified. and if i were superstitious i'd befrightened of the girl, too. it doesn't do to injure young people. have you ever heard of lorenzo de medici?"miss lavish bristled. "most certainly i have. do you refer to lorenzo il magnifico, or tolorenzo, duke of urbino, or to lorenzo surnamed lorenzino on account of hisdiminutive stature?" "the lord knows. possibly he does know, for i refer tolorenzo the poet.
he wrote a line--so i heard yesterday--which runs like this: 'don't go fighting against the spring.'" mr. eager could not resist the opportunityfor erudition. "non fate guerra al maggio," he murmured."'war not with the may' would render a correct meaning." "the point is, we have warred with it.look." he pointed to the val d'arno, which wasvisible far below them, through the budding trees. "fifty miles of spring, and we've come upto admire them.
do you suppose there's any differencebetween spring in nature and spring in man? but there we go, praising the one andcondemning the other as improper, ashamed that the same work eternally through both."no one encouraged him to talk. presently mr. eager gave a signal for thecarriages to stop and marshalled the party for their ramble on the hill. a hollow like a great amphitheatre, full ofterraced steps and misty olives, now lay between them and the heights of fiesole,and the road, still following its curve, was about to sweep on to a promontory whichstood out in the plain. it was this promontory, uncultivated, wet,covered with bushes and occasional trees,
which had caught the fancy of alessiobaldovinetti nearly five hundred years he had ascended it, that diligent andrather obscure master, possibly with an eye to business, possibly for the joy ofascending. standing there, he had seen that view ofthe val d'arno and distant florence, which he afterwards had introduced not veryeffectively into his work. but where exactly had he stood? that was the question which mr. eager hopedto solve now. and miss lavish, whose nature was attractedby anything problematical, had become equally enthusiastic.
but it is not easy to carry the pictures ofalessio baldovinetti in your head, even if you have remembered to look at them beforestarting. and the haze in the valley increased thedifficulty of the quest. the party sprang about from tuft to tuft ofgrass, their anxiety to keep together being only equalled by their desire to godifferent directions. finally they split into groups. lucy clung to miss bartlett and misslavish; the emersons returned to hold laborious converse with the drivers; whilethe two clergymen, who were expected to have topics in common, were left to eachother.
the two elder ladies soon threw off themask. in the audible whisper that was now sofamiliar to lucy they began to discuss, not alessio baldovinetti, but the drive. miss bartlett had asked mr. george emersonwhat his profession was, and he had answered "the railway."she was very sorry that she had asked him. she had no idea that it would be such adreadful answer, or she would not have asked him. mr. beebe had turned the conversation socleverly, and she hoped that the young man was not very much hurt at her asking him."the railway!" gasped miss lavish.
"oh, but i shall die! of course it was the railway!"she could not control her mirth. "he is the image of a porter--on, on thesouth-eastern." "eleanor, be quiet," plucking at hervivacious companion. "hush!they'll hear--the emersons--" "i can't stop. let me go my wicked way.a porter--" "eleanor!""i'm sure it's all right," put in lucy. "the emersons won't hear, and they wouldn'tmind if they did."
miss lavish did not seem pleased at this."miss honeychurch listening!" she said rather crossly. "pouf!wouf! you naughty girl!go away!" "oh, lucy, you ought to be with mr. eager,i'm sure." "i can't find them now, and i don't want toeither." "mr. eager will be offended. it is your party.""please, i'd rather stop here with you." "no, i agree," said miss lavish."it's like a school feast; the boys have
got separated from the girls. miss lucy, you are to go.we wish to converse on high topics unsuited for your ear."the girl was stubborn. as her time at florence drew to its closeshe was only at ease amongst those to whom she felt indifferent.such a one was miss lavish, and such for the moment was charlotte. she wished she had not called attention toherself; they were both annoyed at her remark and seemed determined to get rid ofher. "how tired one gets," said miss bartlett.
"oh, i do wish freddy and your mother couldbe here." unselfishness with miss bartlett hadentirely usurped the functions of enthusiasm. lucy did not look at the view either.she would not enjoy anything till she was safe at rome."then sit you down," said miss lavish. "observe my foresight." with many a smile she produced two of thosemackintosh squares that protect the frame of the tourist from damp grass or coldmarble steps. she sat on one; who was to sit on theother?
