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The Tragic Muse (London & New York: Macmillan & Co., 1890)/Volume 1/Chapter 6

< The Tragic Muse (London & New York: Macmillan & Co., 1890)‎ | Volume 1


VI.


When Nick arrived with the three members of his family, Peter Sherringham was seated, in the restaurant at which the tryst had been taken, at a small but immaculate table; but Mrs. Dallow was not yet on the scene, and they had time for a sociable settlement—time to take their places and unfold their napkins, crunch their rolls, breathe the savoury air and watch the door, before the usual raising of heads and suspension of forks, the sort of stir that accompanied most of this lady's movements, announced her entrance. The dame de comptoir ducked and re-ducked, the people looked round, Peter and Nick got up, there was a shuffling of chairs—Julia was there. Peter had related how he had stopped at her hotel to bring her with him and had found her, according to her custom, by no means ready; on which, fearing that his guests would come first to the rendezvous and find no proper welcome, he had come off without her, leaving her to follow. He had not brought a friend, as he intended, having divined that Julia would prefer a pure family party, if she wanted to talk about her candidate. Now she stood there, looking down at the table and her expectant kinsfolk, drawing off her gloves, letting her brother draw off her jacket, lifting her hands for some rearrangement of her bonnet. She looked at Nick last, smiling, but only for a moment. She said to Peter, "Are we going to dine here? Oh dear, why didn't you have a private room?"

Nick had not seen her at all for several weeks, and had seen her but little for a year, but her off-hand, cursory manner had not altered in the interval. She spoke remarkably fast, as if speech were not in itself a pleasure—to have it over as soon as possible; and her brusquerie was of the kind that friendly critics account for by pleading shyness. Shyness had never appeared to him an ultimate quality or a real explanation of anything; it only explained an effect by another effect, giving a bad fault another name. What he suspected in Julia was that her mind was less graceful than her person; an ugly, a really damnatory idea, which as yet he had only half accepted. It was a case in which she was entitled to the benefit of every doubt and ought not to be judged without a complete trial. Dormer, meanwhile, was afraid of the trial (this was partly why, of late, he had been to see her so little), because he was afraid of the sentence, afraid of anything, happening which should lessen the pleasure it was actually in the power of her beauty to give. There were people who thought her rude, and he hated rude women. If he should fasten on that view, or rather if that view should fasten on him, what could still please and what he admired in her would lose too much of its sweetness. If it be thought odd that he had not yet been able to read the character of a woman he had known since childhood, the answer is that that character had grown faster than Nick Dormer's observation. The growth was constant, whereas the observation was but occasional, though it had begun early. If he had attempted to phrase the matter to himself, as he probably had not, he might have said that the effect she produced upon him was too much a compulsion; not the coercion of design, of importunity, nor the vulgar pressure of family expectation, a suspected desire that he should like her enough to marry her, but something that was a mixture of diverse things, of the sense that she was imperious and generous—but probably more the former than the latter—and of a certain prevision of doom, the influence of the idea that he should come to it, that he was predestined.

This had made him shrink from knowing the worst about her; the desire, not to get used to it in time, but what was more characteristic of him, to interpose a temporary illusion. Illusions and realities and hopes and fears, however, fell into confusion whenever he met her after a separation. The separation, so far as seeing her alone or as continuous talk was concerned, had now been tolerably long; had lasted really ever since his failure to regain his seat. An impression had come to him that she judged that failure rather harshly, had thought he ought to have done better. This was a part of her imperious strain, and a part to which it was not easy to accommodate one's self on a present basis. If he were to marry her he should come to an understanding with her: he should give her his own measure as well as take hers. But the understanding, in the actual case, might suggest too much that he was to marry her. You could quarrel with your wife, because there were compensations—for her; but you might not be prepared to offer these compensations as prepayment for the luxury of quarrelling.

