I liked to think that this was a subtle allusion to the rapture she had known in the society of Jeffrey Aspern—though it was true that such an allusion would have accorded ill with the wish I imputed to her to keep him buried in her soul. What it accorded with was my constant conviction that no human being had ever had a more delightful social gift than his, and what it seemed to convey was that nothing in the world was worth speaking of if one pretended to speak of that. But one did not! Miss Tita sat down beside her aunt, looking as if she had reason to believe some very remarkable conversation would come off between us.

“It’s about the beautiful flowers,” said the old lady; “you sent us so many—I ought to have thanked you for them before. But I don’t write letters and I receive only at long intervals.”

She had not thanked me while the flowers continued to come, but she departed from her custom so far as to send for me as soon as she began to fear that they would not come any more. I noted this; I remembered what an acquisitive propensity she had shown when it was a question of extracting gold from me, and I privately rejoiced at the happy thought I had had in suspending my tribute. She had missed it and she was willing to make a concession to bring it back. At the first sign of this concession I could only go to meet her. “I am afraid you have not had many, of late, but they shall begin again immediately—tomorrow, tonight.”

“Oh, do send us some tonight!” Miss Tita cried, as if it were an immense circumstance.

“What else should you do with them? It isn’t a manly taste to make a bower of your room,” the old woman remarked.

“I don’t make a bower of my room, but I am exceedingly fond of growing flowers, of watching their ways. There is nothing unmanly in that: it has been the amusement of philosophers, of statesmen in retirement; even I think of great captains.”

“I suppose you know you can sell them—those you don’t use,” Miss Bordereau went on. “I daresay they wouldn’t give you much for them; still, you could make a bargain.”

“Oh, I have never made a bargain, as you ought to know. My gardener disposes of them and I ask no questions.”

“I would ask a few, I can promise you!” said Miss Bordereau; and it was the first time I had heard her laugh. I could not get used to the idea that this vision of pecuniary profit was what drew out the divine Juliana most.

“Come into the garden yourself and pick them; come as often as you like; come every day. They are all for you,” I pursued, addressing Miss Tita and carrying off this veracious statement by treating it as an innocent joke. “I can’t imagine why she doesn’t come down,” I added, for Miss Bordereau’s benefit.

“You must make her come; you must come up and fetch her,” said the old woman, to my stupefaction. “That odd thing you have made in the corner would be a capital place for her to sit.”

The allusion to my arbor was irreverent; it confirmed the impression I had already received that there was a flicker of impertinence in Miss Bordereau’s talk, a strange mocking lambency which must have been a part of her adventurous youth and which had outlived passions and faculties. Nonetheless I asked, “Wouldn’t it be possible for you to come down there yourself? Wouldn’t it do you good to sit there in the shade, in the sweet air?”

“Oh, sir, when I move out of this it won’t be to sit in the air, and I’m afraid that any that may be stirring around me won’t be particularly sweet! It will be a very dark shade indeed. But that won’t be just yet,” Miss Bordereau continued cannily, as if to correct any hopes that this courageous allusion to the last

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