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									The Wings of the Dove
       Henry James
                                                                 The Wings of the Dove


                                                       Table of Contents
The Wings of the Dove..............................................................................................................................................1
      Henry James...................................................................................................................................................1
      Volume 1........................................................................................................................................................1
       Book First, Chapter 1....................................................................................................................................1
       Book First, Chapter 2....................................................................................................................................9
       Book Second, Chapter 1         ..............................................................................................................................16
      Book Second, Chapter 2         ...............................................................................................................................26
      Book Third, Chapter 1.................................................................................................................................35
      Book Third, Chapter 2.................................................................................................................................42
      Book Fourth, Chapter 1        ................................................................................................................................48
      Book Fourth, Chapter 2        ................................................................................................................................55
      Book Fourth, Chapter 3        ................................................................................................................................60
      Book Fifth, Chapter 1      ...................................................................................................................................68
      Book Fifth, Chapter 2      ...................................................................................................................................71
      Book Fifth, Chapter 3      ...................................................................................................................................76
      Book Fifth, Chapter 4      ...................................................................................................................................82
      Book Fifth, Chapter 5      ...................................................................................................................................87
      Book Fifth, Chapter 6      ...................................................................................................................................92
      Book Fifth, Chapter 7      ...................................................................................................................................96
       Volume 2...................................................................................................................................................101
      Book Sixth, Chapter 1................................................................................................................................101
      Book Sixth, Chapter 2................................................................................................................................104
      Book Sixth, Chapter 3................................................................................................................................111
      Book Sixth, Chapter 4................................................................................................................................116
      Book Sixth, Chapter 5................................................................................................................................127
      Book Seventh, Chapter 1...........................................................................................................................137
      Book Seventh, Chapter 2...........................................................................................................................147
      Book Seventh, Chapter 3...........................................................................................................................152
      Book Seventh, Chapter 4...........................................................................................................................156
      Book Eighth, Chapter 1        ..............................................................................................................................165
       Book Eighth, Chapter 2        .............................................................................................................................170
      Book Eighth, Chapter 3        ..............................................................................................................................176
      Book Ninth, Chapter 1...............................................................................................................................188
      Book Ninth, Chapter 2...............................................................................................................................195
      Book Ninth, Chapter 3...............................................................................................................................200
      Book Ninth, Chapter 4...............................................................................................................................212
      Book Tenth, Chapter 1...............................................................................................................................217
      Book Tenth, Chapter 2...............................................................................................................................228
      Book Tenth, Chapter 3...............................................................................................................................233
      Book Tenth, Chapter 4...............................................................................................................................238
      Book Tenth, Chapter 5...............................................................................................................................243
      Book Tenth, Chapter 6...............................................................................................................................249




                                                                                                                                                                          i
                                  The Wings of the Dove
                                                 Henry James

Volume 1

Book First, Chapter 1
She waited, Kate Croy, for her father to come in, but he kept her unconscionably, and there were moments at
which she showed herself, in the glass over the mantel, a face positively pale with the irritation that had brought
her to the point of going away without sight of him. It was at this point, however, that she remained; changing her
place, moving from the shabby sofa to the armchair upholstered in a glazed cloth that gave at once−−she had tried
it−−the sense of the slippery and of the sticky. She had looked at the sallow prints on the walls and at the lonely
magazine, a year old, that combined, with a small lamp in coloured glass and a knitted white centre−piece
wanting in freshness, to enhance the effect of the purplish cloth on the principal table; she had above all from time
to time taken a brief stand on the small balcony to which the pair of long windows gave access. The vulgar little
street, in this view, offered scant relief from the vulgar little room; its main office was to suggest to her that the
narrow black house−fronts, adjusted to a standard that would have been low even for backs, constituted quite the
publicity implied by such privacies. One felt them in the room exactly as one felt the room−−the hundred like it or
worse−−in the street. Each time she turned in again, each time, in her impatience, she gave him up, (4) it was to
sound to a deeper depth, while she tasted the faint flat emanation of things, the failure of fortune and of honour. If
she continued to wait it was really in a manner that she mightn't add the shame of fear, of individual, of personal
collapse, to all the other shames. To feel the street, to feel the room, to feel the table−cloth and the centre−piece
and the lamp, gave her a small salutary sense at least of neither shirking nor lying. This whole vision was the
worst thing yet−−as including in particular the interview to which she had braced herself; and for what had she
come but for the worst? She tried to be sad so as not to be angry, but it made her angry that she couldn't be sad.
And yet where was misery, misery too beaten for blame and chalk−marked by fate like a "lot" at a common
auction, if not in these merciless signs of mere mean stale feelings?

Her father's life, her sister's, her own, that of her two lost brothers−−the whole history of their house had the effect
of some fine florid voluminous phrase, say even a musical, that dropped first into words and notes without sense
and then, hanging unfinished, into no words nor any notes at all. Why should a set of people have been put in
motion, on such a scale and with such an air of being equipped for a profitable journey, only to break down
without an accident, to stretch themselves in the wayside dust without a reason? The answer to these questions
was not in Chirk Street, but the questions themselves bristled there, and the girl's repeated pause before the mirror
and the chimney−place might have represented her nearest approach to an escape from them. Wasn't it (5) in fact
the partial escape from this "worst" in which she was steeped to be able to make herself out again as agreeable to
see? She stared into the tarnished glass too hard indeed to be staring at her beauty alone. She readjusted the poise
of her black closely−feathered hat; retouched, beneath it, the thick fall of her dusky hair; kept her eyes aslant no
less on her beautiful averted than on her beautiful presented oval. She was dressed altogether in black, which gave
an even tone, by contrast, to her clear face and made her hair more harmoniously dark. Outside, on the balcony,
her eyes showed as blue; within, at the mirror, they showed almost as black. She was handsome, but the degree of
it was not sustained by items and aids; a circumstance moreover playing its part at almost any time in the
impression she produced. The impression was one that remained, but as regards the sources of it no sum in
addition would have made up the total. She had stature without height, grace without motion, presence without
mass. Slender and simple, frequently soundless, she was somehow always in the line of the eye−−she counted
singularly for its pleasure. More "dressed," often, with fewer accessories, than other women, or less dressed,
should occasion require, with more, she probably couldn't have given the key to these felicities. They were
mysteries of which her friends were conscious−−those friends whose general explanation was to say that she was

The Wings of the Dove                                                                                                 1
                                              The Wings of the Dove
clever, whether or no it were taken by the world as the cause or as the effect of her charm. If she saw more things
than her fine face in the dull glass of her father's lodgings she might have seen that after all (6) she was not herself
a fact in the collapse. She didn't hold herself cheap, she didn't make for misery. Personally, no, she wasn't
chalk−marked for auction. She hadn't given up yet, and the broken sentence, if she was the last word, WOULD
end with a sort of meaning. There was a minute during which, though her eyes were fixed, she quite visibly lost
herself in the thought of the way she might still pull things round had she only been a man. It was the name, above
all, she would take in hand−−the precious name she so liked and that, in spite of the harm her wretched father had
done it, wasn't yet past praying for. She loved it in fact the more tenderly for that bleeding wound. But what could
a penniless girl do with it but let it go?

When her father at last appeared she became, as usual, instantly aware of the futility of any effort to hold him to
anything. He had written her he was ill, too ill to leave his room, and that he must see her without delay; and if
this had been, as was probable, the sketch of a design he was indifferent even to the moderate finish required for
deception. He had clearly wanted, for the perversities he called his reasons, to see her, just as she herself had
sharpened for a talk; but she now again felt, in the inevitability of the freedom he used with her, all the old ache,
her poor mother's very own, that he couldn't touch you ever so lightly without setting up. No relation with him
could be so short or so superficial as not to be somehow to your hurt; and this, in the strangest way in the world,
not because he desired it to be−−feeling often, as he surely must, the profit for him of its not (7) being−−but
because there was never a mistake for you that he could leave unmade, nor a conviction of his impossibility in
you that he could approach you without strengthening. He might have awaited her on the sofa in his sitting−room,
or might have stayed in bed and received her in that situation. She was glad to be spared the sight of such
penetralia, but it would have reminded her a little less that there was no truth in him. This was the weariness of
every fresh meeting; he dealt out lies as he might the cards from the greasy old pack for the game of diplomacy to
which you were to sit down with him. The inconvenience−−as always happens in such cases−−was not that you
minded what was false, but that you missed what was true. He might be ill and it might suit you to know it, but no
contact with him, for this, could ever be straight enough. Just so he even might die, but Kate fairly wondered on
what evidence of his own she would some day have to believe it.

He had not at present come down from his room, which she knew to be above the one they were in: he had
already been out of the house, though he would either, should she challenge him, deny it or present it as a proof of
his extremity. She had, however, by this time, quite ceased to challenge him; not only, face to face with him, vain
irritation dropped, but he breathed upon the tragic consciousness in such a way that after a moment nothing of it
was left. The difficulty was not less that he breathed in the same way upon the comic: she almost believed that
with this latter she might still have found a foothold for clinging to him. He had ceased to be amusing−−he (8)
was really too inhuman. His perfect look, which had floated him so long, was practically perfect still; but one had
long since for every occasion taken it for granted. Nothing could have better shown than the actual how right one
had been. He looked exactly as much as usual−−all pink and silver as to skin and hair, all straightness and starch
as to figure and dress; the man in the world least connected with anything unpleasant. He was so particularly the
English gentleman and the fortunate settled normal person. Seen at a foreign table d'hote he suggested but one
thing: "In what perfection England produces them!" He had kind safe eyes, and a voice which, for all its clean
fulness, told the quiet tale of its having never had once to raise itself. Life had met him so, halfway, and had
turned round so to walk with him, placing a hand in his arm and fondly leaving him to choose the pace. Those
who knew him a little said "How he does dress!"−−those who knew him better said "How DOES he?" The one
stray gleam of comedy just now in his daughter's eyes was the absurd feeling he momentarily made her have of
being herself "looked up" by him in sordid lodgings. For a minute after he came in it was as if the place were her
own and he the visitor with susceptibilities. He gave you absurd feelings, he had indescribable arts, that quite
turned the tables: this had been always how he came to see her mother so long as her mother would see him. He
came from places they had often not known about, but he patronised Lexham Gardens. Kate's only actual
expression of impatience, however, was "I'm glad you're so much better!"



The Wings of the Dove                                                                                                 2
                                             The Wings of the Dove
(9) "I'm not so much better, my dear−−I'm exceedingly unwell; the proof of which is precisely that I've been out
to the chemist's−−that beastly fellow at the corner." So Mr. Croy showed he could qualify the humble hand that
assuaged him. "I'm taking something he has made up for me. It's just why I've sent for you−−that you may see me
as I really am."

"Oh papa, it's long since I've ceased to see you otherwise than as you really are! I think we've all arrived by this
time at the right word for that: 'You're beautiful−−n'en parlons plus.' You're as beautiful as ever−−you look
lovely." He judged meanwhile her own appearance, as she knew she could always trust him to do; recognising,
estimating, sometimes disapproving, what she wore, showing her the interest he continued to take in her. He
might really take none at all, yet she virtually knew herself the creature in the world to whom he was least
indifferent. She had often enough wondered what on earth, at the pass he had reached, could give him pleasure,
and had come back on these occasions to that. It gave him pleasure that she was handsome, that she was in her
way a tangible value. It was at least as marked, nevertheless, that he derived none from similar conditions, so far
as they WERE similar, in his other child. Poor Marian might be handsome, but he certainly didn't care. The hitch
here of course was that, with whatever beauty, her sister, widowed and almost in want, with four bouncing
children, had no such measure. She asked him the next thing how long he had been in his actual quarters, though
aware of how little it mattered, how little any answer he might make would (10) probably have in common with
the truth. She failed in fact to notice his answer, truthful or not, already occupied as she was with what she had on
her own side to say to him. This was really what had made her wait−−what superseded the small remainder of her
resentment at his constant practical impertinence; the result of all of which was that within a minute she had
brought it out. "Yes−−even now I'm willing to go with you. I don't know what you may have wished to say to me,
and even if you hadn't written you would within a day or two have heard from me. Things have happened, and
I've only waited, for seeing you, till I should be quite sure. I AM quite sure. I'll go with you."

It produced an effect. "Go with me where?"

"Anywhere. I'll stay with you. Even here." She had taken off her gloves and, as if she had arrived with her plan,
she sat down.

Lionel Croy hung about in his disengaged way−−hovered there as if looking, in consequence of her words, for a
pretext to back out easily: on which she immediately saw she had discounted, as it might be called, what he had
himself been preparing. He wished her not to come to him, still less to settle with him, and had sent for her to give
her up with some style and state; a part of the beauty of which, however, was to have been his sacrifice to her own
detachment. There was no style, no state, unless she wished to forsake him. His idea had accordingly been to
surrender her to her wish with all nobleness; it had by no means been to have positively to keep her off. She
cared, however, not a straw for his embarrassment−−(11) feeling how little, on her own part, she was moved by
charity. She had seen him, first and last, in so many attitudes that she could now deprive him quite without
compunction of the luxury of a new one. Yet she felt the disconcerted gasp in his tone as he said: "Oh my child, I
can never consent to that!"

"What then are you going to do?"

"I'm turning it over," said Lionel Croy. "You may imagine if I'm not thinking."

"Haven't you thought then," his daughter asked, "of what I speak of? I mean of my being ready."

Standing before her with his hands behind him and his legs a little apart, he swayed slightly to and fro, inclined
toward her as if rising on his toes. It had an effect of conscientious deliberation. "No−−I haven't. I couldn't. I
wouldn't." It was so respectable a show that she felt afresh, and with the memory of their old despair, the despair
at home, how little his appearance ever by any chance told about him. His plausibility had been the heaviest of her
mother's crosses; inevitably so much more present to the world than whatever it was that was horrid−−thank God

The Wings of the Dove                                                                                               3
                                              The Wings of the Dove
they didn't really know!−−that he had done. He had positively been, in his way, by the force of his particular type,
a terrible husband not to live with; his type reflecting so invidiously on the woman who had found him distasteful.
Had this thereby not kept directly present to Kate her self that it might, on some sides, prove no light thing for her
to leave uncompanion'd a parent with such a face and such a manner? Yet if there was much she neither knew nor
dreamed of it passed between them (12) at this very moment that he was quite familiar with himself as the subject
of such quandaries. If he recognised his younger daughter's happy aspect as a tangible value, he had from the first
still more exactly appraised every point of his own. The great wonder was not that in spite of everything these
points had helped him; the great wonder was that they hadn't helped him more. However, it was, to its eternal
recurrent tune, helping him all the while; her drop into patience with him showed how it was helping him at this
moment. She saw the next instant precisely the line he would take. "Do you really ask me to believe you've been
making up your mind to that?"

She had to consider her own line. "I don't think I care, papa, what you believe. I never, for that matter, think of
you as believing anything; hardly more," she permitted herself to add, "than I ever think of you as yourself
believed. I don't know you, father, you see."

"And it's your idea that you may make that up?"

"Oh dear, no; not at all. That's no part of the question. If I haven't understood you by this time I never shall, and it
doesn't matter. It has seemed to me you may be lived with, but not that you may be understood. Of course I've not
the least idea how you get on."

"I don't get on," Mr. Croy almost gaily replied.

His daughter took the place in again, and it might well have seemed odd that with so little to meet the eye there
should be so much to show. What showed was the ugliness−−so positive and palpable that it (13) was somehow
sustaining. It was a medium, a setting, and to that extent, after all, a dreadful sign of life; so that it fairly gave
point to her answer. "Oh I beg your pardon. You flourish."

"Do you throw it up at me again," he pleasantly put to her, "that I've not made away with myself?"

She treated the question as needing no reply; she sat there for real things. "You know how all our anxieties, under
mamma's will, have come out. She had still less to leave than she feared. We don't know how we lived. It all
makes up about two hundred a year for Marian, and two for me, but I give up a hundred to Marian."

"Oh you weak thing!" her father sighed as from depths of enlightened experience.

"For you and me together," she went on, "the other hundred would do something."

"And what would do the rest?"

"Can you yourself do nothing?"

He gave her a look; then, slipping his hands into his pockets and turning away, stood for a little at the window she
had left open. She said nothing more−−she had placed him there with that question, and the silence lasted a
minute, broken by the call of an appealing costermonger, which came in with the mild March air, with the shabby
sunshine, fearfully unbecoming to the room, and with the small homely hum of Chirk Street. Presently he moved
nearer, but as if her question had quite dropped. "I don't see what has so suddenly wound you up."

"I should have thought you might perhaps guess. Let me at any rate tell you. Aunt Maud has made (14) me a
proposal. But she has also made me a condition. She wants to keep me."

The Wings of the Dove                                                                                                    4
                                              The Wings of the Dove

"And what in the world else COULD she possibly want?"

"Oh I don't know−−many things. I'm not so precious a capture," the girl a little dryly explained. "No one has ever
wanted to keep me before."

Looking always what was proper, her father looked now still more surprised than interested. "You've not had
proposals?" He spoke as if that were incredible of Lionel Croy's daughter; as if indeed such an admission scarce
consorted, even in filial intimacy, with her high spirit and general form.

"Not from rich relations. She's extremely kind to me, but it's time, she says, that we should understand each
other."

Mr. Croy fully assented. "Of course it is−−high time; and I can quite imagine what she means by it."

"Are you very sure?"

"Oh perfectly. She means that she'll 'do' for you handsomely if you'll break off all relations with me. You speak of
her condition. Her condition's of course that."

"Well then," said Kate, "it's what has wound me up. Here I am."

He showed with a gesture how thoroughly he had taken it in; after which, within a few seconds, he had quite
congruously turned the situation about. "Do you really suppose me in a position to justify your throwing yourself
upon me?"

She waited a little, but when she spoke it was clear. "Yes."

(15) "Well then, you're of feebler intelligence than I should have ventured to suppose you."

"Why so? You live. You flourish. You bloom."

"Ah how you've all always hated me!" he murmured with a pensive gaze again at the window.

"No one could be less of a mere cherished memory," she declared as if she had not heard him. "You're an actual
person, if there ever was one. We agreed just now that you're beautiful. You strike me, you know, as−−in your
own way−−much more firm on your feet than I. Don't put it to me therefore as monstrous that the fact that we're
after all parent and child should at present in some manner count for us. My idea has been that it should have
some effect for each of us. I don't at all, as I told you just now," she pursued, "make out your life; but whatever it
is I hereby offer to accept it. And, on my side, I'll do everything I can for you."

"I see," said Lionel Croy. Then with the sound of extreme relevance: "And what CAN you?" She only, at this,
hesitated, and he took up her silence. "You can describe yourself−−TO yourself−−as, in a fine flight, giving up
your aunt for me; but what good, I should like to know, would your fine flight do me?" As she still said nothing
he developed a little. "We're not possessed of so much, at this charming pass, please to remember, as that we can
afford not to take hold of any perch held out to us. I like the way you talk, my dear, about 'giving up'! One doesn't
give up the use of a spoon because one's reduced to living on broth. And your spoon, that is your aunt, please
consider, is partly mine as well." (16) She rose now, as if in sight of the term of her effort, in sight of the futility
and the weariness of many things, and moved back to the poor little glass with which she had communed before.
She retouched here again the poise of her hat, and this brought to her father's lips another remark−−in which
impatience, however, had already been replaced by a free flare of appreciation. "Oh you're all right! Don't muddle
yourself up with ME!"

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                                              The Wings of the Dove

His daughter turned round to him. "The condition Aunt Maud makes is that I shall have absolutely nothing to do
with you; never see you, nor speak nor write to you, never go near you nor make you a sign, nor hold any sort of
communication with you. What she requires is that you shall simply cease to exist for me."

He had always seemed−−it was one of the marks of what they called the "unspeakable" in him−−to walk a little
more on his toes, as if for jauntiness, under the touch of offence. Nothing, however, was more wonderful than
what he sometimes would take for offence, unless it might be what he sometimes wouldn't. He walked at any rate
on his toes now. "A very proper requirement of your Aunt Maud, my dear−−I don't hesitate to say it!" Yet as this,
much as she had seen, left her silent at first from what might have been a sense of sickness, he had time to go on:
"That's her condition then. But what are her promises? Just what does she engage to do? You must work it, you
know."

"You mean make her feel," Kate asked after a moment, "how much I'm attached to you?"

(17) "Well, what a cruel invidious treaty it is for you to sign. I'm a poor ruin of an old dad to make a stand about
giving up−−I quite agree. But I'm not, after all, quite the old ruin not to get something FOR giving up."

"Oh I think her idea," said Kate almost gaily now, "is that I shall get a great deal."

He met her with his inimitable amenity. "But does she give you the items?"

The girl went through the show. "More or less, I think. But many of them are things I dare say I may take for
granted−−things women can do for each other and that you wouldn't understand."

"There's nothing I understand so well, always, as the things I needn't! But what I want to do, you see," he went on,
"is to put it to your conscience that you've an admirable opportunity; and that it's moreover one for which, after
all, damn you, you've really to thank ME."

"I confess I don't see," Kate observed, "what my 'conscience' has to do with it."

"Then, my dear girl, you ought simply to be ashamed of yourself. Do you know what you're a proof of, all you
hard hollow people together?" He put the question with a charming air of sudden spiritual heat. "Of the deplorably
superficial morality of the age. The family sentiment, in our vulgarised brutalised life, has gone utterly to pot.
There was a day when a man like me−−by which I mean a parent like me−−would have been for a daughter like
you quite a distinct value; what's called in the business world, I believe, an 'asset.' " He continued sociably (18) to
make it out. "I'm not talking only of what you might, with the right feeling, do FOR me, but of what you
might−−it's what I call your opportunity−−do WITH me. Unless indeed," he the next moment imperturbably
threw off, "they come a good deal to the same thing. Your duty as well as your chance, if you're capable of seeing
it, is to use me. Show family feeling by seeing what I'm good for. If you had it as I have it you'd see I'm still
good−−well, for a lot of things. There's in fact, my dear," Mr. Croy wound up, "a coach−and−four to be got out of
me." His lapse, or rather his climax, failed a little of effect indeed through an undue precipitation of memory.
Something his daughter had said came back to him. "You've settled to give away half your little inheritance?"

Her hesitation broke into laughter. "No−−I haven't 'settled' anything."

"But you mean practically to let Marian collar it?" They stood there face to face, but she so denied herself to his
challenge that he could only go on. "You've a view of three hundred a year for her in addition to what her husband
left her with? Is THAT," the remote progenitor of such wantonness audibly wondered, "your morality?"

Kate found her answer without trouble. "Is it your idea that I should give you everything?"


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                                                The Wings of the Dove

The "everything" clearly struck him−−to the point even of determining the tone of his reply. "Far from it. How
can you ask that when I refuse what you tell me you came to offer? Make of my idea what you can; I think I've
sufficiently expressed it, and it's at (19) any rate to take or to leave. It's the only one, I may nevertheless add; it's
the basket with all my eggs. It's my conception, in short, of your duty."

The girl's tired smile watched the word as if it had taken on a small grotesque visibility. "You're wonderful on
such subjects! I think I should leave you in no doubt," she pursued, "that if I were to sign my aunt's agreement I
should carry it out, in honour, to the letter."

"Rather, my own love! It's just your honour that I appeal to. The only way to play the game IS to play it. There's
no limit to what your aunt can do for you."

"Do you mean in the way of marrying me?"

"What else should I mean? Marry properly−−"

"And then?" Kate asked as he hung fire.

"And then−−well, I WILL talk with you. I'll resume relations."

She looked about her and picked up her parasol. "Because you're not so afraid of any one else in the world as you
are of HER? My husband, if I should marry, would be at the worst less of a terror? If that's what you mean there
may be something in it. But doesn't it depend a little also on what you mean by my getting a proper one?
However," Kate added as she picked out the frill of her little umbrella, "I don't suppose your idea of him is
QUITE that he should persuade you to live with us."

"Dear no−−not a bit." He spoke as not resenting either the fear or the hope she imputed; met both imputations in
fact with a sort of intellectual relief. "I place the case for you wholly in your aunt's hands. (20) I take her view
with my eyes shut; I accept in all confidence any man she selects. If he's good enough for HER−−elephantine
snob as she is−−he's good enough for me; and quite in spite of the fact that she'll be sure to select one who can be
trusted to be nasty to me. My only interest is in your doing what she wants. You shan't be so beastly poor, my
darling," Mr. Croy declared, "if I can help it."

"Well then good−bye, papa," the girl said after a reflexion on this that had perceptibly ended for her in a
renunciation of further debate. "Of course you understand that it may be for long."

Her companion had hereupon one of his finest inspirations. "Why not frankly for ever? You must do me the
justice to see that I don't do things, that I've never done them, by halves−−that if I offer you to efface myself it's
for the final fatal sponge I ask, well saturated and well applied."

She turned her handsome quiet face upon him at such length that it might indeed have been for the last time. "I
don't know what you're like."

"No more do I, my dear. I've spent my life in trying in vain to discover. Like nothing−−more's the pity. If there
had been many of us and we could have found each other out there's no knowing what we mightn't have done. But
it doesn't matter now. Good−bye, love." He looked even not sure of what she would wish him to suppose on the
subject of a kiss, yet also not embarrassed by his uncertainty.

She forbore in fact for a moment longer to clear it up. "I wish there were some one here who might (21)
serve−−for any contingency−−as a witness that I HAVE put it to you that I'm ready to come."


The Wings of the Dove                                                                                                       7
                                              The Wings of the Dove

"Would you like me," her father asked, "to call the landlady?"

"You may not believe me," she pursued, "but I came really hoping you might have found some way. I'm very
sorry at all events to leave you unwell." He turned away from her on this and, as he had done before, took refuge,
by the window, in a stare at the street. "Let me put it−−unfortunately without a witness," she added after a
moment, "that there's only one word you really need speak."

When he took these words up it was still with his back to her. "If I don't strike you as having already spoken it our
time has been singularly wasted."

"I'll engage with you in respect to my aunt exactly to what she wants of me in respect to you. She wants me to
choose. Very well, I WILL choose. I'll wash my hands of her for you to just that tune."

He at last brought himself round. "Do you know, dear, you make me sick? I've tried to be clear, and it isn't fair."

But she passed this over; she was too visibly sincere. "Father!"

"I don't quite see what's the matter with you," he said, "and if you can't pull yourself together I'll−−upon my
honour−−take you in hand. Put you into a cab and deliver you again safe at Lancaster Gate."

She was really absent, distant. "Father."

It was too much, and he met it sharply. "Well?"

"Strange as it may be to you to hear me say it, (22) there's a good you can do me and a help you can render."

"Isn't it then exactly what I've been trying to make you feel?"

"Yes," she answered patiently, "but so in the wrong way. I'm perfectly honest in what I say, and I know what I'm
talking about. It isn't that I'll pretend I could have believed a month ago in anything to call aid or support from
you. The case is changed−−that's what has happened; my difficulty is a new one. But even now it's not a question
of anything I should ask you in a way to 'do.' It's simply a question of your not turning me away−−taking yourself
out of my life. It's simply a question of your saying: 'Yes then, since you will, we'll stand together. We won't
worry in advance about how or where; we'll have a faith and find a way.' That's all−−THAT would be the good
you'd do me. I should HAVE you, and it would be for my benefit. Do you see?"

If he didn't it wasn't for want of looking at her hard. "The matter with you is that you're in love, and that your aunt
knows and−−for reasons, I'm sure, perfect−−hates and opposes it. Well she may! It's a matter in which I trust her
with my eyes shut. Go, please." Though he spoke not in anger−−rather in infinite sadness−−he fairly turned her
out. Before she took it up he had, as the fullest expression of what he felt, opened the door of the room. He had
fairly, in his deep disapproval, a generous compassion to spare. "I'm sorry for her, deluded woman, if she builds
on you."

Kate stood a moment in the draught. "She's not (23) the person i pity most, for, deluded in many ways though she
may be, she's not the person who's most so. I mean," she explained, "if it's a question of what you call building on
me."

He took it as if what she meant might be other than her description of it. "You're deceiving TWO persons then,
Mrs. Lowder and somebody else?"



The Wings of the Dove                                                                                                 8
                                              The Wings of the Dove

She shook her head with detachment. "I've no intention of that sort with respect to any one now−−to Mrs. Lowder
least of all. If you fail me"−−she seemed to make it out for herself−−"that has the merit at least that it simplifies. I
shall go my way−−as I see my way."

"Your way, you mean then, will be to marry some blackguard without a penny?"

"You demand a great deal of satisfaction," she observed, "for the little you give."

It brought him up again before her as with a sense that she was not to be hustled, and though he glared at her a
little this had long been the practical limit to his general power of objection. "If you're base enough to incur your
aunt's reprobation you're base enough for my argument. What, if you're not thinking of an utterly improper
person, do your speeches to me signify? Who IS the beggarly sneak?" he went on as her response failed.

Her response, when it came, was cold but distinct. "He has every disposition to make the best of you. He only
wants in fact to be kind to you."

"Then he MUST be an ass! And how in the world can you consider it to improve him for me," her father pursued,
"that he's also destitute and impossible? (24) There are boobies and boobies even−−the right and the wrong−−and
you appear to have carefully picked out one of the wrong. Your aunt knows THEM, by good fortune; I perfectly
trust, as I tell you, her judgement for them; and you may take it from me once for all that I won't hear of any one
of whom SHE won't." Which led up to his last word. "If you should really defy us both−−!"

"Well, papa?"

"Well, my sweet child, I think that−−reduced to insignificance as you may fondly believe me−−I should still not
be quite without some way of making you regret it."

She had a pause, a grave one, but not, as appeared, that she might measure this danger. "If I shouldn't do it, you
know, it wouldn't be because I'm afraid of you."

"Oh if you don't do it," he retorted, "you may be as bold as you like!"

"Then you can do nothing at all for me?"

He showed her, this time unmistakeably−−it was before her there on the landing, at the top of the tortuous stairs
and in the midst of the strange smell that seemed to cling to them−−how vain her appeal remained. "I've never
pretended to do more than my duty; I've given you the best and the clearest advice." And then came up the spring
that moved him. "If it only displeases you, you can go to Marian to be consoled." What he couldn't forgive was
her dividing with Marian her scant share of the provision their mother had been able to leave them. She should
have divided it with HIM.

Book First, Chapter 2
She had gone to Mrs. Lowder on her mother's death−−gone with an effort the strain and pain of which made her at
present, as she recalled them, reflect on the long way she had travelled since then. There had been nothing else to
do−−not a penny in the other house, nothing but unpaid bills that had gathered thick while its mistress lay
mortally ill, and the admonition that there was nothing she must attempt to raise money on, since everything
belonged to the "estate." How the estate would turn out at best presented itself as a mystery altogether gruesome;
it had proved in fact since then a residuum a trifle less scant than, with her sister, she had for some weeks feared;
but the girl had had at the beginning rather a wounded sense of its being watched on behalf of Marian and her


Book First, Chapter 2                                                                                                   9
                                               The Wings of the Dove
children. What on earth was it supposed that SHE wanted to do to it? She wanted in truth only to give up−−to
abandon her own interest, which she doubtless would already have done hadn't the point been subject to Aunt
Maud's sharp intervention. Aunt Maud's intervention was all sharp now, and the other point, the great one, was
that it was to be, in this light, either all put up with or all declined. Yet at the winter's end, nevertheless, she could
scarce have said what stand she conceived she had taken. It wouldn't be the first time she had seen herself obliged
to accept with smothered irony other people's interpretation of her conduct. She often (26) ended by giving up to
them−−it seemed really the way to live−−the version that met their convenience.

The tall rich heavy house at Lancaster Gate, on the other side of the Park and the long South Kensington stretches,
had figured to her, through childhood, through girlhood, as the remotest limit of her vague young world. It was
further off and more occasional than anything else in the comparatively compact circle in which she revolved, and
seemed, by a rigour early marked, to be reached through long, straight, discouraging vistas, perfect telescopes of
streets, and which kept lengthening and straightening, whereas almost everything else in life was either at the
worst roundabout Cromwell Road or at the furthest in the nearer parts of Kensington Gardens. Mrs. Lowder was
her only "real" aunt, not the wife of an uncle, and had been thereby, both in ancient days and when the greater
trouble came, the person, of all persons, properly to make some sign; in accord with which our young woman's
feeling was founded on the impression, quite cherished for years, that the signs made across the interval just
mentioned had never been really in the note of the situation. The main office of this relative for the young
Croys−−apart from giving them their fixed measure of social greatness−−had struck them as being to form them
to a conception of what they were not to expect. When Kate came to think matters over with wider knowledge,
she failed quite to see how Aunt Maud could have been different−−she had rather perceived by this time how
many other things might have been; yet she also made out that if they had all consciously (27) lived under a
liability to the chill breath of ultima Thule they couldn't either, on the facts, very well have done less. What in the
event appeared established was that if Mrs. Lowder had disliked them she yet hadn't disliked them so much as
they supposed. It had at any rate been for the purpose of showing how she struggled with her aversion that she
sometimes came to see them, that she at regular periods invited them to her house and in short, as it now looked,
kept them along on the terms that would best give her sister the perennial luxury of a grievance. This sister, poor
Mrs. Croy, the girl knew, had always judged her resentfully, and had brought them up, Marian, the boys and
herself, to the idea of a particular attitude, for signs of the practice of which they watched each other with awe.
The attitude was to make plain to Aunt Maud, with the same regularity as her invitations, that they
sufficed−−thanks awfully−−to themselves. But the ground of it, Kate lived to discern, was that this was only
because SHE didn't suffice to them. The little she offered was to be accepted under protest, yet not really because
it was excessive. It wounded them−−there was the rub!−−because it fell short.

The number of new things our young lady looked out on from the high south window that hung over the
Park−−this number was so great (though some of the things were only old ones altered and, as the phrase was of
other matters, done up) that life at present turned to her view from week to week more and more the face of a
striking and distinguished stranger. She had reached a great age−−for it quite seemed to her that at twenty−five it
was late to reconsider, and (28) her most general sense was a shade of regret that she hadn't known earlier. The
world was different−−whether for worse or for better−−from her rudimentary readings, and it gave her the feeling
of a wasted past. If she had only known sooner she might have arranged herself more to meet it. She made at all
events discoveries every day, some of which were about herself and others about other persons. Two of
these−−one under each head−−more particularly engaged, in alternation, her anxiety. She saw as she had never
seen before how material things spoke to her. She saw, and she blushed to see, that if in contrast with some of its
old aspects life now affected her as a dress successfully "done up," this was exactly by reason of the trimmings
and lace, was a matter of ribbons and silk and velvet. She had a dire accessibility to pleasure from such sources.
She liked the charming quarters her aunt had assigned her−−liked them literally more than she had in all her other
days liked anything; and nothing could have been more uneasy than her suspicion of her relative's view of this
truth. Her relative was prodigious−−she had never done her relative justice. These larger conditions all tasted of
her, from morning till night; but she was a person in respect to whom the growth of acquaintance could
only−−strange as it might seem−−keep your heart in your mouth.

