inspiration gestaltung wohnzimmer

inspiration gestaltung wohnzimmer

chapter 6 as became persons of their risingconsequence, the gormers were engaged in building a country-house on long island;and it was a part of miss bart's duty to attend her hostess on frequent visits ofinspection to the new estate. there, while mrs. gormer plunged intoproblems of lighting and sanitation, lily had leisure to wander, in the bright autumnair, along the tree-fringed bay to which the land declined. little as she was addicted to solitude,there had come to be moments when it seemed a welcome escape from the empty noises ofher life.

she was weary of being swept passivelyalong a current of pleasure and business in which she had no share; weary of seeingother people pursue amusement and squander money, while she felt herself of no more account among them than an expensive toy inthe hands of a spoiled child. it was in this frame of mind that, strikingback from the shore one morning into the windings of an unfamiliar lane, she camesuddenly upon the figure of george dorset. the dorset place was in the immediateneighbourhood of the gormers' newly- acquired estate, and in her motor-flightsthither with mrs. gormer, lily had caught one or two passing glimpses of the couple;

but they moved in so different an orbitthat she had not considered the possibility of a direct encounter. dorset, swinging along with bent head, inmoody abstraction, did not see miss bart till he was close upon her; but the sight,instead of bringing him to a halt, as she had half-expected, sent him toward her with an eagerness which found expression in hisopening words. "miss bart!--you'll shake hands, won't you?i've been hoping to meet you--i should have written to you if i'd dared." his face, with its tossed red hair andstraggling moustache, had a driven uneasy

look, as though life had become anunceasing race between himself and the thoughts at his heels. the look drew a word of compassionategreeting from lily, and he pressed on, as if encouraged by her tone: "i wanted toapologize--to ask you to forgive me for the miserable part i played----" she checked him with a quick gesture."don't let us speak of it: i was very sorry for you," she said, with a tinge of disdainwhich, as she instantly perceived, was not lost on him. he flushed to his haggard eyes, flushed socruelly that she repented the thrust.

"you might well be; you don't know--youmust let me explain. i was deceived: abominably deceived----" "i am still more sorry for you, then," sheinterposed, without irony; "but you must see that i am not exactly the person withwhom the subject can be discussed." he met this with a look of genuine wonder. "why not?isn't it to you, of all people, that i owe an explanation----""no explanation is necessary: the situation was perfectly clear to me." "ah----" he murmured, his head droopingagain, and his irresolute hand switching at

the underbrush along the lane. but as lily made a movement to pass on, hebroke out with fresh vehemence: "miss bart, for god's sake don't turn from me! we used to be good friends--you were alwayskind to me--and you don't know how i need a friend now."the lamentable weakness of the words roused a motion of pity in lily's breast. she too needed friends--she had tasted thepang of loneliness; and her resentment of bertha dorset's cruelty softened her heartto the poor wretch who was after all the chief of bertha's victims.

"i still wish to be kind; i feel no ill-will toward you," she said. "but you must understand that after whathas happened we can't be friends again--we can't see each other." "ah, you are kind--you're merciful--youalways were!" he fixed his miserable gaze on her."but why can't we be friends--why not, when i've repented in dust and ashes? isn't it hard that you should condemn me tosuffer for the falseness, the treachery of others?i was punished enough at the time--is there to be no respite for me?"

"i should have thought you had foundcomplete respite in the reconciliation which was effected at my expense," lilybegan, with renewed impatience; but he broke in imploringly: "don't put it in that way--when that's been the worst of mypunishment. my god! what could i do--wasn't ipowerless? you were singled out as a sacrifice: anyword i might have said would have been turned against you----" "i have told you i don't blame you; all iask you to understand is that, after the use bertha chose to make of me--after allthat her behaviour has since implied--it's

impossible that you and i should meet." he continued to stand before her, in hisdogged weakness. "is it--need it be? mightn't there be circumstances----?" hechecked himself, slashing at the wayside weeds in a wider radius.then he began again: "miss bart, listen-- give me a minute. if we're not to meet again, at least let mehave a hearing now. you say we can't be friends after--afterwhat has happened. but can't i at least appeal to your pity?

can't i move you if i ask you to think ofme as a prisoner--a prisoner you alone can set free?" lily's inward start betrayed itself in aquick blush: was it possible that this was really the sense of carry fisher'sadumbrations? "i can't see how i can possibly be of anyhelp to you," she murmured, drawing back a little from the mounting excitement of hislook. her tone seemed to sober him, as it had sooften done in his stormiest moments. the stubborn lines of his face relaxed, andhe said, with an abrupt drop to docility: "you would see, if you'd be as merciful asyou used to be: and heaven knows i've never

needed it more!" she paused a moment, moved in spite ofherself by this reminder of her influence over him. her fibres had been softened by suffering,and the sudden glimpse into his mocked and broken life disarmed her contempt for hisweakness. "i am very sorry for you--i would help youwillingly; but you must have other friends, other advisers.""i never had a friend like you," he answered simply. "and besides--can't you see?--you're theonly person"--his voice dropped to a

whisper--"the only person who knows." again she felt her colour change; again herheart rose in precipitate throbs to meet what she felt was coming.he lifted his eyes to her entreatingly. "you do see, don't you? you understand?i'm desperate--i'm at the end of my tether. i want to be free, and you can free me.i know you can. you don't want to keep me bound fast inhell, do you? you can't want to take such a vengeance asthat. you were always kind--your eyes are kindnow.

you say you're sorry for me. well, it rests with you to show it; andheaven knows there's nothing to keep you back. you understand, of course--there wouldn'tbe a hint of publicity--not a sound or a syllable to connect you with the thing. it would never come to that, you know: alli need is to be able to say definitely: 'i know this--and this--and this'--and thefight would drop, and the way be cleared, and the whole abominable business swept outof sight in a second." he spoke pantingly, like a tired runner,with breaks of exhaustion between his

words; and through the breaks she caught,as through the shifting rents of a fog, great golden vistas of peace and safety. for there was no mistaking the definiteintention behind his vague appeal; she could have filled up the blanks without thehelp of mrs. fisher's insinuations. here was a man who turned to her in theextremity of his loneliness and his humiliation: if she came to him at such amoment he would be hers with all the force of his deluded faith. and the power to make him so lay in herhand--lay there in a completeness he could not even remotely conjecture.

revenge and rehabilitation might be hers ata stroke--there was something dazzling in the completeness of the opportunity.she stood silent, gazing away from him down the autumnal stretch of the deserted lane. and suddenly fear possessed her--fear ofherself, and of the terrible force of the temptation. all her past weaknesses were like so manyeager accomplices drawing her toward the path their feet had already smoothed.she turned quickly, and held out her hand to dorset. "goodbye--i'm sorry; there's nothing in theworld that i can do."

"nothing?ah, don't say that," he cried; "say what's true: that you abandon me like the others. you, the only creature who could have savedme!" "goodbye--goodbye," she repeated hurriedly;and as she moved away she heard him cry out on a last note of entreaty: "at leastyou'll let me see you once more?" lily, on regaining the gormer grounds,struck rapidly across the lawn toward the unfinished house, where she fancied thather hostess might be speculating, not too resignedly, on the cause of her delay; for, like many unpunctual persons, mrs. gormerdisliked to be kept waiting.

as miss bart reached the avenue, however,she saw a smart phaeton with a high- stepping pair disappear behind theshrubbery in the direction of the gate; and on the doorstep stood mrs. gormer, with a glow of retrospective pleasure on her opencountenance. at sight of lily the glow deepened to anembarrassed red, and she said with a slight laugh: "did you see my visitor? oh, i thought you came back by the was mrs. george dorset--she said she'd dropped in to make a neighbourly call." lily met the announcement with her usualcomposure, though her experience of

bertha's idiosyncrasies would not have ledher to include the neighbourly instinct among them; and mrs. gormer, relieved to see that she gave no sign of surprise, wenton with a deprecating laugh: "of course what really brought her was curiosity--shemade me take her all over the house. but no one could have been nicer--no airs,you know, and so good-natured: i can quite see why people think her so fascinating." this surprising event, coinciding toocompletely with her meeting with dorset to be regarded as contingent upon it, had yetimmediately struck lily with a vague sense of foreboding.

it was not in bertha's habits to beneighbourly, much less to make advances to any one outside the immediate circle of heraffinities. she had always consistently ignored theworld of outer aspirants, or had recognized its individual members only when promptedby motives of self-interest; and the very capriciousness of her condescensions had, as lily was aware, given them special valuein the eyes of the persons she distinguished. lily saw this now in mrs. gormer'sunconcealable complacency, and in the happy irrelevance with which, for the next day ortwo, she quoted bertha's opinions and

speculated on the origin of her gown. all the secret ambitions which mrs.gormer's native indolence, and the attitude of her companions, kept in habitualabeyance, were now germinating afresh in the glow of bertha's advances; and whatever the cause of the latter, lily saw that, ifthey were followed up, they were likely to have a disturbing effect upon her ownfuture. she had arranged to break the length of herstay with her new friends by one or two visits to other acquaintances as recent;and on her return from this somewhat depressing excursion she was immediately

conscious that mrs. dorset's influence wasstill in the air. there had been another exchange of visits,a tea at a country-club, an encounter at a hunt ball; there was even a rumour of anapproaching dinner, which mattie gormer, with an unnatural effort at discretion, tried to smuggle out of the conversationwhenever miss bart took part in it. the latter had already planned to return totown after a farewell sunday with her friends; and, with gerty farish's aid, haddiscovered a small private hotel where she might establish herself for the winter. the hotel being on the edge of afashionable neighbourhood, the price of the

few square feet she was to occupy wasconsiderably in excess of her means; but she found a justification for her dislike of poorer quarters in the argument that, atthis particular juncture, it was of the utmost importance to keep up a show ofprosperity. in reality, it was impossible for her,while she had the means to pay her way for a week ahead, to lapse into a form ofexistence like gerty farish's. she had never been so near the brink ofinsolvency; but she could at least manage to meet her weekly hotel bill, and havingsettled the heaviest of her previous debts out of the money she had received from

trenor, she had a still fair margin ofcredit to go upon. the situation, however, was not agreeableenough to lull her to complete unconsciousness of its insecurity. her rooms, with their cramped outlook downa sallow vista of brick walls and fire- escapes, her lonely meals in the darkrestaurant with its surcharged ceiling and haunting smell of coffee--all these material discomforts, which were yet to beaccounted as so many privileges soon to be withdrawn, kept constantly before her thedisadvantages of her state; and her mind reverted the more insistently to mrs.fisher's counsels.

beat about the question as she would, sheknew the outcome of it was that she must try to marry rosedale; and in thisconviction she was fortified by an unexpected visit from george dorset. she found him, on the first sunday afterher return to town, pacing her narrow sitting-room to the imminent peril of thefew knick-knacks with which she had tried to disguise its plush exuberances; but the sight of her seemed to quiet him, and hesaid meekly that he hadn't come to bother her--that he asked only to be allowed tosit for half an hour and talk of anything she liked.

in reality, as she knew, he had but onesubject: himself and his wretchedness; and it was the need of her sympathy that haddrawn him back. but he began with a pretence of questioningher about herself, and as she replied, she saw that, for the first time, a faintrealization of her plight penetrated the dense surface of his self-absorption. was it possible that her old beast of anaunt had actually cut her off? that she was living alone like this becausethere was no one else for her to go to, and that she really hadn't more than enough tokeep alive on till the wretched little legacy was paid?

the fibres of sympathy were nearlyatrophied in him, but he was suffering so intensely that he had a faint glimpse ofwhat other sufferings might mean--and, as she perceived, an almost simultaneous perception of the way in which herparticular misfortunes might serve him. when at length she dismissed him, on thepretext that she must dress for dinner, he lingered entreatingly on the threshold toblurt out: "it's been such a comfort--do say you'll let me see you again--" but to this direct appeal it was impossible togive an assent; and she said with friendly decisiveness: "i'm sorry--but you know whyi can't."