It was not that such a luxury would not be considerable, Nick Dormer thought, as Julia Dallow's fine head poised itself before him again; a high spirit was a better thing than a poor one to be mismated with, any day in the year. She had much the same colouring as her brother, but as nothing else in her face was the same the resemblance was not striking. Her hair was of so dark a brown that it was commonly regarded as black, and so abundant that a plain arrangement was required to keep it in discreet relation to the rest of her person. Her eyes were of a gray tint that was sometimes pronounced too light; and they were not sunken in her face, but placed well on the surface. Her nose was perfect, but her mouth was too small; and Nick Dormer, and doubtless other persons as well, had sometimes wondered how, with such a mouth, her face could have expressed decision. Her figure helped it, for she looked tall (being extremely slender), though she was not; and her head took turns and positions which, though they were a matter of but half an inch out of the common, this way or that, somehow contributed to the air of resolution and temper. If it had not been for her extreme delicacy of line and surface she might have been called bold; but as it was she looked refined and quiet—refined by tradition and quiet for a purpose. And altogether she was beautiful, with the pure style of her capable head, her hair like darkness, her eyes like early twilight, her mouth like a rare pink flower.

Peter said that he had not taken a private room because he knew Biddy's tastes; she liked to see the world (she had told him so), the curious people, the coming and going of Paris. "Oh, anything for Biddy!" Julia replied, smiling at the girl and taking her place. Lady Agnes and her elder daughter exchanged one of their looks, and Nick exclaimed jocosely that he didn't see why the whole party should be sacrificed to a presumptuous child. The presumptuous child blushingly protested she had never expressed any such wish to Peter, upon which Nick, with broader humour, revealed that Peter had served them so out of stinginess: he had pitchforked them together in the public room because he wouldn't go to the expense of a cabinet. He had brought no guest, no foreigner of distinction nor diplomatic swell, to honour them, and now they would see what a paltry dinner he would give them. Peter stabbed him indignantly with a long roll, and Lady Agnes, who seemed to be waiting for some manifestation on Mrs. Dallow's part which didn't come, concluded, with a certain coldness, that they quite sufficed to themselves for privacy as well as for society. Nick called attention to this fine phrase of his mother's, said it was awfully neat, while Grace and Biddy looked harmoniously at Julia's clothes. Nick felt nervous, and joked a good deal to carry it off—a levity that didn't prevent Julia's saying to him, after a moment: "You might have come to see me to-day, you know. Didn't you get my message from Peter?"

"Scold him, Julia scold him well. I begged him to go," said Lady Agnes; and to this Grace added her voice with an "Oh, Julia, do give it to him!" These words, however, had not the effect they suggested, for Mrs. Dallow only murmured, with an ejaculation, in her quick, curt way, that that would be making far too much of him. It was one of the things in her which Nick Dormer mentally pronounced ungraceful that a perversity of pride or shyness always made her disappoint you a little if she saw you expected a thing. She was certain to snub effusiveness. This vice, however, was the last thing of which Lady Agnes would have consented to being accused; and Nick, while he replied to Julia that he was certain he shouldn't have found her, was not unable to perceive the operation on his mother of that shade of manner. "He ought to have gone; he owed you that," she went on; "but it's very true he would have had the same luck as we. I went with the girls directly after luncheon. I suppose you got our card."

"He might have come after I came in," said Mrs. Dallow.

"Dear Julia, I'm going to see you to-night. I've been waiting for that," Nick rejoined.

"Of course we had no idea when you would come in," said Lady Agnes.

"I'm so sorry. You must come to-morrow. I hate calls at night," Julia remarked.

"Well, then, will you roam with me? Will you wander through Paris on my arm?" Nick asked, smiling. "Will you take a drive with me?"

"Oh, that would be perfection!" cried Grace.

"I thought we were all going somewhere—to the Hippodrome, Peter," said Biddy.

"Oh, not all; just you and me!" laughed Peter.

"I am going home to my bed. I've earned my rest," Lady Agnes sighed.

"Can't Peter take us?" asked Grace. "Nick can take you home, mamma, if Julia won't receive him, and I can look perfectly after Peter and Biddy."

"Take them to something amusing; please take them," Mrs. Dallow said to her brother. Her voice was kind, but had the expectation of assent in it, and Nick observed both the indulgence and the pressure. "You're tired, poor dear," she continued to Lady Agnes. "Fancy your being dragged about so! What did you come over for?"

"My mother came because I brought her," Nick said. "It's I who have dragged her about. I brought her for a little change. I thought it would do her good. I wanted to see the Salon."

"It isn't a bad time. I have a carriage, and you must use it; you must use nothing else. It will take you everywhere. I will drive you about to-morrow." Julia dropped these words in the same perfunctory, casual way as any others; but Nick had already noted, and he noted now afresh, with pleasure, that her abruptness was perfectly capable of conveying a benevolence. It was quite sufficiently manifest to him that for the rest of the time she might be near his mother she would do her numberless good turns. She would give things to the girls—he had a private adumbration of that; expensive Parisian, perhaps not perfectly useful things.