Book First, Chapter 2                                                                                                  10
                                             The Wings of the Dove
The girl's second great discovery was that, so far from having been for Mrs. Lowder a subject of superficial
consideration, the blighted home in Lexham Gardens had haunted her nights and her days. Kate had spent, all
winter, hours of observation that were (29) not less pointed for being spent alone; recent events, which her
mourning explained, assured her a measure of isolation, and it was in the isolation above all that her neighbour's
influence worked. Sitting far downstairs Aunt Maud was yet a presence from which a sensitive niece could feel
herself extremely under pressure. She knew herself now, the sensitive niece, as having been marked from far
back. She knew more than she could have told you, by the upstairs fire, in a whole dark December afternoon. She
knew so much that her knowledge was what fairly kept her there, making her at times circulate more endlessly
between the small silk−covered sofa that stood for her in the firelight and the great grey map of Middlesex spread
beneath her lookout. To go down, to forsake her refuge, was to meet some of her discoveries halfway, to have to
face them or fly before them; whereas they were at such a height only like the rumble of a far−off siege heard in
the provisioned citadel. She had almost liked, in these weeks, what had created her suspense and her stress: the
loss of her mother, the submersion of her father, the discomfort of her sister, the confirmation of their shrunken
prospects, the certainty, in especial, of her having to recognise that should she behave, as she called it,
decently−−that is still do something for others−−she would be herself wholly without supplies. She held that she
had a right to sadness and stillness; she nursed them for their postponing power. What they mainly postponed was
the question of a surrender, though she couldn't yet have said exactly of what: a general surrender of
everything−−that was at moments the way (30) it presented itself−−to Aunt Maud's looming "personality." It was
by her personality that Aunt Maud was prodigious, and the great mass of it loomed because, in the thick, the
foglike air of her arranged existence, there were parts doubtless magnified and parts certainly vague. They
represented at all events alike, the dim and the distinct, a strong will and a high hand. It was perfectly present to
Kate that she might be devoured, and she compared herself to a trembling kid, kept apart a day or two till her turn
should come, but sure sooner or later to be introduced into the cage of the lioness.

The cage was Aunt Maud's own room, her office, her counting−house, her battlefield, her especial scene, in fine,
of action, situated on the ground−floor, opening from the main hall and figuring rather to our young woman on
exit and entrance as a guard−house or a toll−gate. The lioness waited−−the kid had at least that consciousness;
was aware of the neighbourhood of a morsel she had reason to suppose tender. She would have been meanwhile a
wonderful lioness for a show, an extraordinary figure in a cage or anywhere; majestic, magnificent,
high−coloured, all brilliant gloss, perpetual satin, twinkling bugles and flashing gems, with a lustre of agate eyes,
a sheen of raven hair, a polish of complexion that was like that of well−kept china and that−−as if the skin were
too tight−−told especially at curves and corners. Her niece had a quiet name for her−−she kept it quiet: thinking of
her, with a free fancy, as somehow typically insular, she talked to herself of Britannia of the Market
Place−−Britannia unmistakeable but with a (31) pen on her ear−−and felt she should not be happy till she might
on some occasion add to the rest of the panoply a helmet, a shield, a trident and a ledger. It wasn't in truth,
however, that the forces with which, as Kate felt, she would have to deal were those most suggested by an image
simple and broad; she was learning after all each day to know her companion, and what she had already most
perceived was the mistake of trusting to easy analogies. There was a whole side of Britannia, the side of her florid
philistinism, her plumes and her train, her fantastic furniture and heaving bosom, the false gods of her taste and
false notes of her talk, the sole contemplation of which would be dangerously misleading. She was a complex and
subtle Britannia, as passionate as she was practical, with a reticule for her prejudices as deep as that other pocket,
the pocket full of coins stamped in her image, that the world best knew her by. She carried on in short, behind her
aggressive and defensive front, operations determined by her wisdom. It was in fact as a besieger, we have hinted,
that our young lady, in the provisioned citadel, had for the present most to think of her, and what made her
formidable in this character was that she was unscrupulous and immoral. So at all events in silent sessions and a
youthful off−hand way Kate conveniently pictured her: what this sufficiently represented being that her weight
was in the scale of certain dangers−−those dangers that, by our showing, made the younger woman linger and lurk
above, while the elder, below, both militant and diplomatic, covered as much of the ground as possible. Yet what
were the dangers, after (32) all, but just the dangers of life and of London? Mrs. Lowder WAS London, WAS
life−−the roar of the siege and the thick of the fray. There were some things, after all, of which Britannia was
afraid; but Aunt Maud was afraid of nothing−−not even, it would appear, of arduous thought.

Book First, Chapter 2                                                                                              11
                                              The Wings of the Dove
These impressions, none the less, Kate kept so much to herself that she scarce shared them with poor Marian, the
ostensible purpose of her frequent visits to whom yet continued to be to talk over everything. One of her reasons
for holding off from the last concession to Aunt Maud was that she might be the more free to commit herself to
this so much nearer and so much less fortunate relative, with whom Aunt Maud would have almost nothing direct
to do. The sharpest pinch of her state, meanwhile, was exactly that all intercourse with her sister had the effect of
casting down her courage and tying her hands, adding daily to her sense of the part, not always either uplifting or
sweetening, that the bond of blood might play in one's life. She was face to face with it now, with the bond of
blood; the consciousness of it was what she seemed most clearly to have "come into" by the death of her mother,
much of that consciousness as her mother had absorbed and carried away. Her haunting harassing father, her
menacing uncompromising aunt, her portionless little nephews and nieces, were figures that caused the chord of
natural piety superabundantly to vibrate. Her manner of putting it to herself−−but more especially in respect to
Marian−−was that she saw what you might be brought to by the cultivation of (33) consanguinity. She had taken,
in the old days, as she supposed, the measure of this liability; those being the days when, as the second−born, she
had thought no one in the world so pretty as Marian, no one so charming, so clever, so assured in advance of
happiness and success. The view was different now, but her attitude had been obliged, for many reasons, to show
as the same. The subject of this estimate was no longer pretty, as the reason for thinking her clever was no longer
plain; yet, bereaved, disappointed, demoralised, querulous, she was all the more sharply and insistently Kate's
elder and Kate's own. Kate's most constant feeling about her was that she would make her, Kate, do things; and
always, in comfortless Chelsea, at the door of the small house the small rent of which she couldn't help having on
her mind, she fatalistically asked herself, before going in, which thing it would probably be this time. She noticed
with profundity that disappointment made people selfish; she marvelled at the serenity−−it was the poor woman's
only one−−of what Marian took for granted: her own state of abasement as the second−born, her life reduced to
mere inexhaustible sisterhood. She existed in that view wholly for the small house in Chelsea; the moral of which
moreover, of course, was that the more you gave yourself the less of you was left. There were always people to
snatch at you, and it would never occur to THEM that they were eating you up. They did that without tasting.

There was no such misfortune, or at any rate no such discomfort, she further reasoned, as to be formed at once for
being and for seeing. You always saw, (34) in this case something else than what you were, and you got in
consequence none of the peace of your condition. However, as she never really let Marian see what she was
Marian might well not have been aware that she herself saw. Kate was accordingly to her own vision not a
hypocrite of virtue, for she gave herself up; but she was a hypocrite of stupidity, for she kept to herself everything
that was not herself. What she most kept was the particular sentiment with which she watched her sister
instinctively neglect nothing that would make for her submission to their aunt; a state of the spirit that perhaps
marked most sharply how poor you might become when you minded so much the absence of wealth. It was
through Kate that Aunt Maud should be worked, and nothing mattered less than what might become of Kate in the
process. Kate was to burn her ships in short, so that Marian should profit; and Marian's desire to profit was quite
oblivious of a dignity that had after all its reasons−−if it had only understood them−−for keeping itself a little
stiff. Kate, to be properly stiff for both of them, would therefore have had to be selfish, have had to prefer an ideal
of behaviour−−than which nothing ever was more selfish−−to the possibility of stray crumbs for the four small
creatures. The tale of Mrs. Lowder's disgust at her elder niece's marriage to Mr. Condrip had lost little of its point;
the incredibly fatuous behaviour of Mr. Condrip, the parson of a dull suburban parish, with a saintly profile which
was always in evidence, being so distinctly on record to keep criticism consistent. He had presented his profile on
system, having, goodness (35) knew, nothing else to present−−nothing at all to full−face the world with, no
imagination of the propriety of living and minding his business. Criticism had remained on Aunt Maud's part
consistent enough; she was not a person to regard such proceedings as less of a mistake for having acquired more
of the privilege of pathos. She hadn't been forgiving, and the only approach she made to overlooking them was by
overlooking−−with the surviving delinquent−−the solid little phalanx that now represented them. Of the two
sinister ceremonies that she lumped together, the marriage and the interment, she had been present at the former,
just as she had sent Marian before it a liberal cheque; but this had not been for her more than the shadow of an
admitted link with Mrs. Condrip's course. She disapproved of clamorous children for whom there was no
prospect; she disapproved of weeping widows who couldn't make their errors good; and she had thus put within

Book First, Chapter 2                                                                                               12
                                             The Wings of the Dove

Marian's reach one of the few luxuries left when so much else had gone, an easy pretext for a constant grievance.
Kate Croy remembered well what their mother, in a different quarter, had made of it; and it was Marian's marked
failure to pluck the fruit of resentment that committed them as sisters to an almost equal fellowship in abjection. If
the theory was that, yes, alas, one of the pair had ceased to be noticed, but that the other was noticed enough to
make up for it, who would fail to see that Kate couldn't separate herself without a cruel pride? That lesson became
sharp for our young lady the day after her interview with her father.

(36) "I can't imagine," Marian on this occasion said to her, "how you can think of anything else in the world but
the horrid way we're situated."

"And, pray, how do you know," Kate enquired in reply, "anything about my thoughts? It seems to me I give you
sufficient proof of how much I think of YOU. I don't really, my dear, know what else you've to do with!"

Marian's retort on this was a stroke as to which she had supplied herself with several kinds of preparation, but
there was none the less something of an unexpected note in its promptitude. She had foreseen her sister's general
fear; but here, ominously, was the special one. "Well, your own business is of course your own business, and you
may say there's no one less in a position than I to preach to you. But, all the same, if you wash your hands of me
for ever in consequence, I won't, for this once, keep back that I don't consider you've a right, as we all stand, to
throw yourself away."

It was after the children's dinner, which was also their mother's, but which their aunt mostly contrived to keep
from ever becoming her own luncheon; and the two young women were still in the presence of the crumpled table
cloth, the dispersed pinafores, the scraped dishes, the lingering odour of boiled food. Kate had asked with
ceremony if she might put up a window a little, and Mrs. Condrip had replied without it that she might do as she
liked. She often received such enquiries as if they reflected in a manner on the pure essence of her little ones. The
four had retired, with much movement and noise, under imperfect (37) control of the small Irish governess whom
their aunt had hunted up for them and whose brooding resolve not to prolong so uncrowned a martyrdom she
already more than suspected. Their mother had become for Kate−−who took it just for the effect of being their
mother−−quite a different thing from the mild Marian of the past: Mr. Condrip's widow expansively obscured that
image. She was little more than a ragged relic, a plain prosaic result of him−−as if she had somehow been pulled
through him as through an obstinate funnel, only to be left crumpled and useless and with nothing in her but what
he accounted for. She had grown red and almost fat, which were not happy signs of mourning; less and less like
any Croy, particularly a Croy in trouble, and sensibly like her husband's two unmarried sisters, who came to see
her, in Kate's view, much too often and stayed too long, with the consequence of inroads upon the tea and
bread−and−butter−−matters as to which Kate, not unconcerned with the tradesmen's books, had feelings. About
them moreover Marian WAS touchy, and her nearer relative, who observed and weighed things, noted as an
oddity that she would have taken any reflexion on them as a reflexion on herself. If that was what marriage
necessarily did to you Kate Croy would have questioned marriage. It was at any rate a grave example of what a
man−−and such a man!−−might make of a woman. She could see how the Condrip pair pressed their brother's
widow on the subject of Aunt Maud−−who wasn't, after all, THEIR aunt; made her, over their interminable cups,
chatter and even swagger about Lancaster Gate, made her (38) more vulgar than it had seemed written that any
Croy could possibly become on such a subject. They laid it down, they rubbed it in, that Lancaster Gate was to be
kept in sight, and that she, Kate, was to keep it; so that, curiously, or at all events sadly, our young woman was
sure of being in her own person more permitted to them as an object of comment than they would in turn ever be
permitted to herself. The beauty of which too was that Marian didn't love them. But they were Condrips−−they
had grown near the rose; they were almost like Bertie and Maudie, like Kitty and Guy. They talked of the dead to
her, which Kate never did; it being a relation in which Kate could but mutely listen. She couldn't indeed too often
say to herself that if that was what marriage did to you−−! It may easily be guessed therefore that the ironic light
of such reserves fell straight across the field of Marian's warning. "I don't quite see," she answered, "where in
particular it strikes you that my danger lies. I'm not conscious, I assure you, of the least disposition to 'throw'
myself anywhere. I feel that for the present I've been quite sufficiently thrown."

Book First, Chapter 2                                                                                               13
                                             The Wings of the Dove

"You don't feel"−−Marian brought it all out−−"that you'd like to marry Merton Densher?"

Kate took a moment to meet this enquiry. "Is it your idea that if I should feel so I would be bound to give you
notice, so that you might step in and head me off? Is that your idea?" the girl asked. Then as her sister also had a
pause, "I don't know what makes you talk of Mr. Densher," she observed.

"I talk of him just because you don't. That you (39) never do, in spite of what I know−−that's what makes me
think of him. Or rather perhaps it's what makes me think of YOU. If you don't know by this time what I hope for
you, what I dream of−−my attachment being what it is−−it's no use my attempting to tell you." But Marian had in
fact warmed to her work, and Kate was sure she had discussed Mr. Densher with the Miss Condrips. "If I name
that person I suppose it's because I'm so afraid of him. If you want really to know, he fills me with terror. If you
want really to know, in fact, I dislike him as much as I dread him."

"And yet don't think it dangerous to abuse him to me?"

"Yes," Mrs. Condrip confessed, "I do think it dangerous; but how can I speak of him otherwise? I dare say, I
admit, that I shouldn't speak of him at all. Only I do want you for once, as I said just now, to know."

"To know what, my dear?"

"That I should regard it," Marian promptly returned, "as far and away the worst thing that has happened to us yet."

"Do you mean because he hasn't money?"

"Yes, for one thing. And because I don't believe in him."

Kate was civil but mechanical. "What do you mean by not believing in him?"

"Well, being sure he'll never get it. And you MUST have it. You SHALL have it."

"To give it to you?"

Marian met her with a readiness that was practically (40) pert. "To HAVE it, first. Not at any rate to go on not
having it. Then we should see."

"We should indeed!" said Kate Croy. It was talk of a kind she loathed, but if Marian chose to be vulgar what was
one to do? It made her think of the Miss Condrips with renewed aversion. "I like the way you arrange things−−I
like what you take for granted. If it's so easy for us to marry men who want us to scatter gold, I wonder we any of
us do anything else. I don't see so many of them about, nor what interest I might ever have for them. You live, my
dear," she presently added, "in a world of vain thoughts."

"Not so much as you, Kate; for I see what I see and you can't turn it off that way." The elder sister paused long
enough for the younger's face to show, in spite of superiority, an apprehension. "I'm not talking of any man but
Aunt Maud's man, nor of any money even, if you like, but Aunt Maud's money. I'm not talking of anything but
your doing what SHE wants. You're wrong if you speak of anything that I want of you; I want nothing but what
she does. That's good enough for me!"−−and Marian's tone struck her companion as of the lowest. "If I don't
believe in Merton Densher I do at least in Mrs. Lowder."

"Your ideas are the more striking," Kate returned, "that they're the same as papa's. I had them from him, you'll be
interested to know−−and with all the brilliancy you may imagine−−yesterday."


Book First, Chapter 2                                                                                               14
                                             The Wings of the Dove

Marian clearly was interested to know. "He has been to see you?"

"No, I went to him."

(41) "Really?" Marian wondered. "For what purpose?"

"To tell him I'm ready to go to him."

Marian stared. "To leave Aunt Maud−−?"

"For my father, yes."

She had fairly flushed, poor Mrs. Condrip, with horror. "You're ready−−?"

"So I told him. I couldn't tell him less."

"And pray could you tell him more?" Marian gasped in her distress. "What in the world is he TO us? You bring
out such a thing as that this way?"

They faced each other−−the tears were in Marian's eyes. Kate watched them there a moment and then said: "I had
thought it well over−−over and over. But you needn't feel injured. I'm not going. He won't have me."

Her companion still panted−−it took time to subside. "Well, i wouldn't have you−−wouldn't receive you at all, I
can assure you−−if he had made you any other answer. I do feel injured−−at your having been willing. If you
were to go to papa, my dear, you'd have to stop coming to me." Marian put it thus, indefinably, as a picture of
privation from which her companion might shrink. Such were the threats she could complacently make, could
think herself masterful for making. "But if he won't take you," she continued, "he shows at least his sharpness."

Marian had always her views of sharpness; she was, as her sister privately commented, great on that resource. But
Kate had her refuge from irritation. "He won't take me," she simply repeated. "But he (42) believes, like you, in
Aunt Maud. He threatens me with his curse if I leave her."

"So you WON'T?" As the girl at first said nothing her companion caught at it. "You won't, of course? I see you
won't. But I don't see why, conveniently, I shouldn't insist to you once for all on the plain truth of the whole
matter. The truth, my dear, of your duty. Do you ever think about THAT? It's the greatest duty of all."

"There you are again," Kate laughed. "Papa's also immense on my duty."

"Oh I don't pretend to be immense, but I pretend to know more than you do of life; more even perhaps than papa."
Marian seemed to see that personage at this moment, nevertheless, in the light of a kinder irony. "Poor old papa!"

She sighed it with as many condonations as her sister's ear had more than once caught in her "Dear old Aunt
Maud!" These were things that made Kate turn for the time sharply away, and she gathered herself now to go.
They were the note again of the abject; it was hard to say which of the persons in question had most shown how
little they liked her. The younger woman proposed at any rate to let discussion rest, and she believed that, for
herself, she had done so during the ten minutes elapsing, thanks to her wish not to break off short, before she
could gracefully withdraw. It then appeared, however, that Marian had been discussing still, and there was
something that at the last Kate had to take up. "Whom do you mean by Aunt Maud's young man?"

"Whom should I mean but Lord Mark?"


Book First, Chapter 2                                                                                               15
                                             The Wings of the Dove
(43) "And where do you pick up such vulgar twaddle?" Kate demanded with her clear face. "How does such stuff,
in this hole, get to you?"

She had no sooner spoken than she asked herself what had become of the grace to which she had sacrificed.
Marian certainly did little to save it, and nothing indeed was so inconsequent as her ground of complaint. She
desired her to "work" Lancaster Gate as she believed that scene of abundance could be worked; but she now didn't
see why advantage should be taken of the bloated connexion to put an affront on her own poor home. She
appeared in fact for the moment to take the position that Kate kept her in her "hole" and then heartlessly reflected
on her being in it. Yet she didn't explain how she had picked up the report on which her sister had challenged
her−−so that it was thus left to her sister to see in it once more a sign of the creeping curiosity of the Miss
Condrips. They lived in a deeper hole than Marian, but they kept their ear to the ground, they spent their days in
prowling, whereas Marian, in garments and shoes that seemed steadily to grow looser and larger, never prowled.
There were times when Kate wondered if the Miss Condrips were offered her by fate as a warning for her own
future−−to be taken as showing her what she herself might become at forty if she let things too recklessly go.
What was expected of her by others−−and by so many of them−−could, all the same, on occasion, present itself as
beyond a joke; and this was just now the aspect it particularly wore. She was not only to quarrel with Merton
Densher for the pleasure of her five spectators−−with the Miss Condrips (44) there were five; she was to set forth
in pursuit of Lord Mark on some preposterous theory of the premium attached to success. Mrs. Lowder's hand had
hung out the premium, and it figured at the end of the course as a bell that would ring, break out into public
clamour, as soon as touched. Kate reflected sharply enough on the weak points of this fond fiction, with the result
at last of a certain chill for her sister's confidence; though Mrs. Condrip still took refuge in the plea−−which was
after all the great point−−that their aunt would be munificent when their aunt should be content. The exact identity
of her candidate was a detail; what was of the essence was her conception of the kind of match it was open to her
niece to make with her aid. Marian always spoke of marriages as "matches," but that was again a detail. Mrs.
Lowder's "aid" meanwhile awaited them−−if not to light the way to Lord Mark, then to somebody better. Marian
would put up, in fine, with somebody better; she only wouldn't put up with somebody so much worse. Kate had
once more to go through all this before a graceful issue was reached. It was reached by her paying with the
sacrifice of Mr. Densher for her reduction of Lord Mark to the absurd. So they separated softly enough. She was
to be let off hearing about Lord Mark so long as she made it good that she wasn't underhand about any one else.
She had denied everything and every one, she reflected as she went away−−and that was a relief; but it also made
rather a clean sweep of the future. The prospect put on a bareness that already gave her something in common
with the Miss Condrips.

Book Second, Chapter 1
Merton Densher, who passed the best hours of each night at the office of his newspaper, had at times, during the
day, to make up for it, a sense, or at least an appearance, of leisure, in accordance with which he was not
infrequently to be met in different parts of the town at moments when men of business are hidden from the public
eye. More than once during the present winter's end he had deviated toward three o'clock, or toward four, into
Kensington Gardens, where he might for a while, on each occasion, have been observed to demean himself as a
person with nothing to do. He made his way indeed, for the most part, with a certain directness over to the north
side; but once that ground was reached his behaviour was noticeably wanting in point. He moved, seemingly at
random, from alley to alley; he stopped for no reason and remained idly agaze; he sat down in a chair and then
changed to a bench; after which he walked about again, only again to repeat both the vagueness and the vivacity.
Distinctly he was a man either with nothing at all to do or with ever so much to think about; and it was not to be
denied that the impression he might often thus easily make had the effect of causing the burden of proof in certain
directions to rest on him. It was a little the fault of his aspect, his personal marks, which made it almost
impossible to name his profession.

(48) He was a longish, leanish, fairish young Englishman, not unamenable, on certain sides, to classification−−as


Book Second, Chapter 1                                                                                           16
                                             The Wings of the Dove
for instance by being a gentleman, by being rather specifically one of the educated, one of the generally sound and
generally civil; yet, though to that degree neither extraordinary nor abnormal, he would have failed to play
straight into an observer's hands. He was young for the House of Commons, he was loose for the Army. He was
refined, as might have been said, for the City and, quite apart from the cut of his cloth, sceptical, it might have
been felt, for the Church. On the other hand he was credulous for diplomacy, or perhaps even for science, while
he was perhaps at the same time too much in his mere senses for poetry and yet too little in them for art. You
would have got fairly near him by making out in his eyes the potential recognition of ideas; but you would have
quite fallen away again on the question of the ideas themselves. The difficulty with Densher was that he looked
vague without looking weak−−idle without looking empty. It was the accident, possibly, of his long legs, which
were apt to stretch themselves; of his straight hair and his well−shaped head, never, the latter, neatly smooth, and
apt into the bargain, at the time of quite other calls upon it, to throw itself suddenly back and, supported behind by
his uplifted arms and interlocked hands, place him for unconscionable periods in communion with the ceiling, the
tree−tops, the sky. He was in short visibly absent−minded, irregularly clever, liable to drop what was near and to
take up what was far; he was more a prompt critic than a prompt follower of custom. He (49) suggested above all,
however, that wondrous state of youth in which the elements, the metals more or less precious, are so in fusion
and fermentation that the question of the final stamp, the pressure that fixes the value, must wait for comparative
coolness. And it was a mark of his interesting mixture that if he was irritable it was by a law of considerable
subtlety−−a law that in intercourse with him it might be of profit, though not easy, to master. One of the effects of
it was that he had for you surprises of tolerance as well as of temper.

He loitered, on the best of the relenting days, the several occasions we speak of, along the part of the Gardens
nearest to Lancaster Gate, and when, always, in due time, Kate Croy came out of her aunt's house, crossed the
road and arrived by the nearest entrance, there was a general publicity in the proceeding which made it slightly
anomalous. If their meeting was to be bold and free it might have taken place within doors; if it was to be shy or
secret it might have taken place almost anywhere better than under Mrs. Lowder's windows. They failed indeed to
remain attached to that spot; they wandered and strolled, taking in the course of more than one of these interviews
a considerable walk, or else picked out a couple of chairs under one of the great trees and sat as much
apart−−apart from every one else−−as possible. But Kate had each time, at first, the air of wishing to expose
herself to pursuit and capture if those things were in question. She made the point that she wasn't underhand, any
more than she was vulgar; that the Gardens were charming in themselves and (50) this use of them a matter of
taste; and that, if her aunt chose to glare at her from the drawing−room or to cause her to be tracked and
overtaken, she could at least make it convenient that this should be easily done. The fact was that the relation
between these young persons abounded in such oddities as were not inaptly symbolised by assignations that had a
good deal more appearance than motive. Of the strength of the tie that held them we shall sufficiently take the
measure; but it was meanwhile almost obvious that if the great possibility had come up for them it had done so, to
an exceptional degree, under the protection of the famous law of contraries. Any deep harmony that might
eventually govern them would not be the result of their having much in common−−having anything in fact but
their affection; and would really find its explanation in some sense, on the part of each, of being poor where the
other was rich. It is nothing new indeed that generous young persons often admire most what nature hasn't given
them−−from which it would appear, after all, that our friends were both generous.

Merton Densher had repeatedly said to himself−−and from far back−−that he should be a fool not to marry a
woman whose value would be in her differences; and Kate Croy, though without having quite so philosophised,
had quickly recognised in the young man a precious unlikeness. He represented what her life had never given her
and certainly, without some such aid as his, never would give her; all the high dim things she lumped together as
of the mind. It was on the side of the mind that Densher was rich for her and (51) mysterious and strong; and he
had rendered her in especial the sovereign service of making that element real. She had had all her days to take it
terribly on trust, no creature she had ever encountered having been able to testify for it directly. Vague rumours of
its existence had made their precarious way to her; but nothing had, on the whole, struck her as more likely than
that she should live and die without the chance to verify them. The chance had come−−it was an extraordinary
one−−on the day she first met Densher; and it was to the girl's lasting honour that she knew on the spot what she

Book Second, Chapter 1                                                                                             17
                                              The Wings of the Dove
was in presence of. That occasion indeed, for everything that straightway flowered in it, would be worthy of high
commemoration; Densher's perception went out to meet the young woman's and quite kept pace with her own
recognition. Having so often concluded on the fact of his weakness, as he called it, for life−−his strength merely
for thought−−life, he logically opined, was what he must somehow arrange to annex and possess. This was so
much a necessity that thought by itself only went on in the void; it was from the immediate air of life that it must
draw its breath. So the young man, ingenious but large, critical but ardent too, made out both his case and Kate
Croy's. They had originally met before her mother's death−−an occasion marked for her as the last pleasure
permitted by the approach of that event; after which the dark months had interposed a screen and, for all Kate
knew, made the end one with the beginning.

The beginning−−to which she often went back−−had been a scene, for our young woman, of supreme (52)
brilliancy; a party given at a "gallery" hired by a hostess who fished with big nets. A Spanish dancer, understood
to be at that moment the delight of the town, an American reciter, the joy of a kindred people, an Hungarian
fiddler, the wonder of the world at large−−in the name of these and other attractions the company in which Kate,
by a rare privilege, found herself had been freely convoked. She lived under her mother's roof, as she considered,
obscurely, and was acquainted with few persons who entertained on that scale; but she had had dealings with two
or three connected, as appeared, with such−−two or three through whom the stream of hospitality, filtered or
diffused, could thus now and then spread to outlying receptacles. A good−natured lady in fine, a friend of her
mother and a relative of the lady of the gallery, had offered to take her to the party in question and had there
fortified her, further, with two or three of those introductions that, at large parties, lead to other things−−that had
at any rate on this occasion culminated for her in conversation with a tall fair, a slightly unbrushed and rather
awkward, but on the whole a not dreary, young man. The young man had affected her as detached, as−−it was
indeed what he called himself−−awfully at sea, as much more distinct from what surrounded them than any one
else appeared to be, and even as probably quite disposed to be making his escape when pulled up to be placed in
relation with her. He gave her his word for it indeed, this same evening, that only their meeting had prevented his
flight, but that now he saw how sorry he should have been to miss it. This point they had (53) reached by
midnight, and though for the value of such remarks everything was in the tone, by midnight the tone was there
too. She had had originally her full apprehension of his coerced, certainly of his vague, condition−−full
apprehensions often being with her immediate; then she had had her equal consciousness that within five minutes
something between them had−−well, she couldn't call it anything but COME. It was nothing to look at or to
handle, but was somehow everything to feel and to know; it was that something for each of them had happened.

They had found themselves regarding each other straight, and for a longer time on end than was usual even at
parties in galleries; but that in itself after all would have been a small affair for two such handsome persons. It
wasn't, in a word, simply that their eyes had met; other conscious organs, faculties, feelers had met as well, and
when Kate afterwards imaged to herself the sharp deep fact she saw it, in the oddest way, as a particular
performance. She had observed a ladder against a garden−wall and had trusted herself so to climb it as to be able
to see over into the probable garden on the other side. On reaching the top she had found herself face to face with
a gentleman engaged in a like calculation at the same moment, and the two enquirers had remained confronted on
their ladders. The great point was that for the rest of that evening they had been perched−−they had not climbed
down; and indeed during the time that followed Kate at least had had the perched feeling−−it was as if she were
there aloft without a retreat. A simpler expression of all this is doubtless but that they had taken each other (54) in
with interest; and without a happy hazard six months later the incident would have closed in that account of it.
The accident meanwhile had been as natural as anything in London ever is: Kate had one afternoon found herself
opposite Mr. Densher on the Underground Railway. She had entered the train at Sloane Square to go to Queen's
Road, and the carriage in which she took her place was all but full. Densher was already in it−−on the other bench
and at the furthest angle; she was sure of him before they had again started. The day and the hour were darkness,
there were six other persons and she had been busy seating herself; but her consciousness had gone to him as
straight as if they had come together in some bright stretch of a desert. They had on neither part a second's
hesitation; they looked across the choked compartment exactly as if she had known he would be there and he had
expected her to come in; so that, though in the conditions they could only exchange the greeting of movements,

Book Second, Chapter 1                                                                                               18
                                             The Wings of the Dove
smiles, abstentions, it would have been quite in the key of these passages that they should have alighted for ease
at the very next station. Kate was in fact sure the very next station was the young man's true goal−−which made it
clear he was going on only from the wish to speak to her. He had to go on, for this purpose, to High Street
Kensington, as it was not till then that the exit of a passenger gave him his chance.

His chance put him however in quick possession of the seat facing her, the alertness of his capture of which
seemed to show her his impatience. It helped them moreover, with strangers on either side, little to (55) talk;
though this very restriction perhaps made such a mark for them as nothing else could have done. If the fact that
their opportunity had again come round for them could be so intensely expressed without a word, they might very
well feel on the spot that it had not come round for nothing. The extraordinary part of the matter was that they
were not in the least meeting where they had left off, but ever so much further on, and that these added links
added still another between High Street and Notting Hill Gate, and then worked between the latter station and
Queen's Road an extension really inordinate. At Notting Hill Gate Kate's right−hand neighbour descended,
whereupon Densher popped straight into that seat; only there was not much gained when a lady the next instant
popped into Densher's. He could say almost nothing−−Kate scarce knew, at least, what he said; she was so
occupied with a certainty that one of the persons opposite, a youngish man with a single eye−glass which he kept
constantly in position, had made her out from the first as visibly, as strangely affected. If such a person made her
out what then did Densher do?−−a question in truth sufficiently answered when, on their reaching her station, he
instantly followed her out of the train. That had been the real beginning−−the beginning of everything else; the
other time, the time at the party, had been but the beginning of THAT. Never in life before had she so let herself
go; for always before−−so far as small adventures could have been in question for her−−there had been, by the
vulgar measure, more to go upon. He had walked with her to Lancaster Gate, and then she had walked with him
away (56) from it−−for all the world, she said to herself, like the housemaid giggling to the baker.

This appearance, she was afterwards to feel, had been all in order for a relation that might precisely best be
described in the terms of the baker and the housemaid. She could say to herself that from that hour they had kept
company: that had come to represent, technically speaking, alike the range and the limit of their tie. He had on the
spot, naturally, asked leave to call upon her−−which, as a young person who wasn't really young, who didn't
pretend to be a sheltered flower, she as rationally gave. That−−she was promptly clear about it−−was now her
only possible basis; she was just the contemporary London female, highly modern, inevitably battered,
honourably free. She had of course taken her aunt straight into her confidence−−had gone through the form of
asking her leave; and she subsequently remembered that though on this occasion she had left the history of her
new alliance as scant as the facts themselves, Mrs. Lowder had struck her at the time as surprisingly mild. The
occasion had been in every way full of the reminder that her hostess was deep: it was definitely then that she had
begun to ask herself what Aunt Maud was, in vulgar parlance, "up to." "You may receive, my dear, whom you
like"−−that was what Aunt Maud, who in general objected to people's doing as they liked, had replied; and it
bore, this unexpectedness, a good deal of looking into. There were many explanations, and they were all
amusing−−amusing, that is, in the line of the sombre and brooding amusement cultivated by Kate in her actual
high (57) retreat. Merton Densher came the very next Sunday; but Mrs. Lowder was so consistently magnanimous
as to make it possible to her niece to see him alone. She saw him, however, on the Sunday following, in order to
invite him to dinner; and when, after dining, he came again−−which he did three times, she found means to treat
his visit as preponderantly to herself. Kate's conviction that she didn't like him made that remarkable; it added to
the evidence, by this time voluminous, that she was remarkable all round. If she had been, in the way of energy,
merely usual she would have kept her dislike direct; whereas it was now as if she were seeking to know him in
order to see best where to "have" him. That was one of the reflexions made in our young woman's high retreat;
she smiled from her lookout, in the silence that was only the fact of hearing irrelevant sounds, as she caught the
truth that you could easily accept people when you wanted them so to be delivered to you. When Aunt Maud
wished them dispatched it was not to be done by deputy; it was clearly always a matter reserved for her own hand.

But what made the girl wonder most was the implication of so much diplomacy in respect to her own value. What
view might she take of her position in the light of this appearance that her companion feared so as yet to upset

Book Second, Chapter 1                                                                                           19
                                                The Wings of the Dove
her? It was as if Densher were accepted partly under the dread that if he hadn't been she would act in resentment.
Hadn't her aunt considered the danger that she would in that case have broken off, have seceded? The danger was
exaggerated−−she would have done nothing so gross; but that, (58) it would seem, was the way Mrs. Lowder saw
her and believed her to be reckoned with. What importance therefore did she really attach to her, what strange
interest could she take in their keeping on terms? Her father and her sister had their answer to this−−even without
knowing how the question struck her: they saw the lady of Lancaster Gate as panting to make her fortune, and the
explanation of that appetite was that, on the accident of a nearer view than she had before enjoyed, she had been
charmed, been dazzled. They approved, they admired in her one of the belated fancies of rich capricious violent
old women−−the more marked moreover because the result of no plot; and they piled up the possible fruits for the
person concerned. Kate knew what to think of her own power thus to carry by storm; she saw herself as
handsome, no doubt, but as hard, and felt herself as clever but as cold; and as so much too imperfectly ambitious,
futhermore [sic], that it was a pity, for a quiet life, she couldn't decide to be either finely or stupidly indifferent.
Her intelligence sometimes kept her still−−too still−−but her want of it was restless; so that she got the good, it
seemed to her, of neither extreme. She saw herself at present, none the less, in a situation, and even her sad
disillusioned mother, dying, but with Aunt Maud interviewing the nurse on the stairs, had not failed to remind her
that it was of the essence of situations to be, under Providence, worked. The dear woman had died in the belief
that she was actually working the one then recognised.