he coloured to the eyes, pushed the doorshut, and stood before her embarrassed but insistent. "i know how you might, if you would--ifthings were different--and it lies with you to make them's just a word to say, and you put me out of my misery!" their eyes met, and for a second shetrembled again with the nearness of the "you're mistaken; i know nothing; i sawnothing," she exclaimed, striving, by sheer force of reiteration, to build a barrierbetween herself and her peril; and as he turned away, groaning out "you sacrifice us

both," she continued to repeat, as if itwere a charm: "i know nothing--absolutely nothing." lily had seen little of rosedale since herilluminating talk with mrs. fisher, but on the two or three occasions when they hadmet she was conscious of having distinctly advanced in his favour. there could be no doubt that he admired heras much as ever, and she believed it rested with herself to raise his admiration to thepoint where it should bear down the lingering counsels of expediency. the task was not an easy one; but neitherwas it easy, in her long sleepless nights,

to face the thought of what george dorsetwas so clearly ready to offer. baseness for baseness, she hated the otherleast: there were even moments when a marriage with rosedale seemed the onlyhonourable solution of her difficulties. she did not indeed let her imaginationrange beyond the day of plighting: after that everything faded into a haze ofmaterial well-being, in which the personality of her benefactor remainedmercifully vague. she had learned, in her long vigils, thatthere were certain things not good to think of, certain midnight images that must atany cost be exorcised--and one of these was the image of herself as rosedale's wife.

carry fisher, on the strength, as shefrankly owned, of the brys' newport success, had taken for the autumn months asmall house at tuxedo; and thither lily was bound on the sunday after dorset's visit. though it was nearly dinner-time when shearrived, her hostess was still out, and the firelit quiet of the small silent housedescended on her spirit with a sense of peace and familiarity. it may be doubted if such an emotion hadever before been evoked by carry fisher's surroundings; but, contrasted to the worldin which lily had lately lived, there was an air of repose and stability in the very

placing of the furniture, and in the quietcompetence of the parlour-maid who led her up to her room. mrs. fisher's unconventionality was, afterall, a merely superficial divergence from an inherited social creed, while themanners of the gormer circle represented their first attempt to formulate such acreed for themselves. it was the first time since her return fromeurope that lily had found herself in a congenial atmosphere, and the stirring offamiliar associations had almost prepared her, as she descended the stairs before dinner, to enter upon a group of her oldacquaintances.

but this expectation was instantly checkedby the reflection that the friends who remained loyal were precisely those whowould be least willing to expose her to such encounters; and it was hardly with surprise that she found, instead, mr.rosedale kneeling domestically on the drawing-room hearth before his hostess'slittle girl. rosedale in the paternal role was hardly afigure to soften lily; yet she could not but notice a quality of homely goodness inhis advances to the child. they were not, at any rate, thepremeditated and perfunctory endearments of the guest under his hostess's eye, for heand the little girl had the room to

themselves; and something in his attitude made him seem a simple and kindly beingcompared to the small critical creature who endured his homage. yes, he would be kind--lily, from thethreshold, had time to feel--kind in his gross, unscrupulous, rapacious way, the wayof the predatory creature with his mate. she had but a moment in which to considerwhether this glimpse of the fireside man mitigated her repugnance, or gave it,rather, a more concrete and intimate form; for at sight of her he was immediately on his feet again, the florid and dominantrosedale of mattie gormer's drawing-room.

it was no surprise to lily to find that hehad been selected as her only fellow-guest. though she and her hostess had not metsince the latter's tentative discussion of her future, lily knew that the acutenesswhich enabled mrs. fisher to lay a safe and pleasant course through a world of antagonistic forces was not infrequentlyexercised for the benefit of her friends. it was, in fact, characteristic of carrythat, while she actively gleaned her own stores from the fields of affluence, herreal sympathies were on the other side-- with the unlucky, the unpopular, the unsuccessful, with all her hungry fellow-toilers in the shorn stubble of success.

mrs. fisher's experience guarded heragainst the mistake of exposing lily, for the first evening, to the unmitigatedimpression of rosedale's personality. kate corby and two or three men dropped into dinner, and lily, alive to every detail of her friend's method, saw that suchopportunities as had been contrived for her were to be deferred till she had, as it were, gained courage to make effectual useof them. she had a sense of acquiescing in this planwith the passiveness of a sufferer resigned to the surgeon's touch; and this feeling ofalmost lethargic helplessness continued when, after the departure of the guests,mrs. fisher followed her upstairs.

"may i come in and smoke a cigarette overyour fire? if we talk in my room we shall disturb thechild." mrs. fisher looked about her with the eyeof the solicitous hostess. "i hope you've managed to make yourselfcomfortable, dear? isn't it a jolly little house?it's such a blessing to have a few quiet weeks with the baby." carry, in her rare moments of prosperity,became so expansively maternal that miss bart sometimes wondered whether, if shecould ever get time and money enough, she would not end by devoting them both to herdaughter.

"it's a well-earned rest: i'll say that formyself," she continued, sinking down with a sigh of content on the pillowed lounge nearthe fire. "louisa bry is a stern task-master: i oftenused to wish myself back with the gormers. talk of love making people jealous andsuspicious--it's nothing to social ambition! louisa used to lie awake at night wonderingwhether the women who called on us called on me because i was with her, or on herbecause she was with me; and she was always laying traps to find out what i thought. of course i had to disown my oldestfriends, rather than let her suspect she

owed me the chance of making a singleacquaintance--when, all the while, that was what she had me there for, and what she wrote me a handsome cheque for when theseason was over!" mrs. fisher was not a woman who talked ofherself without cause, and the practice of direct speech, far from precluding in heran occasional resort to circuitous methods, served rather, at crucial moments, the purpose of the juggler's chatter while heshifts the contents of his sleeves. through the haze of her cigarette smoke shecontinued to gaze meditatively at miss bart, who, having dismissed her maid, satbefore the toilet-table shaking out over

her shoulders the loosened undulations ofher hair. "your hair's wonderful, lily.thinner--? what does that matter, when it's so lightand alive? so many women's worries seem to go straightto their hair--but yours looks as if there had never been an anxious thought under it. i never saw you look better than you didthis evening. mattie gormer told me that morpeth wantedto paint you--why don't you let him?" miss bart's immediate answer was to addressa critical glance to the reflection of the countenance under discussion.

then she said, with a slight touch ofirritation: "i don't care to accept a portrait from paul morpeth."mrs. fisher mused. "n--no. and just now, especially--well, he can doyou after you're married." she waited a moment, and then went on: "bythe way, i had a visit from mattie the other day. she turned up here last sunday--and withbertha dorset, of all people in the world!" she paused again to measure the effect ofthis announcement on her hearer, but the brush in miss bart's lifted hand maintainedits unwavering stroke from brow to nape.

"i never was more astonished," mrs. fisherpursued. "i don't know two women less predestined tointimacy--from bertha's standpoint, that is; for of course poor mattie thinks itnatural enough that she should be singled out--i've no doubt the rabbit always thinksit is fascinating the anaconda. well, you know i've always told you thatmattie secretly longed to bore herself with the really fashionable; and now that thechance has come, i see that she's capable of sacrificing all her old friends to it." lily laid aside her brush and turned apenetrating glance upon her friend. "including me?" she suggested."ah, my dear," murmured mrs. fisher, rising

to push back a log from the hearth. "that's what bertha means, isn't it?"miss bart went on steadily. "for of course she always means something;and before i left long island i saw that she was beginning to lay her toils formattie." mrs. fisher sighed evasively. "she has her fast now, at any think of that loud independence of mattie's being only a subtler form ofsnobbishness! bertha can already make her believeanything she pleases--and i'm afraid she's begun, my poor child, by insinuatinghorrors about you."

lily flushed under the shadow of herdrooping hair. "the world is too vile," she murmured,averting herself from mrs. fisher's anxious scrutiny. "it's not a pretty place; and the only wayto keep a footing in it is to fight it on its own terms--and above all, my dear, notalone!" mrs. fisher gathered up her floatingimplications in a resolute grasp. "you've told me so little that i can onlyguess what has been happening; but in the rush we all live in there's no time to keepon hating any one without a cause, and if bertha is still nasty enough to want to

injure you with other people it must bebecause she's still afraid of you. from her standpoint there's only one reasonfor being afraid of you; and my own idea is that, if you want to punish her, you holdthe means in your hand. i believe you can marry george dorsettomorrow; but if you don't care for that particular form of retaliation, the onlything to save you from bertha is to marry somebody else." > chapter 7 the light projected on the situation bymrs. fisher had the cheerless distinctness

of a winter dawn. it outlined the facts with a cold precisionunmodified by shade or colour, and refracted, as it were, from the blank wallsof the surrounding limitations: she had opened windows from which no sky was evervisible. but the idealist subdued to vulgarnecessities must employ vulgar minds to draw the inferences to which he cannotstoop; and it was easier for lily to let mrs. fisher formulate her case than to putit plainly to herself. once confronted with it, however, she wentthe full length of its consequences; and these had never been more clearly presentto her than when, the next afternoon, she

set out for a walk with rosedale. it was one of those still november dayswhen the air is haunted with the light of summer, and something in the lines of thelandscape, and in the golden haze which bathed them, recalled to miss bart the september afternoon when she had climbedthe slopes of bellomont with selden. the importunate memory was kept before herby its ironic contrast to her present situation, since her walk with selden hadrepresented an irresistible flight from just such a climax as the present excursionwas designed to bring about. but other memories importuned her also; therecollection of similar situations, as

skillfully led up to, but through somemalice of fortune, or her own unsteadiness of purpose, always failing of the intendedresult. well, her purpose was steady enough now. she saw that the whole weary work ofrehabilitation must begin again, and against far greater odds, if bertha dorsetshould succeed in breaking up her friendship with the gormers; and her longing for shelter and security wasintensified by the passionate desire to triumph over bertha, as only wealth andpredominance could triumph over her. as the wife of rosedale--the rosedale shefelt it in her power to create--she would

at least present an invulnerable front toher enemy. she had to draw upon this thought, as uponsome fiery stimulant, to keep up her part in the scene toward which rosedale was toofrankly tending. as she walked beside him, shrinking inevery nerve from the way in which his look and tone made free of her, yet tellingherself that this momentary endurance of his mood was the price she must pay for her ultimate power over him, she tried tocalculate the exact point at which concession must turn to resistance, and theprice he would have to pay be made equally clear to him.

but his dapper self-confidence seemedimpenetrable to such hints, and she had a sense of something hard and self-containedbehind the superficial warmth of his manner. they had been seated for some time in theseclusion of a rocky glen above the lake, when she suddenly cut short the culminationof an impassioned period by turning upon him the grave loveliness of her gaze. "i do believe what you say, mr. rosedale,"she said quietly; "and i am ready to marry you whenever you wish." rosedale, reddening to the roots of hisglossy hair, received this announcement

with a recoil which carried him to hisfeet, where he halted before her in an attitude of almost comic discomfiture. "for i suppose that is what you do wish,"she continued, in the same quiet tone. "and, though i was unable to consent whenyou spoke to me in this way before, i am ready, now that i know you so much better,to trust my happiness to your hands." she spoke with the noble directness whichshe could command on such occasions, and which was like a large steady light thrownacross the tortuous darkness of the situation. in its inconvenient brightness rosedaleseemed to waver a moment, as though

conscious that every avenue of escape wasunpleasantly illuminated. then he gave a short laugh, and drew out agold cigarette-case, in which, with plump jewelled fingers, he groped for a gold-tipped cigarette. selecting one, he paused to contemplate ita moment before saying: "my dear miss lily, i'm sorry if there's been any littlemisapprehension between us-but you made me feel my suit was so hopeless that i hadreally no intention of renewing it." lily's blood tingled with the grossness ofthe rebuff; but she checked the first leap of her anger, and said in a tone of gentledignity: "i have no one but myself to blame if i gave you the impression that mydecision was final."

her word-play was always too quick for him,and this reply held him in puzzled silence while she extended her hand and added, withthe faintest inflection of sadness in her voice: "before we bid each other goodbye, i want at least to thank you for havingonce thought of me as you did." the touch of her hand, the moving softnessof her look, thrilled a vulnerable fibre in rosedale. it was her exquisite inaccessibleness, thesense of distance she could convey without a hint of disdain, that made it mostdifficult for him to give her up. "why do you talk of saying goodbye?

ain't we going to be good friends all thesame?" he urged, without releasing her hand.she drew it away quietly. "what is your idea of being good friends?"she returned with a slight smile. "making love to me without asking me tomarry you?" rosedale laughed with a recovered sense ofease. "well, that's about the size of it, isuppose. i can't help making love to you--i don'tsee how any man could; but i don't mean to ask you to marry me as long as i can keepout of it." she continued to smile.

