a rich girl he must be prepared for imputations. I don’t mind them; I only care for one thing—for your not having the shadow of a doubt. I don’t care what people of whom I ask nothing think—I’m not even capable perhaps of wanting to know. I’ve never so concerned myself, God forgive me, and why should I begin to-day, when I have taken to myself a compensation for everything? I won’t pretend I’m sorry you’re rich; I’m delighted. I delight in everything that’s yours—whether it be money or virtue. Money’s a horrid thing to follow, but a charming thing to meet. It seems to me, however, that I’ve sufficiently proved the limits of my itch for it: I never in my life tried to earn a penny, and I ought to be less subject to suspicion than most of the people one sees grubbing and grabbing. I suppose it’s their business to suspect—that of your family; it’s proper on the whole they should. They’ll like me better some day; so will you, for that matter. Meanwhile my business is not to make myself bad blood, but simply to be thankful for life and love.’ ‘It has made me better, loving you,’ he said on another occasion, ‘it has made me wiser and easier and—I won’t pretend to deny—brighter and nicer and even stronger. I used to want a great many things before and to be angry I didn’t have them. Theoretically I was satisfied, as I once told you. I flattered myself I had limited my wants. But I was subject to irritation; I used to have morbid, sterile, hateful fits of hunger, of desire. Now I’m really satisfied, because I can’t think of anything better. It’s just as when one has been trying to spell out a book in the twilight and suddenly the lamp comes in. I had been putting out my eyes over the book of life and finding nothing to reward me for my pains; but now that I can read it properly I see it’s a delightful story. My dear girl, I can’t tell you how life seems to stretch there before us—what a long summer afternoon awaits us. It’s the latter half of an Italian day—with a golden haze, and the shadows just lengthening, and that divine delicacy in the light, the air, the landscape, which I have loved all my life and which you love to-day. Upon my honour, I don’t see why we shouldn’t get on. We’ve got what we like—to say nothing of having each other. We’ve the faculty of admiration and several capital convictions. We’re not stupid, we’re not mean, we’re not under bonds to any kind of ignorance or dreariness. You’re remarkably fresh, and I’m remarkably well-seasoned. We’ve my poor child to amuse us; we’ll try and make up some little life for her. It’s all soft and mellow—it has the Italian colouring.’

They made a good many plans, but they left themselves also a good deal of latitude; it was a matter of course, however, that they should live for the present in Italy. It was in Italy that they had met, Italy had been a party to their first impressions of each other, and Italy should be a party to their happiness. Osmond had the attachment of old acquaintance and Isabel the stimulus of new, which seemed to assure her a future at a high level of consciousness of the beautiful. The desire for unlimited expansion had been succeeded in her soul by the sense that life was vacant without some private duty that might gather one’s energies to a point. She had told Ralph she had ‘seen life’ in a year or two and that she was already tired, not of the act of living, but of that of observing. What had become of all her ardours, her aspirations, her theories, her high estimate of her independence and her incipient conviction that she should never marry? These things had been absorbed in a more primitive need—a need the answer to which brushed away numberless questions, yet gratified infinite desires. It simplified the situation at a stroke, it came down from above like the light of the stars, and it needed no explanation. There was explanation enough in the fact that he was her lover, her own, and that she should be able to be of use to him. She could surrender to him with a kind of humility, she could marry him with a kind of pride; she was not only taking, she was giving.

He brought Pansy with him two or three times to the Cascine—Pansy who was very little taller than a year before, and not much older. That she would always be a child was the conviction expressed by her father, who held her by the hand when she was in her sixteenth year and told her to go and play while he sat down a little with the pretty lady. Pansy wore a short dress and a long coat; her hat always seemed too big for her. She found pleasure in walking off, with quick, short steps, to the end of the alley, and then in walking back with a smile that seemed an appeal for approbation. Isabel approved in abundance, and the abundance had the personal touch that the child’s affectionate nature craved. She watched her indications as if for herself also much depended on them—Pansy already so represented part of the service she could render, part of the responsibility she could face. Her father took so the childish view of her that he had not yet explained to her the new relation in which he stood to the elegant Miss Archer. ‘She doesn’t know,’ he said to Isabel; ‘she doesn’t guess; she thinks it perfectly natural that

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