his fellow travellers, who had Mr Pratt in person, in a large bulging white waistcoat, to remove their dishcovers. Ralph turned up, as he said, after breakfast, and the little party made out a scheme of entertainment for the day. As London wears in the month of September5 a face blank but for its smears of prior service, the young man, who occasionally took an apologetic tone, was obliged to remind his companion, to Miss Stackpole’s high derision, that there wasn’t a creature in town.

‘I suppose you mean the aristocracy are absent,’ Henrietta answered; ‘but I don’t think you could have a better proof that if they were absent altogether they wouldn’t be missed. It seems to me the place is about as full as it can be. There’s no one here, of course, but three or four millions of people. What is it you call them—the lower-middle class? They’re only the population of London, and that’s of no consequence.’

Ralph declared that for him the aristocracy left no void that Miss Stackpole herself didn’t fill, and that a more contented man was nowhere at that moment to be found. In this he spoke the truth, for the stale September days, in the huge half-empty town, had a charm wrapped in them as a coloured gem might be wrapped in a dusty cloth. When he went home at night to the empty house in Winchester Square, after a chain of hours with his comparatively ardent friends, he wandered into the big dusky dining-room, where the candle he took from the hall-table, after letting himself in, constituted the only illumination. The square was still, the house was still; when he raised one of the windows of the dining-room to let in the air he heard the slow creak of the boots of a lone constable. His own step, in the empty place, seemed loud and sonorous; some of the carpets had been raised, and whenever he moved he roused a melancholy echo. He sat down in one of the armchairs; the big dark dining-table twinkled here and there in the small candle-light; the pictures on the wall, all of them very brown, looked vague and incoherent. There was a ghostly presence as of dinners long since digested, of table-talk that had lost its actuality. This hint of the supernatural perhaps had something to do with the fact that his imagination took a flight and that he remained in his chair a long time beyond the hour at which he should have been in bed; doing nothing, not even reading the evening paper. I say he did nothing, and I maintain the phrase in the face of the fact that he thought at these moments of Isabel. To think of Isabel could only be for him an idle pursuit, leading to nothing and profiting little to any one. His cousin had not yet seemed to him so charming as during these days spent in sounding, tourist-fashion, the deeps and shallows of the metropolitan element. Isabel was full of premises, conclusions, emotions; if she had come in search of local colour she found it everywhere. She asked more questions than he could answer, and launched brave theories, as to historic cause and social effect, that he was equally unable to accept or to refute. The party went more than once to the British Museum and to that brighter palace of art6 which reclaims for antique variety so large an area of a monotonous suburb; they spent a morning in the Abbey and went on a penny-steamer to the Tower; they looked at pictures both in public and private collections and sat on various occasions beneath the great trees at Kensington Gardens. Henrietta proved an indestructible sight-seer and a more lenient judge than Ralph had ventured to hope. She had indeed many disappointments, and London at large suffered from her vivid remembrance of the strong points of the American civic idea; but she made the best of its dingy dignities and only heaved an occasional sigh and uttered a desultory ‘Well!’ which led no further and lost itself in retrospect. The truth was that, as she said herself, she was not in her element. ‘I’ve not a sympathy with inanimate objects,’ she remarked to Isabel at the National Gallery; and she continued to suffer from the meagreness of the glimpse that had as yet been vouchsafed to her of the inner life. Landscapes by Turner and Assyrian bulls were a poor substitute for the literary dinner-parties at which she had hoped to meet the genius and renown of Great Britain.

‘Where are your public men, where are your men and women of intellect?’ she enquired of Ralph, standing in the middle of Trafalgar Square as if she had supposed this to be a place where she would naturally meet a few. ‘That’s one of them on the top of the column, you say—Lord Nelson? Was he a lord too? Wasn’t he high enough, that they had to stick him a hundred feet in the air? That’s the past—I don’t care about the past; I want to see some of the leading minds of the present. I won’t say of the future, because I don’t believe much in your future.’ Poor Ralph had few leading minds among his acquaintance and rarely enjoyed the pleasure of buttonholing a celebrity; a state of things which appeared to Miss Stackpole to indicate a deplorable want of enterprise. ‘If I were on the other side I should call,’ she said, ‘and tell the gentleman, whoever he might be, that I had heard a great deal about him and had come

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