"i like your frankness; but i am afraid ourfriendship can hardly continue on those terms." she turned away, as though to mark that itsfinal term had in fact been reached, and he followed her for a few steps with a baffledsense of her having after all kept the game in her own hands. "miss lily----" he began impulsively; butshe walked on without seeming to hear him. he overtook her in a few quick strides, andlaid an entreating hand on her arm. "miss lily--don't hurry away like that. you're beastly hard on a fellow; but if youdon't mind speaking the truth i don't see

why you shouldn't allow me to do the same." she had paused a moment with raised brows,drawing away instinctively from his touch, though she made no effort to evade hiswords. "i was under the impression," she rejoined,"that you had done so without waiting for my permission.""well--why shouldn't you hear my reasons for doing it, then? we're neither of us such new hands that alittle plain speaking is going to hurt us. i'm all broken up on you: there's nothingnew in that. i'm more in love with you than i was thistime last year; but i've got to face the

fact that the situation is changed."she continued to confront him with the same air of ironic composure. "you mean to say that i'm not as desirablea match as you thought me?" "yes; that's what i do mean," he answeredresolutely. "i won't go into what's happened. i don't believe the stories about you--idon't want to believe them. but they're there, and my not believingthem ain't going to alter the situation." she flushed to her temples, but theextremity of her need checked the retort on her lip and she continued to face himcomposedly.

"if they are not true," she said, "doesn'tthat alter the situation?" he met this with a steady gaze of his smallstock-taking eyes, which made her feel herself no more than some superfine humanmerchandise. "i believe it does in novels; but i'mcertain it don't in real life. you know that as well as i do: if we'respeaking the truth, let's speak the whole truth. last year i was wild to marry you, and youwouldn't look at me: this year--well, you appear to be, what has changed in the interval? your situation, that's all.

then you thought you could do better; now----" "you think you can?" broke from herironically. "why, yes, i do: in one way, that is." he stood before her, his hands in hispockets, his chest sturdily expanded under its vivid waistcoat. "it's this way, you see: i've had a prettysteady grind of it these last years, working up my social position.think it's funny i should say that? why should i mind saying i want to get intosociety? a man ain't ashamed to say he wants to owna racing stable or a picture gallery.

well, a taste for society's just anotherkind of hobby. perhaps i want to get even with some of thepeople who cold-shouldered me last year-- put it that way if it sounds better. anyhow, i want to have the run of the besthouses; and i'm getting it too, little by little. but i know the quickest way to queeryourself with the right people is to be seen with the wrong ones; and that's thereason i want to avoid mistakes." miss bart continued to stand before him ina silence that might have expressed either mockery or a half-reluctant respect for hiscandour, and after a moment's pause he went

on: "there it is, you see. i'm more in love with you than ever, but ifi married you now i'd queer myself for good and all, and everything i've worked for allthese years would be wasted." she received this with a look from whichall tinge of resentment had faded. after the tissue of social falsehoods inwhich she had so long moved it was refreshing to step into the open daylightof an avowed expediency. "i understand you," she said. "a year ago i should have been of use toyou, and now i should be an encumbrance; and i like you for telling me so quitehonestly."

she extended her hand with a smile. again the gesture had a disturbing effectupon mr. rosedale's self-command. "by george, you're a dead game sport, youare!" he exclaimed; and as she began once more to move away, he broke out suddenly--"miss lily--stop. you know i don't believe those stories--ibelieve they were all got up by a woman who didn't hesitate to sacrifice you to her ownconvenience----" lily drew away with a movement of quickdisdain: it was easier to endure his insolence than his commiseration."you are very kind; but i don't think we need discuss the matter farther."

but rosedale's natural imperviousness tohints made it easy for him to brush such resistance aside. "i don't want to discuss anything; i justwant to put a plain case before you," he persisted. she paused in spite of herself, held by thenote of a new purpose in his look and tone; and he went on, keeping his eyes firmlyupon her: "the wonder to me is that you've waited so long to get square with that woman, when you've had the power in yourhands." she continued silent under the rush ofastonishment that his words produced, and

he moved a step closer to ask with low-toned directness: "why don't you use those letters of hers you bought last year?" lily stood speechless under the shock ofthe interrogation. in the words preceding it she hadconjectured, at most, an allusion to her supposed influence over george dorset; nordid the astonishing indelicacy of the reference diminish the likelihood ofrosedale's resorting to it. but now she saw how far short of the markshe had fallen; and the surprise of learning that he had discovered the secretof the letters left her, for the moment, unconscious of the special use to which hewas in the act of putting his knowledge.

her temporary loss of self-possession gavehim time to press his point; and he went on quickly, as though to secure completercontrol of the situation: "you see i know where you stand--i know how completelyshe's in your power. that sounds like stage-talk, don't it?--butthere's a lot of truth in some of those old gags; and i don't suppose you bought thoseletters simply because you're collecting autographs." she continued to look at him with adeepening bewilderment: her only clear impression resolved itself into a scaredsense of his power. "you're wondering how i found out about'em?" he went on, answering her look with a

note of conscious pride. "perhaps you've forgotten that i'm theowner of the benedick-but never mind about that now. getting on to things is a mighty usefulaccomplishment in business, and i've simply extended it to my private affairs.for this is partly my affair, you see--at least, it depends on you to make it so. let's look the situation straight in theeye. mrs. dorset, for reasons we needn't gointo, did you a beastly bad turn last spring.

everybody knows what mrs. dorset is, andher best friends wouldn't believe her on oath where their own interests wereconcerned; but as long as they're out of the row it's much easier to follow her lead than to set themselves against it, andyou've simply been sacrificed to their laziness and selfishness. isn't that a pretty fair statement of thecase?--well, some people say you've got the neatest kind of an answer in your hands:that george dorset would marry you tomorrow, if you'd tell him all you know, and give him the chance to show the ladythe door.

i daresay he would; but you don't seem tocare for that particular form of getting even, and, taking a purely business view ofthe question, i think you're right. in a deal like that, nobody comes out withperfectly clean hands, and the only way for you to start fresh is to get bertha dorsetto back you up, instead of trying to fight her." he paused long enough to draw breath, butnot to give her time for the expression of her gathering resistance; and as he pressedon, expounding and elucidating his idea with the directness of the man who has no doubts of his cause, she found theindignation gradually freezing on her lip,

found herself held fast in the grasp of hisargument by the mere cold strength of its presentation. there was no time now to wonder how he hadheard of her obtaining the letters: all her world was dark outside the monstrous glareof his scheme for using them. and it was not, after the first moment, thehorror of the idea that held her spell- bound, subdued to his will; it was ratherits subtle affinity to her own inmost cravings. he would marry her tomorrow if she couldregain bertha dorset's friendship; and to induce the open resumption of thatfriendship, and the tacit retractation of

all that had caused its withdrawal, she had only to put to the lady the latent menacecontained in the packet so miraculously delivered into her hands. lily saw in a flash the advantage of thiscourse over that which poor dorset had pressed upon her. the other plan depended for its success onthe infliction of an open injury, while this reduced the transaction to a privateunderstanding, of which no third person need have the remotest hint. put by rosedale in terms of business-likegive-and-take, this understanding took on

the harmless air of a mutual accommodation,like a transfer of property or a revision of boundary lines. it certainly simplified life to view it asa perpetual adjustment, a play of party politics, in which every concession had itsrecognized equivalent: lily's tired mind was fascinated by this escape from fluctuating ethical estimates into a regionof concrete weights and measures. rosedale, as she listened, seemed to readin her silence not only a gradual acquiescence in his plan, but a dangerouslyfar-reaching perception of the chances it offered; for as she continued to stand

before him without speaking, he broke out,with a quick return upon himself: "you see how simple it is, don't you?well, don't be carried away by the idea that it's too simple. it isn't exactly as if you'd started inwith a clean bill of health. now we're talking let's call things bytheir right names, and clear the whole business up. you know well enough that bertha dorsetcouldn't have touched you if there hadn't been--well--questions asked before--littlepoints of interrogation, eh? bound to happen to a good-looking girl withstingy relatives, i suppose; anyhow, they

did happen, and she found the groundprepared for her. do you see where i'm coming out? you don't want these little questionscropping up again. it's one thing to get bertha dorset intoline--but what you want is to keep her there. you can frighten her fast enough--but howare you going to keep her frightened? by showing her that you're as powerful asshe is. all the letters in the world won't do thatfor you as you are now; but with a big backing behind you, you'll keep her justwhere you want her to be.

that's my share in the business--that'swhat i'm offering you. you can't put the thing through without me--don't run away with any idea that you can. in six months you'd be back again amongyour old worries, or worse ones; and here i am, ready to lift you out of 'em tomorrowif you say so. do you say so, miss lily?" he added, movingsuddenly nearer. the words, and the movement whichaccompanied them, combined to startle lily out of the state of tranced subservienceinto which she had insensibly slipped. light comes in devious ways to the gropingconsciousness, and it came to her now through the disgusted perception that herwould-be accomplice assumed, as a matter of

course, the likelihood of her distrusting him and perhaps trying to cheat him of hisshare of the spoils. this glimpse of his inner mind seemed topresent the whole transaction in a new aspect, and she saw that the essentialbaseness of the act lay in its freedom from risk. she drew back with a quick gesture ofrejection, saying, in a voice that was a surprise to her own ears: "you aremistaken--quite mistaken--both in the facts and in what you infer from them." rosedale stared a moment, puzzled by hersudden dash in a direction so different

from that toward which she had appeared tobe letting him guide her. "now what on earth does that mean? i thought we understood each other!" heexclaimed; and to her murmur of "ah, we do now," he retorted with a sudden burst ofviolence: "i suppose it's because the letters are to him, then? well, i'll be damned if i see what thanksyou've got from him!" chapter 8 the autumn days declined to winter. once more the leisure world was intransition between country and town, and

fifth avenue, still deserted at the week-end, showed from monday to friday a broadening stream of carriages between house-fronts gradually restored toconsciousness. the horse show, some two weeks earlier, hadproduced a passing semblance of reanimation, filling the theatres andrestaurants with a human display of the same costly and high-stepping kind ascircled daily about its ring. in miss bart's world the horse show, andthe public it attracted, had ostensibly come to be classed among the spectaclesdisdained of the elect; but, as the feudal lord might sally forth to join in the dance

on his village green, so society,unofficially and incidentally, still condescended to look in upon the scene. mrs. gormer, among the rest, was not aboveseizing such an occasion for the display of herself and her horses; and lily was givenone or two opportunities of appearing at her friend's side in the most conspicuousbox the house afforded. but this lingering semblance of intimacymade her only the more conscious of a change in the relation between mattie andherself, of a dawning discrimination, a gradually formed social standard, emergingfrom mrs. gormer's chaotic view of life. it was inevitable that lily herself shouldconstitute the first sacrifice to this new

ideal, and she knew that, once the gormerswere established in town, the whole drift of fashionable life would facilitatemattie's detachment from her. she had, in short, failed to make herselfindispensable; or rather, her attempt to do so had been thwarted by an influencestronger than any she could exert. that influence, in its last analysis, wassimply the power of money: bertha dorset's social credit was based on an impregnablebank-account. lily knew that rosedale had overstatedneither the difficulty of her own position nor the completeness of the vindication heoffered: once bertha's match in material resources, her superior gifts would make iteasy for her to dominate her adversary.

an understanding of what such dominationwould mean, and of the disadvantages accruing from her rejection of it, wasbrought home to lily with increasing clearness during the early weeks of thewinter. hitherto, she had kept up a semblance ofmovement outside the main flow of the social current; but with the return totown, and the concentrating of scattered activities, the mere fact of not slipping back naturally into her old habits of lifemarked her as being unmistakably excluded from them. if one were not a part of the season'sfixed routine, one swung unsphered in a

void of social non-existence. lily, for all her dissatisfied dreaming,had never really conceived the possibility of revolving about a different centre: itwas easy enough to despise the world, but decidedly difficult to find any otherhabitable region. her sense of irony never quite desertedher, and she could still note, with self- directed derision, the abnormal valuesuddenly acquired by the most tiresome and insignificant details of her former life. its very drudgeries had a charm now thatshe was involuntarily released from them: card-leaving, note-writing, enforcedcivilities to the dull and elderly, and the

smiling endurance of tedious dinners--how pleasantly such obligations would havefilled the emptiness of her days! she did indeed leave cards in plenty; shekept herself, with a smiling and valiant persistence, well in the eye of her world;nor did she suffer any of those gross rebuffs which sometimes produce a wholesomereaction of contempt in their victim. society did not turn away from her, itsimply drifted by, preoccupied and inattentive, letting her feel, to the fullmeasure of her humbled pride, how completely she had been the creature of itsfavour. she had rejected rosedale's suggestion witha promptness of scorn almost surprising to

herself: she had not lost her capacity forhigh flashes of indignation. but she could not breathe long on theheights; there had been nothing in her training to develop any continuity of moralstrength: what she craved, and really felt herself entitled to, was a situation in which the noblest attitude should also bethe easiest. hitherto her intermittent impulses ofresistance had sufficed to maintain her self-respect. if she slipped she recovered her footing,and it was only afterward that she was aware of having recovered it each time on aslightly lower level.

