My dear lady, she finally resumed, I advise you not to agitate yourself. The matter you allude to concerns three persons much stronger of purpose than yourself.
Three persons? You and Osmond of course. But is Miss Archer also very strong of purpose?
Quite as much so as we.
Ah then, said the Countess radiantly, if I convince her its her interest to resist you shell do so successfully!
Resist us? Why do you express yourself so coarsely? Shes not exposed to compulsion or deception.
Im not sure of that. Youre capable of anything, you and Osmond. I dont mean Osmond by himself, and I dont mean you by yourself. But together youre dangerouslike some chemical combination.
You had better leave us alone then, smiled Madame Merle.
I dont mean to touch youbut I shall talk to that girl.
My poor Amy, Madame Merle murmured, I dont see what has got into your head.
I take an interest in herthats what has got into my head. I like her.
Madame Merle hesitated a moment. I dont think she likes you.
The Countesss bright little eyes expanded and her face was set in a grimace. Ah, you are dangerouseven by yourself!
If you want her to like you dont abuse your brother to her, said Madame Merle.
I dont suppose you pretend she has fallen in love with him in two interviews.
Madame Merle looked a moment at Isabel and at the master of the house. He was leaning against the parapet, facing her, his arms folded; and she at present was evidently not lost in the mere impersonal view, persistently as she gazed at it. As Madame Merle watched her she lowered her eyes; she was listening, possibly with a certain embarrassment, while she pressed the point of her parasol into the path. Madame Merle rose from her chair. Yes, I think so! she pronounced.
The shabby footboy, summoned by Pansyhe might, tarnished as to livery and quaint as to type, have issued from some stray sketch of old-time manners, been put in by the brush of a Longhi or a Goyahad come out with a small table and placed it on the grass, and then had gone back and fetched the tea-tray; after which he had again disappeared, to return with a couple of chairs. Pansy had watched these proceedings with the deepest interest, standing with her small hands folded together upon the front of her scanty frock; but she had not presumed to offer assistance. When the tea-table had been arranged, however, she gently approached her aunt.
Do you think papa would object to my making the tea?
The Countess looked at her with a deliberately critical gaze and without answering her question. My poor niece, she said, is that your best frock?
Ah no, Pansy answered, its just a little toilette for common occasions.
Do you call it a common occasion when I come to see you?to say nothing of Madame Merle and the pretty lady yonder.
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