Lady Agnes was a woman who measured reciprocities and distances; but she was both too subtle and too just not to recognize the smallest manifestation that might count, either technically or essentially, as a service. "Dear Julia!" she exclaimed, responsively; and her tone made this brevity of acknowledgment sufficient. What Julia had said was all she wanted. "It's so interesting about Harsh," she added. "We're immensely excited."

"Yes, Nick looks it. Merci, pas de vin. It's just the thing for you, you know."

"To be sure he knows it. He's immensely grateful. It's really very kind of you."

"You do me a very great honour, Julia," said Nick.

"Don't be tiresome!" exclaimed Mrs. Dallow.

"We'll talk about it later. Of course there are lots of points," Nick pursued. "At present let us be purely convivial. Somehow Harsh is such a false note here. A tout à l'heure!"

"My dear fellow, you've caught exactly the tone of Mr. Gabriel Nash," Peter Sherringham observed.

"Who is Mr. Gabriel Nash?" Mrs. Dallow asked.

"Nick, is he a gentleman? Biddy says so," Grace Dormer interposed before this inquiry was answered.

"It is to be supposed that any one Nick brings to lunch with us—" Lady Agnes murmured.

"Ah, Grace, with your tremendous standard!" her brother said; while Peter Sherringham replied to Julia that Mr. Nash was Nick's new Mentor or oracle; whom moreover she should see if she would come and have tea with him.

"I haven't the least desire to see him," Julia declared, "any more than I have to talk about Harsh and bore poor Peter."

"Oh, certainly, dear, you would bore me," said Sherringham.

"One thing at a time, then. Let us by all means be convivial. Only you must show me how," Mrs. Dallow went on to Nick. "What does he mean, Cousin Agnes? Does he want us to drain the wine-cup, to flash with repartee?"

"You'll do very well," said Nick. "You are charming, this evening."

"Do go to Peter's, Julia, if you want something exciting. You'll see a marvellous girl," Biddy broke in, with her smile on Peter.

"Marvellous for what?"

"For thinking she can act, when she can't," said the roguish Biddy.

"Dear me, what people you all know! I hate Peter's theatrical people."

"And aren't you going home, Julia?" Lady Agnes inquired.

"Home to the hotel?"

"Dear, no, to Harsh, to see about everything."

"I'm in the midst of telegrams. I don't know yet."

"I suppose there's no doubt they'll have him," Lady Agnes decided to pursue.

"Who will have whom?"

"Why, the local people—and the party; those who invite a gentleman to stand. I'm speaking of my son."

"They'll have the person I want them to have, I dare say. There are so many people in it, in one way or another, it's dreadful. I like the way you sit there," Mrs. Dallow added to Nick Dormer.

"So do I," he smiled back at her; and he thought she was charming now, because she was gay and easy and willing really, though she might plead incompetence, to understand how jocose a dinner in a pot-house in a foreign town might be. She was in good-humour, or she was going to be, and not grand, nor stiff, nor indifferent, nor haughty, nor any of the things that people who disliked her usually found her and sometimes even a little made him believe her. The spirit of mirth, in some cold natures, manifests itself not altogether happily; their effort of recreation resembles too much the bath of the hippopotamus. But when Mrs. Dallow put her elbows on the table one felt she could be trusted to get them safely off again.

For a family in mourning the dinner was lively; the more so that before it was half over Julia had arranged that her brother, eschewing the inferior spectacle, should take the girls to the Théâtre Français. It was her idea, and Nick had a chance to observe how an idea was apt not to be successfully controverted when it was Julia's. Even the programme appeared to have been pre-arranged to suit it, just the thing for the cheek of the young person—"Il ne Faut Jurer de Rien" and "Mademoiselle de la Seiglière." Peter was all willingness, but it was Julia who settled it, even to sending for the newspaper (her brother, by a rare accident, was unconscious of the evening's bill), and to reassuring Biddy, who was happy but anxious, on the article of their not getting places, their being too late. Peter could always get places: a word from him and the best box was at his disposal. She made him write the word on a card, and saw that a messenger was despatched with it to the Rue de Richelieu; and all this was done without loudness or insistence, parenthetically and authoritatively. The box was bespoken; the carriage, as soon as they had had their coffee, was found to be there; Peter drove off in it with the girls, with the understanding that he was to send it back; Nick sat waiting for it, over the finished repast, with the two ladies, and then his mother was relegated to it and conveyed to her apartments: and all the while it was Julia who governed the succession of events. "Do be nice to her," Lady Agnes murmured to him, as he placed her in the vehicle at the door of the restaurant; and he guessed that it gave her a comfort to have left him sitting there with Mrs. Dallow.