Kate took one of her walks with Densher just after her visit to Mr. Croy; but most of it went, as usual, to (59) their
sitting in talk. They had under the trees by the lake the air of old friends−−particular phases of apparent
earnestness in which they might have been settling every question in their vast young world; and periods of
silence, side by side, perhaps even more, when "A long engagement!" would have been the final reading of the
signs on the part of a passer struck with them, as it was so easy to be. They would have presented themselves thus
as very old friends rather than as young persons who had met for the first time but a year before and had spent
most of the interval without contact. It was indeed for each, already, as if they were older friends; and though the
succession of their meetings might, between them, have been straightened out, they only had a confused sense of
a good many, very much alike, and a confused intention of a good many more, as little different as possible. The
desire to keep them just as they were had perhaps to do with the fact that in spite of the presumed diagnosis of the
stranger there had been for them as yet no formal, no final understanding. Densher had at the very first pressed the
question, but that, it had been easy to reply, was too soon; so that a singular thing had afterwards happened. They
had accepted their acquaintance as too short for an engagement, but they had treated it as long enough for almost
anything else, and marriage was somehow before them like a temple without an avenue. They belonged to the
temple and they met in the grounds; they were in the stage at which grounds in general offered much scattered
refreshment. But Kate had meanwhile had so few confidants that (60) she wondered at the source of her father's
suspicions. The diffusion of rumour was of course always remarkable in London, and for Marian not less−−as
Aunt Maud touched neither directly−−the mystery had worked. No doubt she had been seen. Of course she had
been seen. She had taken no trouble not to be seen, and it was a thing she was clearly incapable of taking. But she
had been seen how?−−and what WAS there to see? She was in love−−she knew that: but it was wholly her own
business, and she had the sense of having conducted herself, of still so doing, with almost violent conformity.

"I've an idea−−in fact I feel sure−−that Aunt Maud means to write to you; and I think you had better know it." So
much as this she said to him as soon as they met, but immediately adding to it: "So as to make up your mind how
to take her. I know pretty well what she'll say to you."

"Then will you kindly tell me?"

She thought a little. "I can't do that. I should spoil it. She'll do the best for her own idea."

"Her idea, you mean, that I'm a sort of a scoundrel; or, at the best, not good enough for you?"

They were side by side again in their penny chairs, and Kate had another pause. "Not good enough for HER."

Book Second, Chapter 1                                                                                               20
                                              The Wings of the Dove

"Oh I see. And that's necessary."

He put it as a truth rather more than as a question; but there had been plenty of truths between them that each had
contradicted. Kate, however, let this one sufficiently pass, only saying the next moment: "She has behaved
extraordinarily."

(61) "And so have we," Densher declared. "I think, you know, we've been awfully decent."

"For ourselves, for each other, for people in general, yes. But not for HER. For her," said Kate, "we've been
monstrous. She has been giving us rope. So if she does send for you," the girl repeated, "you must know where
you are."

"That I always know. It's where YOU are that concerns me."

"Well," said Kate after an instant, "her idea of that is what you'll have from her." He gave her a long look, and
whatever else people who wouldn't let her alone might have wished, for her advancement, his long looks were the
thing in the world she could never have enough of. What she felt was that, whatever might happen, she must keep
them, must make them most completely her possession; and it was already strange enough that she reasoned, or at
all events began to act, as if she might work them in with other and alien things, privately cherish them and yet, as
regards the rigour of it, pay no price. She looked it well in the face, she took it intensely home, that they were
lovers; she rejoiced to herself and, frankly, to him, in their wearing of the name; but, distinguished creature that,
in her way, she was, she took a view of this character that scarce squared with the conventional. The character
itself she insisted on as their right, taking that so for granted that it didn't seem even bold; but Densher, though he
agreed with her, found himself moved to wonder at her simplifications, her values. Life might prove
difficult−−was evidently going to; but meanwhile they had each other, and (62) that was everything. This was her
reasoning, but meanwhile, for HIM, each other was what they didn't have, and it was just the point. Repeatedly,
however, it was a point that, in the face of strange and special things, he judged it rather awkwardly gross to urge.
It was impossible to keep Mrs. Lowder out of their scheme. She stood there too close to it and too solidly; it had
to open a gate, at a given point, do what they would, to take her in. And she came in, always, while they sat
together rather helplessly watching her, as in a coach−and−four; she drove round their prospect as the principal
lady at the circus drives round the ring, and she stopped the coach in the middle to alight with majesty. It was our
young man's sense that she was magnificently vulgar, but yet quite that this wasn't all. It wasn't with her vulgarity
that she felt his want of means, though that might have helped her richly to embroider it; nor was it with the same
infirmity that she was strong original dangerous.

His want of means−−of means sufficient for any one but himself−−was really the great ugliness, and was
moreover at no time more ugly for him than when it rose there, as it did seem to rise, all shameless, face to face
with the elements in Kate's life colloquially and conveniently classed by both of them as funny. He sometimes
indeed, for that matter, asked himself if these elements were as funny as the innermost fact, so often vivid to him,
of his own consciousness−−his private inability to believe he should ever be rich. His conviction on this head was
in truth quite positive and a thing by itself; he failed, after analysis, to understand it, though he had naturally more
lights on it (63) than any one else. He knew how it subsisted in spite of an equal consciousness of his being
neither mentally nor physically quite helpless, neither a dunce nor a cripple; he knew it to be absolute, though
secret, and also, strange to say, about common undertakings, not discouraging, not prohibitive. Only now was he
having to think if it were prohibitive in respect to marriage; only now, for the first time, had he to weigh his case
in scales. The scales, as he sat with Kate, often dangled in the line of his vision; he saw them, large and black,
while he talked or listened, take, in the bright air, singular positions. Sometimes the right was down and
sometimes the left; never a happy equipoise−−one or the other always kicking the beam. Thus was kept before
him the question of whether it were more ignoble to ask a woman to take her chance with you, or to accept it from
your conscience that her chance could be at the best but one of the degrees of privation; whether too, otherwise,
marrying for money mightn't after all be a smaller cause of shame than the mere dread of marrying without.

Book Second, Chapter 1                                                                                               21
                                              The Wings of the Dove
Through these variations of mood and view, nevertheless, the mark on his forehead stood clear; he saw himself
remain without whether he married or not. It was a line on which his fancy could be admirably active; the
innumerable ways of making money were beautifully present to him; he could have handled them for his
newspaper as easily as he handled everything. He was quite aware how he handled everything; it was another
mark on his forehead: the pair of smudges from the thumb of fortune, the brand on the passive fleece, dated from
the primal hour and kept each other (64) company. He wrote, as for print, with deplorable ease; since there had
been nothing to stop him even at the age of ten, so there was as little at twenty; it was part of his fate in the first
place and part of the wretched public's in the second. The innumerable ways of making money were, no doubt, at
all events, what his imagination often was busy with after he had tilted his chair and thrown back his head with
his hands clasped behind it. What would most have prolonged that attitude, moreover, was the reflexion that the
ways were ways only for others. Within the minute now−−however this might be−−he was aware of a nearer view
than he had yet quite had of those circumstances on his companion's part that made least for simplicity of relation.
He saw above all how she saw them herself, for she spoke of them at present with the last frankness, telling him
of her visit to her father and giving him, in an account of her subsequent scene with her sister, an instance of how
she was perpetually reduced to patching−up, in one way or another, that unfortunate woman's hopes.

"The tune," she exclaimed, "to which we're a failure as a family!" With which he had it all again from her−−and
this time, as it seemed to him, more than all: the dishonour her father had brought them, his folly and cruelty and
wickedness; the wounded state of her mother, abandoned despoiled and helpless, yet, for the management of such
a home as remained to them, dreadfully unreasonable too; the extinction of her two young brothers−−one, at
nineteen, the eldest of the house, by typhoid fever contracted at a poisonous little place, as they had afterwards
(65) found out, that they had taken for a summer; the other, the flower of the flock, a middy on the _Britannia_,
dreadfully drowned, and not even by an accident at sea, but by cramp, unrescued, while bathing, too late in the
autumn, in a wretched little river during a holiday visit to the home of a shipmate. Then Marian's unnatural
marriage, in itself a kind of spiritless turning of the other cheek to fortune: her actual wretchedness and
plaintiveness, her greasy children, her impossible claims, her odious visitors−−these things completed the proof of
the heaviness, for them all, of the hand of fate. Kate confessedly described them with an excess of impatience; it
was much of her charm for Densher that she gave in general that turn to her descriptions, partly as if to amuse him
by free and humorous colour, partly−−and that charm was the greatest−−as if to work off, for her own relief, her
constant perception of the incongruity of things. She had seen the general show too early and too sharply, and was
so intelligent that she knew it and allowed for that misfortune; therefore when, in talk with him, she was violent
and almost unfeminine, it was quite as if they had settled, for intercourse, on the short cut of the fantastic and the
happy language of exaggeration. It had come to be definite between them at a primary stage that, if they could
have no other straight way, the realm of thought at least was open to them. They could think whatever they liked
about whatever they would−−in other words they could say it. Saying it for each other, for each other alone, only
of course added to the taste. The implication was thereby constant that what they said when not together had no
(66) taste for them at all, and nothing could have served more to launch them, at special hours, on their small
floating island than such an assumption that they were only making believe everywhere else. Our young man, it
must be added, was conscious enough that it was Kate who profited most by this particular play of the fact of
intimacy. It always struck him she had more life than he to react from, and when she recounted the dark disasters
of her house and glanced at the hard odd offset of her present exaltation−−since as exaltation it was apparently to
be considered−−he felt his own grey domestic annals make little show. It was naturally, in all such reference, the
question of her father's character that engaged him most, but her picture of her adventure in Chirk Street gave him
a sense of how little as yet that character was clear to him. What was it, to speak plainly, that Mr. Croy had
originally done?

"I don't know−−and I don't want to. I only know that years and years ago−−when I was about fifteen−−something
or other happened that made him impossible. I mean impossible for the world at large first, and then, little by
little, for mother. We of course didn't know it at the time," Kate explained, "but we knew it later; and it was, oddly
enough, my sister who first made out that he had done something. I can hear her now−−the way, one cold black
Sunday morning when, on account of an extraordinary fog, we hadn't gone to church, she broke it to me by the

Book Second, Chapter 1                                                                                              22
                                              The Wings of the Dove
school−room fire. I was reading a history−book by the lamp−−when we didn't go to church we had to read
history−books−−and I suddenly heard her say, out of (67) the fog, which was in the room, and apropos of nothing:
'Papa has done something wicked.' And the curious thing was that I believed it on the spot and have believed it
ever since, though she could tell me nothing more−−neither what was the wickedness, nor how she knew, nor
what would happen to him, nor anything else about it. We had our sense always that all sorts of things HAD
happened, were all the while happening, to him; so that when Marian only said she was sure, tremendously sure,
that she had made it out for herself, but that that was enough, I took her word for it−−it seemed somehow so
natural. We were not, however, to ask mother−−which made it more natural still, and I said never a word. But
mother, strangely enough, spoke of it to me, in time, of her own accord−−this was very much later on. He hadn't
been with us for ever so long, but we were used to that. She must have had some fear, some conviction that I had
an idea, some idea of her own that it was the best thing to do. She came out as abruptly as Marian had done: 'If
you hear anything against your father−−anything I mean except that he's odious and vile−−remember it's perfectly
false.' That was the way I knew it was true, though I recall my saying to her then that I of course knew it wasn't.
She might have told me it was true, and yet have trusted me to contradict fiercely enough any accusation of him
that I should meet−−to contradict it much more fiercely and effectively, I think, than she would have done herself.
As it happens, however," the girl went on, "I've never had occasion, and I've been conscious of it with a sort of
surprise. It has made the world seem at times more (68) decent. No one has so much as breathed to me. That has
been a part of the silence, the silence that surrounds him, the silence that, for the world, has washed him out. He
doesn't exist for people. And yet I'm as sure as ever. In fact, though I know no more than I did then, I'm more
sure. And that," she wound up, "is what I sit here and tell you about my own father. If you don't call it a proof of
confidence I don't know what will satisfy you."

"It satisfies me beautifully," Densher returned, "but it doesn't, my dear child, very greatly enlighten me. You
don't, you know, really tell me anything. It's so vague that what am I to think but that you may very well be
mistaken? What has he done, if no one can name it?"

"He has done everything."

"Oh−−everything! Everything's nothing."

"Well then," said Kate, "he has done some particular thing. It's known−−only, thank God, not to us. But it has
been the end of him. YOU could doubtless find out with a little trouble. You can ask about."

Densher for a moment said nothing; but the next moment he made it up. "I wouldn't find out for the world, and I'd
rather lose my tongue than put a question "

"And yet it's a part of me," said Kate.

"A part of you?"

"My father's dishonour." Then she sounded for him, but more deeply than ever yet, her note of proud still
pessimism. "How can such a thing as that not be the great thing in one's life?"

She had to take from him again, on this, one of his (69) long looks, and she took it to its deepest, its headiest
dregs. "I shall ask you, for the great thing in your life," he said, "to depend on ME a little more." After which, just
debating, "Doesn't he belong to some club?" he asked.

She had a grave headshake. "He used to−−to many."

"But he has dropped them?"


Book Second, Chapter 1                                                                                              23
                                              The Wings of the Dove

"They've dropped HIM. Of that I'm sure. It ought to do for you. I offered him," the girl immediately
continued−−"and it was for that I went to him−−to come and be with him, make a home for him so far as is
possible. But he won't hear of it."

Densher took this in with marked but generous wonder. "You offered him−−'impossible' as you describe him to
me−−to live with him and share his disadvantages?" The young man saw for the moment only the high beauty of
it. "You ARE gallant!"

"Because it strikes you as being brave for him?" She wouldn't in the least have this. "It wasn't courage−−it was the
opposite. I did it to save myself−−to escape."

He had his air, so constant at this stage, as of her giving him finer things than any one to think about. "Escape
from what?"

"From everything."

"Do you by any chance mean from me?"

"No; I spoke to him of you, told him−−or what amounted to it−−that I would bring you, if he would allow it, with
me."

"But he won't allow it," said Densher.

"Won't hear of it on any terms. He won't help me, (70) won't save me, won't hold out a finger to me," Kate went
on. "He simply wriggles away, in his inimitable manner, and throws me back."

"Back then, after all, thank goodness," Densher concurred, "on me."

But she spoke again as with the sole vision of the whole scene she had evoked. "It's a pity, because you'd like him.
He's wonderful−−he's charming." Her companion gave one of the laughs that showed again how inveterately he
felt in her tone something that banished the talk of other women, so far as he knew other women, to the dull desert
of the conventional, and she had already continued. "He would make himself delightful to you."

"Even while objecting to me?"

"Well, he likes to please," the girl explained−−"personally. I've seen it make him wonderful. He would appreciate
you and be clever with you. It's to ME he objects−−that is as to my liking you."

"Heaven be praised then," cried Densher, "that you like me enough for the objection!"

But she met it after an instant with some inconsequence. "I don't. I offered to give you up, if necessary, to go to
him. But it made no difference, and that's what I mean," she pursued, "by his declining me on any terms. The
point is, you see, that I don't escape."

Densher wondered. "But if you didn't wish to escape ME?"

"I wished to escape Aunt Maud. But he insists that it's through her and through her only that I may help him; just
as Marian insists that it's through her, (71) and through her only, that I can help HER. That's what I mean," she
again explained, "by their turning me back."

The young man thought. "Your sister turns you back too?"

Book Second, Chapter 1                                                                                                24
                                               The Wings of the Dove

"Oh with a push!"

"But have you offered to live with your sister?"

"I would in a moment if she'd have me. That's all my virtue−−a narrow little family feeling. I've a small stupid
piety−−I don't know what to call it." Kate bravely stuck to that; she made it out. "Sometimes, alone, I've to
smother my shrieks when I think of my poor mother. She went through things−−they pulled her down; I know
what they were now−−I didn't then, for I was a pig; and my position, compared with hers, is an insolence of
success. That's what Marian keeps before me; that's what papa himself, as I say, so inimitably does. My position's
a value, a great value, for them both"−−she followed and followed. Lucid and ironic, she knew no merciful
muddle. "It's THE value−−the only one they have."

Everything between our young couple moved today, in spite of their pauses, their margin, to a quicker
measure−−the quickness and anxiety playing lightning−like in the sultriness. Densher watched, decidedly, as he
had never done before. "And the fact you speak of holds you!"

"Of course it holds me. It's a perpetual sound in my ears. It makes me ask myself if I've any right to personal
happiness, any right to anything but to be as rich and overflowing, as smart and shining, as I can be made."

(72) Densher had a pause. "Oh you might by good luck have the personal happiness too."

Her immediate answer to this was a silence like his own; after which she gave him straight in the face, but quite
simply and quietly: "Darling!"

It took him another moment; then he was also quiet and simple. "Will you settle it by our being married
to−morrow−−as we can, with perfect ease, civilly?"

"Let us wait to arrange it," Kate presently replied, "till after you've seen her."

"Do you call that adoring me?" Densher demanded.

They were talking, for the time, with the strangest mixture of deliberation and directness, and nothing could have
been more in the tone of it than the way she at last said: "You're afraid of her yourself."

He gave rather a glazed smile. "For young persons of a great distinction and a very high spirit we're a caution!"

"Yes," she took it straight up; "we're hideously intelligent. But there's fun in it too. We must get our fun where we
can. I think," she added, and for that matter not without courage, "our relation's quite beautiful. It's not a bit
vulgar. I cling to some saving romance in things."

It made him break into a laugh that had more freedom than his smile. "How you must be afraid you'll chuck me!"

"No, no, THAT would be vulgar. But of course," she admitted, "I do see my danger of doing something base."

"Then what can be so base as sacrificing me?"

(73) "I SHAN'T sacrifice you. Don't cry out till you're hurt. I shall sacrifice nobody and nothing, and that's just my
situation, that I want and that I shall try for everything. That," she wound up, "is how I see myself (and how I see
you quite as much) acting for them."

"For 'them'?"−−and the young man extravagantly marked his coldness. "Thank you!"

Book Second, Chapter 1                                                                                              25
                                               The Wings of the Dove

"Don't you care for them?"

"Why should I? What are they to me but a serious nuisance?"

As soon as he had permitted himself this qualification of the unfortunate persons she so perversely cherished he
repented of his roughness−−and partly because he expected a flash from her. But it was one of her finest sides that
she sometimes flashed with a mere mild glow. "I don't see why you don't make out a little more that if we avoid
stupidity we may do ALL. We may keep her."

He stared. "Make her pension us?"

"Well, wait at least till we've seen."

He thought. "Seen what can be got out of her?"

Kate for a moment said nothing. "After all I never asked her; never, when our troubles were at the worst, appealed
to her nor went near her. She fixed upon me herself, settled on me with her wonderful gilded claws."

"You speak," Densher observed, "as if she were a vulture."

"Call it an eagle−−with a gilded beak as well, and with wings for great flights. If she's a thing of the air, in
short−−say at once a great seamed silk balloon−−I never myself got into her car. I was her choice."

(74) It had really, her sketch of the affair, a high colour and a great style; at all of which he gazed a minute as at a
picture by a master. "What she must see in you!"

"Wonders!" And, speaking it loud, she stood straight up. "Everything. There it is."

Yes, there it was, and as she remained before him he continued to face it. "So that what you mean is that I'm to do
my part in somehow squaring her?"

"See her, see her," Kate said with impatience.

"And grovel to her?"

"Ah do what you like!" And she walked in her impatience away.

Book Second, Chapter 2
His eyes had followed her at this time quite long enough, before he overtook her, to make out more than ever in
the poise of her head, the pride of her step−−he didn't know what best to call it−−a part at least of Mrs. Lowder's
reasons. He consciously winced while he figured his presenting himself as a reason opposed to these; though at
the same moment, with the source of Aunt Maud's inspiration thus before him, he was prepared to conform, by
almost any abject attitude or profitable compromise, to his companion's easy injunction. He would do as SHE
liked−−his own liking might come off as it would. He would help her to the utmost of his power; for, all the rest
of this day and the next, her easy injunction, tossed off that way as she turned her beautiful back, was like the
crack of a great whip in the blue air, the high element in which Mrs. Lowder hung. He wouldn't grovel
perhaps−−he wasn't quite ready for that; but he would be patient, ridiculous, reasonable, unreasonable, and above
all deeply diplomatic. He would be clever with all his cleverness−−which he now shook hard, as he sometimes
shook his poor dear shabby old watch, to start it up again. It wasn't, thank goodness, as if there weren't plenty of


Book Second, Chapter 2                                                                                                26
                                              The Wings of the Dove
that "factor" (to use one of his great newspaper−words), and with what they could muster between them it would
be little to the credit of their star, however pale, that defeat and surrender−−surrender so early, so
immediate−−should (76) have to ensue. It was not indeed that he thought of that disaster as at the worst a direct
sacrifice of their possibilities: he imaged it−−which was enough−−as some proved vanity, some exposed fatuity in
the idea of bringing Mrs. Lowder round. When shortly afterwards, in this lady's vast drawing−room−−the
apartments at Lancaster Gate had struck him from the first as of prodigious extent−−he awaited her, at her
request, conveyed in a "reply−paid" telegram, his theory was that of their still clinging to their idea, though with a
sense of the difficulty of it really enlarged to the scale of the place.

He had the place for a long time−−it seemed to him a quarter of an hour−−to himself; and while Aunt Maud kept
him and kept him, while observation and reflexion crowded on him, he asked himself what was to be expected of
a person who could treat one like that. The visit, the hour were of her own proposing, so that her delay, no doubt,
was but part of a general plan of putting him to inconvenience. As he walked to and fro, however, taking in the
message of her massive florid furniture, the immense expression of her signs and symbols, he had as little doubt
of the inconvenience he was prepared to suffer. He found himself even facing the thought that he had nothing to
fall back on, and that that was as great an humiliation in a good cause as a proud man could desire. It hadn't yet
been so distinct to him that he made no show−−literally not the smallest; so complete a show seemed made there
all about him; so almost abnormally affirmative, so aggressively erect, were the huge heavy objects that syllabled
his hostess's story. "When all's (77) said and done, you know, she's colossally vulgar"−−he had once all but noted
that of her to her niece; only just keeping it back at the last, keeping it to himself with all its danger about it. It
mattered because it bore so directly, and he at all events quite felt it a thing that Kate herself would some day
bring out to him. It bore directly at present, and really all the more that somehow, strangely, it didn't in the least
characterise the poor woman as dull or stale. She was vulgar with freshness, almost with beauty, since there was
beauty, to a degree, in the play of so big and bold a temperament. She was in fine quite the largest possible
quantity to deal with; and he was in the cage of the lioness without his whip−−the whip, in a word, of a supply of
proper retorts. He had no retort but that he loved the girl−−which in such a house as that was painfully cheap.
Kate had mentioned to him more than once that her aunt was Passionate, speaking of it as a kind of offset and
uttering it as with a capital P, marking it as something that he might, that he in fact ought to, turn about in some
way to their advantage. He wondered at this hour to what advantage he could turn it; but the case grew less simple
the longer he waited. Decidedly there was something he hadn't enough of.

His slow march to and fro seemed to give him the very measure; as he paced and paced the distance it became the
desert of his poverty; at the sight of which expanse moreover he could pretend to himself as little as before that
the desert looked redeemable. Lancaster Gate looked rich−−that was all the effect; which it was unthinkable that
any state of his own should (78) ever remotely resemble. He read more vividly, more critically, as has been
hinted, the appearances about him; and they did nothing so much as make him wonder at his aesthetic reaction.
He hadn't known−−and in spite of Kate's repeated reference to her own rebellions of taste−−that he should "mind"
so much how an independent lady might decorate her house. It was the language of the house itself that spoke to
him, writing out for him with surpassing breadth and freedom the associations and conceptions, the ideals and
possibilities of the mistress. Never, he felt sure, had he seen so many things so unanimously ugly−−operatively,
ominously so cruel. He was glad to have found this last name for the whole character; "cruel" somehow played
into the subject for an article−−an article that his impression put straight into his mind. He would write about the
heavy horrors that could still flourish, that lifted their undiminished heads, in an age so proud of its short way
with false gods; and it would be funny if what he should have got from Mrs. Lowder were to prove after all but a
small amount of copy. Yet the great thing, really the dark thing, was that, even while he thought of the quick
column he might add up, he felt it less easy to laugh at the heavy horrors than to quail before them. He couldn't
describe and dismiss them collectively, call them either Mid−Victorian or Early−−not being certain they were
rangeable under one rubric. It was only manifest they were splendid and were furthermore conclusively British.
They constituted an order and abounded in rare material−−precious woods, metals, stuffs, stones. He had never
dreamed of anything so fringed and (79) scalloped, so buttoned and corded, drawn everywhere so tight and curled
everywhere so thick. He had never dreamed of so much gilt and glass, so much satin and plush, so much

Book Second, Chapter 2                                                                                              27
                                             The Wings of the Dove
rosewood and marble and malachite. But it was above all the solid forms, the wasted finish, the misguided cost,
the general attestation of morality and money, a good conscience and a big balance. These things finally
represented for him a portentous negation of his own world of thought−−of which, for that matter, in presence of
them, he became as for the first time hopelessly aware. They revealed it to him by their merciless difference.

His interview with Aunt Maud, none the less, took by no means the turn he had expected. Passionate though her
nature, no doubt, Mrs. Lowder on this occasion neither threatened nor appealed. Her arms of aggression, her
weapons of defence, were presumably close at hand, but she left them untouched and unmentioned, and was in
fact so bland that he properly perceived only afterwards how adroit she had been. He properly perceived
something else as well, which complicated his case; he shouldn't have known what to call it if he hadn't called it
her really imprudent good nature. Her blandness, in other words, wasn't mere policy−−he wasn't dangerous
enough for policy: it was the result, he could see, of her fairly liking him a little. From the moment she did that
she herself became more interesting, and who knew what might happen should he take to liking HER? Well, it
was a risk he naturally must face. She fought him at any rate but with one hand, with a few loose grains of stray
powder. He recognised at the end of ten minutes, (80) and even without her explaining it, that if she had made
him wait it hadn't been to wound him; they had by that time almost directly met on the fact of her intention. She
had wanted him to think for himself of what she proposed to say to him−−not having otherwise announced it;
wanted to let it come home to him on the spot, as she had shrewdly believed it would. Her first question, on
appearing, had practically been as to whether he hadn't taken her hint, and this enquiry assumed so many things
that it immediately made discussion frank and large. He knew, with the question put, that the hint was just what
he HAD taken; knew that she had made him quickly forgive her the display of her power; knew that if he didn't
take care he should understand her, and the strength of her purpose, to say nothing of that of her imagination,
nothing of the length of her purse, only too well. Yet he pulled himself up with the thought too that he wasn't
going to be afraid of understanding her; he was just going to understand and understand without detriment to the
feeblest, even, of his passions. The play of one's mind gave one away, at the best, dreadfully, in action, in the need
for action, where simplicity was all; but when one couldn't prevent it the thing was to make it complete. There
would never be mistakes but for the original fun of mistakes. What he must USE his fatal intelligence for was to
resist. Mrs. Lowder meanwhile might use it for whatever she liked.

It was after she had begun her statement of her own idea about Kate that he began on his side to reflect that−−with
her manner of offering it as really sufficient if he would take the trouble to embrace it−−she (81) couldn't half hate
him. That was all, positively, she seemed to show herself for the time as attempting; clearly, if she did her
intention justice she would have nothing more disagreeable to do. "If I hadn't been ready to go very much further,
you understand, I wouldn't have gone so far. I don't care what you repeat to her−−the more you repeat to her
perhaps the better; and at any rate there's nothing she doesn't already know. I don't say it for her; I say it for
you−−when I want to reach my niece I know how to do it straight." So Aunt Maud delivered herself−−as with
homely benevolence, in the simplest but the clearest terms; virtually conveying that, though a word to the wise
was doubtless, in spite of the adage, NOT always enough, a word to the good could never fail to be. The sense our
young man read into her words was that she liked him because he was good−−was really by her measure good
enough: good enough that is to give up her niece for her and go his way in peace. But WAS he good enough−−by
his own measure? He fairly wondered, while she more fully expressed herself, if it might be his doom to prove so.
"She's the finest possible creature−−of course you flatter yourself you know it. But I know it quite as well as you
possibly can−−by which I mean a good deal better yet; and the tune to which I'm ready to prove my faith
compares favourably enough, I think, with anything you can do. I don't say it because she's my niece−−that's
nothing to me: I might have had fifty nieces, and I wouldn't have brought one of them to this place if I hadn't
found her to my taste. I don't say I wouldn't have done something else, but I wouldn't have put up with (82) her
presence. Kate's presence, by good fortune, I marked early. Kate's presence−−unluckily for YOU−−is everything I
could possibly wish. Kate's presence is, in short, as fine as you know, and I've been keeping it for the comfort of
my declining years. I've watched it long; I've been saving it up and letting it, as you say of investments,
appreciate; and you may judge whether, now it has begun to pay so, I'm likely to consent to treat for it with any
but a high bidder. I can do the best with her, and I've my idea of the best."

Book Second, Chapter 2                                                                                             28
                                               The Wings of the Dove

"Oh I quite conceive," said Densher, "that your idea of the best isn't me."

It was an oddity of Mrs. Lowder's that her face in speech was like a lighted window at night, but that silence
immediately drew the curtain. The occasion for reply allowed by her silence was never easy to take, yet she was
still less easy to interrupt. The great glaze of her surface, at all events, gave her visitor no present help. "I didn't
ask you to come to hear what it isn't−−I asked you to come to hear what it IS."

"Of course," Densher laughed, "that's very great indeed."

His hostess went on as if his contribution to the subject were barely relevant. "I want to see her high, high
up−−high up and in the light."

"Ah you naturally want to marry her to a duke and are eager to smooth away any hitch."

She gave him so, on this, the mere effect of the drawn blind that it quite forced him at first into the sense, possibly
just, of his having shown for flippant, perhaps even for low. He had been looked at so, in (83) blighted moments
of presumptuous youth, by big cold public men, but never, so far as he could recall, by any private lady. More
than anything yet it gave him the measure of his companion's subtlety, and thereby of Kate's possible career.
"Don't be TOO impossible!"−−he feared from his friend, for a moment, some such answer as that; and then felt,
as she spoke otherwise, as if she were letting him off easily. "I want her to marry a great man." That was all; but,
more and more, it was enough; and if it hadn't been her next words would have made it so. "And I think of her
what I think. There you are."

They sat for a little face to face upon it, and he was conscious of something deeper still, of something she wished
him to understand if he only would. To that extent she did appeal−−appealed to the intelligence she desired to
show she believed him to possess. He was meanwhile, at all events, not the man wholly to fail of comprehension.
"Of course I'm aware how little I can answer to any fond proud dream. You've a view−−a grand one; into which I
perfectly enter. I thoroughly understand what I'm not, and I'm much obliged to you for not reminding me of it in
any rougher way." She said nothing−−she kept that up; it might even have been to let him go further, if he was
capable of it, in the way of poorness of spirit. It was one of those cases in which a man couldn't show, if he
showed at all, save for poor; unless indeed he preferred to show for asinine. It was the plain truth: he WAS−−on
Mrs. Lowder's basis, the only one in question−−a very small quantity, and he did know, damnably, what made
quantities large. He desired to (84) be perfectly simple, yet in the midst of that effort a deeper apprehension
throbbed. Aunt Maud clearly conveyed it, though he couldn't later on have said how. "You don't really matter, I
believe, so much as you think, and I'm not going to make you a martyr by banishing you. Your performances with
Kate in the Park are ridiculous so far as they're meant as consideration for me; and I had much rather see you
myself−−since you're, in your way, my dear young man, delightful−−and arrange with you, count with you, as I
easily, as I perfectly should. Do you suppose me so stupid as to quarrel with you if it's not really necessary? It
won't−−it would be too absurd!−−BE necessary. I can bite your head off any day, any day I really open my
mouth; and I'm dealing with you now, see−−and successfully judge−−without opening it. I do things handsomely
all round−−I place you in the presence of the plan with which, from the moment it's a case of taking you
seriously, you're incompatible. Come then as near it as you like, walk all round it−−don't be afraid you'll hurt
it!−−and live on with it before you."

He afterwards felt that if she hadn't absolutely phrased all this it was because she so soon made him out as going
with her far enough. He was so pleasantly affected by her asking no promise of him, her not proposing he should
pay for her indulgence by his word of honour not to interfere, that he gave her a kind of general assurance of
esteem. Immediately afterwards then he was to speak of these things to Kate, and what by that time came back to
him first of all was the way he had said to her−−he mentioned it (85) to the girl−−very much as one of a pair of
lovers says in a rupture by mutual consent: "I hope immensely of course that you'll always regard me as a friend."
This had perhaps been going far−−he submitted it all to Kate; but really there had been so much in it that it was to

Book Second, Chapter 2                                                                                                 29
                                              The Wings of the Dove
be looked at, as they might say, wholly in its own light. Other things than those we have presented had come up
before the close of his scene with Aunt Maud, but this matter of her not treating him as a peril of the first order
easily predominated. There was moreover plenty to talk about on the occasion of his subsequent passage with our
young woman, it having been put to him abruptly, the night before, that he might give himself a lift and do his
newspaper a service−−so flatteringly was the case expressed−−by going for fifteen or twenty weeks to America.
The idea of a series of letters from the United States from the strictly social point of view had for some time been
nursed in the inner sanctuary at whose door he sat, and the moment was now deemed happy for letting it loose.
The imprisoned thought had, in a word, on the opening of the door, flown straight out into Densher's face, or
perched at least on his shoulder, making him look up in surprise from his mere inky office−table. His account of
the matter to Kate was that he couldn't refuse−−not being in a position as yet to refuse anything; but that his being
chosen for such an errand confounded his sense of proportion. He was definite as to his scarce knowing how to
measure the honour, which struck him as equivocal; he hadn't quite supposed himself the man for the class of job.
This confused consciousness, he intimated, (86) he had promptly enough betrayed to his manager; with the effect,
however, of seeing the question surprisingly clear up. What it came to was that the sort of twaddle that wasn't in
his chords was, unexpectedly, just what they happened this time not to want. They wanted his letters, for queer
reasons, about as good as he could let them come; he was to play his own little tune and not be afraid: that was the
whole point.