"lucy; without a moment's doubt, lucy.the ground will do for me. really i have not had rheumatism for years. if i do feel it coming on i shall stand.imagine your mother's feelings if i let you sit in the wet in your white linen."she sat down heavily where the ground looked particularly moist. "here we are, all settled delightfully.even if my dress is thinner it will not show so much, being brown.sit down, dear; you are too unselfish; you don't assert yourself enough." she cleared her throat."now don't be alarmed; this isn't a cold.
it's the tiniest cough, and i have had itthree days. it's nothing to do with sitting here atall." there was only one way of treating thesituation. at the end of five minutes lucy departed insearch of mr. beebe and mr. eager, vanquished by the mackintosh square. she addressed herself to the drivers, whowere sprawling in the carriages, perfuming the cushions with cigars. the miscreant, a bony young man scorchedblack by the sun, rose to greet her with the courtesy of a host and the assurance ofa relative.
"dove?" said lucy, after much anxiousthought. his face lit up.of course he knew where, not so far either. his arm swept three-fourths of the horizon. he should just think he did know where.he pressed his finger-tips to his forehead and then pushed them towards her, as ifoozing with visible extract of knowledge. more seemed necessary. what was the italian for "clergyman"?"dove buoni uomini?" said she at last. good?scarcely the adjective for those noble beings!
he showed her his cigar."uno--piu--piccolo," was her next remark, implying "has the cigar been given to youby mr. beebe, the smaller of the two good men?" she was correct as usual. he tied the horse to a tree, kicked it tomake it stay quiet, dusted the carriage, arranged his hair, remoulded his hat,encouraged his moustache, and in rather less than a quarter of a minute was readyto conduct her. italians are born knowing the way. it would seem that the whole earth laybefore them, not as a map, but as a chess-
board, whereon they continually behold thechanging pieces as well as the squares. any one can find places, but the finding ofpeople is a gift from god. he only stopped once, to pick her somegreat blue violets. she thanked him with real pleasure. in the company of this common man the worldwas beautiful and direct. for the first time she felt the influenceof spring. his arm swept the horizon gracefully;violets, like other things, existed in great profusion there; "would she like tosee them?" "ma buoni uomini."
he bowed.certainly. good men first, violets afterwards. they proceeded briskly through theundergrowth, which became thicker and thicker. they were nearing the edge of thepromontory, and the view was stealing round them, but the brown network of the bushesshattered it into countless pieces. he was occupied in his cigar, and inholding back the pliant boughs. she was rejoicing in her escape fromdullness. not a step, not a twig, was unimportant toher.
"what is that?"there was a voice in the wood, in the distance behind them. the voice of mr. eager?he shrugged his shoulders. an italian's ignorance is sometimes moreremarkable than his knowledge. she could not make him understand thatperhaps they had missed the clergymen. the view was forming at last; she coulddiscern the river, the golden plain, other "eccolo!" he exclaimed.at the same moment the ground gave way, and with a cry she fell out of the wood.light and beauty enveloped her. she had fallen on to a little open terrace,which was covered with violets from end to
end."courage!" cried her companion, now standing some six feet above. "courage and love."she did not answer. from her feet the ground sloped sharplyinto view, and violets ran down in rivulets and streams and cataracts, irrigating thehillside with blue, eddying round the tree stems collecting into pools in the hollows, covering the grass with spots of azurefoam. but never again were they in suchprofusion; this terrace was the well-head, the primal source whence beauty gushed outto water the earth.
standing at its brink, like a swimmer whoprepares, was the good man. but he was not the good man that she hadexpected, and he was alone. george had turned at the sound of herarrival. for a moment he contemplated her, as onewho had fallen out of heaven. he saw radiant joy in her face, he saw theflowers beat against her dress in blue waves.the bushes above them closed. he stepped quickly forward and kissed her. before she could speak, almost before shecould feel, a voice called, "lucy! lucy!lucy!"