Nick had every disposition to be nice to her; if things went as she liked them it was an acknowledgment of a certain force that was in her—the force of assuming that they would. Julia had her differences—some of them were much for the better; and when she was in a mood like this evening's, liberally dominant, he was ready to encourage her assumptions. While they waited for the return of the carriage, which had rolled away with his mother, she sat opposite to him, with her elbows on the table, playing first with one and then with another of the objects that encumbered it: after five minutes of which she exclaimed, "Oh, I say, we'll go!" and got up abruptly, asking for her jacket. He said something about the carriage's having had orders to come back for them, and she replied: "Well, it can go away again!" She added: "I don't want a carriage; I want to walk;" and in a moment she was out of the place, with the people at the tables turning round again and the caissière swaying in her high seat. On the pavement of the boulevard she looked up and down: there were people at little tables, at the door; there were people all over the broad expanse of the asphalt; there was a profusion of light and a pervasion of sound; and everywhere, though the establishment at which they had been dining was not in the thick of the fray, the tokens of a great traffic of pleasure, that night-aspect of Paris which represents it as a huge market for sensations. Beyond the Boulevard des Capucines it flared through the warm evening like a vast bazaar; and opposite the Café Durand the Madeleine rose theatrical, a high, clever décor, before the footlights of the Rue Royale. "Where shall we go, what shall we do?" Mrs. Dallow asked, looking at her companion and somewhat to his surprise, as he had supposed she only wanted to go home.

"Anywhere you like. It's so warm we might drive, instead of going indoors. We might go to the Bois. That would be agreeable."

"Yes, but it wouldn't be walking. However, that doesn't matter. It's mild enough for anything—for sitting out, like all these people. And I've never walked in Paris at night: it would amuse me."

Nick hesitated. "So it might, but it isn't particularly recommended to ladies."

"I don't care, if it happens to suit me."

"Very well, then, we'll walk to the Bastille, if you like."

Julia hesitated, on her side, still looking round her.

"It's too far; I'm tired; we'll sit here." And she dropped beside an empty table, on the "terrace" of M. Durand. "This will do; it's amusing enough, and we can look at the Madeleine; that's respectable. If we must have something we'll have a madère; is that respectable? Not particularly? So much the better. What are those people having? Bocks? Couldn't we have bocks? Are they very low? Then I shall have one. I've been so wonderfully good—I've been staying at Versailles: je me dois bien cela."

She insisted, but pronounced the thin liquid in the tall glass very disgusting when it was brought. Nick was amazed, reflecting that it was not for such a discussion as this that his mother had left him with such complacency; and indeed he too had, as she would have had, his share of perplexity, observing that nearly half an hour passed without his cousin's saying anything about Harsh.

Mrs. Dallow leaned back against the lighted glass of the café, comfortable and beguiled, watching the passers, the opposite shops, the movement of the square in front of them. She talked about London, about the news written to her in her absence, about Cannes and the people she had seen there, about her poor sister-in-law and her numerous progeny and two or three droll things that had happened at Versailles. She discoursed considerably about herself, mentioning certain things she meant to do on her return to town, her plans for the rest of the season. Her carriage came and stood there, and Nick asked if he should send it away; to which she said: "No, let it stand a bit." She let it stand a long time, and then she told him to dismiss it: they would walk home. She took his arm and they went along the boulevard, on the right hand side, to the Rue de la Paix, saying little to each other during the transit; and then they passed into the hotel and up to her rooms. All she had said on the way was that she was very tired of Paris. There was a shaded lamp in her salon, but the windows were open and the light of the street, with its undisturbing murmur, as if everything ran on india-rubber, came up through the interstices of the balcony and made a vague glow and a flitting of shadows on the ceiling. Her maid appeared, busying herself a moment; and when she had gone out Julia said suddenly to her companion: "Should you mind telling me what's the matter with you?"

"The matter with me?"

"Don't you want to stand?"