It would have been the whole, that is, had there not been a sharper one still in the circumstance that he was to start
at once. His mission, as they called it at the office, would probably be over by the end of June, which was
desirable; but to bring that about he must now not lose a week; his enquiries, he understood, were to cover the
whole ground, and there were reasons of state−−reasons operating at the seat of empire in Fleet Street−−why the
nail should be struck on the head. Densher made no secret to Kate of his having asked for a day to decide; and his
account of that matter was that he felt he owed it to her to speak to her first. She assured him on this that nothing
so much as that scruple had yet shown her how they were bound together: she was clearly proud of his letting a
thing of such importance depend on her, but she was clearer still as to his instant duty. She rejoiced in his prospect
and urged him to his task; she should miss him too dreadfully−−of course she should miss him; but she made so
little of it that she spoke with jubilation of what he would see and would do. She made so much of this last
quantity that he laughed at her innocence, though also with scarce the (87) heart to give her the real size of his
drop in the daily bucket. He was struck at the same time with her happy grasp of what had really occurred in Fleet
Street−−all the more that it was his own final reading. He was to pull the subject up−−that was just what they
wanted; and it would take more than all the United States together, visit them each as he might, to let HIM down.
It was just because he didn't nose about and babble, because he wasn't the usual gossip−monger, that they had
picked him out. It was a branch of their correspondence with which they evidently wished a new tone associated,
such a tone as, from now on, it would have always to take from his example.

"How you ought indeed, when you understand so well, to be a journalist's wife!" Densher exclaimed in admiration
even while she struck him as fairly hurrying him off.

But she was almost impatient of the praise. "What do you expect one NOT to understand when one cares for
you?"

"Ah then I'll put it otherwise and say 'How much you care for me!' "

"Yes," she assented; "it fairly redeems my stupidity. I SHALL, with a chance to show it," she added, "have some
imagination for you."

She spoke of the future this time as so little contingent that he felt a queerness of conscience in making her the
report that he presently arrived at on what had passed for him with the real arbiter of their destiny. The way for
that had been blocked a little by his news from Fleet Street; but in the crucible of (88) their happy discussion this
element soon melted into the other, and in the mixture that ensued the parts were not to be distinguished. The

Book Second, Chapter 2                                                                                             30
                                              The Wings of the Dove
young man moreover, before taking his leave, was to see why Kate had spoken with a wisdom indifferent to that,
and was to come to the vision by a devious way that deepened the final cheer. Their faces were turned to the
illumined quarter as soon as he had answered her question on the score of their being to appearance able to play
patience, a prodigious game of patience, with success. It was for the possibility of the appearance that she had a
few days before so earnestly pressed him to see her aunt; and if after his hour with that lady it had not struck
Densher that he had seen her to the happiest purpose the poor facts flushed with a better meaning as Kate, one by
one, took them up.

"If she consents to your coming why isn't that everything?"

"It IS everything; everything SHE thinks it. It's the probability−−I mean as Mrs. Lowder measures
probability−−that I may be prevented from becoming a complication for her by some arrangement, ANY
arrangement, through which you shall see me often and easily. She's sure of my want of money, and that gives her
time. She believes in my having a certain amount of delicacy, in my wishing to better my state before I put the
pistol to your head in respect to sharing it. The time this will take figures for her as the time that will help her if
she doesn't spoil her chance by treating me badly. She doesn't at all wish moreover," Densher went on, "to treat
me badly, for I believe, upon my honour, odd as it may sound to you, (89) that she personally rather likes me and
that if you weren't in question I might almost become her pet young man. She doesn't disparage intellect and
culture−−quite the contrary; she wants them to adorn her board and be associated with her name; and I'm sure it
has sometimes cost her a real pang that I should be so desirable, at once, and so impossible." He paused a
moment, and his companion then saw how strange a smile was in his face−−a smile as strange even as the adjunct
in her own of this informing vision. "I quite suspect her of believing that, if the truth were known, she likes me
literally better than−−deep down−−you yourself do: wherefore she does me the honour to think I may be safely
left to kill my own cause. There, as I say, comes in her margin. I'm not the sort of stuff of romance that wears, that
washes, that survives use, that resists familiarity. Once in any degree admit that, and your pride and prejudice will
take care of the rest!−−the pride fed full, meanwhile, by the system she means to practise with you, and the
prejudice excited by the comparisons she'll enable you to make, from which I shall come off badly. She likes me,
but she'll never like me so much as when she has succeeded a little better in making me look wretched. For then
YOU'LL like me less."

Kate showed for this evocation a due interest, but no alarm; and it was a little as if to pay his tender cynicism back
in kind that she after an instant replied: "I see, I see−−what an immense affair she must think me! One was aware,
but you deepen the impression."

(90) "I think you'll make no mistake," said Densher, "in letting it go as deep as it will."

He had given her indeed, she made no scruple of showing, plenty to amuse herself with. "Her facing the music,
her making you boldly as welcome as you say−−that's an awfully big theory, you know, and worthy of all the
other big things that in one's acquaintance with people give her a place so apart."

"Oh she's grand," the young man allowed; "she's on the scale altogether of the car of Juggernaut−−which was a
kind of image that came to me yesterday while I waited for her at Lancaster Gate. The things in your
drawing−room there were like the forms of the strange idols, the mystic excrescences, with which one may
suppose the front of the car to bristle."

"Yes, aren't they?" the girl returned; and they had, over all that aspect of their wonderful lady, one of those deep
and free interchanges that made everything but confidence a false note for them. There were complications, there
were questions; but they were so much more together than they were anything else. Kate uttered for a while no
word of refutation of Aunt Maud's "big" diplomacy, and they left it there, as they would have left any other fine
product, for a monument to her powers. But, Densher related further, he had had in other respects too the car of
Juggernaut to face; he omitted nothing from his account of his visit, least of all the way Aunt Maud had frankly at

Book Second, Chapter 2                                                                                              31
                                              The Wings of the Dove

last−−though indeed only under artful pressure−−fallen foul of his very type, his want of the right marks, his
foreign accidents, his queer antecedents. She had (91) told him he was but half a Briton, which, he granted Kate,
would have been dreadful if he hadn't so let himself in for it.

"I was really curious, you see," he explained, "to find out from her what sort of queer creature, what sort of social
anomaly, in the light of such conventions as hers, such an education as mine makes one pass for."

Kate said nothing for a little; but then, "Why should you care?" she asked.

"Oh," he laughed, "I like her so much; and then, for a man of my trade, her views, her spirit, are essentially a thing
to get hold of: they belong to the great public mind that we meet at every turn and that we must keep setting up
'codes' with. Besides," he added, "I want to please her personally."

"Ah yes, we must please her personally!" his companion echoed; and the words may represent all their definite
recognition, at the time, of Densher's politic gain. They had in fact between this and his start for New York many
matters to handle, and the question he now touched upon came up for Kate above all. She looked at him as if he
had really told her aunt more of his immediate personal story than he had ever told herself. This, if it had been so,
was an accident, and it perched him there with her for half an hour, like a cicerone and his victim on a tower−top,
before as much of the bird's−eye view of his early years abroad, his migratory parents, his Swiss schools, his
German university, as she had easy attention for. A man, he intimated, a man of their world, would have spotted
him straight as to many of these points; (92) a man of their world, so far as they had a world, would have been
through the English mill. But it was none the less charming to make his confession to a woman; women had in
fact for such differences blessedly more imagination and blessedly more sympathy. Kate showed at present as
much of both as his case could require; when she had had it from beginning to end she declared that she now
made out more than ever yet what she loved him for. She had herself, as a child, lived with some continuity in the
world across the Channel, coming home again still a child; and had participated after that, in her teens, in her
mother's brief but repeated retreats to Dresden, to Florence, to Biarritz, weak and expensive attempts at economy
from which there stuck to her−−though in general coldly expressed, through the instinctive avoidance of cheap
raptures−−the religion of foreign things. When it was revealed to her how many more foreign things were in
Merton Densher than he had hitherto taken the trouble to catalogue, she almost faced him as if he were a map of
the continent or a handsome present of a delightful new "Murray." He hadn't meant to swagger, he had rather
meant to plead, though with Mrs. Lowder he had meant also a little to explain. His father had been, in strange
countries, in twenty settlements of the English, British chaplain, resident or occasional, and had had for years the
unusual luck of never wanting a billet. His career abroad had therefore been unbroken, and as his stipend had
never been great he had educated his children, at the smallest cost, in the schools nearest, which was also a saving
of railway−fares. Densher's (93) mother, it further appeared, had practised on her side a distinguished industry, to
the success of which−−so far as success ever crowned it−−this period of exile had much contributed: she copied,
patient lady, famous pictures in great museums, having begun with a happy natural gift and taking in betimes the
scale of her opportunity. Copyists abroad of course swarmed, but Mrs. Densher had had a sense and a hand of her
own, had arrived at a perfection that persuaded, that even deceived, and that made the "placing" of her work
blissfully usual. Her son, who had lost her, held her image sacred, and the effect of his telling Kate all about her,
as well as about other matters until then mixed and dim, was to render his history rich, his sources full, his outline
anything but common. He had come round, he had come back, he insisted abundantly, to being a Briton: his
Cambridge years, his happy connexion, as it had proved, with his father's college, amply certified to that, to say
nothing of his subsequent plunge into London, which filled up the measure. But brave enough though his descent
to English earth, he had passed, by the way, through zones of air that had left their ruffle on his wings−−he had
been exposed to initiations indelible. Something had happened to him that could never be undone.

When Kate Croy said to him as much he besought her not to insist, declaring that this indeed was what was
gravely the matter with him, that he had been but too probably spoiled for native, for insular use. On which, not
unnaturally, she insisted the more, assuring him, without mitigation, that if he was various (94) and complicated,

Book Second, Chapter 2                                                                                             32
                                              The Wings of the Dove

complicated by wit and taste, she wouldn't for the world have had him more helpless; so that he was driven in the
end to accuse her of putting the dreadful truth to him in the hollow guise of flattery. She was making him out as
all abnormal in order that she might eventually find him impossible, and since she could make it out but with his
aid she had to bribe him by feigned delight to help her. If her last word for him in the connexion was that the way
he saw himself was just a precious proof the more of his having tasted of the tree and being thereby prepared to
assist her to eat, this gives the happy tone of their whole talk, the measure of the flight of time in the near presence
of his settled departure. Kate showed, however, that she was to be more literally taken when she spoke of the
relief Aunt Maud would draw from the prospect of his absence.

"Yet one can scarcely see why," he replied, "when she fears me so little."

His friend weighed his objection. "Your idea is that she likes you so much that she'll even go so far as to regret
losing you?"

Well, he saw it in their constant comprehensive way. "Since what she builds on is the gradual process of your
alienation, she may take the view that the process constantly requires me. Mustn't I be there to keep it going? It's
in my exile that it may languish."

He went on with that fantasy, but at this point Kate ceased to attend. He saw after a little that she had been
following some thought of her own, and he had been feeling the growth of something determinant even through
the extravagance of much of the pleasantry, (95) the warm transparent irony, into which their livelier intimacy
kept plunging like a confident swimmer. Suddenly she said to him with extraordinary beauty: "I engage myself to
you for ever."

The beauty was in everything, and he could have separated nothing−−couldn't have thought of her face as distinct
from the whole joy. Yet her face had a new light. "And I pledge you−−I call God to witness!−−every spark of my
faith; I give you every drop of my life." That was all, for the moment, but it was enough, and it was almost as
quiet as if it were nothing. They were in the open air, in an alley of the Gardens; the great space, which seemed to
arch just then higher and spread wider for them, threw them back into deep concentration. They moved by a
common instinct to a spot, within sight, that struck them as fairly sequestered, and there, before their time
together was spent, they had extorted from concentration every advance it could make them. They had exchanged
vows and tokens, sealed their rich compact, solemnised, so far as breathed words and murmured sounds and
lighted eyes and clasped hands could do it, their agreement to belong only, and to belong tremendously, to each
other. They were to leave the place accordingly an affianced couple, but before they left it other things still had
passed. Densher had declared his horror of bringing to a premature end her happy relation with her aunt; and they
had worked round together to a high level of discretion. Kate's free profession was that she wished not to deprive
HIM of Mrs. Lowder's countenance, which in the long run she was convinced he would continue to enjoy; and
(96) as by a blest turn Aunt Maud had demanded of him no promise that would tie his hands they should be able
to propitiate their star in their own way and yet remain loyal. One difficulty alone stood out, which Densher
named.

"Of course it will never do−−we must remember that−−from the moment you allow her to found hopes of you for
any one else in particular. So long as her view is content to remain as general as at present appears I don't see that
we deceive her. At a given hour, you see, she must be undeceived: the only thing therefore is to be ready for the
hour and to face it. Only, after all, in that case," the young man observed, "one doesn't quite make out what we
shall have got from her."

"What she'll have got from US?" Kate put it with a smile. "What she'll have got from us," the girl went on, "is her
own affair−−it's for HER to measure. I asked her for nothing," she added; "I never put myself upon her. She must
take her risks, and she surely understands them. What we shall have got from her is what we've already spoken
of," Kate further explained; "it's that we shall have gained time. And so, for that matter, will she."

Book Second, Chapter 2                                                                                               33
                                               The Wings of the Dove

Densher gazed a little at all this clearness; his gaze was not at the present hour into romantic obscurity. "Yes; no
doubt, in our particular situation, time's everything. And then there's the joy of it."

She hesitated. "Of our secret?"

"Not so much perhaps of our secret in itself, but of what's represented and, as we must somehow feel, secured to
us and made deeper and closer by it." And (97) his fine face, relaxed into happiness, covered her with all his
meaning. "Our being as we are."

It was as if for a moment she let the meaning sink into her. "So gone?"

"So gone. So extremely gone. However," he smiled, "we shall go a good deal further." Her answer to which was
only the softness of her silence−−a silence that looked out for them both at the far reach of their prospect. This
was immense, and they thus took final possession of it. They were practically united and splendidly strong; but
there were other things−−things they were precisely strong enough to be able successfully to count with and
safely to allow for; in consequence of which they would for the present, subject to some better reason, keep their
understanding to themselves. It was not indeed however till after one more observation of Densher's that they felt
the question completely straightened out. "The only thing of course is that she may any day absolutely put it to
you."

Kate considered. "Ask me where, on my honour, we are? She may, naturally; but I doubt if in fact she will. While
you're away she'll make the most of that drop of the tension. She'll leave me alone."

"But there'll be my letters."

The girl faced his letters. "Very, very many?"

"Very, very, very many−−more than ever; and you know what that is! And then," Densher added, "there'll be
yours."

"Oh I shan't leave mine on the hall−table. I shall post them myself."

He looked at her a moment. "Do you think then (98) I had best address you elsewhere?" After which, before she
could quite answer, he added with some emphasis: "I'd rather not, you know. It's straighter."

She might again have just waited. "Of course it's straighter. Don't be afraid I shan't be straight. Address me," she
continued, "where you like. I shall be proud enough of its being known you write to me."

He turned it over for the last clearness. "Even at the risk of its really bringing down the inquisition?"

Well, the last clearness now filled her. "I'm not afraid of the inquisition. If she asks if there's anything definite
between us I know perfectly what I shall say."

"That I AM of course 'gone' for you?"

"That I love you as I shall never in my life love any one else, and that she can make what she likes of that." She
said it out so splendidly that it was like a new profession of faith, the fulness of a tide breaking through; and the
effect of that in turn was to make her companion meet her with such eyes that she had time again before he could
otherwise speak. "Besides, she's just as likely to ask YOU."

"Not while I'm away."

Book Second, Chapter 2                                                                                                  34
                                              The Wings of the Dove

"Then when you come back."

"Well then," said Densher, "we shall have had our particular joy. But what I feel is," he candidly added, "that, by
an idea of her own, her superior policy, she WON'T ask me. She'll let me off. I shan't have to lie to her."

"It will be left all to me?" asked Kate.

"All to you!" he tenderly laughed.

But it was oddly, the very next moment, as if he had (99) perhaps been a shade too candid. His discrimination
seemed to mark a possible, a natural reality, a reality not wholly disallowed by the account the girl had just given
of her own intention. There WAS a difference in the air−−even if none other than the supposedly usual difference
in truth between man and woman; and it was almost as if the sense of this provoked her. She seemed to cast about
an instant, and then she went back a little resentfully to something she had suffered to pass a minute before. She
appeared to take up rather more seriously than she need the joke about her freedom to deceive. Yet she did this
too in a beautiful way. "Men are too stupid−−even you. You didn't understand just now why, if I post my letters
myself, it won't be for anything so vulgar as to hide them."

"Oh you named it−−for the pleasure."

"Yes; but you didn't, you don't, understand what the pleasure may be. There are refinements−−!" she more
patiently dropped. "I mean of consciousness, of sensation, of appreciation," she went on. "No," she sadly
insisted−−"men DON'T know. They know in such matters almost nothing but what women show them."

This was one of the speeches, frequent in her, that, liberally, joyfully, intensely adopted and, in itself, as might be,
embraced, drew him again as close to her, and held him as long, as their conditions permitted. "Then that's exactly
why we've such an abysmal need of you!"

Book Third, Chapter 1
The two ladies who, in advance of the Swiss season, had been warned that their design was unconsidered, that the
passes wouldn't be clear, nor the air mild, nor the inns open−−the two ladies who, characteristically, had braved a
good deal of possibly interested remonstrance were finding themselves, as their adventure turned out, wonderfully
sustained. It was the judgement of the head−waiters and other functionaries on the Italian lakes that approved
itself now as interested; they themselves had been conscious of impatiences, of bolder dreams−−at least the
younger had; so that one of the things they made out together−−making out as they did an endless variety −−was
that in those operatic palaces of the Villa d'Este, of Cadenabbia, of Pallanza and Stresa, lone women, however
re−enforced by a travelling−library of instructive volumes, were apt to be beguiled and undone. Their flights of
fancy moreover had been modest; they had for instance risked nothing vital in hoping to make their way by the
Brunig. They were making it in fact happily enough as we meet them, and were only wishing that, for the
wondrous beauty of the early high−climbing spring, it might have been longer and the places to pause and rest
more numerous.

Such at least had been the intimated attitude of Mrs. Stringham, the elder of the companions, who had her own
view of the impatiences of the younger, (104) to which, however, she offered an opposition but of the most
circuitous. She moved, the admirable Mrs. Stringham, in a fine cloud of observation and suspicion; she was in the
position, as she believed, of knowing much more about Milly Theale than Milly herself knew, and yet of having
to darken her knowledge as well as make it active. The woman in the world least formed by nature, as she was
quite aware, for duplicities and labyrinths, she found herself dedicated to personal subtlety by a new set of
circumstances, above all by a new personal relation; had now in fact to recognise that an education in the


Book Third, Chapter 1                                                                                                35
                                              The Wings of the Dove
occult−−she could scarce say what to call it−−had begun for her the day she left New York with Mildred. She had
come on from Boston for that purpose; had seen little of the girl−−or rather had seen her but briefly, for Mrs.
Stringham, when she saw anything at all, saw much, saw everything−−before accepting her proposal; and had
accordingly placed herself, by her act, in a boat that she more and more estimated as, humanly speaking, of the
biggest, though likewise, no doubt, in many ways, by reason of its size, of the safest. In Boston, the winter before,
the young lady in whom we are interested had, on the spot, deeply, yet almost tacitly, appealed to her, dropped
into her mind the shy conceit of some assistance, some devotion to render. Mrs. Stringham's little life had often
been visited by shy conceits−−secret dreams that had fluttered their hour between its narrow walls without, for
any great part, so much as mustering courage to look out of its rather dim windows. But this imagination−−the
fancy of a possible link with the remarkable young thing from (105) New York−−HAD mustered courage: had
perched, on the instant, at the clearest lookout it could find, and might be said to have remained there till, only a
few months later, it had caught, in surprise and joy, the unmistakeable flash of a signal.

Milly Theale had Boston friends, such as they were, and of recent making; and it was understood that her visit to
them−−a visit that was not to be meagre−−had been undertaken, after a series of bereavements, in the interest of
the particular peace that New York couldn't give. It was recognised, liberally enough, that there were many
things−−perhaps even too many−−New York COULD give; but this was felt to make no difference in the
important truth that what you had most to do, under the discipline of life, or of death, was really to feel your
situation as grave. Boston could help you to that as nothing else could, and it had extended to Milly, by every
presumption, some such measure of assistance. Mrs. Stringham was never to forget−−for the moment had not
faded, nor the infinitely fine vibration it set up in any degree ceased−−her own first sight of the striking
apparition, then unheralded and unexplained: the slim, constantly pale, delicately haggard, anomalously,
agreeably angular young person, of not more than two−and−twenty summers, in spite of her marks, whose hair
was somehow exceptionally red even for the real thing, which it innocently confessed to being, and whose clothes
were remarkably black even for robes of mourning, which was the meaning they expressed. It was New York
mourning, it was New York hair, it was a New York history, confused as yet, but multitudinous, of the loss (106)
of parents, brothers, sisters, almost every human appendage, all on a scale and with a sweep that had required the
greater stage; it was a New York legend of affecting, of romantic isolation, and, beyond everything, it was by
most accounts, in respect to the mass of money so piled on the girl's back, a set of New York possibilities. She
was alone, she was stricken, she was rich, and in particular was strange−−a combination in itself of a nature to
engage Mrs. Stringham's attention. But it was the strangeness that most determined our good lady's sympathy,
convinced as she had to be that it was greater than any one else−−any one but the sole Susan
Stringham−−supposed. Susan privately settled it that Boston was not in the least seeing her, was only occupied
with her seeing Boston, and that any assumed affinity between the two characters was delusive and vain. SHE
was seeing her, and she had quite the finest moment of her life in now obeying the instinct to conceal the vision.
She couldn't explain it−−no one would understand. They would say clever Boston things−−Mrs. Stringham was
from Burlington Vermont, which she boldly upheld as the real heart of New England, Boston being "too far
south"−−but they would only darken counsel.

There could be no better proof (than this quick intellectual split) of the impression made on our friend, who shone
herself, she was well aware, with but the reflected light of the admirable city. She too had had her discipline, but it
had not made her striking; it had been prosaically usual, though doubtless a decent dose; and had only made her
usual to match it (107)−−usual, that is, as Boston went. She had lost first her husband and then her mother, with
whom, on her husband's death, she had lived again; so that now, childless, she was but more sharply single than
before. Yet she sat rather coldly light, having, as she called it, enough to live on−−so far, that is, as she lived by
bread alone: how little indeed she was regularly content with that diet appeared from the name she had
made−−Susan Shepherd Stringham−−as a contributor to the best magazines. She wrote short stories, and she
fondly believed she had her "note," the art of showing New England without showing it wholly in the kitchen. She
had not herself been brought up in the kitchen; she knew others who had not; and to speak for them had thus
become with her a literary mission. To BE in truth literary had ever been her dearest thought, the thought that kept
her bright little nippers perpetually in position. There were masters, models, celebrities, mainly foreign, whom she

Book Third, Chapter 1                                                                                               36
                                              The Wings of the Dove
finally accounted so and in whose light she ingeniously laboured; there were others whom, however chattered
about, she ranked with the inane, for she bristled with discriminations; but all categories failed her−−they ceased
at least to signify−−as soon as she found herself in presence of the real thing, the romantic life itself. That was
what she saw in Mildred−−what positively made her hand a while tremble too much for the pen. She had had, it
seemed to her, a revelation−−such as even New England refined and grammatical couldn't give; and, all made up
as she was of small neat memories and ingenuities, little industries and ambitions, mixed with something (108)
moral, personal, that was still more intensely responsive, she felt her new friend would have done her an ill turn if
their friendship shouldn't develop, and yet that nothing would be left of anything else if it should. It was for the
surrender of everything else that she was, however, quite prepared, and while she went about her usual Boston
business with her usual Boston probity she was really all the while holding herself. She wore her "handsome" felt
hat, so Tyrolese, yet somehow, though feathered from the eagle's wing, so truly domestic, with the same
straightness and security; she attached her fur boa with the same honest precautions; she preserved her balance on
the ice−slopes with the same practised skill; she opened, each evening, her _Transcript_ with the same interfusion
of suspense and resignation; she attended her almost daily concert with the same expenditure of patience and the
same economy of passion; she flitted in and out of the Public Library with the air of conscientiously returning or
bravely carrying off in her pocket the key of knowledge itself; and finally−−it was what she most did−−she
watched the thin trickle of a fictive "love−interest" through that somewhat serpentine channel, in the magazines,
which she mainly managed to keep clear for it. But the real thing all the while was elsewhere; the real thing had
gone back to New York, leaving behind it the two unsolved questions, quite distinct, of why it WAS real, and
whether she should ever be so near it again.

For the figure to which these questions attached themselves she had found a convenient description−−she thought
of it for herself always as that of a girl (109) with a background. The great reality was in the fact that, very soon,
after but two or three meetings, the girl with the background, the girl with the crown of old gold and the mourning
that was not as the mourning of Boston, but at once more rebellious in its gloom and more frivolous in its frills,
had told her she had never seen any one like her. They had met thus as opposed curiosities, and that simple
remark of Milly's−−if simple it was−−became the most important thing that had ever happened to her; it deprived
the love−interest, for the time, of actuality and even of pertinence; it moved her first, in short, in a high degree, to
gratitude, and then to no small compassion. Yet in respect to this relation at least it was what did prove the key of
knowledge; it lighted up as nothing else could do the poor young woman's history. That the potential heiress of all
the ages should never have seen any one like a mere typical subscriber, after all, to the _Transcript_ was a truth
that−−in especial as announced with modesty, with humility, with regret−−described a situation. It laid upon the
elder woman, as to the void to be filled, a weight of responsibility; but in particular it led her to ask whom poor
Mildred HAD then seen, and what range of contacts it had taken to produce such queer surprises. That was really
the enquiry that had ended by clearing the air: the key of knowledge was felt to click in the lock from the moment
it flashed upon Mrs. Stringham that her friend had been starved for culture. Culture was what she herself
represented for her, and it was living up to that principle that would surely prove the great business. She knew, the
clever lady, what the principle itself (110) represented, and the limits of her own store; and a certain alarm would
have grown upon her if something else hadn't grown faster. This was, fortunately for her−−and we give it in her
own words−−the sense of a harrowing pathos. That, primarily, was what appealed to her, what seemed to open the
door of romance for her still wider than any, than a still more reckless, connexion with the "picture−papers." For
such was essentially the point: it was rich, romantic, abysmal, to have, as was evident, thousands and thousands a
year, to have youth and intelligence and, if not beauty, at least in equal measure a high dim charming ambiguous
oddity, which was even better, and then on top of all to enjoy boundless freedom, the freedom of the wind in the
desert−−it was unspeakably touching to be so equipped and yet to have been reduced by fortune to little
humble−minded mistakes.

It brought our friend's imagination back again to New York, where aberrations were so possible in the intellectual
sphere, and it in fact caused a visit she presently paid there to overflow with interest. As Milly had beautifully
invited her, so she would hold out if she could against the strain of so much confidence in her mind; and the
remarkable thing was that even at the end of three weeks she HAD held out. But by this time her mind had grown

Book Third, Chapter 1                                                                                                37
                                               The Wings of the Dove
comparatively bold and free; it was dealing with new quantities, a different proportion altogether−−and that had
made for refreshment: she had accordingly gone home in convenient possession of her subject. New York was
vast, New York was startling, with strange histories, (111) with wild cosmopolite backward generations that
accounted for anything; and to have got nearer the luxuriant tribe of which the rare creature was the final flower,
the immense extravagant unregulated cluster, with free−living ancestors, handsome dead cousins, lurid uncles,
beautiful vanished aunts, persons all busts and curls, preserved, though so exposed, in the marble of famous
French chisels−−all this, to say nothing of the effect of closer growths of the stem, was to have had one's small
world−space both crowded and enlarged. Our couple had at all events effected an exchange; the elder friend had
been as consciously intellectual as possible, and the younger, abounding in personal revelation, had been as
unconsciously distinguished. This was poetry−−it was also history−−Mrs. Stringham thought, to a finer tune even
than Maeterlinck and Pater, than Marbot and Gregorovius. She appointed occasions for the reading of these
authors with her hostess, rather perhaps than actually achieved great spans; but what they managed and what they
missed speedily sank for her into the dim depths of the merely relative, so quickly, so strongly had she clutched
her central clue. All her scruples and hesitations, all her anxious enthusiasms, had reduced themselves to a single
alarm−−the fear that she really might act on her companion clumsily and coarsely. She was positively afraid of
what she might do to her, and to avoid that, to avoid it with piety and passion, to do, rather, nothing at all, to leave
her untouched because no touch one could apply, however light, however just, however earnest and anxious,
would be half good enough, would be anything (112) but an ugly smutch upon perfection−−this now imposed
itself as a consistent, an inspiring thought.

Less than a month after the event that had so determined Mrs. Stringham's attitude−−close upon the heels, that is,
of her return from New York−−she was reached by a proposal that brought up for her the kind of question her
delicacy might have to contend with. Would she start for Europe with her young friend at the earliest possible
date, and should she be willing to do so without making conditions? The enquiry was launched by wire;
explanations, in sufficiency, were promised; extreme urgency was suggested and a general surrender invited. It
was to the honour of her sincerity that she made the surrender on the spot, though it was not perhaps altogether to
that of her logic. She had wanted, very consciously, from the first, to give something up for her new acquaintance,
but she had now no doubt that she was practically giving up all. What settled this was the fulness of a particular
impression, the impression that had throughout more and more supported her and which she would have uttered
so far as she might by saying that the charm of the creature was positively in the creature's greatness. She would
have been content so to leave it; unless indeed she had said, more familiarly, that Mildred was the biggest
impression of her life. That was at all events the biggest account of her, and none but a big clearly would do. Her
situation, as such things were called, was on the grand scale; but it still was not that. It was her nature, once for
all−−a nature that reminded Mrs. Stringham of (113) the term always used in the newspapers about the great new
steamers, the inordinate number of "feet of water" they drew; so that if, in your little boat, you had chosen to
hover and approach, you had but yourself to thank, when once motion was started, for the way the draught pulled
you. Milly drew the feet of water, and odd though it might seem that a lonely girl, who was not robust and who
hated sound and show, should stir the stream like a leviathan, her companion floated off with the sense of rocking
violently at her side. More than prepared, however, for that excitement, Mrs. Stringham mainly failed of ease in
respect to her own consistency. To attach herself for an indefinite time seemed a roundabout way of holding her
hands off. If she wished to be sure of neither touching nor smutching, the straighter plan would doubtless have
been not to keep her friend within reach. This in fact she fully recognised, and with it the degree to which she
desired that the girl should lead her life, a life certain to be so much finer than that of anybody else. The difficulty,
however, by good fortune, cleared away as soon as she had further recognised, as she was speedily able to do, that
she Susan Shepherd−−the name with which Milly for the most part amused herself−−was NOT anybody else. She
had renounced that character; she had now no life to lead; and she honestly believed that she was thus supremely
equipped for leading Milly's own. No other person whatever, she was sure, had to an equal degree this
qualification, and it was really to assert it that she fondly embarked.

Many things, though not in many weeks, had come (114) and gone since then, and one of the best of them
doubtless had been the voyage itself, by the happy southern course, to the succession of Mediterranean ports, with

Book Third, Chapter 1                                                                                                 38
                                              The Wings of the Dove
the dazzled wind−up at Naples. Two or three others had preceded this; incidents, indeed rather lively marks, of
their last fortnight at home, and one of which had determined on Mrs. Stringham's part a rush to New York,
forty−eight breathless hours there, previous to her final rally. But the great sustained sea−light had drunk up the
rest of the picture, so that for many days other questions and other possibilities sounded with as little effect as a
trio of penny whistles might sound in a Wagner overture. It was the Wagner overture that practically prevailed, up
through Italy, where Milly had already been, still further up and across the Alps, which were also partly known to
Mrs. Stringham; only perhaps "taken" to a time not wholly congruous, hurried in fact on account of the girl's high
restlessness. She had been expected, she had frankly promised, to be restless−−that was partly why she was
"great"−−or was a consequence, at any rate, if not a cause; yet she had not perhaps altogether announced herself
as straining so hard at the cord. It was familiar, it was beautiful to Mrs. Stringham that she had arrears to make up,
the chances that had lapsed for her through the wanton ways of forefathers fond of Paris, but not of its higher
sides, and fond almost of nothing else; but the vagueness, the openness, the eagerness without point and the
interest without pause−−all a part of the charm of her oddity as at first presented−−had become more striking in
proportion as they triumphed (115) over movement and change. She had arts and idiosyncrasies of which no great
account could have been given, but which were a daily grace if you lived with them; such as the art of being
almost tragically impatient and yet making it as light as air; of being inexplicably sad and yet making it as clear as
noon; of being unmistakeably gay and yet making it as soft as dusk. Mrs. Stringham by this time understood
everything, was more than ever confirmed in wonder and admiration, in her view that it was life enough simply to
feel her companion's feelings; but there were special keys she had not yet added to her bunch, impressions that of
a sudden were apt to affect her as new.

This particular day on the great Swiss road had been, for some reason, full of them, and they referred themselves,
provisionally, to some deeper depth than she had touched−−though into two or three such depths, it must be
added, she had peeped long enough to find herself suddenly draw back. It was not Milly's unpacified state, in
short, that now troubled her−−though certainly, as Europe was the great American sedative, the failure was to
some extent to be noted: it was the suspected presence of something behind the state−−which, however, could
scarcely have taken its place there since their departure. What a fresh motive of unrest could suddenly have
sprung from was in short not to be divined. It was but half an explanation to say that excitement, for each of them,
had naturally dropped, and that what they had left behind, or tried to−−the great serious facts of life, as Mrs.
Stringham liked to call them−−was once more coming into sight as objects loom through (116) smoke when
smoke begins to clear; for these were general appearances from which the girl's own aspect, her really larger
vagueness, seemed rather to disconnect itself. The nearest approach to a personal anxiety indulged in as yet by the
elder lady was on her taking occasion to wonder if what she had more than anything else got hold of mightn't be
one of the finer, one of the finest, one of the rarest−−as she called it so that she might call it nothing worse−−cases
of American intensity. She had just had a moment of alarm−−asked herself if her young friend were merely going
to treat her to some complicated drama of nerves. At the end of a week, however, with their further progress, her
young friend had effectively answered the question and given her the impression, indistinct indeed as yet, of
something that had a reality compared with which the nervous explanation would have been coarse. Mrs.
Stringham found herself from that hour, in other words, in presence of an explanation that remained a muffled and
intangible form, but that assuredly, should it take on sharpness, would explain everything and more than
everything, would become instantly the light in which Milly was to be read.