the silence of life had been broken by missbartlett who stood brown against the view. chapter vii: they return some complicated game had been playing upand down the hillside all the afternoon. what it was and exactly how the players hadsided, lucy was slow to discover. mr. eager had met them with a questioningeye. charlotte had repulsed him with much smalltalk. mr. emerson, seeking his son, was toldwhereabouts to find him. mr. beebe, who wore the heated aspect of aneutral, was bidden to collect the factions for the return home.
there was a general sense of groping andbewilderment. pan had been amongst them--not the greatgod pan, who has been buried these two thousand years, but the little god pan, whopresides over social contretemps and unsuccessful picnics. mr. beebe had lost every one, and hadconsumed in solitude the tea-basket which he had brought up as a pleasant surprise.miss lavish had lost miss bartlett. lucy had lost mr. eager. mr. emerson had lost george.miss bartlett had lost a mackintosh square. phaethon had lost the game.that last fact was undeniable.
he climbed on to the box shivering, withhis collar up, prophesying the swift approach of bad weather."let us go immediately," he told them. "the signorino will walk." "all the way?he will be hours," said mr. beebe. "apparently.i told him it was unwise." he would look no one in the face; perhapsdefeat was particularly mortifying for him. he alone had played skilfully, using thewhole of his instinct, while the others had used scraps of their intelligence. he alone had divined what things were, andwhat he wished them to be.
he alone had interpreted the message thatlucy had received five days before from the lips of a dying man. persephone, who spends half her life in thegrave--she could interpret it also. not so these english.they gain knowledge slowly, and perhaps too late. the thoughts of a cab-driver, however just,seldom affect the lives of his employers. he was the most competent of missbartlett's opponents, but infinitely the least dangerous. once back in the town, he and his insightand his knowledge would trouble english
ladies no more. of course, it was most unpleasant; she hadseen his black head in the bushes; he might make a tavern story out of it.but after all, what have we to do with taverns? real menace belongs to the drawing-room.it was of drawing-room people that miss bartlett thought as she journeyed downwardstowards the fading sun. lucy sat beside her; mr. eager satopposite, trying to catch her eye; he was vaguely suspicious.they spoke of alessio baldovinetti. rain and darkness came on together.
the two ladies huddled together under aninadequate parasol. there was a lightning flash, and misslavish who was nervous, screamed from the carriage in front. at the next flash, lucy screamed also.mr. eager addressed her professionally: "courage, miss honeychurch, courage andfaith. if i might say so, there is somethingalmost blasphemous in this horror of the elements. are we seriously to suppose that all theseclouds, all this immense electrical display, is simply called into existence toextinguish you or me?"
"no--of course--" "even from the scientific standpoint thechances against our being struck are enormous. the steel knives, the only articles whichmight attract the current, are in the other carriage.and, in any case, we are infinitely safer than if we were walking. courage--courage and faith."under the rug, lucy felt the kindly pressure of her cousin's hand. at times our need for a sympathetic gestureis so great that we care not what exactly
it signifies or how much we may have to payfor it afterwards. miss bartlett, by this timely exercise ofher muscles, gained more than she would have got in hours of preaching or crossexamination. she renewed it when the two carriagesstopped, half into florence. "mr. eager!" called mr. beebe."we want your assistance. will you interpret for us?" "george!" cried mr. emerson."ask your driver which way george went. the boy may lose his way.he may be killed." "go, mr. eager," said miss bartlett, "don'task our driver; our driver is no help.
go and support poor mr. beebe--, he isnearly demented." "he may be killed!" cried the old man. "he may be killed!""typical behaviour," said the chaplain, as he quitted the carriage."in the presence of reality that kind of person invariably breaks down." "what does he know?" whispered lucy as soonas they were alone. "charlotte, how much does mr. eager know?""nothing, dearest; he knows nothing. but--" she pointed at the driver-"he knowseverything. dearest, had we better?shall i?"