she had rejected rosedale's offer withoutconscious effort; her whole being had risen against it; and she did not yet perceivethat, by the mere act of listening to him, she had learned to live with ideas whichwould once have been intolerable to her. to gerty farish, keeping watch over herwith a tenderer if less discerning eye than mrs. fisher's, the results of the strugglewere already distinctly visible. she did not, indeed, know what hostageslily had already given to expediency; but she saw her passionately and irretrievablypledged to the ruinous policy of "keeping up." gerty could smile now at her own earlydream of her friend's renovation through

adversity: she understood clearly enoughthat lily was not of those to whom privation teaches the unimportance of whatthey have lost. but this very fact, to gerty, made herfriend the more piteously in want of aid, the more exposed to the claims of atenderness she was so little conscious of needing. lily, since her return to town, had notoften climbed miss farish's stairs. there was something irritating to her inthe mute interrogation of gerty's sympathy: she felt the real difficulties of hersituation to be incommunicable to any one whose theory of values was so different

from her own, and the restrictions ofgerty's life, which had once had the charm of contrast, now reminded her too painfullyof the limits to which her own existence was shrinking. when at length, one afternoon, she put intoexecution the belated resolve to visit her friend, this sense of shrunkenopportunities possessed her with unusual intensity. the walk up fifth avenue, unfolding beforeher, in the brilliance of the hard winter sunlight, an interminable procession offastidiously-equipped carriages--giving her, through the little squares of

brougham-windows, peeps of familiarprofiles bent above visiting-lists, of hurried hands dispensing notes and cards toattendant footmen--this glimpse of the ever-revolving wheels of the great social machine made lily more than ever consciousof the steepness and narrowness of gerty's stairs, and of the cramped blind alley oflife to which they led. dull stairs destined to be mounted by dullpeople: how many thousands of insignificant figures were going up and down such stairsall over the world at that very moment-- figures as shabby and uninteresting as that of the middle-aged lady in limp black whodescended gerty's flight as lily climbed to

it! "that was poor miss jane silverton--shecame to talk things over with me: she and her sister want to do something to supportthemselves," gerty explained, as lily followed her into the sitting-room. "to support themselves?are they so hard up?" miss bart asked with a touch of irritation:she had not come to listen to the woes of other people. "i'm afraid they have nothing left: ned'sdebts have swallowed up everything. they had such hopes, you know, when hebroke away from carry fisher; they thought

bertha dorset would be such a goodinfluence, because she doesn't care for cards, and--well, she talked quite beautifully to poor miss jane about feelingas if ned were her younger brother, and wanting to carry him off on the yacht, sothat he might have a chance to drop cards and racing, and take up his literary workagain." miss farish paused with a sigh whichreflected the perplexity of her departing visitor. "but that isn't all; it isn't even theworst. it seems that ned has quarrelled with thedorsets; or at least bertha won't allow him

to see her, and he is so unhappy about itthat he has taken to gambling again, and going about with all sorts of queer people. and cousin grace van osburgh accuses him ofhaving had a very bad influence on freddy, who left harvard last spring, and has beena great deal with ned ever since. she sent for miss jane, and made a dreadfulscene; and jack stepney and herbert melson, who were there too, told miss jane thatfreddy was threatening to marry some dreadful woman to whom ned had introduced him, and that they could do nothing withhim because now he's of age he has his own money.

you can fancy how poor miss jane felt--shecame to me at once, and seemed to think that if i could get her something to do shecould earn enough to pay ned's debts and send him away--i'm afraid she has no idea how long it would take her to pay for oneof his evenings at bridge. and he was horribly in debt when he cameback from the cruise--i can't see why he should have spent so much more money underbertha's influence than carry's: can you?" lily met this query with an impatientgesture. "my dear gerty, i always understand howpeople can spend much more money--never how they can spend any less!"

she loosened her furs and settled herselfin gerty's easy-chair, while her friend busied herself with the tea-cups."but what can they do--the miss silvertons? how do they mean to support themselves?"she asked, conscious that the note of irritation still persisted in her voice. it was the very last topic she had meant todiscuss--it really did not interest her in the least--but she was seized by a suddenperverse curiosity to know how the two colourless shrinking victims of young silverton's sentimental experiments meantto cope with the grim necessity which lurked so close to her own threshold."i don't know--i am trying to find

something for them. miss jane reads aloud very nicely--but it'sso hard to find any one who is willing to be read to.and miss annie paints a little----" "oh, i know--apple-blossoms on blotting-paper; just the kind of thing i shall be doing myself before long!" exclaimed lily,starting up with a vehemence of movement that threatened destruction to missfarish's fragile tea-table. lily bent over to steady the cups; then shesank back into her seat. "i'd forgotten there was no room to dashabout in--how beautifully one does have to behave in a small flat!oh, gerty, i wasn't meant to be good," she

sighed out incoherently. gerty lifted an apprehensive look to herpale face, in which the eyes shone with a peculiar sleepless lustre. "you look horribly tired, lily; take yourtea, and let me give you this cushion to lean against."miss bart accepted the cup of tea, but put back the cushion with an impatient hand. "don't give me that!i don't want to lean back--i shall go to sleep if i do.""well, why not, dear? i'll be as quiet as a mouse," gerty urgedaffectionately.

"no--no; don't be quiet; talk to me--keepme awake! i don't sleep at night, and in theafternoon a dreadful drowsiness creeps over me.""you don't sleep at night? since when?" "i don't know--i can't remember."she rose and put the empty cup on the tea- tray. "another, and stronger, please; if i don'tkeep awake now i shall see horrors tonight- -perfect horrors!""but they'll be worse if you drink too much tea."

"no, no--give it to me; and don't preach,please," lily returned imperiously. her voice had a dangerous edge, and gertynoticed that her hand shook as she held it out to receive the second cup. "but you look so tired: i'm sure you mustbe ill----" miss bart set down her cup with a start."do i look ill? does my face show it?" she rose and walked quickly toward thelittle mirror above the writing-table. "what a horrid looking-glass--it's allblotched and discoloured. any one would look ghastly in it!"

she turned back, fixing her plaintive eyeson gerty. "you stupid dear, why do you say suchodious things to me? it's enough to make one ill to be told onelooks so! and looking ill means looking ugly."she caught gerty's wrists, and drew her close to the window. "after all, i'd rather know the truth.look me straight in the face, gerty, and tell me: am i perfectly frightful?" "you're perfectly beautiful now, lily: youreyes are shining, and your cheeks have grown so pink all of a sudden----""ah, they were pale, then--ghastly pale,

when i came in? why don't you tell me frankly that i'm awreck? my eyes are bright now because i'm sonervous--but in the mornings they look like lead. and i can see the lines coming in my face--the lines of worry and disappointment and failure! every sleepless night leaves a new one--andhow can i sleep, when i have such dreadful things to think about?" "dreadful things--what things?" askedgerty, gently detaching her wrists from her

friend's feverish fingers."what things? well, poverty, for one--and i don't knowany that's more dreadful." lily turned away and sank with suddenweariness into the easy-chair near the tea- table. "you asked me just now if i couldunderstand why ned silverton spent so much money.of course i understand--he spends it on living with the rich. you think we live on the rich, rather thanwith them: and so we do, in a sense--but it's a privilege we have to pay for!

we eat their dinners, and drink their wine,and smoke their cigarettes, and use their carriages and their opera-boxes and theirprivate cars--yes, but there's a tax to pay on every one of those luxuries. the man pays it by big tips to theservants, by playing cards beyond his means, by flowers and presents--and--and--lots of other things that cost; the girl pays it by tips and cards too--oh, yes, i've had to take up bridge again--and bygoing to the best dress-makers, and having just the right dress for every occasion,and always keeping herself fresh and exquisite and amusing!"

she leaned back for a moment, closing hereyes, and as she sat there, her pale lips slightly parted, and the lids dropped aboveher fagged brilliant gaze, gerty had a startled perception of the change in her face--of the way in which an ashen daylightseemed suddenly to extinguish its artificial brightness.she looked up, and the vision vanished. "it doesn't sound very amusing, does it? and it isn't--i'm sick to death of it!and yet the thought of giving it all up nearly kills me--it's what keeps me awakeat night, and makes me so crazy for your strong tea.

for i can't go on in this way much longer,you know--i'm nearly at the end of my tether.and then what can i do--how on earth am i to keep myself alive? i see myself reduced to the fate of thatpoor silverton woman--slinking about to employment agencies, and trying to sellpainted blotting-pads to women's exchanges! and there are thousands and thousands ofwomen trying to do the same thing already, and not one of the number who has less ideahow to earn a dollar than i have!" she rose again with a hurried glance at theclock. "it's late, and i must be off--i have anappointment with carry fisher.

don't look so worried, you dear thing--don't think too much about the nonsense i've been talking." she was before the mirror again, adjustingher hair with a light hand, drawing down her veil, and giving a dexterous touch toher furs. "of course, you know, it hasn't come to theemployment agencies and the painted blotting-pads yet; but i'm rather hard-upjust for the moment, and if i could find something to do--notes to write and visiting-lists to make up, or that kind ofthing--it would tide me over till the legacy is paid.

and carry has promised to find somebody whowants a kind of social secretary--you know she makes a specialty of the helplessrich." miss bart had not revealed to gerty thefull extent of her anxiety. she was in fact in urgent and immediateneed of money: money to meet the vulgar weekly claims which could neither bedeferred nor evaded. to give up her apartment, and shrink to theobscurity of a boarding-house, or the provisional hospitality of a bed in gertyfarish's sitting-room, was an expedient which could only postpone the problem confronting her; and it seemed wiser aswell as more agreeable to remain where she

was and find some means of earning herliving. the possibility of having to do this wasone which she had never before seriously considered, and the discovery that, as abread-winner, she was likely to prove as helpless and ineffectual as poor miss silverton, was a severe shock to her self-confidence. having been accustomed to take herself atthe popular valuation, as a person of energy and resource, naturally fitted todominate any situation in which she found herself, she vaguely imagined that such gifts would be of value to seekers aftersocial guidance; but there was

unfortunately no specific head under whichthe art of saying and doing the right thing could be offered in the market, and even mrs. fisher's resourcefulness failed beforethe difficulty of discovering a workable vein in the vague wealth of lily's graces. mrs. fisher was full of indirect expedientsfor enabling her friends to earn a living, and could conscientiously assert that shehad put several opportunities of this kind before lily; but more legitimate methods of bread-winning were as much out of her lineas they were beyond the capacity of the sufferers she was generally called upon toassist.

lily's failure to profit by the chancesalready afforded her might, moreover, have justified the abandonment of farther efforton her behalf; but mrs. fisher's inexhaustible good-nature made her an adept at creating artificial demands in responseto an actual supply. in the pursuance of this end she at oncestarted on a voyage of discovery in miss bart's behalf; and as the result of herexplorations she now summoned the latter with the announcement that she had "foundsomething." left to herself, gerty mused distressfullyupon her friend's plight, and her own inability to relieve it.

it was clear to her that lily, for thepresent, had no wish for the kind of help she could give. miss farish could see no hope for herfriend but in a life completely reorganized and detached from its old associations;whereas all lily's energies were centred in the determined effort to hold fast to those associations, to keep herself visiblyidentified with them, as long as the illusion could be maintained. pitiable as such an attitude seemed togerty, she could not judge it as harshly as selden, for instance, might have done.

she had not forgotten the night of emotionwhen she and lily had lain in each other's arms, and she had seemed to feel her veryheart's blood passing into her friend. the sacrifice she had made had seemedunavailing enough; no trace remained in lily of the subduing influences of thathour; but gerty's tenderness, disciplined by long years of contact with obscure and inarticulate suffering, could wait on itsobject with a silent forbearance which took no account of time. she could not, however, deny herself thesolace of taking anxious counsel with lawrence selden, with whom, since hisreturn from europe, she had renewed her old

relation of cousinly confidence. selden himself had never been aware of anychange in their relation. he found gerty as he had left her, simple,undemanding and devoted, but with a quickened intelligence of the heart whichhe recognized without seeking to explain it. to gerty herself it would once have seemedimpossible that she should ever again talk freely with him of lily bart; but what hadpassed in the secrecy of her own breast seemed to resolve itself, when the mist of the struggle cleared, into a breaking downof the bounds of self, a deflecting of the

wasted personal emotion into the generalcurrent of human understanding. it was not till some two weeks after hervisit from lily that gerty had the opportunity of communicating her fears toselden. the latter, having presented himself on asunday afternoon, had lingered on through the dowdy animation of his cousin's tea-hour, conscious of something in her voice and eye which solicited a word apart; and as soon as the last visitor was gone gertyopened her case by asking how lately he had seen miss bart.selden's perceptible pause gave her time for a slight stir of surprise.