Such a matter as this may at all events speak of the style in which our young woman could affect those who were
near her, may testify to the sort of interest she could inspire. She worked−−and seemingly quite without
design−−upon the sympathy, the curiosity, the fancy of her associates, and we shall really ourselves scarce
otherwise come closer to her than by feeling their impression and sharing, if need be, their confusion. She reduced
them, Mrs. Stringham would (117) have said, to a consenting bewilderment; which was precisely, for that good
lady, on a last analysis, what was most in harmony with her greatness. She exceeded, escaped measure, was
surprising only because THEY were so far from great. Thus it was that on this wondrous day by the Brunig the
spell of watching her had grown more than ever irresistible; a proof of what−−or of a part of what−−Mrs.
Stringham had, with all the rest, been reduced to. She had almost the sense of tracking her young friend as if at a

Book Third, Chapter 1                                                                                               39
                                              The Wings of the Dove
given moment to pounce. She knew she shouldn't pounce, she hadn't come out to pounce; yet she felt her attention
secretive, all the same, and her observation scientific. She struck herself as hovering like a spy, applying tests,
laying traps, concealing signs. This would last, however, only till she should fairly know what was the matter; and
to watch was after all, meanwhile, a way of clinging to the girl, not less than an occupation, a satisfaction in itself.
The pleasure of watching moreover, if a reason were needed, came from a sense of her beauty. Her beauty hadn't
at all originally seemed a part of the situation, and Mrs. Stringham had even in the first flush of friendship not
named it grossly to any one; having seen early that for stupid people−−and who, she sometimes secretly asked
herself, wasn't stupid?−−it would take a great deal of explaining. She had learned not to mention it till it was
mentioned first−−which occasionally happened, but not too often; and then she was there in force. Then she both
warmed to the perception that met her own perception, and disputed it, suspiciously, as to special items; while, in
general, she had learned (118) to refine even to the point of herself employing the word that most people
employed. She employed it to pretend she was also stupid and so have done with the matter; spoke of her friend
as plain, as ugly even, in a case of especially dense insistence; but as, in appearance, so "awfully full of things."
This was her own way of describing a face that, thanks doubtless to rather too much forehead, too much nose and
too much mouth, together with too little mere conventional colour and conventional line, was expressive,
irregular, exquisite, both for speech and for silence. When Milly smiled it was a public event−−when she didn't it
was a chapter of history. They had stopped on the Brunig for luncheon, and there had come up for them under the
charm of the place the question of a longer stay.

Mrs. Stringham was now on the ground of thrilled recognitions, small sharp echoes of a past which she kept in a
well−thumbed case, but which, on pressure of a spring and exposure to the air, still showed itself ticking as hard
as an honest old watch. The embalmed "Europe" of her younger time had partly stood for three years of
Switzerland, a term of continuous school at Vevey, with rewards of merit in the form of silver medals tied by blue
ribbons and mild mountain−passes attacked with alpenstocks. It was the good girls who, in the holidays, were
taken highest, and our friend could now judge, from what she supposed her familiarity with the minor peaks, that
she had been one of the best. These reminiscences, sacred to−day because prepared in the hushed chambers of the
past, had been part of the general train laid for (119) the pair of sisters, daughters early fatherless, by their brave
Vermont mother, who struck her at present as having apparently, almost like Columbus, worked out, all
unassisted, a conception of the other side of the globe. She had focussed Vevey, by the light of nature and with
extraordinary completeness, at Burlington; after which she had embarked, sailed, landed, explored and, above all,
made good her presence. She had given her daughters the five years in Switzerland and Germany that were to
leave them ever afterwards a standard of comparison for all cycles of Cathay, and to stamp the younger in
especial−−Susan was the younger−−with a character, that, as Mrs. Stringham had often had occasion, through life,
to say to herself, made all the difference. It made all the difference for Mrs. Stringham, over and over again and in
the most remote connexions, that, thanks to her parent's lonely thrifty hardy faith, she was a woman of the world.
There were plenty of women who were all sorts of things that she wasn't, but who, on the other hand, were not
that, and who didn't know SHE was (which she liked−−it relegated them still further) and didn't know either how
it enabled her to judge them. She had never seen herself so much in this light as during the actual phase of her
associated, if slightly undirected, pilgrimage; and the consciousness gave perhaps to her plea for a pause more
intensity than she knew. The irrecoverable days had come back to her from far off; they were part of the sense of
the cool upper air and of everything else that hung like an indestructible scent to the torn garment of youth−−the
taste of honey and the luxury of milk, the sound of (120) cattle−bells and the rush of streams, the fragrance of
trodden balms and the dizziness of deep gorges.

Milly clearly felt these things too, but they affected her companion at moments−−that was quite the way Mrs.
Stringham would have expressed it−−as the princess in a conventional tragedy might have affected the confidant
if a personal emotion had ever been permitted to the latter. That a princess could only be a princess was a truth
with which, essentially, a confidant, however responsive, had to live. Mrs. Stringham was a woman of the world,
but Milly Theale was a princess, the only one she had yet had to deal with, and this, in its way too, made all the
difference. It was a perfectly definite doom for the wearer−−it was for every one else an office nobly filled. It
might have represented possibly, with its involved loneliness and other mysteries, the weight under which she

Book Third, Chapter 1                                                                                                40
                                              The Wings of the Dove
fancied her companion's admirable head occasionally, and ever so submissively, bowed. Milly had quite assented
at luncheon to their staying over, and had left her to look at rooms, settle questions, arrange about their keeping on
their carriage and horses; cares that had now moreover fallen to Mrs. Stringham as a matter of course and that yet
for some reason, on this occasion particularly, brought home to her−−all agreeably, richly, almost grandly−−what
it was to live with the great. Her young friend had in a sublime degree a sense closed to the general question of
difficulty, which she got rid of furthermore not in the least as one had seen many charming persons do, by merely
passing it on to others. She kept it completely at a distance: it never entered the circle; (121) the most plaintive
confidant couldn't have dragged it in; and to tread the path of a confidant was accordingly to live exempt. Service
was in other words so easy to render that the whole thing was like court life without the hardships. It came back of
course to the question of money, and our observant lady had by this time repeatedly reflected that if one were
talking of the "difference," it was just this, this incomparably and nothing else, that when all was said and done
most made it. A less vulgarly, a less obviously purchasing or parading person she couldn't have imagined; but it
prevailed even as the truth of truths that the girl couldn't get away from her wealth. She might leave her
conscientious companion as freely alone with it as possible and never ask a question, scarce even tolerate a
reference; but it was in the fine folds of the helplessly expensive little black frock that she drew over the grass as
she now strolled vaguely off; it was in the curious and splendid coils of hair, "done" with no eye whatever to the
mode du jour, that peeped from under the corresponding indifference of her hat, the merely personal tradition that
suggested a sort of noble inelegance; it lurked between the leaves of the uncut but antiquated Tauchnitz volume of
which, before going out, she had mechanically possessed herself. She couldn't dress it away, nor walk it away, nor
read it away, nor think it away; she could neither smile it away in any dreamy absence nor blow it away in any
softened sigh. She couldn't have lost it if she had tried−−that was what it was to be really rich. It had to be THE
thing you were. When at the end of an hour she hadn't (122) returned to the house Mrs. Stringham, though the
bright afternoon was yet young, took, with precautions, the same direction, went to join her in case of her caring
for a walk. But the purpose of joining her was in truth less distinct than that of a due regard for a possibly
preferred detachment: so that, once more, the good lady proceeded with a quietness that made her slightly
"underhand" even in her own eyes. She couldn't help that, however, and she didn't care, sure as she was that what
she really wanted wasn't to overstep but to stop in time. It was to be able to stop in time that she went softly, but
she had on this occasion further to go than ever yet, for she followed in vain, and at last with some anxiety, the
footpath she believed Milly to have taken. It wound up a hillside and into the higher Alpine meadows in which,
all these last days, they had so often wanted, as they passed above or below, to stray; and then it obscured itself in
a wood, but always going up, up, and with a small cluster of brown old high−perched chalets evidently for its
goal. Mrs. Stringham reached in due course the chalets, and there received from a bewildered old woman, a very
fearful person to behold, an indication that sufficiently guided her. The young lady had been seen not long before
passing further on, over a crest and to a place where the way would drop again, as our unappeased enquirer found
it in fact, a quarter of an hour later, markedly and almost alarmingly to do. It led somewhere, yet apparently quite
into space, for the great side of the mountain appeared, from where she pulled up, to fall away altogether, though
probably but to some issue below and (123) out of sight. Her uncertainty moreover was brief, for she next became
aware of the presence on a fragment of rock, twenty yards off, of the Tauchnitz volume the girl had brought out
and that therefore pointed to her shortly previous passage. She had rid herself of the book, which was an
encumbrance, and meant of course to pick it up on her return; but as she hadn't yet picked it up what on earth had
become of her? Mrs. Stringham, I hasten to add, was within a few moments to see; but it was quite an accident
that she hadn't, before they were over, betrayed by her deeper agitation the fact of her own nearness.

The whole place, with the descent of the path and as a sequel to a sharp turn that was masked by rocks and shrubs,
appeared to fall precipitously and to become a "view" pure and simple, a view of great extent and beauty, but
thrown forward and vertiginous. Milly, with the promise of it from just above, had gone straight down to it, not
stopping till it was all before her; and here, on what struck her friend as the dizzy edge of it, she was seated at her
ease. The path somehow took care of itself and its final business, but the girl's seat was a slab of rock at the end of
a short promontory or excrescence that merely pointed off to the right at gulfs of air and that was so placed by
good fortune, if not by the worst, as to be at last completely visible. For Mrs. Stringham stifled a cry on taking in
what she believed to be the danger of such a perch for a mere maiden; her liability to slip, to slide, to leap, to be

Book Third, Chapter 1                                                                                               41
                                              The Wings of the Dove
precipitated by a single false movement, by a turn of the head−−how could one tell?−−into whatever was beneath.
A thousand thoughts, (124) for the minute, roared in the poor lady's ears, but without reaching, as happened,
Milly's. It was a commotion that left our observer intensely still and holding her breath. What had first been
offered her was the possibility of a latent intention−−however wild the idea−−in such a posture; of some betrayed
accordance of Milly's caprice with a horrible hidden obsession. But since Mrs. Stringham stood as motionless as if
a sound, a syllable, must have produced the start that would be fatal, so even the lapse of a few seconds had partly
a reassuring effect. It gave her time to receive the impression which, when she some minutes later softly retraced
her steps, was to be the sharpest she carried away. This was the impression that if the girl was deeply and
recklessly meditating there she wasn't meditating a jump; she was on the contrary, as she sat, much more in a state
of uplifted and unlimited possession that had nothing to gain from violence. She was looking down on the
kingdoms of the earth, and though indeed that of itself might well go to the brain, it wouldn't be with a view of
renouncing them. Was she choosing among them or did she want them all? This question, before Mrs. Stringham
had decided what to do, made others vain; in accordance with which she saw, or believed she did, that if it might
be dangerous to call out, to sound in any way a surprise, it would probably be safe enough to withdraw as she had
come. She watched a while longer, she held her breath, and she never knew afterwards what time had elapsed.

Not many minutes probably, yet they hadn't seemed few, and they had given her so much to think (125) of, not
only while creeping home, but while waiting afterwards at the inn, that she was still busy with them when, late in
the afternoon, Milly reappeared. She had stopped at the point of the path where the Tauchnitz lay, had taken it up
and, with the pencil attached to her watch−guard, had scrawled a word−−a bientot!−−across the cover; after
which, even under the girl's continued delay, she had measured time without a return of alarm. For she now saw
that the great thing she had brought away was precisely a conviction that the future wasn't to exist for her princess
in the form of any sharp or simple release from the human predicament. It wouldn't be for her a question of a
flying leap and thereby of a quick escape. It would be a question of taking full in the face the whole assault of life,
to the general muster of which indeed her face might have been directly presented as she sat there on her rock.
Mrs. Stringham was thus able to say to herself during still another wait of some length that if her young friend
still continued absent it wouldn't be because−−whatever the opportunity−−she had cut short the thread. She
wouldn't have committed suicide; she knew herself unmistakeably reserved for some more complicated passage;
this was the very vision in which she had, with no little awe, been discovered. The image that thus remained with
the elder lady kept the character of a revelation. During the breathless minutes of her watch she had seen her
companion afresh; the latter's type, aspect, marks, her history, her state, her beauty, her mystery, all unconsciously
betrayed themselves to the Alpine air, and all had been gathered in again (126) to feed Mrs. Stringham's flame.
They are things that will more distinctly appear for us, and they are meanwhile briefly represented by the
enthusiasm that was stronger on our friend's part than any doubt. It was a consciousness she was scarce yet used
to carrying, but she had as beneath her feet a mine of something precious. She seemed to herself to stand near the
mouth, not yet quite cleared. The mine but needed working and would certainly yield a treasure. She wasn't
thinking, either, of Milly's gold.

Book Third, Chapter 2
The girl said nothing, when they met, about the words scrawled on the Tauchnitz, and Mrs. Stringham then
noticed that she hadn't the book with her. She had left it lying and probably would never remember it at all. Her
comrade's decision was therefore quickly made not to speak of having followed her; and within five minutes of
her return, wonderfully enough, the preoccupation denoted by her forgetfulness further declared itself. "Should
you think me quite abominable if I were to say that after all−−?"

Mrs. Stringham had already thought, with the first sound of the question, everything she was capable of thinking,
and had immediately made such a sign that Milly's words gave place to visible relief at her assent. "You don't care
for our stop here−−you'd rather go straight on? We'll start then with the peep of tomorrow's dawn−−or as early as
you like; it's only rather late now to take the road again." And she smiled to show how she meant it for a joke that


Book Third, Chapter 2                                                                                               42
                                             The Wings of the Dove
an instant onward rush was what the girl would have wished. "I bullied you into stopping," she added; "so it
serves me right."

Milly made in general the most of her good friend's jokes; but she humoured this one a little absently. "Oh yes,
you do bully me." And it was thus arranged between them, with no discussion at all, that (128) they would resume
their journey in the morning. The younger tourist's interest in the detail of the matter−−in spite of a declaration
from the elder that she would consent to be dragged anywhere−−appeared almost immediately afterwards quite to
lose itself; she promised, however, to think till supper of where, with the world all before them, they might
go−−supper having been ordered for such time as permitted of lighted candles. It had been agreed between them
that lighted candles at wayside inns, in strange countries, amid mountain scenery, gave the evening meal a
peculiar poetry−−such being the mild adventures, the refinements of impression, that they, as they would have
said, went in for. It was now as if, before this repast, Milly had designed to "lie down"; but at the end of three
minutes more she wasn't lying down, she was saying instead, abruptly, with a transition that was like a jump of
four thousand miles: "What was it that, in New York, on the ninth, when you saw him alone, Doctor Finch said to
you?"

It was not till later that Mrs. Stringham fully knew why the question had startled her still more than its suddenness
explained; though the effect of it even at the moment was almost to frighten her into a false answer. She had to
think, to remember the occasion, the "ninth," in New York, the time she had seen Doctor Finch alone, and to
recall the words he had then uttered; and when everything had come back it was quite, at first, for a moment, as if
he had said something that immensely mattered. He hadn't, however, in fact; it was only as if he might perhaps
after all have been going to. It was on the sixth−−within ten (129) days of their sailing−−that she had hurried from
Boston under the alarm, a small but a sufficient shock, of hearing that Mildred had suddenly been taken ill, had
had, from some obscure cause, such an upset as threatened to stay their journey. The bearing of the accident had
happily soon presented itself as slight, and there had been in the event but a few hours of anxiety; the journey had
been pronounced again not only possible, but, as representing "change," highly advisable; and if the zealous guest
had had five minutes by herself with the Doctor this was clearly no more at his instance than at her own. Almost
nothing had passed between them but an easy exchange of enthusiasms in respect to the remedial properties of
"Europe"; and due assurance, as the facts came back to her, she was now able to give. "Nothing whatever, on my
word of honour, that you mayn't know or mightn't then have known. I've no secret with him about you. What
makes you suspect it? I don't quite make out how you know I did see him alone."

"No−−you never told me," said Milly. "And I don't mean," she went on, "during the twenty−four hours while I
was bad, when your putting your heads together was natural enough. I mean after I was better−−the last thing
before you went home."

Mrs. Stringham continued to wonder. "Who told you I saw him then?"

"HE didn't himself−−nor did you write me it afterwards. We speak of it now for the first time. That's exactly
why!" Milly declared−−with something in her face and voice that, the next moment, (130) betrayed for her
companion that she had really known nothing, had only conjectured and, chancing her charge, made a hit. Yet
why had her mind been busy with the question? "But if you're not, as you now assure me, in his confidence," she
smiled, "it's no matter."

"I'm not in his confidence−−he had nothing to confide. But are you feeling unwell?"

The elder woman was earnest for the truth, though the possibility she named was not at all the one that seemed to
fit−−witness the long climb Milly had just indulged in. The girl showed her constant white face, but this her
friends had all learned to discount, and it was often brightest when superficially not bravest. She continued for a
little mysteriously to smile. "I don't know−−haven't really the least idea. But it might be well to find out."


Book Third, Chapter 2                                                                                             43
                                              The Wings of the Dove

Mrs. Stringham at this flared into sympathy. "Are you in trouble−−in pain?"

"Not the least little bit. But I sometimes wonder−−!"

"Yes"−−she pressed: "wonder what?"

"Well, if I shall have much of it."

Mrs. Stringham stared. "Much of what? Not of pain?"

"Of everything. Of everything I have."

Anxiously again, tenderly, our friend cast about. "You 'have' everything; so that when you say 'much' of it−−"

"I only mean," the girl broke in, "shall I have it for long? That is if I HAVE got it."

She had at present the effect, a little, of confounding, (131) or at least of perplexing her comrade, who was
touched, who was always touched, by something helpless in her grace and abrupt in her turns, and yet actually
half made out in her a sort of mocking light. "If you've got an ailment?"

"If I've got everything," Milly laughed.

"Ah THAT−−like almost nobody else."

"Then for how long?"

Mrs. Stringham's eyes entreated her; she had gone close to her, half−enclosed her with urgent arms. "Do you want
to see some one?" And then as the girl only met it with a slow headshake, though looking perhaps a shade more
conscious: "We'll go straight to the best near doctor." This too, however, produced but a gaze of qualified assent
and a silence, sweet and vague, that left everything open. Our friend decidedly lost herself. "Tell me, for God's
sake, if you're in distress."

"I don't think I've really EVERYTHING," Milly said as if to explain−−and as if also to put it pleasantly.

"But what on earth can I do for you?"

The girl debated, then seemed on the point of being able to say; but suddenly changed and expressed herself
otherwise. "Dear, dear thing−−I'm only too happy!"

It brought them closer, but it rather confirmed Mrs. Stringham's doubt. "Then what's the matter?"

"That's the matter−−that I can scarcely bear it."

"But what is it you think you haven't got?"

Milly waited another moment; then she found it, and found for it a dim show of joy. "The power to resist the bliss
of what I HAVE!"

(132) Mrs. Stringham took it in−−her sense of being "put off" with it, the possible, probable irony of it−−and her
tenderness renewed itself in the positive grimness of a long murmur. "Whom will you see?"−−for it was as if they
looked down from their height at a continent of doctors. "Where will you first go?"

Book Third, Chapter 2                                                                                            44
                                              The Wings of the Dove
Milly had for the third time her air of consideration; but she came back with it to her plea of some minutes before.
"I'll tell you at supper−−good−bye till then." And she left the room with a lightness that testified for her
companion to something that again particularly pleased her in the renewed promise of motion. The odd passage
just concluded, Mrs. Stringham mused as she once more sat alone with a hooked needle and a ball of silk, the
"fine" work with which she was always provided−−this mystifying mood had simply been precipitated, no doubt,
by their prolonged halt, with which the girl hadn't really been in sympathy. One had only to admit that her
complaint was in fact but the excess of the joy of life, and everything DID then fit. She couldn't stop for the joy,
but she could go on for it, and with the pulse of her going on she floated again, was restored to her great spaces.
There was no evasion of any truth−−so at least Susan Shepherd hoped−−in one's sitting there while the twilight
deepened and feeling still more finely that the position of this young lady was magnificent. The evening at that
height had naturally turned to cold, and the travellers had bespoken a fire with their meal; the great Alpine road
asserted its brave presence through the small panes of the low clean windows, with incidents at the inn−door, the
(133) yellow diligence, the great waggons, the hurrying hooded private conveyances, reminders, for our fanciful
friend, of old stories, old pictures, historic flights, escapes, pursuits, things that had happened, things indeed that
by a sort of strange congruity helped her to read the meanings of the greatest interest into the relation in which she
was now so deeply involved. It was natural that this record of the magnificence of her companion's position
should strike her as after all the best meaning she could extract; for she herself was seated in the magnificence as
in a court−carriage−−she came back to that, and such a method of progression, such a view from crimson
cushions, would evidently have a great deal more to give. By the time the candles were lighted for supper and the
short white curtains drawn Milly had reappeared, and the little scenic room had then all its romance. That charm
moreover was far from broken by the words in which she, without further loss of time, satisfied her patient mate.
"I want to go straight to London."

It was unexpected, corresponding with no view positively taken at their departure; when England had appeared,
on the contrary, rather relegated and postponed−−seen for the moment, as who should say, at the end of an avenue
of preparations and introductions. London, in short, might have been supposed to be the crown, and to be
achieved, like a siege, by gradual approaches. Milly's actual fine stride was therefore the more exciting, as any
simplification almost always was to Mrs. Stringham; who, besides, was afterwards to recall as a piece of that very
"exposition" dear to the dramatist the terms in (134) which, between their smoky candles, the girl had put her
preference and in which still other things had come up, come while the clank of waggon−chains in the sharp air
reached their ears, with the stamp of hoofs, the rattle of buckets and the foreign questions, foreign answers, that
were all alike a part of the cheery converse of the road. The girl brought it out in truth as she might have brought a
huge confession, something she admitted herself shy about and that would seem to show her as frivolous; it had
rolled over her that what she wanted of Europe was "people," so far as they were to be had, and that, if her friend
really wished to know, the vision of this same equivocal quantity was what had haunted her during their previous
days, in museums and churches, and what was again spoiling for her the pure taste of scenery. She was all for
scenery−−yes; but she wanted it human and personal, and all she could say was that there would be in
London−−wouldn't there?−−more of that kind than anywhere else. She came back to her idea that if it wasn't for
long−−if nothing should happen to be so for HER−−why the particular thing she spoke of would probably have
most to give her in the time, would probably be less than anything else a waste of her remainder. She produced
this last consideration indeed with such gaiety that Mrs. Stringham was not again disconcerted by it, was in fact
quite ready−−if talk of early dying was in order−−to match it from her own future. Good, then; they would eat and
drink because of what might happen to−morrow; and they would direct their course from that moment with a
view to such eating and drinking. (135) They ate and drank that night, in truth, as in the spirit of this decision;
whereby the air, before they separated, felt itself the clearer.

It had cleared perhaps to a view only too extensive−−extensive, that is, in proportion to the signs of life presented.
The idea of "people" was not so entertained on Milly's part as to connect itself with particular persons, and the
fact remained for each of the ladies that they would, completely unknown, disembark at Dover amid the
completely unknowing. They had no relation already formed; this plea Mrs. Stringham put forward to see what it
would produce. It produced nothing at first but the observation on the girl's side that what she had in mind was no

Book Third, Chapter 2                                                                                               45
                                              The Wings of the Dove
thought of society nor of scraping acquaintance; nothing was further from her than to desire the opportunities
represented for the compatriot in general by a trunkful of "letters." It wasn't a question, in short, of the people the
compatriot was after; it was the human, the English picture itself, as they might see it in their own way−−the
concrete world inferred so fondly from what one had read and dreamed. Mrs. Stringham did every justice to this
concrete world, but when later on an occasion chanced to present itself she made a point of not omitting to remark
that it might be a comfort to know in advance one or two of the human particles of its concretion. This still,
however, failed, in vulgar parlance, to "fetch" Milly, so that she had presently to go all the way. "Haven't I
understood from you, for that matter, that you gave Mr. Densher something of a promise?"

There was a moment, on this, when Milly's look (136) had to be taken as representing one of two things−−either
that she was completely vague about the promise or that Mr. Densher's name itself started no train. But she really
couldn't be so vague about the promise, the partner of these hours quickly saw, without attaching it to something;
it had to be a promise to somebody in particular to be so repudiated. In the event, accordingly, she acknowledged
Mr. Merton Densher, the so unusually "bright" young Englishman who had made his appearance in New York on
some special literary business−−wasn't it?−−shortly before their departure, and who had been three or four times
in her house during the brief period between her visit to Boston and her companion's subsequent stay with her; but
she required much reminding before it came back to her that she had mentioned to this companion just afterwards
the confidence expressed by the personage in question in her never doing so dire a thing as to come to London
without, as the phrase was, looking a fellow up. She had left him the enjoyment of his confidence, the form of
which might have appeared a trifle free−−this she now reasserted; she had done nothing either to impair or to
enhance it; but she had also left Mrs. Stringham, in the connexion and at the time, rather sorry to have missed Mr.
Densher. She had thought of him again after that, the elder woman; she had likewise gone so far as to notice that
Milly appeared not to have done so−−which the girl might easily have betrayed; and, interested as she was in
everything that concerned her, she had made out for herself, for herself only and rather idly, that, but for
interruptions, the young (137) Englishman might have become a better acquaintance. His being an acquaintance at
all was one of the signs that in the first days had helped to place Milly, as a young person with the world before
her, for sympathy and wonder. Isolated, unmothered, unguarded, but with her other strong marks, her big house,
her big fortune, her big freedom, she had lately begun to "receive," for all her few years, as an older woman might
have done−−as was done, precisely, by princesses who had public considerations to observe and who came of age
very early. If it was thus distinct to Mrs. Stringham then that Mr. Densher had gone off somewhere else in
connexion with his errand before her visit to New York, it had been also not undiscoverable that he had come
back for a day or two later on, that is after her own second excursion−−that he had in fine reappeared on a single
occasion on his way to the West: his way from Washington as she believed, though he was out of sight at the time
of her joining her friend for their departure. It hadn't occurred to her before to exaggerate−−it had not occurred to
her that she could; but she seemed to become aware to−night that there had been just enough in this relation to
meet, to provoke, the free conception of a little more.

She presently put it that, at any rate, promise or no promise, Milly would at a pinch be able, in London, to act on
his permission to make him a sign; to which Milly replied with readiness that her ability, though evident, would
be none the less quite wasted, inasmuch as the gentleman would to a certainty be still in America. He had a great
deal to do there−−which he (138) would scarce have begun; and in fact she might very well not have thought of
London at all if she hadn't been sure he wasn't yet near coming back. It was perceptible to her companion that the
moment our young woman had so far committed herself she had a sense of having overstepped; which was not
quite patched up by her saying the next minute, possibly with a certain failure of presence of mind, that the last
thing she desired was the air of running after him. Mrs. Stringham wondered privately what question there could
be of any such appearance−−the danger of which thus suddenly came up; but she said for the time nothing of
it−−she only said other things: one of which was, for instance, that if Mr. Densher was away he was away, and
this the end of it: also that of course they must be discreet at any price. But what was the measure of discretion,
and how was one to be sure? So it was that, as they sat there, she produced her own case: SHE had a possible tie
with London, which she desired as little to disown as she might wish to risk presuming on it. She treated her
companion, in short, for their evening's end, to the story of Maud Manningham, the odd but interesting English

Book Third, Chapter 2                                                                                               46
                                               The Wings of the Dove
girl who had formed her special affinity in the old days at the Vevey school; whom she had written to, after their
separation, with a regularity that had at first faltered and then altogether failed, yet that had been for the time quite
a fine case of crude constancy; so that it had in fact flickered up again of itself on the occasion of the marriage of
each. They had then once more fondly, scrupulously written−−Mrs. Lowder first; and even another letter or two
had afterwards passed. (139) This, however, had been the end−−though with no rupture, only a gentle drop: Maud
Manningham had made, she believed, a great marriage, while she herself had made a small; on top of which,
moreover, distance, difference, diminished community and impossible reunion had done the rest of the work. It
was but after all these years that reunion had begun to show as possible−−if the other party to it, that is, should be
still in existence. That was exactly what it now appeared to our friend interesting to ascertain, as, with one aid and
another, she believed she might. It was an experiment she would at all events now make if Milly didn't object.

Milly in general objected to nothing, and though she asked a question or two she raised no present plea. Her
questions−−or at least her own answers to them−−kindled on Mrs. Stringham's part a backward train: she hadn't
known till to−night how much she remembered, or how fine it might be to see what had become of large
high−coloured Maud, florid, alien, exotic−−which had been just the spell−−even to the perceptions of youth.
There was the danger−−she frankly touched it−−that such a temperament mightn't have matured, with the years,
all in the sense of fineness: it was the sort of danger that, in renewing relations after long breaks, one had always
to look in the face. To gather in strayed threads was to take a risk−−for which, however, she was prepared if Milly
was. The possible "fun," she confessed, was by itself rather tempting; and she fairly sounded, with this−−wound
up a little as she was−−the note of fun as the harmless final right of fifty years of mere (140) New England virtue.
Among the things she was afterwards to recall was the indescribable look dropped on her, at that, by her
companion; she was still seated there between the candles and before the finished supper, while Milly moved
about, and the look was long to figure for her as an inscrutable comment on HER notion of freedom. Challenged,
at any rate, as for the last wise word, Milly showed perhaps, musingly, charmingly, that, though her attention had
been mainly soundless, her friend's story−−produced as a resource unsuspected, a card from up the
sleeve−−half−surprised, half−beguiled her. Since the matter, such as it was, depended on that, she brought out
before she went to bed an easy, a light "Risk everything!"

This quality in it seemed possibly a little to deny weight to Maud Lowder's evoked presence−−as Susan
Stringham, still sitting up, became, in excited reflexion, a trifle more conscious. Something determinant, when the
girl had left her, took place in her−−nameless but, as soon as she had given way, coercive. It was as if she knew
again, in this fulness of time, that she had been, after Maud's marriage, just sensibly outlived or, as people
nowadays said, shunted. Mrs. Lowder had left her behind, and on the occasion, subsequently, of the
corresponding date in her own life−−not the second, the sad one, with its dignity of sadness, but the first, with the
meagreness of its supposed felicity−−she had been, in the same spirit, almost patronisingly pitied. If that
suspicion, even when it had ceased to matter, had never quite died out for her, there was doubtless some oddity in
its (141) now offering itself as a link, rather than as another break, in the chain; and indeed there might well have
been for her a mood in which the notion of the development of patronage in her quondam schoolmate would have
settled her question in another sense. It was actually settled−−if the case be worth our analysis−−by the happy
consummation, the poetic justice, the generous revenge, of her having at last something to show. Maud, on their
parting company, had appeared to have so much, and would now−−for wasn't it also in general quite the rich law
of English life?−−have, with accretions, promotions, expansions, ever so much more. Very good; such things
might be; she rose to the sense of being ready for them. Whatever Mrs. Lowder might have to show−−and one
hoped one did the presumptions all justice−−she would have nothing like Milly Theale, who constituted the
trophy producible by poor Susan. Poor Susan lingered late−−till the candles were low, and as soon as the table
was cleared she opened her neat portfolio. She hadn't lost the old clue; there were connexions she remembered,
addresses she could try; so the thing was to begin. She wrote on the spot.




Book Third, Chapter 2                                                                                                 47
                                             The Wings of the Dove

Book Fourth, Chapter 1
It had all gone so fast after this that Milly uttered but the truth nearest to hand in saying to the gentleman on her
right−−who was, by the same token, the gentleman on her hostess's left−−that she scarce even then knew where
she was: the words marking her first full sense of a situation really romantic. They were already dining, she and
her friend, at Lancaster Gate, and surrounded, as it seemed to her, with every English accessory; though her
consciousness of Mrs. Lowder's existence, and still more of her remarkable identity, had been of so recent and so
sudden a birth. Susie, as she was apt to call her companion for a lighter change, had only had to wave a neat little
wand for the fairy−tale to begin at once; in consequence of which Susie now glittered−−for, with Mrs.
Stringham's new sense of success, it came to that−−in the character of a fairy godmother. Milly had almost
insisted on dressing her, for the present occasion, as one; and it was no fault of the girl's if the good lady hadn't
now appeared in a peaked hat, a short petticoat and diamond shoe−buckles, brandishing the magic crutch. The
good lady bore herself in truth not less contentedly than if these insignia had marked her work; and Milly's
observation to Lord Mark had doubtless just been the result of such a light exchange of looks with her as even the
great length of the table (146) couldn't baffle. There were twenty persons between them, but this sustained
passage was the sharpest sequel yet to that other comparison of views during the pause on the Swiss pass. It
almost appeared to Milly that their fortune had been unduly precipitated−−as if properly they were in the position
of having ventured on a small joke and found the answer out of proportion grave. She couldn't at this moment for
instance have said whether, with her quickened perceptions, she were more enlivened or oppressed; and the case
might in fact have been serious hadn't she, by good fortune, from the moment the picture loomed, quickly made
up her mind that what finally most concerned her was neither to seek nor to shirk, wasn't even to wonder too
much, but was to let things come as they would, since there was little enough doubt of how they would go.

Lord Mark had been brought to her before dinner−−not by Mrs. Lowder, but by the handsome girl, that lady's
niece, who was now at the other end and on the same side as Susie; he had taken her in, and she meant presently
to ask him about Miss Croy, the handsome girl, actually offered to her sight−−though now in a splendid
way−−but for the second time. The first time had been the occasion−−only three days before−−of her calling at
their hotel with her aunt and then making, for our other two heroines, a great impression of beauty and eminence.
This impression had remained so with Milly that at present, and although her attention was aware at the same time
of everything else, her eyes were mainly engaged with Kate Croy when not engaged with Susie. That (147)
wonderful creature's eyes moreover readily met them−−she ranked now as a wonderful creature; and it seemed
part of the swift prosperity of the American visitors that, so little in the original reckoning, she should yet appear
conscious, charmingly, frankly conscious, of possibilities of friendship for them. Milly had easily and, as a guest,
gracefully generalised: English girls had a special strong beauty which particularly showed in evening
dress−−above all when, as was strikingly the case with this one, the dress itself was what it should be. That
observation she had all ready for Lord Mark when they should, after a little, get round to it. She seemed even now
to see that there might be a good deal they would get round to; the indication being that, taken up once for all with
her other neighbour, their hostess would leave them much to themselves. Mrs. Lowder's other neighbour was the
Bishop of Murrum−−a real bishop, such as Milly had never seen, with a complicated costume, a voice like an
old−fashioned wind instrument, and a face all the portrait of a prelate; while the gentleman on our young lady's
left, a gentleman thick−necked, large and literal, who looked straight before him and as if he were not to be
diverted by vain words from that pursuit, clearly counted as an offset to the possession of Lord Mark. As Milly
made out these things−−with a shade of exhilaration at the way she already fell in−−she saw how she was
justified of her plea for people and her love of life. It wasn't then, as the prospect seemed to show, so difficult to
get into the current, or to stand at any rate on the bank. It was easy to get near−−if they WERE near; and yet the
(148) elements were different enough from any of her old elements, and positively rich and strange.