she took out her purse. "it is dreadful to be entangled with low-class people. he saw it all." tapping phaethon's back with her guide-book, she said, "silenzio!" and offered him a franc."va bene," he replied, and accepted it. as well this ending to his day as any. but lucy, a mortal maid, was disappointedin him. there was an explosion up the road. the storm had struck the overhead wire ofthe tramline, and one of the great supports
had fallen.if they had not stopped perhaps they might have been hurt. they chose to regard it as a miraculouspreservation, and the floods of love and sincerity, which fructify every hour oflife, burst forth in tumult. they descended from the carriages; theyembraced each other. it was as joyful to be forgiven pastunworthinesses as to forgive them. for a moment they realized vastpossibilities of good. the older people recovered quickly.in the very height of their emotion they knew it to be unmanly or unladylike.
miss lavish calculated that, even if theyhad continued, they would not have been caught in the accident.mr. eager mumbled a temperate prayer. but the drivers, through miles of darksqualid road, poured out their souls to the dryads and the saints, and lucy poured outhers to her cousin. "charlotte, dear charlotte, kiss me. kiss me again.only you can understand me. you warned me to be careful.and i--i thought i was developing." "do not cry, dearest. take your time.""i have been obstinate and silly--worse
than you know, far worse.once by the river--oh, but he isn't killed- -he wouldn't be killed, would he?" the thought disturbed her repentance.as a matter of fact, the storm was worst along the road; but she had been neardanger, and so she thought it must be near to every one. "i trust not.one would always pray against that." "he is really--i think he was taken bysurprise, just as i was before. but this time i'm not to blame; i want youto believe that. i simply slipped into those violets.no, i want to be really truthful.
i am a little to blame. i had silly thoughts.the sky, you know, was gold, and the ground all blue, and for a moment he looked likesome one in a book." "in a book?" "heroes--gods--the nonsense ofschoolgirls." "and then?""but, charlotte, you know what happened then." miss bartlett was silent.indeed, she had little more to learn. with a certain amount of insight she drewher young cousin affectionately to her.
all the way back lucy's body was shaken bydeep sighs, which nothing could repress. "i want to be truthful," she whispered."it is so hard to be absolutely truthful." "don't be troubled, dearest. wait till you are calmer.we will talk it over before bed-time in my room."so they re-entered the city with hands clasped. it was a shock to the girl to find how faremotion had ebbed in others. the storm had ceased, and mr. emerson waseasier about his son. mr. beebe had regained good humour, and mr.eager was already snubbing miss lavish.
charlotte alone she was sure of--charlotte,whose exterior concealed so much insight and love. the luxury of self-exposure kept her almosthappy through the long evening. she thought not so much of what hadhappened as of how she should describe it. all her sensations, her spasms of courage,her moments of unreasonable joy, her mysterious discontent, should be carefullylaid before her cousin. and together in divine confidence theywould disentangle and interpret them all. "at last," thought she, "i shall understandmyself. i shan't again be troubled by things thatcome out of nothing, and mean i don't know
what."miss alan asked her to play. she refused vehemently. music seemed to her the employment of achild. she sat close to her cousin, who, withcommendable patience, was listening to a long story about lost luggage. when it was over she capped it by a storyof her own. lucy became rather hysterical with thedelay. in vain she tried to check, or at allevents to accelerate, the tale. it was not till a late hour that missbartlett had recovered her luggage and
could say in her usual tone of gentlereproach: "well, dear, i at all events am ready forbedfordshire. come into my room, and i will give a goodbrush to your hair." with some solemnity the door was shut, anda cane chair placed for the girl. then miss bartlett said "so what is to bedone?" she was unprepared for the question. it had not occurred to her that she wouldhave to do anything. a detailed exhibition of her emotions wasall that she had counted upon. "what is to be done?
a point, dearest, which you alone cansettle." the rain was streaming down the blackwindows, and the great room felt damp and chilly, one candle burnt trembling on thechest of drawers close to miss bartlett's toque, which cast monstrous and fantasticshadows on the bolted door. a tram roared by in the dark, and lucy feltunaccountably sad, though she had long since dried her eyes. she lifted them to the ceiling, where thegriffins and bassoons were colourless and vague, the very ghosts of joy."it has been raining for nearly four hours," she said at last.
miss bartlett ignored the remark."how do you propose to silence him?" "the driver?""my dear girl, no; mr. george emerson." lucy began to pace up and down the room. "i don't understand," she said at last.she understood very well, but she no longer wished to be absolutely truthful."how are you going to stop him talking about it?" "i have a feeling that talk is a thing hewill never do." "i, too, intend to judge him charitably.but unfortunately i have met the type they seldom keep their exploits tothemselves."