"i haven't seen her at all--i'veperpetually missed seeing her since she came back." this unexpected admission made gerty pausetoo; and she was still hesitating on the brink of her subject when he relieved herby adding: "i've wanted to see her--but she seems to have been absorbed by the gormerset since her return from europe." "that's all the more reason: she's beenvery unhappy." "unhappy at being with the gormers?" "oh, i don't defend her intimacy with thegormers; but that too is at an end now, i know people have been very unkind since

bertha dorset quarrelled with her." "ah----" selden exclaimed, rising abruptlyto walk to the window, where he remained with his eyes on the darkening street whilehis cousin continued to explain: "judy trenor and her own family have deserted her too--and all because bertha dorset has saidsuch horrible things. and she is very poor--you know mrs.peniston cut her off with a small legacy, after giving her to understand that she wasto have everything." "yes--i know," selden assented curtly,turning back into the room, but only to stir about with restless steps in thecircumscribed space between door and

window. "yes--she's been abominably treated; butit's unfortunately the precise thing that a man who wants to show his sympathy can'tsay to her." his words caused gerty a slight chill ofdisappointment. "there would be other ways of showing yoursympathy," she suggested. selden, with a slight laugh, sat downbeside her on the little sofa which projected from the hearth."what are you thinking of, you incorrigible missionary?" he asked. gerty's colour rose, and her blush was fora moment her only answer.

then she made it more explicit by saying:"i am thinking of the fact that you and she used to be great friends--that she used tocare immensely for what you thought of her- -and that, if she takes your staying away as a sign of what you think now, i canimagine its adding a great deal to her unhappiness." "my dear child, don't add to it still more--at least to your conception of it--by attributing to her all sorts ofsusceptibilities of your own." selden, for his life, could not keep a noteof dryness out of his voice; but he met gerty's look of perplexity by saying moremildly: "but, though you immensely

exaggerate the importance of anything i could do for miss bart, you can'texaggerate my readiness to do it--if you ask me to." he laid his hand for a moment on hers, andthere passed between them, on the current of the rare contact, one of those exchangesof meaning which fill the hidden reservoirs of affection. gerty had the feeling that he measured thecost of her request as plainly as she read the significance of his reply; and thesense of all that was suddenly clear between them made her next words easier tofind.

"i do ask you, then; i ask you because sheonce told me that you had been a help to her, and because she needs help now as shehas never needed it before. you know how dependent she has always beenon ease and luxury--how she has hated what was shabby and ugly and uncomfortable. she can't help it--she was brought up withthose ideas, and has never been able to find her way out of them. but now all the things she cared for havebeen taken from her, and the people who taught her to care for them have abandonedher too; and it seems to me that if some one could reach out a hand and show her the

other side--show her how much is left inlife and in herself----" gerty broke off, abashed at the sound of her own eloquence,and impeded by the difficulty of giving precise expression to her vague yearningfor her friend's retrieval. "i can't help her myself: she's passed outof my reach," she continued. "i think she's afraid of being a burden tome. when she was last here, two weeks ago, sheseemed dreadfully worried about her future: she said carry fisher was trying to findsomething for her to do. a few days later she wrote me that she hadtaken a position as private secretary, and that i was not to be anxious, foreverything was all right, and she would

come in and tell me about it when she had time; but she has never come, and i don'tlike to go to her, because i am afraid of forcing myself on her when i'm not wanted. once, when we were children, and i hadrushed up after a long separation, and thrown my arms about her, she said: 'pleasedon't kiss me unless i ask you to, gerty'-- and she did ask me, a minute later; butsince then i've always waited to be asked." selden had listened in silence, with theconcentrated look which his thin dark face could assume when he wished to guard itagainst any involuntary change of expression.

when his cousin ended, he said with aslight smile: "since you've learned the wisdom of waiting, i don't see why you urgeme to rush in--" but the troubled appeal of her eyes made him add, as he rose to take leave: "still, i'll do what you wish, andnot hold you responsible for my failure." selden's avoidance of miss bart had notbeen as unintentional as he had allowed his cousin to think. at first, indeed, while the memory of theirlast hour at monte carlo still held the full heat of his indignation, he hadanxiously watched for her return; but she had disappointed him by lingering in

england, and when she finally reappeared ithappened that business had called him to the west, whence he came back only to learnthat she was starting for alaska with the gormers. the revelation of this suddenly-establishedintimacy effectually chilled his desire to see her. if, at a moment when her whole life seemedto be breaking up, she could cheerfully commit its reconstruction to the gormers,there was no reason why such accidents should ever strike her as irreparable. every step she took seemed in fact to carryher farther from the region where, once or

twice, he and she had met for an illuminedmoment; and the recognition of this fact, when its first pang had been surmounted,produced in him a sense of negative relief. it was much simpler for him to judge missbart by her habitual conduct than by the rare deviations from it which had thrownher so disturbingly in his way; and every act of hers which made the recurrence of such deviations more unlikely, confirmedthe sense of relief with which he returned to the conventional view of her. but gerty farish's words had sufficed tomake him see how little this view was really his, and how impossible it was forhim to live quietly with the thought of

lily bart. to hear that she was in need of help--evensuch vague help as he could offer--was to be at once repossessed by that thought; andby the time he reached the street he had sufficiently convinced himself of the urgency of his cousin's appeal to turn hissteps directly toward lily's hotel. there his zeal met a check in theunforeseen news that miss bart had moved away; but, on his pressing his enquiries,the clerk remembered that she had left an address, for which he presently began tosearch through his books. it was certainly strange that she shouldhave taken this step without letting gerty

farish know of her decision; and seldenwaited with a vague sense of uneasiness while the address was sought for. the process lasted long enough foruneasiness to turn to apprehension; but when at length a slip of paper was handedhim, and he read on it: "care of mrs. norma hatch, emporium hotel," his apprehension passed into an incredulous stare, and thisinto the gesture of disgust with which he tore the paper in two, and turned to walkquickly homeward. chapter 9 when lily woke on the morning after hertranslation to the emporium hotel, her

first feeling was one of purely physicalsatisfaction. the force of contrast gave an addedkeenness to the luxury of lying once more in a soft-pillowed bed, and looking acrossa spacious sunlit room at a breakfast-table set invitingly near the fire. analysis and introspection might comelater; but for the moment she was not even troubled by the excesses of the upholsteryor the restless convolutions of the furniture. the sense of being once more lapped andfolded in ease, as in some dense mild medium impenetrable to discomfort,effectually stilled the faintest note of

criticism. when, the afternoon before, she hadpresented herself to the lady to whom carry fisher had directed her, she had beenconscious of entering a new world. carry's vague presentment of mrs. normahatch (whose reversion to her christian name was explained as the result of herlatest divorce), left her under the implication of coming "from the west," with the not unusual extenuation of havingbrought a great deal of money with her. she was, in short, rich, helpless,unplaced: the very subject for lily's hand. mrs. fisher had not specified the line herfriend was to take; she owned herself

unacquainted with mrs. hatch, whom she"knew about" through melville stancy, a lawyer in his leisure moments, and the falstaff of a certain section of festivedub life. socially, mr. stancy might have been saidto form a connecting link between the gormer world and the more dimly-lit regionon which miss bart now found herself entering. it was, however, only figuratively that theillumination of mrs. hatch's world could be described as dim: in actual fact, lilyfound her seated in a blaze of electric light, impartially projected from various

ornamental excrescences on a vast concavityof pink damask and gilding, from which she rose like venus from her shell. the analogy was justified by the appearanceof the lady, whose large-eyed prettiness had the fixity of something impaled andshown under glass. this did not preclude the immediatediscovery that she was some years younger than her visitor, and that under hershowiness, her ease, the aggression of her dress and voice, there persisted that ineradicable innocence which, in ladies ofher nationality, so curiously coexists with startling extremes of experience.the environment in which lily found herself

was as strange to her as its inhabitants. she was unacquainted with the world of thefashionable new york hotel--a world over- heated, over-upholstered, and over-fittedwith mechanical appliances for the gratification of fantastic requirements, while the comforts of a civilized life wereas unattainable as in a desert. through this atmosphere of torrid splendourmoved wan beings as richly upholstered as the furniture, beings without definitepursuits or permanent relations, who drifted on a languid tide of curiosity from restaurant to concert-hall, from palm-garden to music-room, from "art exhibit" to

dress-maker's opening. high-stepping horses or elaboratelyequipped motors waited to carry these ladies into vague metropolitan distances,whence they returned, still more wan from the weight of their sables, to be sucked back into the stifling inertia of the hotelroutine. somewhere behind them, in the background oftheir lives, there was doubtless a real past, peopled by real human activities:they themselves were probably the product of strong ambitions, persistent energies, diversified contacts with the wholesomeroughness of life; yet they had no more

real existence than the poet's shades inlimbo. lily had not been long in this pallid worldwithout discovering that mrs. hatch was its most substantial figure. that lady, though still floating in thevoid, showed faint symptoms of developing an outline; and in this endeavour she wasactively seconded by mr. melville stancy. it was mr. stancy, a man of largeresounding presence, suggestive of convivial occasions and of a chivalryfinding expression in "first-night" boxes and thousand dollar bonbonnieres, who had transplanted mrs. hatch from the scene ofher first development to the higher stage

of hotel life in the metropolis. it was he who had selected the horses withwhich she had taken the blue ribbon at the show, had introduced her to thephotographer whose portraits of her formed the recurring ornament of "sunday supplements," and had got together thegroup which constituted her social world. it was a small group still, withheterogeneous figures suspended in large unpeopled spaces; but lily did not takelong to learn that its regulation was no longer in mr. stancy's hands. as often happens, the pupil had outstrippedthe teacher, and mrs. hatch was already

aware of heights of elegance as well asdepths of luxury beyond the world of the emporium. this discovery at once produced in her acraving for higher guidance, for the adroit feminine hand which should give the rightturn to her correspondence, the right "look" to her hats, the right succession tothe items of her menus. it was, in short, as the regulator of agerminating social life that miss bart's guidance was required; her ostensibleduties as secretary being restricted by the fact that mrs. hatch, as yet, knew hardlyany one to write to. the daily details of mrs. hatch's existencewere as strange to lily as its general

tenor. the lady's habits were marked by anoriental indolence and disorder peculiarly trying to her companion. mrs. hatch and her friends seemed to floattogether outside the bounds of time and space. no definite hours were kept; no fixedobligations existed: night and day flowed into one another in a blur of confused andretarded engagements, so that one had the impression of lunching at the tea-hour, while dinner was often merged in the noisyafter-theatre supper which prolonged mrs.

hatch's vigil till daylight. through this jumble of futile activitiescame and went a strange throng of hangers- on--manicures, beauty-doctors, hair-dressers, teachers of bridge, of french, of "physical development": figures sometimes indistinguishable, by their appearance, orby mrs. hatch's relation to them, from the visitors constituting her recognizedsociety. but strangest of all to lily was theencounter, in this latter group, of several of her acquaintances. she had supposed, and not without relief,that she was passing, for the moment,

completely out of her own circle; but shefound that mr. stancy, one side of whose sprawling existence overlapped the edge of mrs. fisher's world, had drawn several ofits brightest ornaments into the circle of the emporium. to find ned silverton among the habitualfrequenters of mrs. hatch's drawing-room was one of lily's first astonishments; butshe soon discovered that he was not mr. stancy's most important recruit. it was on little freddy van osburgh, thesmall slim heir of the van osburgh millions, that the attention of mrs.hatch's group was centred.

