Chapter 15

It had been arranged that the two young ladies should proceed to London under Ralph’s escort, though Mrs Touchett looked with little favour on the plan. It was just the sort of plan, she said, that Miss Stackpole would be sure to suggest, and she enquired if the correspondent of the Interviewer was to take the party to stay at her favourite boarding-house.

‘I don’t care where she takes us to stay, so long as there’s local colour,’1 said Isabel. ‘That’s what we’re going to London for.’

‘I suppose that after a girl has refused an English lord she may do anything,’ her aunt rejoined. ‘After that one needn’t stand on trifles.’

‘Should you have liked me to marry Lord Warburton?’ Isabel enquired.

‘Of course I should.’

‘I thought you disliked the English so much.’

‘So I do; but it’s all the greater reason for making use of them.’

‘Is that your idea of marriage?’ And Isabel ventured to add that her aunt appeared to her to have made very little use of Mr Touchett.

‘Your uncle’s not an English nobleman,’ said Mrs Touchett, ‘though even if he had been I should still probably have taken up my residence in Florence.’

‘Do you think Lord Warburton could make me any better than I am?’ the girl asked with some animation. ‘I don’t mean I’m too good to improve. I mean—I mean that I don’t love Lord Warburton enough to marry him.’

‘You did right to refuse him then,’ said Mrs Touchett in her smallest, sparest voice. ‘Only, the next great offer you get, I hope you’ll manage to come up to your standard.’

‘We had better wait till the offer comes before we talk about it. I hope very much I may have no more offers for the present. They upset me completely.’

‘You probably won’t be troubled with them if you adopt permanently the Bohemian2 manner of life. However, I’ve promised Ralph not to criticize.’

‘I’ll do whatever Ralph says is right,’ Isabel returned. ‘I’ve unbounded confidence in Ralph.’

‘His mother’s much obliged to you!’ this lady dryly laughed.

‘It seems to me indeed she ought to feel it!’ Isabel irrepressibly answered.

Ralph had assured her that there would be no violation of decency in their paying a visit—the little party of three—to the sights of the metropolis; but Mrs Touchett took a different view. Like many ladies of her country who had lived a long time in Europe, she had completely lost her native tact on such points, and in her reaction, not in itself deplorable, against the liberty allowed to young persons beyond the seas, had fallen into gratuitous and exaggerated scruples. Ralph accompanied their visitors to town and established them at a quiet inn in a street that ran at right angles to Piccadilly. His first idea had been to take them to his father’s house in Winchester Square,3 a large, dull mansion which at this period of the year was shrouded in silence and brown holland;4 but he bethought himself that, the cook being at Gardencourt, there was no one in the house to get them their meals, and Pratt’s Hotel accordingly became their resting-place. Ralph, on his side, found quarters in Winchester Square, having a ‘den’ there of which he was very fond and being familiar with deeper fears than that of a cold kitchen. He availed himself largely indeed of the resources of Pratt’s Hotel, beginning his day with an early visit to

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.