"I'll do anything to oblige you."

"Why should you oblige me?"

"Why, isn't that the way people treat you?" asked Nick.

"They treat me best when they are a little serious."

"My dear Julia, it seems to me I'm serious enough. Surely it isn't an occasion to be so very solemn, the idea of going down into a stodgy little country town and talking a lot of rot."

"Why do you call it 'rot'?"

"Because I can think of no other name that, on the whole, describes it so well. You know the sort of thing. Come! you've listened to enough of it, first and last. One blushes for it when one sees it in print, in the local papers. The local papers—ah, the thought of them makes me want to stay in Paris."

"If you don't speak well it's your own fault: you know how to, perfectly. And you usually do."

"I always do, and that's what I'm ashamed of. I've got the cursed humbugging trick of it. I speak beautifully. I can turn it on, a fine flood of it, at the shortest notice. The better it is the worse it is, the kind is so inferior. It has nothing to do with the truth or the search for it; nothing to do with intelligence, or candour, or honour. It's an appeal to everything that for one's self one despises," the young man went on—"to stupidity, to ignorance, to density, to the love of names and phrases, the love of hollow, idiotic words, of shutting the eyes tight and making a noise. Do men who respect each other or themselves talk to each other that way? They know they would deserve kicking if they were to attempt it. A man would blush to say to himself in the darkness of the night the things he stands up on a platform in the garish light of day to stuff into the ears of a multitude whose intelligence he pretends that he esteems." Nick Dormer stood at one of the windows, with his hands in his pockets. He had been looking out, but as his words followed each other faster he turned toward Mrs. Dallow, who had dropped upon a sofa with her face to the window. She had given her jacket and gloves to her maid, but had kept on her bonnet; and she leaned forward a little as she sat, with her hands clasped together in her lap and her eyes upon her companion. The lamp, in a corner, was so thickly veiled that the room was in tempered obscurity, lighted almost equally from the street, from the brilliant shopfronts opposite. "Therefore, why be sapient and solemn about it, like an editorial in a newspaper?" Nick added, with a smile.

She continued to look at him for a moment after he had spoken; then she said: "If you don't want to stand, you have only to say so. You needn't give your reasons."

"It's too kind of you to let me off that! And then I'm a tremendous fellow for reasons; that's my strong point, don't you know? I've a lot more besides those I've mentioned, done up and ready for delivery. The odd thing is that they don't always govern my behaviour. I rather think I do want to stand."

"Then what you said just now was a speech," Mrs. Dallow rejoined.

"A speech?"

"The 'rot,' the humbug of the hustings."

"No, those great truths remain, and a good many others. But an inner voice tells me I'm in for it. And it will be much more graceful to embrace this opportunity, accepting your co-operation, than to wait for some other and forfeit that advantage."

"I shall be very glad to help you anywhere," said Mrs. Dallow.

"Thanks, awfully," murmured the young man, still standing there with his hands in his pockets. "You would do it best in your own place, and I have no right to deny myself such a help."

Julia smiled at him for an instant. "I don't do it badly."

"Ah, you're so political!"

"Of course I am; it's the only decent thing to be. But I can only help you if you'll help yourself. I can do a good deal, but I can't do everything. If you'll work I'll work with you; but if you are going into it with your hands in your pockets I'll have nothing to do with you." Nick instantly changed the position of these members, and sank into a seat with his elbows on his knees. "You're very clever, but you must really take a little trouble. Things don't drop into people's mouths."

"I'll try—I'll try. I have a great incentive," Nick said.

"Of course you have."

"My mother, my poor mother." Mrs. Dallow made a slight exclamation, and he went on: "And of course, always, my father, dear man. My mother's even more political than you."

"I dare say she is, and quite right!" said Mrs. Dallow.

"And she can't tell me a bit more than you can what she thinks, what she believes, what she desires."

"Excuse me, I can tell you perfectly. There's one thing I always desire—to keep out a Tory."

"I see; that's a great philosophy."

"It will do very well. And I desire the good of the country. I'm not ashamed of that."

"And can you give me an idea of what it is the good of the country?"

"I know perfectly what it isn't. It isn't what the Tories want to do."

"What do they want to do?"

"Oh, it would take me long to tell you. All sorts of trash."

"It would take you long, and it would take them longer! All they want to do is to prevent us from doing. On our side, we want to prevent them from preventing us. That's about us clearly as we all see it. So, on one side and the other, it's a beautiful, lucid, inspiring programme."