freddy, barely out of college, had risenabove the horizon since lily's eclipse, and she now saw with surprise what aneffulgence he shed on the outer twilight of mrs. hatch's existence. this, then, was one of the things thatyoung men "went in" for when released from the official social routine; this was thekind of "previous engagement" that so frequently caused them to disappoint thehopes of anxious hostesses. lily had an odd sense of being behind thesocial tapestry, on the side where the threads were knotted and the loose endshung. for a moment she found a certain amusementin the show, and in her own share of it:

the situation had an ease andunconventionality distinctly refreshing after her experience of the irony ofconventions. but these flashes of amusement were butbrief reactions from the long disgust of her days. compared with the vast gilded void of mrs.hatch's existence, the life of lily's former friends seemed packed with orderedactivities. even the most irresponsible pretty woman ofher acquaintance had her inherited obligations, her conventional benevolences,her share in the working of the great civic machine; and all hung together in thesolidarity of these traditional functions.

the performance of specific duties wouldhave simplified miss bart's position; but the vague attendance on mrs. hatch was notwithout its perplexities. it was not her employer who created theseperplexities. mrs. hatch showed from the first an almosttouching desire for lily's approval. far from asserting the superiority ofwealth, her beautiful eyes seemed to urge the plea of inexperience: she wanted to dowhat was "nice," to be taught how to be "lovely." the difficulty was to find any point ofcontact between her ideals and lily's. mrs. hatch swam in a haze of indeterminateenthusiasms, of aspirations culled from the

stage, the newspapers, the fashionjournals, and a gaudy world of sport still more completely beyond her companion's ken. to separate from these confused conceptionsthose most likely to advance the lady on her way, was lily's obvious duty; but itsperformance was hampered by rapidly-growing doubts. lily was in fact becoming more and moreaware of a certain ambiguity in her it was not that she had, in theconventional sense, any doubt of mrs. hatch's irreproachableness. the lady's offences were always againsttaste rather than conduct; her divorce

record seemed due to geographical ratherthan ethical conditions; and her worst laxities were likely to proceed from awandering and extravagant good-nature. but if lily did not mind her detaining hermanicure for luncheon, or offering the "beauty-doctor" a seat in freddy vanosburgh's box at the play, she was not equally at ease in regard to some lessapparent lapses from convention. ned silverton's relation to stancy seemed,for instance, closer and less clear than any natural affinities would warrant; andboth appeared united in the effort to cultivate freddy van osburgh's growingtaste for mrs. hatch. there was as yet nothing definable in thesituation, which might well resolve itself

into a huge joke on the part of the othertwo; but lily had a vague sense that the subject of their experiment was too young,too rich and too credulous. her embarrassment was increased by the factthat freddy seemed to regard her as cooperating with himself in the socialdevelopment of mrs. hatch: a view that suggested, on his part, a permanentinterest in the lady's future. there were moments when lily found anironic amusement in this aspect of the case. the thought of launching such a missile asmrs. hatch at the perfidious bosom of society was not without its charm: missbart had even beguiled her leisure with

visions of the fair norma introduced for the first time to a family banquet at thevan osburghs'. but the thought of being personallyconnected with the transaction was less agreeable; and her momentary flashes ofamusement were followed by increasing periods of doubt. the sense of these doubts was uppermostwhen, late one afternoon, she was surprised by a visit from lawrence selden. he found her alone in the wilderness ofpink damask, for in mrs. hatch's world the tea-hour was not dedicated to social rites,and the lady was in the hands of her

masseuse. selden's entrance had caused lily an inwardstart of embarrassment; but his air of constraint had the effect of restoring herself-possession, and she took at once the tone of surprise and pleasure, wondering frankly that he should have traced her toso unlikely a place, and asking what had inspired him to make the search. selden met this with an unusualseriousness: she had never seen him so little master of the situation, so plainlyat the mercy of any obstructions she might put in his way.

"i wanted to see you," he said; and shecould not resist observing in reply that he had kept his wishes under remarkablecontrol. she had in truth felt his long absence asone of the chief bitternesses of the last months: his desertion had woundedsensibilities far below the surface of her pride. selden met the challenge with directness."why should i have come, unless i thought i could be of use to you?it is my only excuse for imagining you could want me." this struck her as a clumsy evasion, andthe thought gave a flash of keenness to her

answer."then you have come now because you think you can be of use to me?" he hesitated again."yes: in the modest capacity of a person to talk things over with." for a clever man it was certainly a stupidbeginning; and the idea that his awkwardness was due to the fear of herattaching a personal significance to his visit, chilled her pleasure in seeing him. even under the most adverse conditions,that pleasure always made itself felt: she might hate him, but she had never been ableto wish him out of the room.

she was very near hating him now; yet thesound of his voice, the way the light fell on his thin dark hair, the way he sat andmoved and wore his clothes--she was conscious that even these trivial thingswere inwoven with her deepest life. in his presence a sudden stillness cameupon her, and the turmoil of her spirit ceased; but an impulse of resistance tothis stealing influence now prompted her to say: "it's very good of you to present yourself in that capacity; but what makesyou think i have anything particular to talk about?" though she kept the even tone of lightintercourse, the question was framed in a

way to remind him that his good officeswere unsought; and for a moment selden was checked by it. the situation between them was one whichcould have been cleared up only by a sudden explosion of feeling; and their wholetraining and habit of mind were against the chances of such an explosion. selden's calmness seemed rather to hardeninto resistance, and miss bart's into a surface of glittering irony, as they facedeach other from the opposite corners of one of mrs. hatch's elephantine sofas. the sofa in question, and the apartmentpeopled by its monstrous mates, served at

length to suggest the turn of selden'sreply. "gerty told me that you were acting as mrs.hatch's secretary; and i knew she was anxious to hear how you were getting on."miss bart received this explanation without perceptible softening. "why didn't she look me up herself, then?"she asked. "because, as you didn't send her youraddress, she was afraid of being importunate." selden continued with a smile: "you see nosuch scruples restrained me; but then i haven't as much to risk if i incur yourdispleasure."

lily answered his smile. "you haven't incurred it as yet; but i havean idea that you are going to." "that rests with you, doesn't it?you see my initiative doesn't go beyond putting myself at your disposal." "but in what capacity?what am i to do with you?" she asked in the same light tone. selden again glanced about mrs. hatch'sdrawing-room; then he said, with a decision which he seemed to have gathered from thisfinal inspection: "you are to let me take you away from here."

lily flushed at the suddenness of theattack; then she stiffened under it and said coldly: "and may i ask where you meanme to go?" "back to gerty in the first place, if youwill; the essential thing is that it should be away from here." the unusual harshness of his tone mighthave shown her how much the words cost him; but she was in no state to measure hisfeelings while her own were in a flame of revolt. to neglect her, perhaps even to avoid her,at a time when she had most need of her friends, and then suddenly andunwarrantably to break into her life with

this strange assumption of authority, was to rouse in her every instinct of pride andself-defence. "i am very much obliged to you," she said,"for taking such an interest in my plans; but i am quite contented where i am, andhave no intention of leaving." selden had risen, and was standing beforeher in an attitude of uncontrollable expectancy."that simply means that you don't know where you are!" he exclaimed. lily rose also, with a quick flash ofanger. "if you have come here to say disagreeablethings about mrs. hatch----"

"it is only with your relation to mrs.hatch that i am concerned." "my relation to mrs. hatch is one i have noreason to be ashamed of. she has helped me to earn a living when myold friends were quite resigned to seeing me starve.""nonsense! starvation is not the only alternative. you know you can always find a home withgerty till you are independent again." "you show such an intimate acquaintancewith my affairs that i suppose you mean-- till my aunt's legacy is paid?" "i do mean that; gerty told me of it,"selden acknowledged without embarrassment.

he was too much in earnest now to feel anyfalse constraint in speaking his mind. "but gerty does not happen to know," missbart rejoined, "that i owe every penny of that legacy.""good god!" selden exclaimed, startled out of hiscomposure by the abruptness of the statement. "every penny of it, and more too," lilyrepeated; "and you now perhaps see why i prefer to remain with mrs. hatch ratherthan take advantage of gerty's kindness. i have no money left, except my smallincome, and i must earn something more to keep myself alive."

selden hesitated a moment; then he rejoinedin a quieter tone: "but with your income and gerty's--since you allow me to go sofar into the details of the situation--you and she could surely contrive a life together which would put you beyond theneed of having to support yourself. gerty, i know, is eager to make such anarrangement, and would be quite happy in it----" "but i should not," miss bart interposed."there are many reasons why it would be neither kind to gerty nor wise for myself." she paused a moment, and as he seemed toawait a farther explanation, added with a

quick lift of her head: "you will perhapsexcuse me from giving you these reasons." "i have no claim to know them," seldenanswered, ignoring her tone; "no claim to offer any comment or suggestion beyond theone i have already made. and my right to make that is simply theuniversal right of a man to enlighten a woman when he sees her unconsciously placedin a false position." lily smiled. "i suppose," she rejoined, "that by a falseposition you mean one outside of what we call society; but you must remember that ihad been excluded from those sacred precincts long before i met mrs. hatch.

as far as i can see, there is very littlereal difference in being inside or out, and i remember your once telling me that it wasonly those inside who took the difference seriously." she had not been without intention inmaking this allusion to their memorable talk at bellomont, and she waited with anodd tremor of the nerves to see what response it would bring; but the result ofthe experiment was disappointing. selden did not allow the allusion todeflect him from his point; he merely said with completer fulness of emphasis: "thequestion of being inside or out is, as you say, a small one, and it happens to have

nothing to do with the case, except in sofar as mrs. hatch's desire to be inside may put you in the position i call false." in spite of the moderation of his tone,each word he spoke had the effect of confirming lily's resistance. the very apprehensions he aroused hardenedher against him: she had been on the alert for the note of personal sympathy, for anysign of recovered power over him; and his attitude of sober impartiality, the absence of all response to her appeal, turned herhurt pride to blind resentment of his interference.

the conviction that he had been sent bygerty, and that, whatever straits he conceived her to be in, he would nevervoluntarily have come to her aid, strengthened her resolve not to admit him ahair's breadth farther into her confidence. however doubtful she might feel hersituation to be, she would rather persist in darkness than owe her enlightenment toselden. "i don't know," she said, when he hadceased to speak, "why you imagine me to be situated as you describe; but as you havealways told me that the sole object of a bringing-up like mine was to teach a girl to get what she wants, why not assume thatthat is precisely what i am doing?"

