It was this feeling and not the wish to ask adviceshe had no desire whatever for thatthat led her to speak to her uncle of what had taken place. She wished to speak to some one; she should feel more natural, more human, and her uncle, for this purpose, presented himself in a more attractive light than either her aunt or her friend Henrietta. Her cousin of course was a possible confidant; but she would have had to do herself violence to air this special secret to Ralph. So the next day, after breakfast, she sought her occasion. Her uncle never left his apartment till the afternoon, but he received his cronies, as he said, in his dressing-room. Isabel had quite taken her place in the class so designated, which, for the rest, included the old mans son, his physician, his personal servant, and even Miss Stackpole. Mrs Touchett did not figure in the list, and this was an obstacle the less to Isabels finding her host alone. He sat in a complicated mechanical chair, at the open window of his room, looking westward over the park and the river, with his newspapers and letters piled up beside him, his toilet freshly and minutely made, and his smooth, speculative face composed to benevolent expectation.
She approached her point directly. I think I ought to let you know that Lord Warburton has asked me to marry him. I suppose I ought to tell my aunt; but it seems best to tell you first.
The old man expressed no surprise, but thanked her for the confidence she showed him. Do you mind telling me whether you accepted him? he then enquired.
Ive not answered him definitely yet; Ive taken a little time to think of it, because that seems more respectful. But I shall not accept him.
Mr Touchett made no comment upon this; he had the air of thinking that, whatever interest he might take in the matter from the point of view of sociability, he had no active voice in it. Well, I told you youd be a success over here. Americans are highly appreciated.
Very highly indeed, said Isabel. But at the cost of seeming both tasteless and ungrateful, I dont think I can marry Lord Warburton.
Well, her uncle went on, of course an old man cant judge for a young lady. Im glad you didnt ask me before you made up your mind. I suppose I ought to tell you, he added slowly, but as if it were not of much consequence, that Ive known all about it these three days.
About Lord Warburtons state of mind?
About his intentions, as they say here. He wrote me a very pleasant letter, telling me all about them. Should you like to see his letter? the old man obligingly asked.
Thank you; I dont think I care about that. But Im glad he wrote to you; it was right that he should, and he would be certain to do what was right.
Ah well, I guess you do like him! Mr Touchett declared. You neednt pretend you dont.
I like him extremely; Im very free to admit that. But I dont wish to marry any one just now.
You think some one may come along whom you may like better. Well, thats very likely, said Mr Touchett, who appeared to wish to show his kindness to the girl by easing off her decision, as it were, and finding cheerful reasons for it.
I dont care if I dont meet any one else. I like Lord Warburton quite well enough. She fell into that appearance of a sudden change of point of view with which she sometimes startled and even displeased her interlocutors.
Her uncle, however, seemed proof against either of these impressions. Hes a very fine man, he resumed in a tone which might have passed for that of encouragement. His letter was one of the pleasantest Ive
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