"I don't believe in you," Mrs. Dallow replied to this, leaning back on her sofa.

"I hope not, Julia, indeed!" He paused a moment, still with his face toward her and his elbows on his knees; then he pursued: "You are a very accomplished woman and a very zealous one; but you haven't an idea, you know—to call an idea. What you mainly want is to be at the head of a political salon; to start one, to keep it up, to make it a success."

"Much you know me!" Julia exclaimed; but he could see through the dimness that she had coloured a little.

"You'll have it, in time, but I won't come to it," Nick went on.

"You can't come less than you do."

"When I say you'll have it, I mean you've already got it. That's why I don't come."

"I don't think you know what you mean," said Mrs. Dallow. "I have an idea that's as good as any of yours, any of those you have treated me to this evening, it seems to me—the simple idea that one ought to do something or other for one's country."

"'Something or other' certainly covers all the ground. There is one thing one can always do for one's country, which is not to be afraid."

"Afraid of what?"

Nick Dormer hesitated a moment, laughing; then he said: "I'll tell you another time. It's very well to talk so glibly of standing," he added; "but it isn't absolutely foreign to the question that I haven't got the cash."

"What did you do before?" asked Mrs. Dallow.

"The first time, my father paid."

"And the other time?"

"Oh, Mr. Carteret."

"Your expenses won't be at all large; on the contrary," said Julia.

"They sha'n't be; I shall look out sharp for that. I shall have the great Hutchby."

"Of course; but, you know, I want you to do it well." She paused an instant, and then: "Of course you can send the bill to me."

"Thanks, awfully; you're tremendously kind. I shouldn't think of that." Nick Dormer got up as he said these words, and walked to the window again, his companion's eyes resting upon him as he stood for a moment with his back to her. "I shall manage it somehow," he went on.

"Mr. Carteret will be delighted," said Julia.

"I dare say, but I hate taking people's money."

"That's nonsense, when it's for the country. Isn't it for them?"

"When they get it back!" Nick replied, turning round and looking for his hat. "It's startlingly late; you must be tired." Mrs. Dallow made no response to this, and he pursued his quest, successful only when he reached a duskier corner of the room, to which the hat had been relegated by his cousin's maid. "Mr. Carteret will expect so much, if he pays. And so would you."

"Yes, I'm bound to say I should!" And Mrs. Dallow emphasized this assertion by the way she rose erect. "If you're only going in to lose, you had better stay out."

"How can I lose, with you?" the young man asked, smiling. She uttered a word, impatiently but indistinguishably, and he continued: "And even if I do, it will have been immense fun."

"It is immense fun," said Julia. "But the best fun is to win. If you don't—"

"If I don't?" he repeated, as she hesitated.

"I'll never speak to you again."

"How much you expect, even when you don't pay!"

Mrs. Dallow's rejoinder was a justification of this remark, embodying as it did the fact that if they should receive on the morrow certain information on which she believed herself entitled to count, information tending to show that the Tories meant to fight the seat hard, not to lose it again, she should look to him to be in the field as early as herself. Sunday was a lost day; she should leave Paris on Monday.

"Oh, they'll fight it hard; they'll put up Kingsbury," said Nick, smoothing his hat. "They'll all come down—all that can get away. And Kingsbury has a very handsome wife."

"She is not so handsome as your cousin," Mrs. Dallow hazarded.

"Oh dear, no—a cousin sooner than a wife, any day!" Nick laughed as soon as he had said this, as if the speech had an awkward side; but the reparation, perhaps, scarcely mended it, the exaggerated mock-meekness with which he added: "I'll do any blessed thing you tell me."

"Come here to-morrow, then, as early as ten." She turned round, moving to the door with him; but before they reached it she demanded, abruptly: "Pray, isn't a gentleman to do anything, to be anything?"

"To be anything?"

"If he doesn't aspire to serve the State."

"To make his political fortune, do you mean? Oh, bless me, yes, there are other things."

"What other things, that can compare with that?"

"Well, I, for instance, I'm very fond of the arts."

"Of the arts?"

"Did you never hear of them? I'm awfully fond of painting."

At this Mrs. Dallow stopped short, and her fine gray eyes had for a moment the air of being set further forward in her head. "Don't be odious! Good-night," she said, turning away and leaving him to go.