the smile with which she summed up her casewas like a clear barrier raised against farther confidences: its brightness heldhim at such a distance that he had a sense of being almost out of hearing as he rejoined: "i am not sure that i have evercalled you a successful example of that kind of bringing-up." her colour rose a little at theimplication, but she steeled herself with a light laugh."ah, wait a little longer--give me a little more time before you decide!" and as he wavered before her, stillwatching for a break in the impenetrable

front she presented: "don't give me up; imay still do credit to my training!" she affirmed. chapter 10 "look at those spangles, miss bart--everyone of 'em sewed on crooked." the tall forewoman, a pinched perpendicularfigure, dropped the condemned structure of wire and net on the table at lily's side,and passed on to the next figure in the line. there were twenty of them in the work-room,their fagged profiles, under exaggerated hair, bowed in the harsh north light abovethe utensils of their art; for it was

something more than an industry, surely, this creation of ever-varied settings forthe face of fortunate womanhood. their own faces were sallow with theunwholesomeness of hot air and sedentary toil, rather than with any actual signs ofwant: they were employed in a fashionable millinery establishment, and were fairly well clothed and well paid; but theyoungest among them was as dull and colourless as the middle-aged. in the whole work-room there was only oneskin beneath which the blood still visibly played; and that now burned with vexationas miss bart, under the lash of the

forewoman's comment, began to strip thehat-frame of its over-lapping spangles. to gerty farish's hopeful spirit a solutionappeared to have been reached when she remembered how beautifully lily could trimhats. instances of young lady-millinersestablishing themselves under fashionable patronage, and imparting to their"creations" that indefinable touch which the professional hand can never give, had flattered gerty's visions of the future,and convinced even lily that her separation from mrs. norma hatch need not reduce herto dependence on her friends. the parting had occurred a few weeks afterselden's visit, and would have taken place

sooner had it not been for the resistanceset up in lily by his ill-starred offer of advice. the sense of being involved in atransaction she would not have cared to examine too closely had soon afterwarddefined itself in the light of a hint from mr. stancy that, if she "saw them through,"she would have no reason to be sorry. the implication that such loyalty wouldmeet with a direct reward had hastened her flight, and flung her back, ashamed andpenitent, on the broad bosom of gerty's sympathy. she did not, however, propose to lie thereprone, and gerty's inspiration about the

hats at once revived her hopes ofprofitable activity. here was, after all, something that hercharming listless hands could really do; she had no doubt of their capacity forknotting a ribbon or placing a flower to advantage. and of course only these finishing toucheswould be expected of her: subordinate fingers, blunt, grey, needle-prickedfingers, would prepare the shapes and stitch the linings, while she presided over the charming little front shop--a shop allwhite panels, mirrors, and moss-green hangings--where her finished creations,hats, wreaths, aigrettes and the rest,

perched on their stands like birds justpoising for flight. but at the very outset of gerty's campaignthis vision of the green-and-white shop had been dispelled. other young ladies of fashion had been thus"set-up," selling their hats by the mere attraction of a name and the reputed knackof tying a bow; but these privileged beings could command a faith in their powers materially expressed by the readiness topay their shop-rent and advance a handsome sum for current expenses.where was lily to find such support? and even could it have been found, how werethe ladies on whose approval she depended

to be induced to give her their patronage? gerty learned that whatever sympathy herfriend's case might have excited a few months since had been imperilled, if notlost, by her association with mrs. hatch. once again, lily had withdrawn from anambiguous situation in time to save her self-respect, but too late for publicvindication. freddy van osburgh was not to marry mrs.hatch; he had been rescued at the eleventh hour--some said by the efforts of gustrenor and rosedale--and despatched to europe with old ned van alstyne; but the risk he had run would always be ascribed tomiss bart's connivance, and would somehow

serve as a summing-up and corroboration ofthe vague general distrust of her. it was a relief to those who had hung backfrom her to find themselves thus justified, and they were inclined to insist a littleon her connection with the hatch case in order to show that they had been right. gerty's quest, at any rate, brought upagainst a solid wall of resistance; and even when carry fisher, momentarilypenitent for her share in the hatch affair, joined her efforts to miss farish's, theymet with no better success. gerty had tried to veil her failure intender ambiguities; but carry, always the soul of candour, put the case squarely toher friend.

"i went straight to judy trenor; she hasfewer prejudices than the others, and besides she's always hated bertha dorset.but what have you done to her, lily? at the very first word about giving you astart she flamed out about some money you'd got from gus; i never knew her so hotbefore. you know she'll let him do anything butspend money on his friends: the only reason she's decent to me now is that she knowsi'm not hard up.--he speculated for you, you say? well, what's the harm?he had no business to lose. he didn't lose?then what on earth--but i never could

understand you, lily!" the end of it was that, after anxiousenquiry and much deliberation, mrs. fisher and gerty, for once oddly united in theireffort to help their friend, decided on placing her in the work-room of mme.regina's renowned millinery establishment. even this arrangement was not effectedwithout considerable negotiation, for mme. regina had a strong prejudice againstuntrained assistance, and was induced to yield only by the fact that she owed the patronage of mrs. bry and mrs. gormer tocarry fisher's influence. she had been willing from the first toemploy lily in the show-room: as a

displayer of hats, a fashionable beautymight be a valuable asset. but to this suggestion miss bart opposed anegative which gerty emphatically supported, while mrs. fisher, inwardlyunconvinced, but resigned to this latest proof of lily's unreason, agreed that perhaps in the end it would be more usefulthat she should learn the trade. to regina's work-room lily was thereforecommitted by her friends, and there mrs. fisher left her with a sigh of relief,while gerty's watchfulness continued to hover over her at a distance. lily had taken up her work early injanuary: it was now two months later, and

she was still being rebuked for herinability to sew spangles on a hat-frame. as she returned to her work she heard atitter pass down the tables. she knew she was an object of criticism andamusement to the other work-women. they were, of course, aware of her history--the exact situation of every girl in the room was known and freely discussed by allthe others--but the knowledge did not produce in them any awkward sense of class distinction: it merely explained why heruntutored fingers were still blundering over the rudiments of the trade. lily had no desire that they shouldrecognize any social difference in her; but

she had hoped to be received as theirequal, and perhaps before long to show herself their superior by a special deftness of touch, and it was humiliatingto find that, after two months of drudgery, she still betrayed her lack of earlytraining. remote was the day when she might aspire toexercise the talents she felt confident of possessing; only experienced workers wereentrusted with the delicate art of shaping and trimming the hat, and the forewoman still held her inexorably to the routine ofpreparatory work. she began to rip the spangles from theframe, listening absently to the buzz of

talk which rose and fell with the comingand going of miss haines's active figure. the air was closer than usual, because misshaines, who had a cold, had not allowed a window to be opened even during the noonrecess; and lily's head was so heavy with the weight of a sleepless night that the chatter of her companions had theincoherence of a dream. "i told her he'd never look at her again;and he didn't. i wouldn't have, either--i think she actedreal mean to him. he took her to the arion ball, and had ahack for her both ways.... she's taken ten bottles, and her headachesdon't seem no better--but she's written a

testimonial to say the first bottle curedher, and she got five dollars and her picture in the paper.... mrs. trenor's hat?the one with the green paradise? here, miss haines--it'll be ready rightoff.... that was one of the trenor girls hereyesterday with mrs. george dorset. how'd i know? why, madam sent for me to alter the flowerin that virot hat--the blue tulle: she's tall and slight, with her hair fuzzed out--a good deal like mamie leach, on'y thinner...."

on and on it flowed, a current ofmeaningless sound, on which, startlingly enough, a familiar name now and thenfloated to the surface. it was the strangest part of lily's strangeexperience, the hearing of these names, the seeing the fragmentary and distorted imageof the world she had lived in reflected in the mirror of the working-girls' minds. she had never before suspected the mixtureof insatiable curiosity and contemptuous freedom with which she and her kind werediscussed in this underworld of toilers who lived on their vanity and self-indulgence. every girl in mme. regina's work-room knewto whom the headgear in her hands was

destined, and had her opinion of its futurewearer, and a definite knowledge of the latter's place in the social system. that lily was a star fallen from that skydid not, after the first stir of curiosity had subsided, materially add to theirinterest in her. she had fallen, she had "gone under," andtrue to the ideal of their race, they were awed only by success--by the gross tangibleimage of material achievement. the consciousness of her different point ofview merely kept them at a little distance from her, as though she were a foreignerwith whom it was an effort to talk. "miss bart, if you can't sew those spangleson more regular i guess you'd better give

the hat to miss kilroy."lily looked down ruefully at her handiwork. the forewoman was right: the sewing on ofthe spangles was inexcusably bad. what made her so much more clumsy thanusual? was it a growing distaste for her task, oractual physical disability? she felt tired and confused: it was aneffort to put her thoughts together. she rose and handed the hat to miss kilroy,who took it with a suppressed smile. "i'm sorry; i'm afraid i am not well," shesaid to the forewoman. miss haines offered no comment. from the first she had augured ill of mme.regina's consenting to include a

fashionable apprentice among her workers. in that temple of art no raw beginners werewanted, and miss haines would have been more than human had she not taken a certainpleasure in seeing her forebodings confirmed. "you'd better go back to binding edges,"she said drily. lily slipped out last among the band ofliberated work-women. she did not care to be mingled in theirnoisy dispersal: once in the street, she always felt an irresistible return to herold standpoint, an instinctive shrinking from all that was unpolished andpromiscuous.

in the days--how distant they now seemed!--when she had visited the girls' club with gerty farish, she had felt an enlightenedinterest in the working-classes; but that was because she looked down on them from above, from the happy altitude of her graceand her beneficence. now that she was on a level with them, thepoint of view was less interesting. she felt a touch on her arm, and met thepenitent eye of miss kilroy. "miss bart, i guess you can sew thosespangles on as well as i can when you're feeling right. miss haines didn't act fair to you."lily's colour rose at the unexpected

advance: it was a long time since realkindness had looked at her from any eyes but gerty's. "oh, thank you: i'm not particularly well,but miss haines was right. i am clumsy.""well, it's mean work for anybody with a headache." miss kilroy paused irresolutely."you ought to go right home and lay down. ever try orangeine?""thank you." lily held out her hand. "it's very kind of you--i mean to go home."she looked gratefully at miss kilroy, but

neither knew what more to say. lily was aware that the other was on thepoint of offering to go home with her, but she wanted to be alone and silent--evenkindness, the sort of kindness that miss kilroy could give, would have jarred on herjust then. "thank you," she repeated as she turnedaway. she struck westward through the drearymarch twilight, toward the street where her boarding-house stood.she had resolutely refused gerty's offer of hospitality. something of her mother's fierce shrinkingfrom observation and sympathy was beginning

to develop in her, and the promiscuity ofsmall quarters and close intimacy seemed, on the whole, less endurable than the solitude of a hall bedroom in a house whereshe could come and go unremarked among other workers. for a while she had been sustained by thisdesire for privacy and independence; but now, perhaps from increasing physicalweariness, the lassitude brought about by hours of unwonted confinement, she was beginning to feel acutely the ugliness anddiscomfort of her surroundings. the day's task done, she dreaded to returnto her narrow room, with its blotched

wallpaper and shabby paint; and she hatedevery step of the walk thither, through the degradation of a new york street in the last stages of decline from fashion tocommerce. but what she dreaded most of all was havingto pass the chemist's at the corner of sixth avenue.she had meant to take another street: she had usually done so of late. but today her steps were irresistibly drawntoward the flaring plate-glass corner; she tried to take the lower crossing, but aladen dray crowded her back, and she struck across the street obliquely, reaching the

sidewalk just opposite the chemist's door.over the counter she caught the eye of the clerk who had waited on her before, andslipped the prescription into his hand. there could be no question about theprescription: it was a copy of one of mrs. hatch's, obligingly furnished by thatlady's chemist. lily was confident that the clerk wouldfill it without hesitation; yet the nervous dread of a refusal, or even of anexpression of doubt, communicated itself to her restless hands as she affected to examine the bottles of perfume stacked onthe glass case before her. the clerk had read the prescription withoutcomment; but in the act of handing out the

bottle he paused. "you don't want to increase the dose, youknow," he remarked. lily's heart contracted.what did he mean by looking at her in that way? "of course not," she murmured, holding outher hand. "that's all right: it's a queer-actingdrug. a drop or two more, and off you go--thedoctors don't know why." the dread lest he should question her, orkeep the bottle back, choked the murmur of acquiescence in her throat; and when atlength she emerged safely from the shop she

was almost dizzy with the intensity of herrelief. the mere touch of the packet thrilled hertired nerves with the delicious promise of a night of sleep, and in the reaction fromher momentary fear she felt as if the first fumes of drowsiness were already stealingover her. in her confusion she stumbled against a manwho was hurrying down the last steps of the elevated station. he drew back, and she heard her nameuttered with surprise. it was rosedale, fur-coated, glossy andprosperous--but why did she seem to see him so far off, and as if through a mist ofsplintered crystals?

before she could account for the phenomenonshe found herself shaking hands with him. they had parted with scorn on her side andanger upon his; but all trace of these emotions seemed to vanish as their handsmet, and she was only aware of a confused wish that she might continue to hold fastto him. "why, what's the matter, miss lily? you're not well!" he exclaimed; and sheforced her lips into a pallid smile of reassurance."i'm a little tired--it's nothing. stay with me a moment, please," shefaltered. that she should be asking this service ofrosedale!

he glanced at the dirty and unpropitiouscorner on which they stood, with the shriek of the "elevated" and the tumult of tramsand waggons contending hideously in their ears. "we can't stay here; but let me take yousomewhere for a cup of tea. the longworth is only a few yards off, andthere'll be no one there at this hour." a cup of tea in quiet, somewhere out of thenoise and ugliness, seemed for the moment the one solace she could bear. a few steps brought them to the ladies'door of the hotel he had named, and a moment later he was seated opposite to her,and the waiter had placed the tea-tray

between them. "not a drop of brandy or whiskey first?you look regularly done up, miss lily. well, take your tea strong, then; and,waiter, get a cushion for the lady's back." lily smiled faintly at the injunction totake her tea strong. it was the temptation she was alwaysstruggling to resist. her craving for the keen stimulant wasforever conflicting with that other craving for sleep--the midnight craving which onlythe little phial in her hand could still. but today, at any rate, the tea couldhardly be too strong: she counted on it to pour warmth and resolution into her emptyveins.

as she leaned back before him, her lidsdrooping in utter lassitude, though the first warm draught already tinged her facewith returning life, rosedale was seized afresh by the poignant surprise of herbeauty. the dark pencilling of fatigue under hereyes, the morbid blue-veined pallour of the temples, brought out the brightness of herhair and lips, as though all her ebbing vitality were centred there. against the dull chocolate-colouredbackground of the restaurant, the purity of her head stood out as it had never done inthe most brightly-lit ball-room. he looked at her with a startleduncomfortable feeling, as though her beauty

were a forgotten enemy that had lain inambush and now sprang out on him unawares. to clear the air he tried to take an easytone with her. "why, miss lily, i haven't seen you for anage. i didn't know what had become of you." as he spoke, he was checked by anembarrassing sense of the complications to which this might lead. though he had not seen her he had heard ofher; he knew of her connection with mrs. hatch, and of the talk resulting from it. mrs. hatch's milieu was one which he hadonce assiduously frequented, and now as

devoutly shunned. lily, to whom the tea had restored herusual clearness of mind, saw what was in his thoughts and said with a slight smile:"you would not be likely to know about me. i have joined the working classes." he stared in genuine wonder."you don't mean--? why, what on earth are you doing?" "learning to be a milliner--at least tryingto learn," she hastily qualified the statement.rosedale suppressed a low whistle of surprise.