"exploits?" cried lucy, wincing under thehorrible plural. "my poor dear, did you suppose that thiswas his first? come here and listen to me.i am only gathering it from his own remarks. do you remember that day at lunch when heargued with miss alan that liking one person is an extra reason for likinganother?" "yes," said lucy, whom at the time theargument had pleased. "well, i am no prude. there is no need to call him a wicked youngman, but obviously he is thoroughly
unrefined.let us put it down to his deplorable antecedents and education, if you wish. but we are no farther on with our question.what do you propose to do?" an idea rushed across lucy's brain, which,had she thought of it sooner and made it part of her, might have proved victorious. "i propose to speak to him," said she.miss bartlett uttered a cry of genuine alarm."you see, charlotte, your kindness--i shall never forget it. but--as you said--it is my affair.mine and his."
"and you are going to implore him, to beghim to keep silence?" "certainly not. there would be no difficulty.whatever you ask him he answers, yes or no; then it is over.i have been frightened of him. but now i am not one little bit." "but we fear him for you, dear. you are so young and inexperienced, youhave lived among such nice people, that you cannot realize what men can be--how theycan take a brutal pleasure in insulting a woman whom her sex does not protect andrally round.
this afternoon, for example, if i had notarrived, what would have happened?" "i can't think," said lucy gravely. something in her voice made miss bartlettrepeat her question, intoning it more vigorously."what would have happened if i hadn't arrived?" "i can't think," said lucy again."when he insulted you, how would you have replied?""i hadn't time to think. you came." "yes, but won't you tell me now what youwould have done?"
"i should have--" she checked herself, andbroke the sentence off. she went up to the dripping window andstrained her eyes into the darkness. she could not think what she would havedone. "come away from the window, dear," saidmiss bartlett. "you will be seen from the road."lucy obeyed. she was in her cousin's power. she could not modulate out the key of self-abasement in which she had started. neither of them referred again to hersuggestion that she should speak to george and settle the matter, whatever it was,with him.
miss bartlett became plaintive. "oh, for a real man!we are only two women, you and i. mr. beebe is hopeless.there is mr. eager, but you do not trust him. oh, for your brother!he is young, but i know that his sister's insult would rouse in him a very lion.thank god, chivalry is not yet dead. there are still left some men who canreverence woman." as she spoke, she pulled off her rings, ofwhich she wore several, and ranged them upon the pin cushion.
then she blew into her gloves and said:"it will be a push to catch the morning train, but we must try.""what train?" "the train to rome." she looked at her gloves critically.the girl received the announcement as easily as it had been given."when does the train to rome go?" "at eight." "signora bertolini would be upset.""we must face that," said miss bartlett, not liking to say that she had given noticealready. "she will make us pay for a whole week'spension."
"i expect she will.however, we shall be much more comfortable at the vyses' hotel. isn't afternoon tea given there fornothing?" "yes, but they pay extra for wine."after this remark she remained motionless and silent. to her tired eyes charlotte throbbed andswelled like a ghostly figure in a dream. they began to sort their clothes forpacking, for there was no time to lose, if they were to catch the train to rome. lucy, when admonished, began to move to andfro between the rooms, more conscious of
the discomforts of packing by candlelightthan of a subtler ill. charlotte, who was practical withoutability, knelt by the side of an empty trunk, vainly endeavouring to pave it withbooks of varying thickness and size. she gave two or three sighs, for thestooping posture hurt her back, and, for all her diplomacy, she felt that she wasgrowing old. the girl heard her as she entered the room,and was seized with one of those emotional impulses to which she could never attributea cause. she only felt that the candle would burnbetter, the packing go easier, the world be happier, if she could give and receive somehuman love.