She asked herself if her right−hand neighbour would understand what she meant by such a description of them
should she throw it off; but another of the things to which precisely her sense was awakened was that no,
decidedly, he wouldn't. It was nevertheless by this time open to her that his line would be to be clever; and indeed,


Book Fourth, Chapter 1                                                                                             48
                                              The Wings of the Dove
evidently, no little of the interest was going to be in the fresh reference and fresh effect both of people's cleverness
and of their simplicity. She thrilled, she consciously flushed, and all to turn pale again, with the certitude−−it had
never been so present−−that she should find herself completely involved: the very air of the place, the pitch of the
occasion, had for her both so sharp a ring and so deep an undertone. The smallest things, the faces, the hands, the
jewels of the women, the sound of words, especially of names, across the table, the shape of the forks, the
arrangement of the flowers, the attitude of the servants, the walls of the room, were all touches in a picture and
denotements in a play; and they marked for her moreover her alertness of vision. She had never, she might well
believe, been in such a state of vibration; her sensibility was almost too sharp for her comfort: there were for
example more indications than she could reduce to order in the manner of the friendly niece, who struck her as
distinguished and interesting, as in fact surprisingly genial. This young woman's type had, visibly, other
possibilities; yet here, of its own free movement, it had already sketched a relation. Were they, Miss Croy and
she, (149) to take up the tale where their two elders had left it off so many years before?−−were they to find they
liked each other and to try for themselves whether a scheme of constancy on more modern lines could be worked?
She had doubted, as they came to England, of Maud Manningham, had believed her a broken reed and a vague
resource, had seen their dependence on her as a state of mind that would have been shamefully silly−−so far as it
WAS dependence−−had they wished to do anything so inane as "get into society." To have made their pilgrimage
all for the sake of such society as Mrs. Lowder might have in reserve for them−−that didn't bear thinking of at all,
and she herself had quite chosen her course for curiosity about other matters. She would have described this
curiosity as a desire to see the places she had read about, and THAT description of her motive she was prepared to
give her neighbour−−even though, as a consequence of it, he should find how little she had read. It was almost at
present as if her poor prevision had been rebuked by the majesty−−she could scarcely call it less−−of the event, or
at all events by the commanding character of the two figures (she could scarcely call THAT less either) mainly
presented. Mrs. Lowder and her niece, however dissimilar, had at least in common that each was a great reality.
That was true, primarily, of the aunt−−so true that Milly wondered how her own companion had arrived in other
years at so odd an alliance; yet she none the less felt Mrs. Lowder as a person of whom the mind might in two or
three days roughly make the circuit. She would sit there massive at least while one attempted it; whereas Miss
Croy, (150) the handsome girl, would indulge in incalculable movements that might interfere with one's tour. She
was the amusing resisting ominous fact, none the less, and each other person and thing was just such a fact; and it
served them right, no doubt, the pair of them, for having rushed into their adventure.

Lord Mark's intelligence meanwhile, however, had met her own quite sufficiently to enable him to tell her how
little he could clear up her situation. He explained, for that matter−−or at least he hinted−−that there was no such
thing to−day in London as saying where any one was. Every one was everywhere−−nobody was anywhere. He
should be put to it−−yes, frankly−−to give a name of any sort or kind to their hostess's "set." WAS it a set at all,
or wasn't it, and were there not really no such things as sets in the place any more?−−was there anything but the
groping and pawing, that of the vague billows of some great greasy sea in mid−Channel, of masses of bewildered
people trying to "get" they didn't know what or where? He threw out the question, which seemed large; Milly felt
that at the end of five minutes he had thrown out a great many, though he followed none more than a step or two;
perhaps he would prove suggestive, but he helped her as yet to no discriminations: he spoke as if he had given
them up from too much knowledge. He was thus at the opposite extreme from herself, but, as a consequence of it,
also wandering and lost; and he was furthermore, for all his temporary incoherence, to which she guessed there
would be some key, as packed a concretion as either Mrs. Lowder or Kate. The only light in which he (151)
placed the former of these ladies was that of an extraordinary woman−−a most extraordinary woman, and "the
more extraordinary the more one knows her," while of the latter he said nothing for the moment but that she was
tremendously, yes, quite tremendously, good−looking. It was some time, she thought, before his talk showed his
cleverness, and yet each minute she believed in that mystery more, quite apart from what her hostess had told her
on first naming him. Perhaps he was one of the cases she had heard of at home−−those characteristic cases of
people in England who concealed their play of mind so much more than they advertised it. Even Mr. Densher a
little did that. And what made Lord Mark, at any rate, so real either, when this was a trick he had apparently so
mastered? His type somehow, as by a life, a need, an intention of its own, took all care for vividness off his hands;
that was enough. It was difficult to guess his age−−whether he were a young man who looked old or an old man

Book Fourth, Chapter 1                                                                                               49
                                              The Wings of the Dove
who looked young; it seemed to prove nothing, as against other things, that he was bald and, as might have been
said, slightly stale, or, more delicately perhaps, dry: there was such a fine little fidget of preoccupied life in him,
and his eyes, at moments−−though it was an appearance they could suddenly lose−−were as candid and clear as
those of a pleasant boy. Very neat, very light, and so fair that there was little other indication of his moustache
than his constantly feeling it−−which was again boyish−−he would have affected her as the most intellectual
person present if he had not affected her as the most frivolous. The latter quality was (152) rather in his look than
in anything else, though he constantly wore his double eye−glass, which was, much more, Bostonian and
thoughtful.

The idea of his frivolity had, no doubt, to do with his personal designation, which represented−−as yet, for our
young woman, a little confusedly−−a connexion with an historic patriciate, a class that in turn, also confusedly,
represented an affinity with a social element she had never heard otherwise described than as "fashion." The
supreme social element in New York had never known itself but as reduced to that category, and though Milly
was aware that, as applied to a territorial and political aristocracy, the label was probably too simple, she had for
the time none other at hand. She presently, it is true, enriched her idea with the perception that her interlocutor
was indifferent; yet this, indifferent as aristocracies notoriously were, saw her but little further, inasmuch as she
felt that, in the first place, he would much rather get on with her than not, and in the second was only thinking of
too many matters of his own. If he kept her in view on the one hand and kept so much else on the other−−the way
he crumbed up his bread was a proof−−why did he hover before her as a potentially insolent noble? She couldn't
have answered the question, and it was precisely one of those that swarmed. They were complicated, she might
fairly have said, by his visibly knowing, having known from afar off, that she was a stranger and an American,
and by his none the less making no more of it than if she and her like were the chief of his diet. He took her,
kindly enough, but imperturbably, irreclaimably, (153) for granted, and it wouldn't in the least help that she
herself knew him, as quickly, for having been in her country and threshed it out. There would be nothing for her
to explain or attenuate or brag about; she could neither escape nor prevail by her strangeness; he would have, for
that matter, on such a subject, more to tell her than to learn from her. She might learn from HIM why she was so
different from the handsome girl−−which she didn't know, being merely able to feel it; or at any rate might learn
from him why the handsome girl was so different from her.

On these lines, however, they would move later; the lines immediately laid down were, in spite of his vagueness
for his own convenience, definite enough. She was already, he observed to her, thinking what she should say on
her other side−−which was what Americans were always doing. She needn't in conscience say anything at all; but
Americans never knew that, nor ever, poor creatures, yes (SHE had interposed the "poor creatures!") what not to
do. The burdens they took on−−the things, positively, they made an affair of! This easy and after all friendly jibe
at her race was really for her, on her new friend's part, the note of personal recognition so far as she required it;
and she gave him a prompt and conscious example of morbid anxiety by insisting that her desire to be, herself,
"lovely" all round was justly founded on the lovely way Mrs. Lowder had met her. He was directly interested in
that, and it was not till afterwards she fully knew how much more information about their friend he had taken than
given. Here again for instance was a characteristic note: she had, (154) on the spot, with her first plunge into the
obscure depths of a society constituted from far back, encountered the interesting phenomenon of complicated, of
possibly sinister motive. However, Maud Manningham (her name, even in her presence, somehow still fed the
fancy) HAD, all the same, been lovely, and one was going to meet her now quite as far on as one had one's self
been met. She had been with them at their hotel−−they were a pair−−before even they had supposed she could
have got their letter. Of course indeed they had written in advance, but they had followed that up very fast. She
had thus engaged them to dine but two days later, and on the morrow again, without waiting for a return visit,
without waiting for anything, she had called with her niece. It was as if she really cared for them, and it was
magnificent fidelity−−fidelity to Mrs. Stringham, her own companion and Mrs. Lowder's former schoolmate, the
lady with the charming face and the rather high dress down there at the end.

Lord Mark took in through his nippers these balanced attributes of Susie. "But isn't Mrs. Stringham's fidelity then
equally magnificent?"

Book Fourth, Chapter 1                                                                                               50
                                               The Wings of the Dove

"Well, it's a beautiful sentiment; but it isn't as if she had anything to GIVE."

"Hasn't she got you?" Lord Mark asked without excessive delay.

"Me−−to give Mrs. Lowder?" Milly had clearly not yet seen herself in the light of such an offering. "Oh I'm rather
a poor present; and I don't feel as if, even at that, I had as yet quite been given."

"You've been shown, and if our friend has jumped (155) at you it comes to the same thing." He made his jokes,
Lord Mark, without amusement for himself; yet it wasn't that he was grim. "To be seen, you must recognise, IS,
for you, to be jumped at; and, if it's a question of being shown, here you are again. Only it has now been taken out
of your friend's hands; it's Mrs. Lowder already who's getting the benefit. Look round the table, and you'll make
out, I think, that you're being, from top to bottom, jumped at."

"Well then," said Milly, "I seem also to feel that I like it better than being made fun of."

It was one of the things she afterwards saw−−Milly was for ever seeing things afterwards−−that her companion
had here had some way of his own, quite unlike any one's else, of assuring her of his consideration. She wondered
how he had done it, for he had neither apologised nor protested. She said to herself at any rate that he had led her
on; and what was most odd was the question by which he had done so. "Does she know much about you?"

"No, she just likes us."

Even for this his travelled lordship, seasoned and saturated, had no laugh. "I mean YOU particularly. Has that
lady with the charming face, which IS charming, told her?"

Milly cast about. "Told her what?"

"Everything."

This, with the way he dropped it, again considerably moved her−−made her feel for a moment that as a matter of
course she was a subject for disclosures. But she quickly found her answer. "Oh as for that you must ask HER."

(156) "Your clever companion?"

"Mrs. Lowder."

He replied to this that their hostess was a person with whom there were certain liberties one never took, but that
he was none the less fairly upheld, inasmuch as she was for the most part kind to him and as, should he be very
good for a while, she would probably herself tell him. "And I shall have at any rate in the meantime the interest of
seeing what she does with you. That will teach me more or less, you see, how much she knows."

Milly followed this−−it was lucid, but it suggested something apart. "How much does she know about YOU?"

"Nothing," said Lord Mark serenely. "But that doesn't matter−−for what she does with me." And then as to
anticipate Milly's question about the nature of such doing: "This for instance−−turning me straight on for YOU."

The girl thought. "And you mean she wouldn't if she did know−−?"

He met it as if it were really a point. "No. I believe, to do her justice, she still would. So you can be easy."

Milly had the next instant then acted on the permission. "Because you're even at the worst the best thing she has?"

Book Fourth, Chapter 1                                                                                             51
                                              The Wings of the Dove
With this he was at last amused. "I was till you came. You're the best now."

It was strange his words should have given her the sense of his knowing, but it was positive that they did so, and
to the extent of making her believe them, (157) though still with wonder. That really from this first of their
meetings was what was most to abide with her: she accepted almost helplessly−−she surrendered so to the
inevitable in it−−being the sort of thing, as he might have said, that he at least thoroughly believed he had, in
going about, seen enough of for all practical purposes. Her submission was naturally moreover not to be impaired
by her learning later on that he had paid at short intervals, though at a time apparently just previous to her own
emergence from the obscurity of extreme youth, three separate visits to New York, where his nameable friends
and his contrasted contacts had been numerous. His impression, his recollection of the whole mixed quantity, was
still visibly rich. It had helped him to place her, and she was more and more sharply conscious of having−−as with
the door sharply slammed upon her and the guard's hand raised in signal to the train−−been popped into the
compartment in which she was to travel for him. It was a use of her that many a girl would have been doubtless
quick to resent; and the kind of mind that thus, in our young lady, made all for mere seeing and taking is precisely
one of the charms of our subject. Milly had practically just learned from him, had made out, as it were, from her
rumbling compartment, that he gave her the highest place among their friend's actual properties. She was a
success, that was what it came to, he presently assured her, and this was what it was to be a success; it always
happened before one could know it. One's ignorance was in fact often the greatest part of it. "You haven't had
time yet," he said; "this is nothing. (158) But you'll see. You'll see everything. You CAN, you know−−everything
you dream of."

He made her more and more wonder; she almost felt as if he were showing her visions while he spoke; and
strangely enough, though it was visions that had drawn her on, she hadn't had them in connexion−−that is in such
preliminary and necessary connexion−−with such a face as Lord Mark's, such eyes and such a voice, such a tone
and such a manner. He had for an instant the effect of making her ask herself if she were after all going to be
afraid; so distinct was it for fifty seconds that a fear passed over her. There they were again−−yes, certainly:
Susie's overture to Mrs. Lowder had been their joke, but they had pressed in that gaiety an electric bell that
continued to sound. Positively while she sat there she had the loud rattle in her ears, and she wondered during
these moments why the others didn't hear it. They didn't stare, they didn't smile, and the fear in her that I speak of
was but her own desire to stop it. That dropped, however, as if the alarm itself had ceased; she seemed to have
seen in a quick though tempered glare that there were two courses for her, one to leave London again the first
thing in the morning, the other to do nothing at all. Well, she would do nothing at all; she was already doing it;
more than that, she had already done it, and her chance was gone. She gave herself up−−she had the strangest
sense, on the spot, of so deciding; for she had turned a corner before she went on again with Lord Mark.
Inexpressive but intensely significant, he met as no one else could have done the very question she had suddenly
put to Mrs. (159) Stringham on the Brunig. Should she have it, whatever she did have, that question had been, for
long? "Ah so possibly not," her neighbour appeared to reply; "therefore, don't you see? I'M the way." It was vivid
that he might be, in spite of his absence of flourish; the way being doubtless just IN that absence. The handsome
girl, whom she didn't lose sight of and who, she felt, kept her also in view−−Mrs. Lowder's striking niece would
perhaps be the way as well, for in her too was the absence of flourish, though she had little else, so far as one
could tell, in common with Lord Mark. Yet how indeed COULD one tell, what did one understand, and of what
was one, for that matter, provisionally conscious but of their being somehow together in what they represented?
Kate Croy, fine but friendly, looked over at her as really with a guess at Lord Mark's effect on her. If she could
guess this effect what then did she know about it and in what degree had she felt it herself? Did that represent, as
between them, anything particular, and should she have to count with them as duplicating, as intensifying by a
mutual intelligence, the relation into which she was sinking? Nothing was so odd as that she should have to
recognise so quickly in each of these glimpses of an instant the various signs of a relation; and this anomaly itself,
had she had more time to give to it, might well, might almost terribly have suggested to her that her doom was to
live fast. It was queerly a question of the short run and the consciousness proportionately crowded.



Book Fourth, Chapter 1                                                                                             52
                                               The Wings of the Dove
These were immense excursions for the spirit of a young person at Mrs. Lowder's mere dinner−party; (160) but
what was so significant and so admonitory as the fact of their being possible? What could they have been but just
a part, already, of the crowded consciousness? And it was just a part likewise that while plates were changed and
dishes presented and periods in the banquet marked; while appearances insisted and phenomena multiplied and
words reached her from here and there like plashes of a slow thick tide; while Mrs. Lowder grew somehow more
stout and more instituted and Susie, at her distance and in comparison, more thinly improvised and more
different−−different, that is, from every one and every thing: it was just a part that while this process went
forward our young lady alighted, came back, taking up her destiny again as if she had been able by a wave or two
of her wings to place herself briefly in sight of an alternative to it. Whatever it was it had showed in this brief
interval as better than the alternative; and it now presented itself altogether in the image and in the place in which
she had left it. The image was that of her being, as Lord Mark had declared, a success. This depended more or less
of course on his idea of the thing−−into which at present, however, she wouldn't go. But, renewing soon, she had
asked him what he meant then that Mrs. Lowder would do with her, and he had replied that this might safely be
left. "She'll get back," he pleasantly said, "her money." He could say it too−−which was singular−−without
affecting her either as vulgar or as "nasty"; and he had soon explained himself by adding: "Nobody here, you
know, does anything for nothing."

"Ah if you mean that we shall reward her as hard (161) as ever we can, nothing is more certain. But she's an
idealist," Milly continued, "and idealists, in the long run, I think, DON'T feel that they lose."

Lord Mark seemed, within the limits of his enthusiasm, to find this charming. "Ah she strikes you as an idealist?"

"She idealises US, my friend and me, absolutely. She sees us in a light," said Milly. "That's all I've got to hold on
by. So don't deprive me of it."

"I wouldn't think of such a thing for the world. But do you suppose," he continued as if it were suddenly important
for him−−"do you suppose she sees ME in a light?"

She neglected his question for a little, partly because her attention attached itself more and more to the handsome
girl, partly because, placed so near their hostess, she wished not to show as discussing her too freely. Mrs.
Lowder, it was true, steering in the other quarter a course in which she called at subjects as if they were islets in
an archipelago, continued to allow them their ease, and Kate Croy at the same time steadily revealed herself as
interesting. Milly in fact found of a sudden her ease−−found it all as she bethought herself that what Mrs. Lowder
was really arranging for was a report on her quality and, as perhaps might be said her value, from Lord Mark. She
wished him, the wonderful lady, to have no pretext for not knowing what he thought of Miss Theale. Why his
judgement so mattered remained to be seen; but it was this divination that in any case now determined Milly's
rejoinder. "No. She knows you. She has probably reason to. And you all here (162) know each other−−I see
that−−so far as you know anything. You know what you're used to, and it's your being used to it−−that, and that
only−−that makes you. But there are things you don't know."

He took it in as if it might fairly, to do him justice, be a point. "Things that i don't−−with all the pains I take and
the way I've run about the world to leave nothing unlearned?"

Milly thought, and it was perhaps the very truth of his claim−−its not being negligible−−that sharpened her
impatience and thereby her wit. "You're blase, but you're not enlightened. You're familiar with everything, but
conscious really of nothing. What I mean is that you've no imagination."

Lord Mark at this threw back his head, ranging with his eyes the opposite side of the room and showing himself at
last so much more flagrantly diverted that it fairly attracted their hostess's notice. Mrs. Lowder, however, only
smiled on Milly for a sign that something racy was what she had expected, and resumed, with a splash of her
screw, her cruise among the islands. "Oh I've heard that," the young man replied, "before!"

Book Fourth, Chapter 1                                                                                                53
                                              The Wings of the Dove

"There it is then. You've heard everything before. You've heard ME of course before, in my country, often
enough."

"Oh never too often," he protested. "I'm sure I hope I shall still hear you again and again."

"But what good then has it done you?" the girl went on as if now frankly to amuse him.

"Oh you'll see when you know me."

"But most assuredly I shall never know you."

(163) "Then that will be exactly," he laughed, "the good!"

If it established thus that they couldn't or wouldn't mix, why did Milly none the less feel through it a perverse
quickening of the relation to which she had been in spite of herself appointed? What queerer consequence of their
not mixing than their talking−−for it was what they had arrived at−−almost intimately? She wished to get away
from him, or indeed, much rather, away from herself so far as she was present to him. She saw
already−−wonderful creature, after all, herself too−−that there would be a good deal more of him to come for her,
and that the special sign of their intercourse would be to keep herself out of the question. Everything else might
come in−−only never that; and with such an arrangement they would perhaps even go far. This in fact might quite
have begun, on the spot, with her returning again to the topic of the handsome girl. If she was to keep herself out
she could naturally best do so by putting in somebody else. She accordingly put in Kate Croy, being ready to that
extent−−as she was not at all afraid for her−−to sacrifice her if necessary. Lord Mark himself, for that matter, had
made it easy by saying a little while before that no one among them did anything for nothing. "What then"−−she
was aware of being abrupt−−"does Miss Croy, if she's so interested, do it for? What has she to gain by HER
lovely welcome? Look at her NOW!" Milly broke out with characteristic freedom of praise, though pulling herself
up also with a compunctious "Oh!" as the direction thus given to their eyes happened to coincide (164) with a turn
of Kate's face to them. All she had meant to do was to insist that this face was fine; but what she had in fact done
was to renew again her effect of showing herself to its possessor as conjoined with Lord Mark for some interested
view of it. He had, however, promptly met her question.

"To gain? Why your acquaintance."

"Well, what's my acquaintance to HER? She can care for me−−she must feel that−−only by being sorry for me;
and that's why she's lovely: to be already willing to take the trouble to be. It's the height of the disinterested."

There were more things in this than one that Lord Mark might have taken up; but in a minute he had made his
choice. "Ah then I'm nowhere, for I'm afraid I'M not sorry for you in the least. What do you make then," he asked,
"of your success?"

"Why just the great reason of all. It's just because our friend there sees it that she pities me. She understands,"
Milly said; "she's better than any of you. She's beautiful."

He appeared struck with this at last−−with the point the girl made of it; to which she came back even after a
diversion created by a dish presented between them. "Beautiful in character, I see. IS she so? You must tell me
about her."

Milly wondered. "But haven't you known her longer than I? Haven't you seen her for yourself?"

"No−−I've failed with her. It's no use. I don't make her out. And I assure you I really should like to." His
assurance had in fact for his companion a positive suggestion of sincerity; he affected her as (165) now saying

Book Fourth, Chapter 1                                                                                                 54
                                             The Wings of the Dove
something he did feel; and she was the more struck with it as she was still conscious of the failure even of
curiosity he had just shown in respect to herself. She had meant something−−though indeed for herself almost
only−−in speaking of their friend's natural pity; it had doubtless been a note of questionable taste, but it had
quavered out in spite of her and he hadn't so much as cared to enquire "Why 'natural'?" Not that it wasn't really
much better for her that he shouldn't: explanations would in truth have taken her much too far. Only she now
perceived that, in comparison, her word about this other person really "drew" him; and there were things in that
probably, many things, as to which she would learn more and which glimmered there already as part and parcel of
that larger "real" with which, in her new situation, she was to be beguiled. It was in fact at the very moment, this
element, not absent from what Lord Mark was further saying. "So you're wrong, you see, as to our knowing all
about each other. There are cases where we break down. I at any rate give HER up−−up, that is, to you. You must
do her for me−−tell me, I mean, when you know more. You'll notice," he pleasantly wound up, "that I've
confidence in you."

"Why shouldn't you have?" Milly asked, observing in this, as she thought, a fine, though for such a man a
surprisingly artless, fatuity. It was as if there might have been a question of her falsifying for the sake of her own
show−−that is of the failure of her honesty to be proof against her desire to keep well with him herself. She didn't,
none the less, otherwise (166) protest against his remark; there was something else she was occupied in seeing. It
was the handsome girl alone, one of his own species and his own society, who had made him feel uncertain; of his
certainties about a mere little American, a cheap exotic, imported almost wholesale and whose habitat, with its
conditions of climate, growth and cultivation, its immense profusion but its few varieties and thin development,
he was perfectly satisfied. The marvel was too that Milly understood his satisfaction−−feeling she expressed the
truth in presently saying: "Of course; I make out that she must be difficult; just as I see that I myself must be
easy." And that was what, for all the rest of this occasion, remained with her−−as the most interesting thing that
COULD remain. She was more and more content herself to be easy; she would have been resigned, even had it
been brought straighter home to her, to passing for a cheap exotic. Provisionally, at any rate, that protected her
wish to keep herself, with Lord Mark, in abeyance. They HAD all affected her as inevitably knowing each other,
and if the handsome girl's place among them was something even their initiation couldn't deal with−−why then
she would indeed be a quantity.

Book Fourth, Chapter 2
That sense of quantities, separate or mixed, was really, no doubt, what most prevailed at first for our slightly
gasping American pair; it found utterance for them in their frequent remark to each other that they had no one but
themselves to thank. It dropped from Milly more than once that if she had ever known it was so easy−−! though
her exclamation mostly ended without completing her idea. This, however, was a trifle to Mrs. Stringham, who
cared little whether she meant that in this case she would have come sooner. She couldn't have come sooner, and
she perhaps on the contrary meant−−for it would have been like her−−that she wouldn't have come at all; why it
was so easy being at any rate a matter as to which her companion had begun quickly to pick up views. Susie kept
some of these lights for the present to herself, since, freely communicated, they might have been a little
disturbing; with which, moreover, the quantities that we speak of as surrounding the two ladies were in many
cases quantities of things−−and of other things−−to talk about. Their immediate lesson accordingly was that they
just had been caught up by the incalculable strength of a wave that was actually holding them aloft and that would
naturally dash them wherever it liked. They meanwhile, we hasten to add, made the best of their precarious
position, and if Milly had had no other help (168) for it she would have found not a little in the sight of Susan
Shepherd's state. The girl had had nothing to say to her, for three days, about the "success" announced by Lord
Mark−−which they saw, besides, otherwise established; she was too taken up, too touched, by Susie's own
exaltation. Susie glowed in the light of her justified faith; everything had happened that she had been acute
enough to think least probable; she had appealed to a possible delicacy in Maud Manningham−−a delicacy, mind
you, but BARELY possible−−and her appeal had been met in a way that was an honour to human nature. This
proved sensibility of the lady of Lancaster Gate performed verily for both our friends during these first days the


Book Fourth, Chapter 2                                                                                             55
                                              The Wings of the Dove
office of a fine floating gold−dust, something that threw over the prospect a harmonising blur. The forms, the
colours behind it were strong and deep−−we have seen how they already stood out for Milly; but nothing,
comparatively, had had so much of the dignity of truth as the fact of Maud's fidelity to a sentiment. That was what
Susie was proud of, much more than of her great place in the world, which she was moreover conscious of not as
yet wholly measuring. That was what was more vivid even than her being−−in senses more worldly and in fact
almost in the degree of a revelation−−English and distinct and positive, with almost no inward but with the finest
outward resonance.

Susan Shepherd's word for her, again and again, was that she was "large"; yet it was not exactly a case, as to the
soul, of echoing chambers: she might have been likened rather to a capacious receptacle, (169) originally perhaps
loose, but now drawn as tightly as possible over its accumulated contents−−a packed mass, for her American
admirer, of curious detail. When the latter good lady, at home, had handsomely figured her friends as not
small−−which was the way she mostly figured them−−there was a certain implication that they were spacious
because they were empty. Mrs. Lowder, by a different law, was spacious because she was full, because she had
something in common, even in repose, with a projectile, of great size, loaded and ready for use. That indeed, to
Susie's romantic mind, announced itself as half the charm of their renewal−−a charm as of sitting in springtime,
during a long peace, on the daisied grassy bank of some great slumbering fortress. True to her psychological
instincts, certainly, Mrs. Stringham had noted that the "sentiment" she rejoiced in on her old schoolmate's part
was all a matter of action and movement, was not, save for the interweaving of a more frequent plump "dearest"
than she would herself perhaps have used, a matter of much other embroidery. She brooded with interest on this
further mark of race, feeling in her own spirit a different economy. The joy, for her, was to know why she
acted−−the reason was half the business; whereas with Mrs. Lowder there might have been no reason: "why" was
the trivial seasoning−substance, the vanilla or the nutmeg, omittable from the nutritive pudding without spoiling
it. Mrs. Lowder's desire was clearly sharp that their young companions should also prosper together; and Mrs.
Stringham's account of it all to Milly, during the first days, was that when, at Lancaster (170) Gate, she was not
occupied in telling, as it were, about her, she was occupied in hearing much of the history of her hostess's brilliant
niece.

They had plenty, on these lines, the two elder women, to give and to take, and it was even not quite clear to the
pilgrim from Boston that what she should mainly have arranged for in London was not a series of thrills for
herself. She had a bad conscience, indeed almost a sense of immorality, in having to recognise that she was, as
she said, carried away. She laughed to Milly when she also said that she didn't know where it would end; and the
principle of her uneasiness was that Mrs. Lowder's life bristled for her with elements that she was really having to
look at for the first time. They represented, she believed, the world, the world that, as a consequence of the cold
shoulder turned to it by the Pilgrim Fathers, had never yet boldly crossed to Boston−−it would surely have sunk
the stoutest Cunarder−−and she couldn't pretend that she faced the prospect simply because Milly had had a
caprice. She was in the act herself of having one, directed precisely to their present spectacle. She could but seek
strength in the thought that she had never had one−−or had never yielded to one, which came to the same
thing−−before. The sustaining sense of it all moreover as literary material−−that quite dropped from her. She must
wait, at any rate, she should see: it struck her, so far as she had got, as vast, obscure, lurid. She reflected in the
watches of the night that she was probably just going to love it for itself−−that is for itself and Milly. The odd
thing was that she could think of Milly's (171) loving it without dread−−or with dread at least not on the score of
conscience, only on the score of peace. It was a mercy at all events, for the hour, that their two spirits jumped
together.

While, for this first week that followed their dinner, she drank deep at Lancaster Gate, her companion was no less
happily, appeared to be indeed on the whole quite as romantically, provided for. The handsome English girl from
the heavy English house had been as a figure in a picture stepping by magic out of its frame: it was a case in truth
for which Mrs. Stringham presently found the perfect image. She had lost none of her grasp, but quite the
contrary, of that other conceit in virtue of which Milly was the wandering princess: so what could be more in
harmony now than to see the princess waited upon at the city gate by the worthiest maiden, the chosen daughter of

Book Fourth, Chapter 2                                                                                             56
                                              The Wings of the Dove
the burgesses? It was the real again, evidently, the amusement of the meeting for the princess too; princesses
living for the most part, in such an appeased way, on the plane of mere elegant representation. That was why they
pounced, at city gates, on deputed flower−strewing damsels; that was why, after effigies, processions and other
stately games, frank human company was pleasant to them. Kate Croy really presented herself to Milly−−the
latter abounded for Mrs. Stringham in accounts of it−−as the wondrous London girl in person (by what she had
conceived, from far back, of the London girl; conceived from the tales of travellers and the anecdotes of New
York, from old porings over _Punch_ and a liberal acquaintance with the fiction of the day). The only thing was
(172) that she was nicer, since the creature in question had rather been, to our young woman, an image of dread.
She had thought of her, at her best, as handsome just as Kate was, with turns of head and tones of voice, felicities
of stature and attitude, things "put on" and, for that matter, put off, all the marks of the product of a packed society
who should be at the same time the heroine of a strong story. She placed this striking young person from the first
in a story, saw her, by a necessity of the imagination, for a heroine, felt it the only character in which she wouldn't
be wasted; and this in spite of the heroine's pleasant abruptness, her forbearance from gush, her umbrellas and
jackets and shoes−−as these things sketched themselves to Milly−−and something rather of a breezy boy in the
carriage of her arms and the occasional freedom of her slang.

When Milly had settled that the extent of her good will itself made her shy, she had found for the moment quite a
sufficient key, and they were by that time thoroughly afloat together. This might well have been the happiest hour
they were to know, attacking in friendly independence their great London−−the London of shops and streets and
suburbs oddly interesting to Milly, as well as of museums, monuments, "sights" oddly unfamiliar to Kate, while
their elders pursued a separate course; these two rejoicing not less in their intimacy and each thinking the other's
young woman a great acquisition for her own. Milly expressed to Susan Shepherd more than once that Kate had
some secret, some smothered trouble, besides all the rest of her history; and that if (173) she had so
good−naturedly helped Mrs. Lowder to meet them this was exactly to create a diversion, to give herself something
else to think about. But on the case thus postulated our young American had as yet had no light: she only felt that
when the light should come it would greatly deepen the colour; and she liked to think she was prepared for
anything. What she already knew moreover was full, to her vision, of English, of eccentric, of Thackerayan
character−−Kate Croy having gradually become not a little explicit on the subject of her situation, her past, her
present, her general predicament, her small success, up to the present hour, in contenting at the same time her
father, her sister, her aunt and herself. It was Milly's subtle guess, imparted to her Susie, that the girl had
somebody else as well, as yet unnamed, to content−−it being manifest that such a creature couldn't help having; a
creature not perhaps, if one would, exactly formed to inspire passions, since that always implied a certain
silliness, but essentially seen, by the admiring eye of friendship, under the clear shadow of some probably
eminent male interest. The clear shadow, from whatever source projected, hung at any rate over Milly's
companion the whole week, and Kate Croy's handsome face smiled out of it, under bland skylights, in the
presence alike of old masters passive in their glory and of thoroughly new ones, the newest, who bristled
restlessly with pins and brandished snipping shears.

It was meanwhile a pretty part of the intercourse of these young ladies that each thought the other more
remarkable than herself−−that each thought (174) herself, or assured the other she did, a comparatively dusty
object and the other a favourite of nature and of fortune and covered thereby with the freshness of the morning.
Kate was amused, amazed, at the way her friend insisted on "taking" her, and Milly wondered if Kate were
sincere in finding her the most extraordinary−−quite apart from her being the most charming−−person she had
come across. They had talked, in long drives, and quantities of history had not been wanting−−in the light of
which Mrs. Lowder's niece might superficially seem to have had the best of the argument. Her visitor's American
references, with their bewildering immensities, their confounding moneyed New York, their excitements of high
pressure, their opportunities of wild freedom, their record of used−up relatives, parents, clever eager fair slim
brothers−−these the most loved−−all engaged, as well as successive superseded guardians, in a high extravagance
of speculation and dissipation that had left this exquisite being her black dress, her white face and her vivid hair as
the mere last broken link: such a picture quite threw into the shade the brief biography, however sketchily
amplified, of a mere middle−class nobody in Bayswater. And though that indeed might be but a Bayswater way of

Book Fourth, Chapter 2                                                                                               57
                                              The Wings of the Dove
putting it, in addition to which Milly was in the stage of interest in Bayswater ways, this critic so far prevailed
that, like Mrs. Stringham herself, she fairly got her companion to accept from her that she was quite the nearest
approach to a practical princess Bayswater could hope ever to know. It was a fact−−it became one at the end of
three days−−that Milly actually (175) began to borrow from the handsome girl a sort of view of her state; the
handsome girl's impression of it was clearly so sincere. This impression was a tribute, a tribute positively to
power, power the source of which was the last thing Kate treated as a mystery. There were passages, under all
their skylights, the succession of their shops being large, in which the latter's easy yet the least bit dry manner
sufficiently gave out that if SHE had had so deep a pocket−−!

It was not moreover by any means with not having the imagination of expenditure that she appeared to charge her
friend, but with not having the imagination of terror, of thrift, the imagination or in any degree the habit of a
conscious dependence on others. Such moments, when all Wigmore Street, for instance, seemed to rustle about
and the pale girl herself to be facing the different rustlers, usually so undiscriminated, as individual Britons too,
Britons personal, parties to a relation and perhaps even intrinsically remarkable−−such moments in especial
determined for Kate a perception of the high happiness of her companion's liberty. Milly's range was thus
immense; she had to ask nobody for anything, to refer nothing to any one; her freedom, her fortune and her fancy
were her law; an obsequious world surrounded her, she could sniff up at every step its fumes. And Kate, these
days, was altogether in the phase of forgiving her so much bliss; in the phase moreover of believing that, should
they continue to go on together, she would abide in that generosity. She had at such a point as this no suspicion of
a rift within the lute−−by which we mean not only none (176) of anything's coming between them, but none of
any definite flaw in so much clearness of quality. Yet, all the same, if Milly, at Mrs. Lowder's banquet, had
described herself to Lord Mark as kindly used by the young woman on the other side because of some faintly−felt
special propriety in it, so there really did match with this, privately, on the young woman's part, a feeling not
analysed but divided, a latent impression that Mildred Theale was not, after all, a person to change places, to
change even chances with. Kate, verily, would perhaps not quite have known what she meant by this
discrimination, and she came near naming it only when she said to herself that, rich as Milly was, one probably
wouldn't−−which was singular−−ever hate her for it. The handsome girl had, with herself, these felicities and
crudities: it wasn't obscure to her that, without some very particular reason to help, it might have proved a test of
one's philosophy not to be irritated by a mistress of millions, or whatever they were, who, as a girl, so easily might
have been, like herself, only vague and cruelly female. She was by no means sure of liking Aunt Maud as much as
SHE deserved, and Aunt Maud's command of funds was obviously inferior to Milly's. There was thus clearly, as
pleading for the latter, some influence that would later on become distinct; and meanwhile, decidedly, it was
enough that she was as charming as she was queer and as queer as she was charming−−all of which was a rare
amusement; as well, for that matter, as further sufficient that there were objects of value she had already pressed
on Kate's acceptance. A week of her society (177) in these conditions−−conditions that Milly chose to sum up as
ministering immensely, for a blind vague pilgrim, to aid and comfort−−announced itself from an early hour as
likely to become a week of presents, acknowledgements, mementoes, pledges of gratitude and admiration, that
were all on one side. Kate as promptly embraced the propriety of making it clear that she must forswear shops till
she should receive some guarantee that the contents of each one she entered as a humble companion shouldn't be
placed at her feet; yet that was in truth not before she had found herself in possession, under whatever protests, of
several precious ornaments and other minor conveniences.