"come off--you ain't serious, are you?""perfectly serious. i'm obliged to work for my living.""but i understood--i thought you were with norma hatch." "you heard i had gone to her as hersecretary?" "something of the kind, i believe."he leaned forward to refill her cup. lily guessed the possibilities ofembarrassment which the topic held for him, and raising her eyes to his, she saidsuddenly: "i left her two months ago." rosedale continued to fumble awkwardly withthe tea-pot, and she felt sure that he had heard what had been said of her.but what was there that rosedale did not

hear? "wasn't it a soft berth?" he enquired, withan attempt at lightness. "too soft--one might have sunk in toodeep." lily rested one arm on the edge of thetable, and sat looking at him more intently than she had ever looked before. an uncontrollable impulse was urging her toput her case to this man, from whose curiosity she had always so fiercelydefended herself. "you know mrs. hatch, i think? well, perhaps you can understand that shemight make things too easy for one."

rosedale looked faintly puzzled, and sheremembered that allusiveness was lost on him. "it was no place for you, anyhow," heagreed, so suffused and immersed in the light of her full gaze that he foundhimself being drawn into strange depths of intimacy. he who had had to subsist on mere fugitiveglances, looks winged in flight and swiftly lost under covert, now found her eyessettling on him with a brooding intensity that fairly dazzled him. "i left," lily continued, "lest peopleshould say i was helping mrs. hatch to

marry freddy van osburgh--who is not in theleast too good for her--and as they still continue to say it, i see that i might aswell have stayed where i was." "oh, freddy----" rosedale brushed aside thetopic with an air of its unimportance which gave a sense of the immense perspective hehad acquired. "freddy don't count--but i knew you weren'tmixed up in that. it ain't your style." lily coloured slightly: she could notconceal from herself that the words gave her pleasure. she would have liked to sit there, drinkingmore tea, and continuing to talk of herself

to rosedale. but the old habit of observing theconventions reminded her that it was time to bring their colloquy to an end, and shemade a faint motion to push back her chair. rosedale stopped her with a protestinggesture. "wait a minute--don't go yet; sit quiet andrest a little longer. you look thoroughly played out. and you haven't told me----" he broke off,conscious of going farther than he had meant. she saw the struggle and understood it;understood also the nature of the spell to

which he yielded as, with his eyes on herface, he began again abruptly: "what on earth did you mean by saying just now thatyou were learning to be a milliner?" "just what i said.i am an apprentice at regina's." "good lord--you? but what for?i knew your aunt had turned you down: mrs. fisher told me about it.but i understood you got a legacy from her- ---" "i got ten thousand dollars; but the legacyis not to be paid till next summer." "well, but--look here: you could borrow onit any time you wanted."

she shook her head gravely. "no; for i owe it already.""owe it? the whole ten thousand?""every penny." she paused, and then continued abruptly,with her eyes on his face: "i think gus trenor spoke to you once about having madesome money for me in stocks." she waited, and rosedale, congested withembarrassment, muttered that he remembered something of the kind. "he made about nine thousand dollars," lilypursued, in the same tone of eager communicativeness.

"at the time, i understood that he wasspeculating with my own money: it was incredibly stupid of me, but i knew nothingof business. afterward i found out that he had not usedmy money--that what he said he had made for me he had really given me. it was meant in kindness, of course; but itwas not the sort of obligation one could remain under. unfortunately i had spent the money beforei discovered my mistake; and so my legacy will have to go to pay it back.that is the reason why i am trying to learn a trade."

she made the statement clearly,deliberately, with pauses between the sentences, so that each should have time tosink deeply into her hearer's mind. she had a passionate desire that some oneshould know the truth about this transaction, and also that the rumour ofher intention to repay the money should reach judy trenor's ears. and it had suddenly occurred to her thatrosedale, who had surprised trenor's confidence, was the fitting person toreceive and transmit her version of the facts. she had even felt a momentary exhilarationat the thought of thus relieving herself of

her detested secret; but the sensationgradually faded in the telling, and as she ended her pallour was suffused with a deepblush of misery. rosedale continued to stare at her inwonder; but the wonder took the turn she had least expected. "but see here--if that's the case, itcleans you out altogether?" he put it to her as if she had not graspedthe consequences of her act; as if her incorrigible ignorance of business wereabout to precipitate her into a fresh act of folly. "altogether--yes," she calmly agreed.he sat silent, his thick hands clasped on

the table, his little puzzled eyesexploring the recesses of the deserted restaurant. "see here--that's fine," he exclaimedabruptly. lily rose from her seat with a deprecatinglaugh. "oh, no--it's merely a bore," she asserted,gathering together the ends of her feather scarf.rosedale remained seated, too intent on his thoughts to notice her movement. "miss lily, if you want any backing--i likepluck----" broke from him disconnectedly. "thank you."she held out her hand.

"your tea has given me a tremendousbacking. i feel equal to anything now." her gesture seemed to show a definiteintention of dismissal, but her companion had tossed a bill to the waiter, and wasslipping his short arms into his expensive overcoat. "wait a minute--you've got to let me walkhome with you," he said. lily uttered no protest, and when he hadpaused to make sure of his change they emerged from the hotel and crossed sixthavenue again. as she led the way westward past a longline of areas which, through the distortion

of their paintless rails, revealed withincreasing candour the disjecta membra of bygone dinners, lily felt that rosedale was taking contemptuous note of theneighbourhood; and before the doorstep at which she finally paused he looked up withan air of incredulous disgust. "this isn't the place? some one told me you were living with missfarish." "no: i am boarding here.i have lived too long on my friends." he continued to scan the blistered brownstone front, the windows draped with discoloured lace, and the pompeiandecoration of the muddy vestibule; then he

looked back at her face and said with a visible effort: "you'll let me come and seeyou some day?" she smiled, recognizing the heroism of theoffer to the point of being frankly touched by it. "thank you--i shall be very glad," she madeanswer, in the first sincere words she had ever spoken to him. that evening in her own room miss bart--whohad fled early from the heavy fumes of the basement dinner-table--sat musing upon theimpulse which had led her to unbosom herself to rosedale.

beneath it she discovered an increasingsense of loneliness--a dread of returning to the solitude of her room, while shecould be anywhere else, or in any company but her own. circumstances, of late, had combined to cuther off more and more from her few remaining friends.on carry fisher's part the withdrawal was perhaps not quite involuntary. having made her final effort on lily'sbehalf, and landed her safely in mme. regina's work-room, mrs. fisher seemeddisposed to rest from her labours; and lily, understanding the reason, could notcondemn her.

carry had in fact come dangerously near tobeing involved in the episode of mrs. norma hatch, and it had taken some verbalingenuity to extricate herself. she frankly owned to having brought lilyand mrs. hatch together, but then she did not know mrs. hatch--she had expresslywarned lily that she did not know mrs. hatch--and besides, she was not lily's keeper, and really the girl was old enoughto take care of herself. carry did not put her own case so brutally,but she allowed it to be thus put for her by her latest bosom friend, mrs. jackstepney: mrs. stepney, trembling over the narrowness of her only brother's escape,

but eager to vindicate mrs. fisher, atwhose house she could count on the "jolly parties" which had become a necessity toher since marriage had emancipated her from the van osburgh point of view. lily understood the situation and couldmake allowances for it. carry had been a good friend to her indifficult days, and perhaps only a friendship like gerty's could be proofagainst such an increasing strain. gerty's friendship did indeed hold fast;yet lily was beginning to avoid her also. for she could not go to gerty's withoutrisk of meeting selden; and to meet him now would be pure pain.

it was pain enough even to think of him,whether she considered him in the distinctness of her waking thoughts, orfelt the obsession of his presence through the blur of her tormented nights. that was one of the reasons why she hadturned again to mrs. hatch's prescription. in the uneasy snatches of her naturaldreams he came to her sometimes in the old guise of fellowship and tenderness; and shewould rise from the sweet delusion mocked and emptied of her courage. but in the sleep which the phial procuredshe sank far below such half-waking visitations, sank into depths of dreamlessannihilation from which she woke each

morning with an obliterated past. gradually, to be sure, the stress of theold thoughts would return; but at least they did not importune her waking hour. the drug gave her a momentary illusion ofcomplete renewal, from which she drew strength to take up her daily work.the strength was more and more needed as the perplexities of her future increased. she knew that to gerty and mrs. fisher shewas only passing through a temporary period of probation, since they believed that theapprenticeship she was serving at mme. regina's would enable her, when mrs.

peniston's legacy was paid, to realize thevision of the green-and-white shop with the fuller competence acquired by herpreliminary training. but to lily herself, aware that the legacycould not be put to such a use, the preliminary training seemed a wastedeffort. she understood clearly enough that, even ifshe could ever learn to compete with hands formed from childhood for their specialwork, the small pay she received would not be a sufficient addition to her income tocompensate her for such drudgery. and the realization of this fact broughther recurringly face to face with the temptation to use the legacy inestablishing her business.

once installed, and in command of her ownwork-women, she believed she had sufficient tact and ability to attract a fashionableclientele; and if the business succeeded she could gradually lay aside money enoughto discharge her debt to trenor. but the task might take years toaccomplish, even if she continued to stint herself to the utmost; and meanwhile herpride would be crushed under the weight of an intolerable obligation. these were her superficial considerations;but under them lurked the secret dread that the obligation might not always remainintolerable. she knew she could not count on hercontinuity of purpose, and what really

frightened her was the thought that shemight gradually accommodate herself to remaining indefinitely in trenor's debt, as she had accommodated herself to the partallotted her on the sabrina, and as she had so nearly drifted into acquiescing withstancy's scheme for the advancement of mrs. hatch. her danger lay, as she knew, in her oldincurable dread of discomfort and poverty; in the fear of that mounting tide ofdinginess against which her mother had so passionately warned her. and now a new vista of peril opened beforeher.

she understood that rosedale was ready tolend her money; and the longing to take advantage of his offer began to haunt herinsidiously. it was of course impossible to accept aloan from rosedale; but proximate possibilities hovered temptingly beforeher. she was quite sure that he would come andsee her again, and almost sure that, if he did, she could bring him to the point ofoffering to marry her on the terms she had previously rejected. would she still reject them if they wereoffered? more and more, with every fresh mischancebefalling her, did the pursuing furies seem

to take the shape of bertha dorset; andclose at hand, safely locked among her papers, lay the means of ending theirpursuit. the temptation, which her scorn of rosedalehad once enabled her to reject, now insistently returned upon her; and how muchstrength was left her to oppose it? what little there was must at any rate behusbanded to the utmost; she could not trust herself again to the perils of asleepless night. through the long hours of silence the darkspirit of fatigue and loneliness crouched upon her breast, leaving her so drained ofbodily strength that her morning thoughts swam in a haze of weakness.

the only hope of renewal lay in the littlebottle at her bed-side; and how much longer that hope would last she dared notconjecture.

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