the impulse had come before to-day, butnever so strongly. she knelt down by her cousin's side andtook her in her arms. miss bartlett returned the embrace withtenderness and warmth. but she was not a stupid woman, and sheknew perfectly well that lucy did not love her, but needed her to love. for it was in ominous tones that she said,after a long pause: "dearest lucy, how will you ever forgiveme?" lucy was on her guard at once, knowing bybitter experience what forgiving miss bartlett meant.her emotion relaxed, she modified her
embrace a little, and she said: "charlotte dear, what do you mean?as if i have anything to forgive!" "you have a great deal, and i have a verygreat deal to forgive myself, too. i know well how much i vex you at everyturn." "but no--"miss bartlett assumed her favourite role, that of the prematurely aged martyr. "ah, but yes!i feel that our tour together is hardly the success i had hoped.i might have known it would not do. you want some one younger and stronger andmore in sympathy with you.
i am too uninteresting and old-fashioned--only fit to pack and unpack your things." "please--" "my only consolation was that you foundpeople more to your taste, and were often able to leave me at home. i had my own poor ideas of what a ladyought to do, but i hope i did not inflict them on you more than was necessary.you had your own way about these rooms, at all events." "you mustn't say these things," said lucysoftly. she still clung to the hope that she andcharlotte loved each other, heart and soul.
they continued to pack in silence. "i have been a failure," said missbartlett, as she struggled with the straps of lucy's trunk instead of strapping herown. "failed to make you happy; failed in myduty to your mother. she has been so generous to me; i shallnever face her again after this disaster." "but mother will understand. it is not your fault, this trouble, and itisn't a disaster either." "it is my fault, it is a disaster.she will never forgive me, and rightly. fur instance, what right had i to makefriends with miss lavish?"
"every right.""when i was here for your sake? if i have vexed you it is equally true thati have neglected you. your mother will see this as clearly as ido, when you tell her." lucy, from a cowardly wish to improve thesituation, said: "why need mother hear of it?""but you tell her everything?" "i suppose i do generally." "i dare not break your confidence.there is something sacred in it. unless you feel that it is a thing youcould not tell her." the girl would not be degraded to this.
"naturally i should have told her.but in case she should blame you in any way, i promise i will not, i am verywilling not to. i will never speak of it either to her orto any one." her promise brought the long-drawninterview to a sudden close. miss bartlett pecked her smartly on bothcheeks, wished her good-night, and sent her to her own room.for a moment the original trouble was in the background. george would seem to have behaved like acad throughout; perhaps that was the view which one would take eventually.at present she neither acquitted nor
condemned him; she did not pass judgment. at the moment when she was about to judgehim her cousin's voice had intervened, and, ever since, it was miss bartlett who haddominated; miss bartlett who, even now, could be heard sighing into a crack in the partition wall; miss bartlett, who hadreally been neither pliable nor humble nor inconsistent. she had worked like a great artist; for atime--indeed, for years--she had been meaningless, but at the end there waspresented to the girl the complete picture of a cheerless, loveless world in which the
young rush to destruction until they learnbetter--a shamefaced world of precautions and barriers which may avert evil, butwhich do not seem to bring good, if we may judge from those who have used them most. lucy was suffering from the most grievouswrong which this world has yet discovered: diplomatic advantage had been taken of hersincerity, of her craving for sympathy and love. such a wrong is not easily forgotten.never again did she expose herself without due consideration and precaution againstrebuff. and such a wrong may react disastrouslyupon the soul.
the door-bell rang, and she started to theshutters. before she reached them she hesitated,turned, and blew out the candle. thus it was that, though she saw some onestanding in the wet below, he, though he looked up, did not see her. to reach his room he had to go by hers.she was still dressed. it struck her that she might slip into thepassage and just say that she would be gone before he was up, and that theirextraordinary intercourse was over. whether she would have dared to do this wasnever proved. at the critical moment miss bartlett openedher own door, and her voice said:
"i wish one word with you in the drawing-room, mr. emerson, please." soon their footsteps returned, and missbartlett said: "good-night, mr. emerson." his heavy, tired breathing was the onlyreply; the chaperon had done her work. lucy cried aloud: "it isn't true.it can't all be true. i want not to be muddled. i want to grow older quickly."miss bartlett tapped on the wall. "go to bed at once, dear.you need all the rest you can get." in the morning they left for rome.