Great was the absurdity too that there should have come a day, by the end of the week, when it appeared that all
Milly would have asked in definite "return," as might be said, was to be told a little about Lord Mark and to be
promised the privilege of a visit to Mrs. Condrip. Far other amusements had been offered her, but her eagerness
was shamelessly human, and she seemed really to count more on the revelation of the anxious lady at Chelsea
than on the best nights of the opera. Kate admired, and showed it, such an absence of fear: to the fear of being
bored in such a connexion she would have been so obviously entitled. Milly's answer to this was the plea of her
curiosities−−which left her friend wondering as to their odd direction. Some among them, no doubt, were rather
more intelligible, and Kate had heard without wonder that she was blank about Lord Mark. This young lady's
account of him, at the same time, professed (178) itself frankly imperfect; for what they best knew him by at

Book Fourth, Chapter 2                                                                                                58
                                              The Wings of the Dove
Lancaster Gate was a thing difficult to explain. One knew people in general by something they had to show,
something that, either for them or against, could be touched or named or proved; and she could think of no other
case of a value taken as so great and yet flourishing untested. His value was his future, which had somehow got
itself as accepted by Aunt Maud as if it had been his good cook or his steamlaunch. She, Kate, didn't mean she
thought him a humbug; he might do great things−−but they were as yet, so to speak, all he had done. On the other
hand it was of course something of an achievement, and not open to every one, to have got one's self taken so
seriously by Aunt Maud. The best thing about him doubtless, on the whole, was that Aunt Maud believed in him.
She was often fantastic, but she knew a humbug, and−−no, Lord Mark wasn't that. He had been a short time in the
House, on the Tory side, but had lost his seat on the first opportunity, and this was all he had to point to.
However, he pointed to nothing; which was very possibly just a sign of his real cleverness, one of those that the
really clever had in common with the really void. Even Aunt Maud frequently admitted that there was a good
deal, for her view of him, to bring up the rear. And he wasn't meanwhile himself indifferent−−indifferent to
himself−−for he was working Lancaster Gate for all it was worth: just as it was, no doubt, working him, and just
as the working and the worked were in London, as one might explain, the parties to every relation.

(179) Kate did explain, for her listening friend; every one who had anything to give−−it was true they were the
fewest−−made the sharpest possible bargain for it, got at least its value in return. The strangest thing furthermore
was that this might be in cases a happy understanding. The worker in one connexion was the worked in another; it
was as broad as it was long−−with the wheels of the system, as might be seen, wonderfully oiled. People could
quite like each other in the midst of it, as Aunt Maud, by every appearance, quite liked Lord Mark, and as Lord
Mark, it was to be hoped, liked Mrs. Lowder, since if he didn't he was a greater brute than one could believe. She,
Kate, hadn't yet, it was true, made out what he was doing for her−−besides which the dear woman needed him,
even at the most he could do, much less than she imagined; so far as all of which went, moreover, there were
plenty of things on every side she hadn't yet made out. She believed, on the whole, in any one Aunt Maud took
up; and she gave it to Milly as worth thinking of that, whatever wonderful people this young lady might meet in
the land, she would meet no more extraordinary woman. There were greater celebrities by the million, and of
course greater swells, but a bigger PERSON, by Kate's view, and a larger natural handful every way, would really
be far to seek. When Milly enquired with interest if Kate's belief in HER was primarily on the lines of what Mrs.
Lowder "took up," her interlocutress could handsomely say yes, since by the same principle she believed in
herself. Whom but Aunt Maud's niece, pre−eminently, had Aunt Maud taken up, and who (180) was thus more in
the current, with her, of working and of being worked? "You may ask," Kate said, "what in the world i have to
give; and that indeed is just what I'm trying to learn. There must be something, for her to think she can get it out
of me. She WILL get it−−trust her; and then I shall see what it is; which I beg you to believe I should never have
found out for myself." She declined to treat any question of Milly's own "paying" power as discussable; that Milly
would pay a hundred per cent−−and even to the end, doubtless, through the nose−−was just the beautiful basis on
which they found themselves.

These were fine facilities, pleasantries, ironies, all these luxuries of gossip and philosophies of London and of life,
and they became quickly, between the pair, the common form of talk, Milly professing herself delighted to know
that something was to be done with her. If the most remarkable woman in England was to do it, so much the
better, and if the most remarkable woman in England had them both in hand together why what could be jollier
for each? When she reflected indeed a little on the oddity of her wanting two at once Kate had the natural reply
that it was exactly what showed her sincerity. She invariably gave way to feeling, and feeling had distinctly
popped up in her on the advent of her girlhood's friend. The way the cat would jump was always, in presence of
anything that moved her, interesting to see; visibly enough, moreover, it hadn't for a long time jumped anything
like so far. This in fact, as we already know, remained the marvel for Milly Theale, who, on sight of Mrs. Lowder,
had found fifty links in respect to (181) Susie absent from the chain of association. She knew so herself what she
thought of Susie that she would have expected the lady of Lancaster Gate to think something quite different; the
failure of which endlessly mystified her. But her mystification was the cause for her of another fine impression,
inasmuch as when she went so far as to observe to Kate that Susan Shepherd−−and especially Susan Shepherd
emerging so uninvited from an irrelevant past−−ought by all the proprieties simply to have bored Aunt Maud, her

Book Fourth, Chapter 2                                                                                              59
                                              The Wings of the Dove
confidant agreed to this without a protest and abounded in the sense of her wonder. Susan Shepherd at least bored
the niece−−that was plain; this young woman saw nothing in her−−nothing to account for anything, not even for
Milly's own indulgence: which little fact became in turn to the latter's mind a fact of significance. It was a light on
the handsome girl−−representing more than merely showed−−that poor Susie was simply as nought to her. This
was in a manner too a general admonition to poor Susie's companion, who seemed to see marked by it the
direction in which she had best most look out. It just faintly rankled in her that a person who was good enough
and to spare for Milly Theale shouldn't be good enough for another girl; though, oddly enough, she could easily
have forgiven Mrs. Lowder herself the impatience. Mrs. Lowder didn't feel it, and Kate Croy felt it with ease; yet
in the end, be it added, she grasped the reason, and the reason enriched her mind. Wasn't it sufficiently the reason
that the handsome girl was, with twenty other splendid qualities, the least bit brutal too, and didn't she (182)
suggest, as no one yet had ever done for her new friend, that there might be a wild beauty in that, and even a
strange grace? Kate wasn't brutally brutal−−which Milly had hitherto benightedly supposed the only way; she
wasn't even aggressively so, but rather indifferently, defensively and, as might be said, by the habit of
anticipation. She simplified in advance, was beforehand with her doubts, and knew with singular quickness what
she wasn't, as they said in New York, going to like. In that way at least people were clearly quicker in England
than at home; and Milly could quite see after a little how such instincts might become usual in a world in which
dangers abounded. There were clearly more dangers roundabout Lancaster Gate than one suspected in New York
or could dream of in Boston. At all events, with more sense of them, there were more precautions, and it was a
remarkable world altogether in which there could be precautions, on whatever ground, against Susie.

Book Fourth, Chapter 3
She certainly made up with Susie directly, however, for any allowance she might have had privately to extend to
tepid appreciation; since the late and long talks of these two embraced not only everything offered and suggested
by the hours they spent apart, but a good deal more besides. She might be as detached as the occasion required at
four o'clock in the afternoon, but she used no such freedom to any one about anything as she habitually used about
everything to Susan Shepherd at midnight. All the same, it should with much less delay than this have been
mentioned, she hadn't yet−−hadn't, that is, at the end of six days−−produced any news for her comrade to compare
with an announcement made her by the latter as a result of a drive with Mrs. Lowder, for a change, in the
remarkable Battersea Park. The elder friends had sociably revolved there while the younger ones followed bolder
fancies in the admirable equipage appointed to Milly at the hotel−−a heavier, more emblazoned, more amusing
chariot than she had ever, with "stables" notoriously mismanaged, known at home; whereby, in the course of the
circuit, more than once repeated, it had "come out," as Mrs. Stringham said, that the couple at Lancaster Gate
were, of all people, acquainted with Mildred's other English friend, the gentleman, the one connected with the
English newspaper (Susie hung (184) fire a little over his name) who had been with her in New York so shortly
previous to present adventures. He had been named of course in Battersea Park−−else he couldn't have been
identified; and Susie had naturally, before she could produce her own share in the matter as a kind of confession,
to make it plain that her allusion was to Mr. Merton Densher. This was because Milly had at first a little air of not
knowing whom she meant; and the girl really kept, as well, a certain control of herself while she remarked that the
case was surprising, the chance one in a thousand. They knew him, both Maud and Miss Croy knew him, she
gathered too, rather well, though indeed it wasn't on any show of intimacy that he had happened to be mentioned.
It hadn't been−−Susie made the point−−she herself who brought him in: he had in fact not been brought in at all,
but only referred to as a young journalist known to Mrs. Lowder and who had lately gone to their wonderful
country−−Mrs. Lowder always said "your wonderful country"−−on behalf of his journal. But Mrs. Stringham had
taken it up−−with the tips of her fingers indeed; and that was the confession: she had, without meaning any harm,
recognised Mr. Densher as an acquaintance of Milly's, though she had also pulled herself up before getting in too
far. Mrs. Lowder had been struck, clearly−−it wasn't too much to say; then she also, it had rather seemed, had
pulled herself up; and there had been a little moment during which each might have been keeping something from
the other. "Only," said Milly's informant, "I luckily remembered in time that I had nothing whatever to (185)
keep−−which was much simpler and nicer. I don't know what Maud has, but there it is. She was interested,


Book Fourth, Chapter 3                                                                                              60
                                              The Wings of the Dove
distinctly, in your knowing him−−in his having met you over there with so little loss of time. But I ventured to tell
her it hadn't been so long as to make you as yet great friends. I don't know if I was right."

Whatever time this explanation might have taken, there had been moments enough in the matter now−−before the
elder woman's conscience had done itself justice−−to enable Milly to reply that although the fact in question
doubtless had its importance she imagined they wouldn't find the importance overwhelming. It WAS odd that
their one Englishman should so instantly fit; it wasn't, however, miraculous−−they surely all had often seen how
extraordinarily "small," as every one said, was the world. Undoubtedly also Susie had done just the plain thing in
not letting his name pass. Why in the world should there be a mystery?−−and what an immense one they would
appear to have made if he should come back and find they had concealed their knowledge of him! "I don't know,
Susie dear," the girl observed, "what you think I have to conceal."

"It doesn't matter, at a given moment," Mrs. Stringham returned, "what you know or don't know as to what I
think; for you always find out the very next minute, and when you do find out, dearest, you never REALLY care.
Only," she presently asked, "have you heard of him from Miss Croy?"

"Heard of Mr. Densher? Never a word. We haven't mentioned him. Why should we?"

(186) "That YOU haven't I understand; but that your friend hasn't," Susie opined, "may mean something."

"May mean what?"

"Well," Mrs. Stringham presently brought out, "I tell you all when I tell you that Maud asks me to suggest to you
that it may perhaps be better for the present not to speak of him: not to speak of him to her niece, that is, unless
she herself speaks to you first. But Maud thinks she won't."

Milly was ready to engage for anything; but in respect to the facts−−as they so far possessed them−−it all sounded
a little complicated. "Is it because there's anything between them?"

"No−−I gather not; but Maud's state of mind is precautionary. She's afraid of something. Or perhaps it would be
more correct to say she's afraid of everything."

"She's afraid, you mean," Milly asked, "of their−−a−−liking each other?"

Susie had an intense thought and then an effusion. "My dear child, we move in a labyrinth."

"Of course we do. That's just the fun of it!" said Milly with a strange gaiety. Then she added: "Don't tell me
that−−in this for instance−−there are not abysses. I want abysses."

Her friend looked at her−−it was not unfrequently the case−−a little harder than the surface of the occasion
seemed to require; and another person present at such times might have wondered to what inner thought of her
own the good lady was trying to fit the speech. It was too much her disposition, no doubt, (187) to treat her young
companion's words as symptoms of an imputed malady. It was none the less, however, her highest law to be light
when the girl was light. She knew how to be quaint with the new quaintness−−the great Boston gift; it had been
happily her note in the magazines; and Maud Lowder, to whom it was new indeed and who had never heard
anything remotely like it, quite cherished her, as a social resource, by reason of it. It shouldn't therefore fail her
now; with it in fact one might face most things. "Ah then let us hope we shall sound the depths−−I'm prepared for
the worst−−of sorrow and sin! But she would like her niece−−we're not ignorant of that, are we?−−to marry Lord
Mark. Hasn't she told you so?"

"Hasn't Mrs. Lowder told me?"

Book Fourth, Chapter 3                                                                                             61
                                             The Wings of the Dove
"No; hasn't Kate? It isn't, you know, that she doesn't know it."

Milly had, under her comrade's eyes, a minute of mute detachment. She had lived with Kate Croy for several days
in a state of intimacy as deep as it had been sudden, and they had clearly, in talk, in many directions, proceeded to
various extremities. Yet it now came over her as in a clear cold wave that there was a possible account of their
relations in which the quantity her new friend had told her might have figured as small, as smallest, beside the
quantity she hadn't. She couldn't say at any rate whether or no Kate had made the point that her aunt designed her
for Lord Mark: it had only sufficiently come out−−which had been, moreover, eminently guessable−−that she was
involved in her aunt's designs. Somehow, (188) for Milly, brush it over nervously as she might and with whatever
simplifying hand, this abrupt extrusion of Mr. Densher altered all proportions, had an effect on all values. It was
fantastic of her to let it make a difference that she couldn't in the least have defined−−and she was at least, even
during these instants, rather proud of being able to hide, on the spot, the difference it did make. Yet all the same
the effect for her was, almost violently, of that gentleman's having been there−−having been where she had stood
till now in her simplicity−−before her. It would have taken but another free moment to make her see
abysses−−since abysses were what she wanted−−in the mere circumstance of his own silence, in New York, about
his English friends. There had really been in New York little time for anything; but, had she liked, Milly could
have made it out for herself that he had avoided the subject of Miss Croy and that Miss Croy was yet a subject it
could never be natural to avoid. It was to be added at the same time that even if his silence had been a
labyrinth−−which was absurd in view of all the other things too he couldn't possibly have spoken of−−this was
exactly what must suit her, since it fell under the head of the plea she had just uttered to Susie. These things,
however, came and went, and it set itself up between the companions, for the occasion, in the oddest way, both
that their happening all to know Mr. Densher−−except indeed that Susie didn't, but probably would−−was a fact
attached, in a world of rushing about, to one of the common orders of chance; and yet further that it was
amusing−−oh awfully amusing!−−to be able (189) fondly to hope that there was "something IN" its having been
left to crop up with such suddenness. There seemed somehow a possibility that the ground or, as it were, the air
might in a manner have undergone some pleasing preparation; though the question of this possibility would
probably, after all, have taken some threshing out. The truth, moreover−−and there they were, already, our pair,
talking about it, the "truth"!−−hadn't in fact quite cropped out. This, obviously, in view of Mrs. Lowder's request
to her old friend.

It was accordingly on Mrs. Lowder's recommendation that nothing should be said to Kate−−it was on all this
might cover in Aunt Maud that the idea of an interesting complication could best hope to perch; and when in fact,
after the colloquy we have reported, Milly saw Kate again without mentioning any name, her silence succeeded in
passing muster with her as the beginning of a new sort of fun. The sort was all the newer by its containing
measurably a small element of anxiety: when she had gone in for fun before it had been with her hands a little
more free. Yet it WAS, none the less, rather exciting to be conscious of a still sharper reason for interest in the
handsome girl, as Kate continued even now pre−eminently to remain for her; and a reason−−this was the great
point−−of which the young woman herself could have no suspicion. Twice over thus, for two or three hours
together, Milly found herself seeing Kate, quite fixing her, in the light of the knowledge that it was a face on
which Mr. Densher's eyes had more or less familiarly rested and which, by the same token, had looked, (190)
rather MORE beautifully than less, into his own. She pulled herself up indeed with the thought that it had
inevitably looked, as beautifully as one would, into thousands of faces in which one might one's self never trace it;
but just the odd result of the thought was to intensify for the girl that side of her friend which she had doubtless
already been more prepared than she quite knew to think of as the "other," the not wholly calculable. It was
fantastic, and Milly was aware of this; but the other side was what had, of a sudden, been turned straight toward
her by the show of Mr. Densher's propinquity. She hadn't the excuse of knowing it for Kate's own, since nothing
whatever as yet proved it particularly to be such. Never mind; it was with this other side now fully presented that
Kate came and went, kissed her for greeting and for parting, talked, as usual, of everything but−−as it had so
abruptly become for Milly−−THE thing. Our young woman, it is true, would doubtless not have tasted so sharply
a difference in this pair of occasions hadn't she been tasting so peculiarly her own possible betrayals. What
happened was that afterwards, on separation, she wondered if the matter hadn't mainly been that she herself was

Book Fourth, Chapter 3                                                                                            62
                                              The Wings of the Dove
so "other," so taken up with the unspoken; the strangest thing of all being, still subsequently, that when she asked
herself how Kate could have failed to feel it she became conscious of being here on the edge of a great darkness.
She should never know how Kate truly felt about anything such a one as Milly Theale should give her to feel.
Kate would never−−and not from ill will nor from duplicity, but from a sort of failure (191) of common
terms−−reduce it to such a one's comprehension or put it within her convenience.

It was as such a one, therefore, that, for three or four days more, Milly watched Kate as just such another; and it
was presently as such a one that she threw herself into their promised visit, at last achieved, to Chelsea, the
quarter of the famous Carlyle, the field of exercise of his ghost, his votaries, and the residence of "poor Marian,"
so often referred to and actually a somewhat incongruous spirit there. With our young woman's first view of poor
Marian everything gave way but the sense of how in England, apparently, the social situation of sisters could be
opposed, how common ground for a place in the world could quite fail them: a state of things sagely perceived to
be involved in an hierarchical, an aristocratic order. Just whereabouts in the order Mrs. Lowder had established
her niece was a question not wholly void as yet, no doubt, of ambiguity−−though Milly was withal sure Lord
Mark could exactly have fixed the point if he would, fixing it at the same time for Aunt Maud herself; but it was
clear Mrs. Condrip was, as might have been said, in quite another geography. She wouldn't have been to be found
on the same social map, and it was as if her visitors had turned over page after page together before the final relief
of their benevolent "Here!" The interval was bridged of course, but the bridge verily was needed, and the
impression left Milly to wonder if, in the general connexion, it were of bridges or of intervals that the spirit not
locally disciplined would find itself most conscious. It was as if at home, by contrast, there (192) were
neither−−neither the difference itself, from position to position, nor, on either side, and particularly on one, the
awfully good manner, the conscious sinking of a consciousness, that made up for it. The conscious sinking, at all
events, and the awfully good manner, the difference, the bridge, the interval, the skipped leaves of the social
atlas−−these, it was to be confessed, had a little, for our young lady, in default of stouter stuff, to work themselves
into the light literary legend−−a mixed wandering echo of Trollope, of Thackeray, perhaps mostly of
Dickens−−under favour of which her pilgrimage had so much appealed. She could relate to Susie later on, late the
same evening, that the legend, before she had done with it, had run clear, that the adored author of "The
Newcomes," in fine, had been on the whole the note: the picture lacking thus more than she had hoped, or rather
perhaps showing less than she had feared, a certain possibility of Pickwickian outline. She explained how she
meant by this that Mrs. Condrip hadn't altogether proved another Mrs. Nickleby, nor even−−for she might have
proved almost anything, from the way poor worried Kate had spoken−−a widowed and aggravated Mrs.
Micawber.

Mrs. Stringham, in the midnight conference, intimated rather yearningly that, however the event might have
turned, the side of English life such experiences opened to Milly were just those she herself seemed
"booked"−−as they were all, roundabout her now, always saying−−to miss: she had begun to have a little, for her
fellow observer, these moments of fanciful reaction (reaction in which she was once (193) more all Susan
Shepherd) against the high sphere of colder conventions into which her overwhelming connexion with Maud
Manningham had rapt her. Milly never lost sight for long of the Susan Shepherd side of her, and was always there
to meet it when it came up and vaguely, tenderly, impatiently to pat it, abounding in the assurance that they would
still provide for it. They had, however, to−night another matter in hand; which proved to be presently, on the girl's
part, in respect to her hour of Chelsea, the revelation that Mrs. Condrip, taking a few minutes when Kate was
away with one of the children, in bed upstairs for some small complaint, had suddenly (without its being in the
least "led up to") broken ground on the subject of Mr. Densher, mentioned him with impatience as a person in
love with her sister. "She wished me, if I cared for Kate, to know," Milly said−−"for it would be quite too
dreadful, and one might do something."

Susie wondered. "Prevent anything coming of it? That's easily said. Do what?"

Milly had a dim smile. "I think that what she would like is that I should come a good deal to see HER about it."


Book Fourth, Chapter 3                                                                                              63
                                               The Wings of the Dove

"And doesn't she suppose you've anything else to do?"

The girl had by this time clearly made it out. "Nothing but to admire and make much of her sister−−whom she
doesn't, however, herself in the least understand−−and give up one's time, and everything else, to it." It struck the
elder friend that she spoke with an almost unprecedented approach to sharpness; (194) as if Mrs. Condrip had
been rather indescribably disconcerting. Never yet so much as just of late had Mrs. Stringham seen her companion
exalted, and by the very play of something within, into a vague golden air that left irritation below. That was the
great thing with Milly−−it was her characteristic poetry, or at least it was Susan Shepherd's. "But she made a
point," the former continued, "of my keeping what she says from Kate. I'm not to mention that she has spoken."

"And why," Mrs. Stringham presently asked, "is Mr. Densher so dreadful?"

Milly had, she thought, a delay to answer−−something that suggested a fuller talk with Mrs. Condrip than she
inclined perhaps to report. "It isn't so much he himself." Then the girl spoke a little as for the romance of it; one
could never tell, with her, where romance would come in. "It's the state of his fortunes."

"And is that very bad?"

"He has no 'private means,' and no prospect of any. He has no income, and no ability, according to Mrs. Condrip,
to make one. He's as poor, she calls it, as 'poverty,' and she says she knows what that is."

Again Mrs. Stringham considered, and it presently produced something. "But isn't he brilliantly clever?"

Milly had also then an instant that was not quite fruitless. "I haven't the least idea."

To which, for the time, Susie only replied "Oh!"−−though by the end of a minute she had followed it (195) with a
slightly musing "I see"; and that in turn with: "It's quite what Maud Lowder thinks."

"That he'll never do anything?"

"No−−quite the contrary: that he's exceptionally able."

"Oh yes; I know"−−Milly had again, in reference to what her friend had already told her of this, her little tone of a
moment before. "But Mrs. Condrip's own great point is that Aunt Maud herself won't hear of any such person. Mr.
Densher, she holds−−that's the way, at any rate, it was explained to me−−won't ever be either a public man or a
rich man. If he were public she'd be willing, as I understand, to help him; if he were rich−−without being anything
else−−she'd do her best to swallow him. As it is she taboos him."

"In short," said Mrs. Stringham as with a private purpose, "she told you, the sister, all about it. But Mrs. Lowder
likes him," she added.

"Mrs. Condrip didn't tell me that."

"Well, she does, all the same, my dear, extremely."

"Then there it is!" On which, with a drop and one of those sudden slightly sighing surrenders to a vague reflux
and a general fatigue that had recently more than once marked themselves for her companion, Milly turned away.
Yet the matter wasn't left so, that night, between them, albeit neither perhaps could afterwards have said which
had first come back to it. Milly's own nearest approach at least, for a little, to doing so, was to remark that they
appeared all−−every one they saw−−to think tremendously of money. This prompted in Susie a laugh, not
untender, (196) the innocent meaning of which was that it came, as a subject for indifference, money did, easier to

Book Fourth, Chapter 3                                                                                                  64
                                              The Wings of the Dove
some people than to others: she made the point in fairness, however, that you couldn't have told, by any too crude
transparency of air, what place it held for Maud Manningham. She did her worldliness with grand proper
silences−−if it mightn't better be put perhaps that she did her detachment with grand occasional pushes. However
Susie put it, in truth, she was really, in justice to herself, thinking of the difference, as favourites of fortune,
between her old friend and her new. Aunt Maud sat somehow in the midst of her money, founded on it and
surrounded by it, even if with a masterful high manner about it, her manner of looking, hard and bright, as if it
weren't there. Milly, about hers, had no manner at all−−which was possibly, from a point of view, a fault: she was
at any rate far away on the edge of it, and you hadn't, as might be said, in order to get at her nature, to traverse, by
whatever avenue, any piece of her property. It was clear, on the other hand, that Mrs. Lowder was keeping her
wealth as for purposes, imaginations, ambitions, that would figure as large, as honourably unselfish, on the day
they should take effect. She would impose her will, but her will would be only that a person or two shouldn't lose
a benefit by not submitting if they could be made to submit. To Milly, as so much younger, such far views
couldn't be imputed: there was nobody she was supposable as interested for. It was too soon, since she wasn't
interested for herself. Even the richest woman, at her age, lacked motive, and Milly's motive doubtless (197) had
plenty of time to arrive. She was meanwhile beautiful, simple, sublime without it−−whether missing it and
vaguely reaching out for it or not; and with it, for that matter, in the event, would really be these things just as
much. Only then she might very well have, like Aunt Maud, a manner. Such were the connexions, at all events, in
which the colloquy of our two ladies freshly flickered up−−in which it came round that the elder asked the
younger if she had herself, in the afternoon, named Mr. Densher as an acquaintance.

"Oh no−−I said nothing of having seen him. I remembered," the girl explained, "Mrs. Lowder's wish."

"But that," her friend observed after a moment, "was for silence to Kate."

"Yes−−but Mrs. Condrip would immediately have told Kate."

"Why so?−−since she must dislike to talk about him."

"Mrs. Condrip must?" Milly thought. "What she would like most is that her sister should be brought to think ill of
him; and if anything she can tell her will help that−−" But the girl dropped suddenly here, as if her companion
would see.

Her companion's interest, however, was all for what she herself saw. "You mean she'll immediately speak?" Mrs.
Stringham gathered that this was what Milly meant, but it left still a question. "How will it be against him that you
know him?"

"Oh how can I say? It won't be so much one's knowing him as one's having kept it out of sight."

(198) "Ah," said Mrs. Stringham as for comfort, "YOU haven't kept it out of sight. Isn't it much rather Miss Croy
herself who has?"

"It isn't my acquaintance with him," Milly smiled, "that she has dissimulated."

"She has dissimulated only her own? Well then the responsibility's hers."

"Ah but," said the girl, not perhaps with marked consequence, "she has a right to do as she likes."

"Then so, my dear, have you!" smiled Susan Shepherd.

Milly looked at her as if she were almost venerably simple, but also as if this were what one loved her for. "We're
not quarrelling about it, Kate and I, YET."

Book Fourth, Chapter 3                                                                                               65
                                               The Wings of the Dove

"I only meant," Mrs. Stringham explained, "that I don't see what Mrs. Condrip would gain."

"By her being able to tell Kate?" Milly thought. "I only meant that I don't see what I myself should gain."

"But it will have to come out−−that he knows you both−−some time."

Milly scarce assented. "Do you mean when he comes back?"

"He'll find you both here, and he can hardly be looked to, I take it, to 'cut' either of you for the sake of the other."

This placed the question at last on a basis more distinctly cheerful. "I might get at him somehow beforehand," the
girl suggested; "I might give him what they call here the 'tip'−−that he's not to know me when we meet. Or, better
still, I mightn't be here at all."

(199) "Do you want to run away from him?"

It was, oddly enough, an idea Milly seemed half to accept. "I don't know WHAT I want to run away from!"

It dispelled, on the spot−−something, to the elder woman's ear, in the sad, sweet sound of it−−any ghost of any
need of explaining. The sense was constant for her that their relation might have been afloat, like some island of
the south, in a great warm sea that represented, for every conceivable chance, a margin, an outer sphere, of
general emotion; and the effect of the occurrence of anything in particular was to make the sea submerge the
island, the margin flood the text. The great wave now for a moment swept over. "I'll go anywhere else in the
world you like."

But Milly came up through it. "Dear old Susie−−how I do work you!"

"Oh this is nothing yet."

"No indeed−−to what it will be."

"You're not−−and it's vain to pretend," said dear old Susie, who had been taking her in, "as sound and strong as I
insist on having you."

"Insist, insist−−the more the better. But the day I LOOK as sound and strong as that, you know," Milly went
on−−"on that day I shall be just sound and strong enough to take leave of you sweetly for ever. That's where one
is," she continued thus agreeably to embroider, "when even one's MOST 'beaux moments' aren't such as to
qualify, so far as appearance goes, for anything gayer than a handsome cemetery. Since I've lived all these years
as if I were dead, I shall die, no doubt, as if I were alive−−which will (200) happen to be as you want me. So, you
see," she wound up, "you'll never really know where I am. Except indeed when I'm gone; and then you'll only
know where I'm not."

"I'd die FOR you," said Susan Shepherd after a moment.

" 'Thanks awfully'! Then stay here for me."

"But we can't be in London for August, nor for many of all these next weeks."

"Then we'll go back."

Susie blenched. "Back to America?"

Book Fourth, Chapter 3                                                                                                66
                                              The Wings of the Dove

"No, abroad−−to Switzerland, Italy, anywhere. I mean by your staying 'here' for me," Milly pursued, "your
staying with me wherever I may be, even though we may neither of us know at the time where it is. No," she
insisted, "I DON'T know where I am, and you never will, and it doesn't matter−−and I dare say it's quite true," she
broke off, "that everything will have to come out." Her friend would have felt of her that she joked about it now,
hadn't her scale from grave to gay been a thing of such unnameable shades that her contrasts were never sharp.
She made up for failures of gravity by failures of mirth; if she hadn't, that is, been at times as earnest as might
have been liked, so she was certain not to be at other times as easy as she would like herself. "I must face the
music. It isn't at any rate its 'coming out,' " she added; "it's that Mrs. Condrip would put the fact before her to his
injury."

Her companion wondered. "But how to HIS?"

"Why if he pretends to love her−−!"

"And does he only 'pretend'?"

(201) "I mean if, trusted by her in strange countries, he forgets her so far as to make up to other people."

The amendment, however, brought Susie in, as with gaiety, for a comfortable end. "Did he make up, the false
creature, to YOU?"

"No−−but the question isn't of that. It's of what Kate might be made to believe."

"That, given the fact of his having evidently more or less followed up his acquaintance with you, to say nothing of
your obvious weird charm, he must have been all ready if you had a little bit led him on?"

Milly neither accepted nor qualified this; she only said after a moment and as with a conscious excess of the
pensive: "No, I don't think she'd quite wish to suggest that I made up to HIM; for that I should have had to do so
would only bring out his constancy. All I mean is," she added−−and now at last, as with a supreme
impatience−−"that her being able to make him out a little a person who could give cause for jealousy would
evidently help her, since she's afraid of him, to do him in her sister's mind a useful ill turn."

Susan Shepherd perceived in this explanation such signs of an appetite for motive as would have sat gracefully
even on one of her own New England heroines. It was seeing round several corners; but that was what New
England heroines did, and it was moreover interesting for the moment to make out how many her young friend
had actually undertaken to see round. Finally, too, weren't they braving the deeps? They got their amusement
where they could. "Isn't it only," she asked, "rather probable she'd (202) see that Kate's knowing him as (what's
the pretty old word?) volage−−?"

"Well?" She hadn't filled out her idea, but neither, it seemed, could Milly.

"Well, might but do what that often does−−by all OUR blessed little laws and arrangements at least: excite Kate's
own sentiment instead of depressing it."

The idea was bright, yet the girl but beautifully stared. "Kate's own sentiment? Oh she didn't speak of that. I don't
think," she added as if she had been unconsciously giving a wrong impression, "I don't think Mrs. Condrip
imagines SHE'S in love."

It made Mrs. Stringham stare in turn. "Then what's her fear?"

"Well, only the fact of Mr. Densher's possibly himself keeping it up−−the fear of some final result from THAT."

Book Fourth, Chapter 3                                                                                              67
                                               The Wings of the Dove

"Oh," said Susie, intellectually a little disconcerted−−"she looks far ahead!"

At this, however, Milly threw off another of her sudden vague "sports." "No−−it's only we who do."

"Well, don't let us be more interested for them than they are for themselves!"

"Certainly not"−−the girl promptly assented. A certain interest nevertheless remained; she appeared to wish to be
clear. "It wasn't of anything on Kate's own part she spoke."

"You mean she thinks her sister distinctly doesn't care for him?"

(203) It was still as if, for an instant, Milly had to be sure of what she meant; but there it presently was. "If she did
care Mrs. Condrip would have told me."

What Susan Shepherd seemed hereupon for a little to wonder was why then they had been talking so. "But did
you ask her?"

"Ah no!"

"Oh!" said Susan Shepherd.

Milly, however, easily explained that she wouldn't have asked her for the world.

Book Fifth, Chapter 1
Lord Mark looked at her to−day in particular as if to wring from her a confession that she had originally done him
injustice; and he was entitled to whatever there might be in it of advantage or merit that his intention really in a
manner took effect: he cared about something, after all, sufficiently to make her feel absurdly as if she WERE
confessing−−all the while it was quite the case that neither justice nor injustice was what had been in question
between them. He had presented himself at the hotel, had found her and had found Susan Shepherd at home, had
been "civil" to Susan−−it was just that shade, and Susan's fancy had fondly caught it; and then had come again
and missed them, and then had come and found them once more: besides letting them easily see that if it hadn't by
this time been the end of everything−−which they could feel in the exhausted air, that of the season at its last
gasp−−the places they might have liked to go to were such as they would have had only to mention. Their feeling
was−−or at any rate their modest general plea−−that there was no place they would have liked to go to; there was
only the sense of finding they liked, wherever they were, the place to which they had been brought. Such was
highly the case as to their current consciousness−−which could be indeed, in an equally eminent degree, but a
matter of course; impressions this afternoon having by a (208) happy turn of their wheel been gathered for them
into a splendid cluster, an offering like an armful of the rarest flowers. They were in presence of the
offering−−they had been led up to it; and if it had been still their habit to look at each other across distances for
increase of unanimity his hand would have been silently named between them as the hand applied to the wheel.
He had administered the touch that, under light analysis, made the difference−−the difference of their not having
lost, as Susie on the spot and at the hour phrased it again and again, both for herself and for such others as the
question might concern, so beautiful and interesting an experience; the difference also, in fact, of Mrs. Lowder's
not having lost it either, though it was superficially with Mrs. Lowder they had come, and though it was further
with that lady that our young woman was directly engaged during the half−hour or so of her most agreeably
inward response to the scene.

The great historic house had, for Milly, beyond terrace and garden, as the centre of an almost extravagantly grand
Watteau−composition, a tone as of old gold kept "down" by the quality of the air, summer full−flushed but


Book Fifth, Chapter 1                                                                                                 68
                                               The Wings of the Dove
attuned to the general perfect taste. Much, by her measure, for the previous hour, appeared, in connexion with this
revelation of it, to have happened to her−−a quantity expressed in introductions of charming new people, in walks
through halls of armour, of pictures, of cabinets, of tapestry, of tea−tables, in an assault of reminders that this
largeness of style was the sign of APPOINTED felicity. The largeness of style was the great containing vessel,
(209) while everything else, the pleasant personal affluence, the easy murmurous welcome, the honoured age of
illustrious host and hostess, all at once so distinguished and so plain, so public and so shy, became but this or that
element of the infusion. The elements melted together and seasoned the draught, the essence of which might have
struck the girl as distilled into the small cup of iced coffee she had vaguely accepted from somebody, while a
fuller flood somehow kept bearing her up−−all the freshness of response of her young life, the freshness of the
first and only prime. What had perhaps brought on just now a kind of climax was the fact of her appearing to
make out, through Aunt Maud, what was really the matter. It couldn't be less than a climax for a poor shaky
maiden to find it put to her of a sudden that she herself was the matter−−for that was positively what, on Mrs.
Lowder's part, it came to. Everything was great, of course, in great pictures, and it was doubtless precisely a part
of the brilliant life−−since the brilliant life, as one had faintly figured it, just WAS humanly led−−that all
impressions within its area partook of its brilliancy; still, letting that pass, it fairly stamped an hour as with the
official seal for one to be able to take in so comfortably one's companion's broad blandness. "You must stay
among us−−you must stay; anything else is impossible and ridiculous; you don't know yet, no doubt−−you can't;
but you will soon enough: you can stay in ANY position." It had been as the murmurous consecration to follow
the murmurous welcome; and even if it were but part of Aunt Maud's own spiritual ebriety−−for the dear (210)
woman, one could see, was spiritually "keeping" the day−−it served to Milly, then and afterwards, as a
high−water mark of the imagination.

It was to be the end of the short parenthesis which had begun but the other day at Lancaster Gate with Lord
Mark's informing her that she was a "success"−−the key thus again struck; and though no distinct, no numbered
revelations had crowded in, there had, as we have seen, been plenty of incident for the space and the time. There
had been thrice as much, and all gratuitous and genial−−if, in portions, not exactly hitherto THE revelation−−as
three unprepared weeks could have been expected to produce. Mrs. Lowder had improvised a "rush" for them, but
out of elements, as Milly was now a little more freely aware, somewhat roughly combined. Therefore if at this
very instant she had her reasons for thinking of the parenthesis as about to close−−reasons completely
personal−−she had on behalf of her companion a divination almost as deep. The parenthesis would close with this
admirable picture, but the admirable picture still would show Aunt Maud as not absolutely sure either if she
herself were destined to remain in it. What she was doing, Milly might even not have escaped seeming to see, was
to talk herself into a sublimer serenity while she ostensibly talked Milly. It was fine, the girl fully felt, the way she
did talk HER, little as, at bottom, our young woman needed it or found other persuasions at fault. It was in
particular during the minutes of her grateful absorption of iced coffee−−qualified by a sharp doubt of her
wisdom−−that she most had in view Lord Mark's relation to her (211) being there, or at least to the question of her
being amused at it. It wouldn't have taken much by the end of five minutes quite to make her feel that this relation
was charming. It might, once more, simply have been that everything, anything, was charming when one was so
justly and completely charmed; but, frankly, she hadn't supposed anything so serenely sociable could settle itself
between them as the friendly understanding that was at present somehow in the air. They were, many of them
together, near the marquee that had been erected on a stretch of sward as a temple of refreshment and that
happened to have the property−−which was all to the good−−of making Milly think of a "durbar"; her iced coffee
had been a consequence of this connexion, through which, further, the bright company scattered about fell
thoroughly into place. Certain of its members might have represented the contingent of "native
princes"−−familiar, but scarce the less grandly gregarious term!−−and Lord Mark would have done for one of
these even though for choice he but presented himself as a supervisory friend of the family. The Lancaster Gate
family, he clearly intended, in which he included its American recruits, and included above all Kate Croy−−a
young person blessedly easy to take care of. She knew people, and people knew her, and she was the handsomest
thing there−−this last a declaration made by Milly, in a sort of soft midsummer madness, a straight skylark−flight
of charity, to Aunt Maud.


Book Fifth, Chapter 1                                                                                                 69
                                             The Wings of the Dove
Kate had for her new friend's eyes the extraordinary and attaching property of appearing at a given (212) moment
to show as a beautiful stranger, to cut her connexions and lose her identity, letting the imagination for the time
make what it would of them−−make her merely a person striking from afar, more and more pleasing as one
watched, but who was above all a subject for curiosity. Nothing could have given her, as a party to a relation, a
greater freshness than this sense, which sprang up at its own hours, of one's being as curious about her as if one
hadn't known her. It had sprung up, we have gathered, as soon as Milly had seen her after hearing from Mrs.
Stringham of her knowledge of Merton Densher; she had LOOKED then other and, as Milly knew the real critical
mind would call it, more objective; and our young woman had foreseen it of her on the spot that she would often
look so again. It was exactly what she was doing this afternoon; and Milly, who had amusements of thought that
were like the secrecies of a little girl playing with dolls when conventionally "too big," could almost settle to the
game of what one would suppose her, how one would place her, if one didn't know her. She became thus,
intermittently, a figure conditioned only by the great facts of aspect, a figure to be waited for, named and fitted.
This was doubtless but a way of feeling that it was of her essence to be peculiarly what the occasion, whatever it
might be, demanded when its demand was highest. There were probably ways enough, on these lines, for such a
consciousness; another of them would be for instance to say that she was made for great social uses. Milly wasn't
wholly sure she herself knew what great social uses might be−−unless, as a good example, (213) to exert just that
sort of glamour in just that sort of frame were one of them: she would have fallen back on knowing sufficiently
that they existed at all events for her friend. It imputed a primness, all round, to be reduced but to saying, by way
of a translation of one's amusement, that she was always so RIGHT−−since that, too often, was what the
_insupportables_ themselves were; yet it was, in overflow to Aunt Maud, what she had to content herself
withal−−save for the lame enhancement of saying she was lovely. It served, despite everything, the purpose,
strengthened the bond that for the time held the two ladies together, distilled in short its drop of rose−colour for
Mrs. Lowder's own view. That was really the view Milly had, for most of the rest of the occasion, to give herself
to immediately taking in; but it didn't prevent the continued play of those swift cross−lights, odd beguilements of
the mind, at which we have already glanced.

Mrs. Lowder herself found it enough simply to reply, in respect to Kate, that she was indeed a luxury to take
about the world: she expressed no more surprise than that at her "rightness" to−day. Didn't it by this time
sufficiently shine out that it was precisely AS the very luxury she was proving that she had, from far back, been
appraised and waited for? Crude elation, however, might be kept at bay, and the circumstance none the less made
clear that they were all swimming together in the blue. It came back to Lord Mark again, as he seemed slowly to
pass and repass and conveniently to linger before them; he was personally the note of the blue−−like a suspended
skein of silk within reach of the broiderer's hand. (214) Aunt Maud's free−moving shuttle took a length of him at
rhythmic intervals; and one of the accessory truths that flickered across to Milly was that he ever so consentingly
knew he was being worked in. This was almost like an understanding with her at Mrs. Lowder's expense, which
she would have none of; she wouldn't for the world have had him make any such point as that he wouldn't have
launched them at Matcham−−or whatever it was he HAD done−−only for Aunt Maud's beaux yeux. What he had
done, it would have been guessable, was something he had for some time been desired in vain to do; and what
they were all now profiting by was a change comparatively sudden, the cessation of hope delayed. What had
caused the cessation easily showed itself as none of Milly's business; and she was luckily, for that matter, in no
real danger of hearing from him directly that her individual weight had been felt in the scale. Why then indeed
was it an effect of his diffused but subdued participation that he might absolutely have been saying to her "Yes, let
the dear woman take her own tone"? "Since she's here she may stay," he might have been adding−−"for whatever
she can make of it. But you and I are different." Milly knew SHE was different in truth−−his own difference was
his own affair; but also she knew that after all, even at their distinctest, Lord Mark's "tips" in this line would be
tacit. He practically placed her−−it came round again to that−−under no obligation whatever. It was a matter of
equal ease, moreover, her letting Mrs. Lowder take a tone. She might have taken twenty−−they would have
spoiled nothing.

(215) "You must stay on with us; you CAN, you know, in any position you like; any, any, ANY, my dear
child"−−and her emphasis went deep. "You must make your home with us; and it's really open to you to make the

Book Fifth, Chapter 1                                                                                             70
                                               The Wings of the Dove
most beautiful one in the world. You mustn't be under a mistake−−under any of any sort; and you must let us all
think for you a little, take care of you and watch over you. Above all you must help me with Kate, and you must
stay a little FOR her; nothing for a long time has happened to me so good as that you and she should have become
friends. It's beautiful; it's great; it's everything. What makes it perfect is that it should have come about through
our dear delightful Susie, restored to me, after so many years, by such a miracle. No−−that's more charming to me
than even your hitting it off with Kate. God has been good to one−−positively; for I couldn't, at my age, have
made a new friend−−undertaken, I mean, out of whole cloth, the real thing. It's like changing one's bankers−−after
fifty: one doesn't do that. That's why Susie has been kept for me, as you seem to keep people in your wonderful
country, in lavender and pink paper−−coming back at last as straight as out of a fairy−tale and with you as an
attendant fairy." Milly hereupon replied appreciatively that such a description of herself made her feel as if pink
paper were her dress and lavender its trimming; but Aunt Maud wasn't to be deterred by a weak joke from
keeping it up. The young person under her protection could feel besides that she kept it up in perfect sincerity.
She was somehow at this hour a very happy woman, and a part of her happiness (216) might precisely have been
that her affections and her views were moving as never before in concert. Unquestionably she loved Susie; but she
also loved Kate and loved Lord Mark, loved their funny old host and hostess, loved every one within range, down
to the very servant who came to receive Milly's empty ice−plate−−down, for that matter, to Milly herself, who
was, while she talked, really conscious of the enveloping flap of a protective mantle, a shelter with the weight of
an Eastern carpet. An Eastern carpet, for wishing−purposes of one's own, was a thing to be on rather than under;
still, however, if the girl should fail of breath it wouldn't be, she could feel, by Mrs. Lowder's fault. One of the last
things she was afterwards to recall of this was Aunt Maud's going on to say that she and Kate must stand together
because together they could do anything. It was for Kate of course she was essentially planning; but the plan,
enlarged and uplifted now, somehow required Milly's prosperity too for its full operation, just as Milly's
prosperity at the same time involved Kate's. It was nebulous yet, it was slightly confused, but it was
comprehensive and genial, and it made our young woman understand things Kate had said of her aunt's
possibilities, as well as characterisations that had fallen from Susan Shepherd. One of the most frequent on the
lips of the latter had been that dear Maud was a grand natural force.

Book Fifth, Chapter 2
A prime reason, we must add, why sundry impressions were not to be fully present to the girl till later on was that
they yielded at this stage, with an effect of sharp supersession, to a detached quarter of an hour−−her only
one−−with Lord Mark. "Have you seen the picture in the house, the beautiful one that's so like you?"−−he was
asking that as he stood before her; having come up at last with his smooth intimation that any wire he had pulled
and yet wanted not to remind her of wasn't quite a reason for his having no joy at all.

"I've been through rooms and I've seen pictures. But if I'm 'like' anything so beautiful as most of them seemed to
me−−!" It needed in short for Milly some evidence which he only wanted to supply. She was the image of the
wonderful Bronzino, which she must have a look at on every ground. He had thus called her off and led her away;
the more easily that the house within was above all what had already drawn round her its mystic circle. Their
progress meanwhile was not of the straightest; it was an advance, without haste, through innumerable natural
pauses and soft concussions, determined for the most part by the appearance before them of ladies and gentlemen,
singly, in couples, in clusters, who brought them to a stand with an inveterate "I say, Mark." What they said she
never quite made out; it was their (218) all so domestically knowing him, and his knowing them, that mainly
struck her, while her impression, for the rest, was but of fellow strollers more vaguely afloat than themselves,
supernumeraries mostly a little battered, whether as jaunty males or as ostensibly elegant women. They might
have been moving a good deal by a momentum that had begun far back, but they were still brave and personable,
still warranted for continuance as long again, and they gave her, in especial collectively, a sense of pleasant
voices, pleasanter than those of actors, of friendly empty words and kind lingering eyes that took somehow
pardonable liberties. The lingering eyes looked her over, the lingering eyes were what went, in almost confessed
simplicity, with the pointless "I say, Mark"; and what was really most flagrant of all was that, as a pleasant matter


Book Fifth, Chapter 2                                                                                                 71
                                              The Wings of the Dove
of course, if she didn't mind, he seemed to suggest their letting people, poor dear things, have the benefit of her.

The odd part was that he made her herself believe, for amusement, in the benefit, measured by him in mere
manner−−for wonderful, of a truth, was, as a means of expression, his slightness of emphasis−−that her present
good nature conferred. It was, as she could easily see, a mild common carnival of good nature−−a mass of
London people together, of sorts and sorts, but who mainly knew each other and who, in their way, did, no doubt,
confess to curiosity. It had gone round that she was there; questions about her would be passing; the easiest thing
was to run the gauntlet with HIM−−just as the easiest thing was in fact to trust him generally. Couldn't she know
for (219) herself, passively, how little harm they meant her?−−to that extent that it made no difference whether or
not he introduced them. The strangest thing of all for Milly was perhaps the uplifted assurance and indifference
with which she could simply give back the particular bland stare that appeared in such cases to mark civilisation
at its highest. It was so little her fault, this oddity of what had "gone round" about her, that to accept it without
question might be as good a way as another of feeling life. It was inevitable to supply the probable
description−−that of the awfully rich young American who was so queer to behold, but nice, by all accounts, to
know; and she had really but one instant of speculation as to fables or fantasies perchance originally launched.
She asked herself once only if Susie could, inconceivably, have been blatant about her; for the question, on the
spot, was really blown away for ever. She knew in fact on the spot and with sharpness just why she had "elected"
Susan Shepherd: she had had from the first hour the conviction of her being precisely the person in the world least
possibly a trumpeter. So it wasn't their fault, it wasn't their fault, and anything might happen that would, and
everything now again melted together, and kind eyes were always kind eyes−−if it were never to be worse than
that! She got with her companion into the house; they brushed, beneficently, past all their accidents. The Bronzino
was, it appeared, deep within, and the long afternoon light lingered for them on patches of old colour and waylaid
them, as they went, in nooks and opening vistas.

(220) It was all the while for Milly as if Lord Mark had really had something other than this spoken pretext in
view; as if there were something he wanted to say to her and were only−−consciously yet not awkwardly, just
delicately−−hanging fire. At the same time it was as if the thing had practically been said by the moment they
came in sight of the picture; since what it appeared to amount to was "Do let a fellow who isn't a fool take care of
you a little." The thing somehow, with the aid of the Bronzino, was done; it hadn't seemed to matter to her before
if he were a fool or no; but now, just where they were, she liked his not being; and it was all moreover none the
worse for coming back to something of the same sound as Mrs. Lowder's so recent reminder. She too wished to
take care of her−−and wasn't it, a peu pres, what all the people with the kind eyes were wishing? Once more
things melted together−−the beauty and the history and the facility and the splendid midsummer glow: it was a
sort of magnificent maximum, the pink dawn of an apotheosis coming so curiously soon. What in fact befell was
that, as she afterwards made out, it was Lord Mark who said nothing in particular−−it was she herself who said
all. She couldn't help that−−it came; and the reason it came was that she found herself, for the first moment,
looking at the mysterious portrait through tears. Perhaps it was her tears that made it just then so strange and
fair−−as wonderful as he had said: the face of a young woman, all splendidly drawn, down to the hands, and
splendidly dressed; a face almost livid in hue, yet handsome in sadness and crowned with a mass of hair, (221)
rolled back and high, that must, before fading with time, have had a family resemblance to her own. The lady in
question, at all events, with her slightly Michael−angelesque squareness, her eyes of other days, her full lips, her
long neck, her recorded jewels, her brocaded and wasted reds, was a very great personage−−only unaccompanied
by a joy. And she was dead, dead, dead. Milly recognised her exactly in words that had nothing to do with her. "I
shall never be better than this."

He smiled for her at the portrait. "Than she? You'd scarce need to be better, for surely that's well enough. But you
ARE, one feels, as it happens, better; because, splendid as she is, one doubts if she was good."

He hadn't understood. She was before the picture, but she had turned to him, and she didn't care if for the minute
he noticed her tears. It was probably as good a moment as she should ever have with him. It was perhaps as good
a moment as she should have with any one, or have in any connexion whatever. "I mean that everything this

Book Fifth, Chapter 2                                                                                                  72
                                              The Wings of the Dove

afternoon has been too beautiful, and that perhaps everything together will never be so right again. I'm very glad
therefore you've been a part of it."

Though he still didn't understand her he was as nice as if he had; he didn't ask for insistence, and that was just a
part of his looking after her. He simply protected her now from herself, and there was a world of practice in it.
"Oh we must talk about these things!"

Ah they had already done that, she knew, (222) as much as she ever would; and she was shaking her head at her
pale sister the next moment with a world, on her side, of slowness. "I wish I could see the resemblance. Of course
her complexion's green," she laughed; "but mine's several shades greener."

"It's down to the very hands," said Lord Mark.

"Her hands are large," Milly went on, "but mine are larger. Mine are huge."

"Oh you go her, all round, 'one better'−−which is just what I said. But you're a pair. You must surely catch it," he
added as if it were important to his character as a serious man not to appear to have invented his plea.

"I don't know−−one never knows one's self. It's a funny fancy, and I don't imagine it would have occurred−−"

"I see it HAS occurred"−−he had already taken her up. She had her back, as she faced the picture, to one of the
doors of the room, which was open, and on her turning as he spoke she saw that they were in the presence of three
other persons, also, as appeared, interested enquirers. Kate Croy was one of these; Lord Mark had just become
aware of her, and she, all arrested, had immediately seen, and made the best of it, that she was far from being first
in the field. She had brought a lady and a gentleman to whom she wished to show what Lord Mark was showing
Milly, and he took her straightway as a re−enforcement. Kate herself had spoken, however, before he had had
time to tell her so.

"YOU had noticed too?"−−she smiled at him without looking at Milly. "Then I'm not original−−(223) which one
always hopes one has been. But the likeness is so great." And now she looked at Milly−−for whom again it was,
all round indeed, kind, kind eyes. "Yes, there you are, my dear, if you want to know. And you're superb." She
took now but a glance at the picture, though it was enough to make her question to her friends not too straight.
"Isn't she superb?"

"I brought Miss Theale," Lord Mark explained to the latter, "quite off my own bat."

"I wanted Lady Aldershaw," Kate continued to Milly, "to see for herself."

"Les grands esprits se rencontrent!" laughed her attendant gentleman, a high but slightly stooping, shambling and
wavering person who represented urbanity by the liberal aid of certain prominent front teeth and whom Milly
vaguely took for some sort of great man.

Lady Aldershaw meanwhile looked at Milly quite as if Milly had been the Bronzino and the Bronzino only Milly.
"Superb, superb. Of course I had noticed you. It IS wonderful," she went on with her back to the picture, but with
some other eagerness which Milly felt gathering, felt directing her motions now. It was enough−−they were
introduced, and she was saying "I wonder if you could give us the pleasure of coming−−" She wasn't fresh, for
she wasn't young, even though she denied at every pore that she was old; but she was vivid and much bejewelled
for the midsummer daylight; and she was all in the palest pinks and blues. She didn't think, at this pass, that she
could "come" anywhere−−Milly (224) didn't; and she already knew that somehow Lord Mark was saving her
from the question. He had interposed, taking the words out of the lady's mouth and not caring at all if the lady
minded. That was clearly the right way to treat her−−at least for him; as she had only dropped, smiling, and then

Book Fifth, Chapter 2                                                                                                  73
                                               The Wings of the Dove
turned away with him. She had been dealt with−−it would have done an enemy good. The gentleman still stood, a
little helpless, addressing himself to the intention of urbanity as if it were a large loud whistle; he had been
sighing sympathy, in his way, while the lady made her overture; and Milly had in this light soon arrived at their
identity. They were Lord and Lady Aldershaw, and the wife was the clever one. A minute or two later the
situation had changed, and she knew it afterwards to have been by the subtle operation of Kate. She was herself
saying that she was afraid she must go now if Susie could be found; but she was sitting down on the nearest seat
to say it. The prospect, through opened doors, stretched before her into other rooms, down the vista of which Lord
Mark was strolling with Lady Aldershaw, who, close to him and much intent, seemed to show from behind as
peculiarly expert. Lord Aldershaw, for his part, had been left in the middle of the room, while Kate, with her back
to him, was standing before her with much sweetness of manner. The sweetness was all for HER; she had the
sense of the poor gentleman's having somehow been handled as Lord Mark had handled his wife. He dangled
there, he shambled a little; then he bethought himself of the Bronzino, before which, with his eye−glass, he
hovered. It drew from him an (225) odd vague sound, not wholly distinct from a grunt, and a "Humph−−most
remarkable!" which lighted Kate's face with amusement. The next moment he had creaked away over polished
floors after the others and Milly was feeling as if SHE had been rude. But Lord Aldershaw was in every way a
detail and Kate was saying to her that she hoped she wasn't ill.

Thus it was that, aloft there in the great gilded historic chamber and the presence of the pale personage on the
wall, whose eyes all the while seemed engaged with her own, she found herself suddenly sunk in something quite
intimate and humble and to which these grandeurs were strange enough witnesses. It had come up, in the form in
which she had had to accept it, all suddenly, and nothing about it, at the same time, was more marked than that
she had in a manner plunged into it to escape from something else. Something else, from her first vision of her
friend's appearance three minutes before, had been present to her even through the call made by the others on her
attention; something that was perversely THERE, she was more and more uncomfortably finding, at least for the
first moments and by some spring of its own, with every renewal of their meeting. "Is it the way she looks to
HIM?" she asked herself−−the perversity being how she kept in remembrance that Kate was known to him. It
wasn't a fault in Kate−−nor in him assuredly; and she had a horror, being generous and tender, of treating either of
them as if it had been. To Densher himself she couldn't make it up−−he was too far away; but her secondary (226)
impulse was to make it up to Kate. She did so now with a strange soft energy−−the impulse immediately acting.
"Will you render me to−morrow a great service?"

"Any service, dear child, in the world."

"But it's a secret one−−nobody must know. I must be wicked and false about it."

"Then I'm your woman," Kate smiled, "for that's the kind of thing I love. DO let us do something bad. You're
impossibly without sin, you know."

Milly's eyes, on this, remained a little with their companion's.

"Ah I shan't perhaps come up to your idea. It's only to deceive Susan Shepherd."

"Oh!" said Kate as if this were indeed mild.

"But thoroughly−−as thoroughly as I can."

"And for cheating," Kate asked, "my powers will contribute? Well, I'll do my best for you." In accordance with
which it was presently settled between them that Milly should have the aid and comfort of her presence for a visit
to Sir Luke Strett. Kate had needed a minute for enlightenment, and it was quite grand for her comrade that this
name should have said nothing to her. To Milly herself it had for some days been secretly saying much. The
personage in question was, as she explained, the greatest of medical lights−−if she had got hold, as she believed

Book Fifth, Chapter 2                                                                                            74
                                              The Wings of the Dove
(and she had used to this end the wisdom of the serpent) of the right, the special man. She had written to him three
days before, and he had named her an hour, eleven−twenty; only it had come to her on the eve that she couldn't go
alone. Her maid on the other hand wasn't good enough, and Susie was too good. Kate (227) had listened above all
with high indulgence. "And I'm betwixt and between, happy thought! Too good for what?"

Milly thought. "Why to be worried if it's nothing. And to be still more worried−−I mean before she need be−−if it
isn't."

Kate fixed her with deep eyes. "What in the world is the matter with you?" It had inevitably a sound of
impatience, as if it had been a challenge really to produce something; so that Milly felt her for the moment only as
a much older person, standing above her a little, doubting the imagined ailments, suspecting the easy complaints,
of ignorant youth. It somewhat checked her, further, that the matter with her was what exactly as yet she wanted
knowledge about; and she immediately declared, for conciliation, that if she were merely fanciful Kate would see
her put to shame. Kate vividly uttered, in return, the hope that, since she could come out and be so charming,
could so universally dazzle and interest, she wasn't all the while in distress or in anxiety−−didn't believe herself to
be in any degree seriously menaced. "Well, I want to make out−−to make out!" was all that this consistently
produced. To which Kate made clear answer: "Ah then let us by all means!"

"I thought," Milly said, "you'd like to help me. But I must ask you, please, for the promise of absolute silence."

"And how, if you ARE ill, can your friends remain in ignorance?"

"Well, if I am it must of course finally come out. But I can go for a long time." Milly spoke with her (228) eyes
again on her painted sister's−−almost as if under their suggestion. She still sat there before Kate, yet not without a
light in her face. "That will be one of my advantages. I think I could die without its being noticed."

"You're an extraordinary young woman," her friend, visibly held by her, declared at last. "What a remarkable time
to talk of such things!"

"Well, we won't talk, precisely"−−Milly got herself together again. "I only wanted to make sure of you."

"Here in the midst of−−!" But Kate could only sigh for wonder−−almost visibly too for pity.

It made a moment during which her companion waited on her word; partly as if from a yearning, shy but deep, to
have her case put to her just as Kate was struck by it; partly as if the hint of pity were already giving a sense to her
whimsical "shot," with Lord Mark, at Mrs. Lowder's first dinner. Exactly this−−the handsome girl's
compassionate manner, her friendly descent from her own strength−−was what she had then foretold. She took
Kate up as if positively for the deeper taste of it. "Here in the midst of what?"

"Of everything. There's nothing you can't have. There's nothing you can't do."

"So Mrs. Lowder tells me."

It just kept Kate's eyes fixed as possibly for more of that; then, however, without waiting, she went on. "We all
adore you."

"You're wonderful−−you dear things!" Milly laughed.

(229) "No, it's YOU." And Kate seemed struck with the real interest of it. "In three weeks!"



Book Fifth, Chapter 2                                                                                                75
                                              The Wings of the Dove

Milly kept it up. "Never were people on such terms! All the more reason," she added, "that I shouldn't needlessly
torment you."

"But me? what becomes of ME?" said Kate.

"Well, you"−−Milly thought−−"if there's anything to bear you'll bear it."

"But I WON'T bear it!" said Kate Croy.

"Oh yes you will: all the same! You'll pity me awfully, but you'll help me very much. And I absolutely trust you.
So there we are." There they were then, since Kate had so to take it; but there, Milly felt, she herself in particular
was; for it was just the point at which she had wished to arrive. She had wanted to prove to herself that she didn't
horribly blame her friend for any reserve; and what better proof could there be than this quite special confidence?
If she desired to show Kate that she really believed Kate liked her, how could she show it more than by asking her
help?

Book Fifth, Chapter 3
What it really came to, on the morrow, this first time−−the time Kate went with her−−was that the great man had,
a little, to excuse himself; had, by a rare accident−−for he kept his consulting−hours in general rigorously
free−−but ten minutes to give her; ten mere minutes which he yet placed at her service in a manner that she
admired still more than she could meet it: so crystal−clean the great empty cup of attention that he set between
them on the table. He was presently to jump into his carriage, but he promptly made the point that he must see her
again, see her within a day or two; and he named for her at once another hour−−easing her off beautifully too
even then in respect to her possibly failing of justice to her errand. The minutes affected her in fact as ebbing
more swiftly than her little army of items could muster, and they would probably have gone without her doing
much more than secure another hearing, hadn't it been for her sense, at the last, that she had gained above all an
impression. The impression−−all the sharp growth of the final few moments−−was neither more nor less than that
she might make, of a sudden, in quite another world, another straight friend, and a friend who would moreover be,
wonderfully, the most appointed, the most thoroughly adjusted of the whole collection, inasmuch as he would
somehow wear the character scientifically, ponderably, (231) proveably−−not just loosely and sociably. Literally,
furthermore, it wouldn't really depend on herself, Sir Luke Strett's friendship, in the least: perhaps what made her
most stammer and pant was its thus queerly coming over her that she might find she had interested him even
beyond her intention, find she was in fact launched in some current that would lose itself in the sea of science. At
the same time that she struggled, however, she also surrendered; there was a moment at which she almost dropped
the form of stating, of explaining, and threw herself, without violence, only with a supreme pointless quaver that
had turned the next instant to an intensity of interrogative stillness, upon his general good will. His large settled
face, though firm, was not, as she had thought at first, hard; he looked, in the oddest manner, to her fancy, half
like a general and half like a bishop, and she was soon sure that, within some such handsome range, what it would
show her would be what was good, what was best for her. She had established, in other words, in this time−saving
way, a relation with it; and the relation was the special trophy that, for the hour, she bore off. It was like an
absolute possession, a new resource altogether, something done up in the softest silk and tucked away under the
arm of memory. She hadn't had it when she went in, and she had it when she came out; she had it there under her
cloak, but dissimulated, invisibly carried, when smiling, smiling, she again faced Kate Croy. That young lady had
of course awaited her in another room, where, as the great man was to absent himself, no one else was in
attendance; and she rose for her with such a face (232) of sympathy as might have graced the vestibule of a
dentist. "Is it out?" she seemed to ask as if it had been a question of a tooth; and Milly indeed kept her in no
suspense at all.

"He's a dear. I'm to come again."


Book Fifth, Chapter 3                                                                                              76
                                                The Wings of the Dove

"But what does he say?"

Milly was almost gay. "That I'm not to worry about anything in the world, and that if I'll be a good girl and do
exactly what he tells me he'll take care of me for ever and ever."

Kate wondered as if things scarce fitted. "But does he allow then that you're ill?"

"I don't know what he allows, and I don't care. I SHALL know, and whatever it is it will be enough. He knows all
about me, and I like it. I don't hate it a bit."

Still, however, Kate stared. "But could he, in so few minutes, ask you enough−−?"

"He asked me scarcely anything−−he doesn't need to do anything so stupid," Milly said. "He can tell. He knows,"
she repeated; "and when I go back−−for he'll have thought me over a little−−it will be all right."

Kate after a moment made the best of this. "Then when are we to come?"

It just pulled her friend up, for even while they talked−−at least it was one of the reasons−−she stood there
suddenly, irrelevantly, in the light of her OTHER identity, the identity she would have for Mr. Densher. This was
always, from one instant to another, an incalculable light, which, though it might go off faster than it came on,
necessarily disturbed. It sprang, (233) with a perversity all its own, from the fact that, with the lapse of hours and
days, the chances themselves that made for his being named continued so oddly to fail. There were twenty, there
were fifty, but none of them turned up. This in particular was of course not a juncture at which the least of them
would naturally be present; but it would make, none the less, Milly saw, another day practically all stamped with
avoidance. She saw in a quick glimmer, and with it all Kate's unconsciousness; and then she shook off the
obsession. But it had lasted long enough to qualify her response. No, she had shown Kate how she trusted her; and
that, for loyalty, would somehow do. "Oh, dear thing, now that the ice is broken I shan't trouble YOU again."

"You'll come alone?"

"Without a scruple. Only I shall ask you, please, for your absolute discretion still."

Outside, at a distance from the door, on the wide pavement of the great contiguous square, they had to wait again
while their carriage, which Milly had kept, completed a further turn of exercise, engaged in by the coachman for
reasons of his own. The footman was there and had indicated that he was making the circuit; so Kate went on
while they stood. "But don't you ask a good deal, darling, in proportion to what you give?"

This pulled Milly up still shorter−−so short in fact that she yielded as soon as she had taken it in. But she
continued to smile. "I see. Then you CAN tell."

"I don't want to 'tell,' " said Kate. "I'll be as silent as the tomb if I can only have the truth from (234) you. All I
want is that you shouldn't keep from me how you find out that you really are."

"Well then I won't ever. But you see for yourself," Milly went on, "how I really am. I'm satisfied. I'm happy."

Kate looked at her long. "I believe you like it. The way things turn out for you−−!"

Milly met her look now without a thought of anything but the spoken. She had ceased to be Mr. Densher's image;
she stood for nothing but herself, and she was none the less fine. Still, still, what had passed was a fair bargain
and it would do. "Of course I like it. I feel−−I can't otherwise describe it−−as if I had been on my knees to the
priest. I've confessed and I've been absolved. It has been lifted off."

Book Fifth, Chapter 3                                                                                                     77
                                             The Wings of the Dove

Kate's eyes never quitted her. "He must have liked YOU."

"Oh−−doctors!" Milly said. "But I hope," she added, "he didn't like me too much." Then as if to escape a little
from her friend's deeper sounding, or as impatient for the carriage, not yet in sight, her eyes, turning away, took in
the great stale square. As its staleness, however, was but that of London fairly fatigued, the late hot London with
its dance all danced and its story all told, the air seemed a thing of blurred pictures and mixed echoes, and an
impression met the sense−−an impression that broke the next moment through the girl's tightened lips. "Oh it's a
beautiful big world, and every one, yes, every one−−!" It presently brought her back to Kate, and she hoped she
didn't actually look as much as if she (235) were crying as she must have looked to Lord Mark among the portraits
at Matcham.

Kate at all events understood. "Every one wants to be so nice?"

"So nice," said the grateful Milly.

"Oh," Kate laughed, "we'll pull you through! And won't you now bring Mrs. Stringham?"

But Milly after an instant was again clear about that. "Not till I've seen him once more."

She was to have found this preference, two days later, abundantly justified; and yet when, in prompt accordance
with what had passed between them, she reappeared before her distinguished friend−−that character having for
him in the interval built itself up still higher−−the first thing he asked her was whether she had been accompanied.
She told him, on this, straightway, everything; completely free at present from her first embarrassment, disposed
even−−as she felt she might become−−to undue volubility, and conscious moreover of no alarm from his thus
perhaps wishing she had not come alone. It was exactly as if, in the forty−eight hours that had passed, her
acquaintance with him had somehow increased and his own knowledge in particular received mysterious
additions. They had been together, before, scarce ten minutes, but the relation, the one the ten minutes had so
beautifully created, was there to take straight up: and this not, on his own part, from mere professional heartiness,
mere bedside manner, which she would have disliked−−much rather from a quiet pleasant air in him of having
positively asked about her, asked here and asked there and found out. Of (236) course he couldn't in the least have
asked, or have wanted to; there was no source of information to his hand, and he had really needed none: he had
found out simply by his genius−−and found out, she meant, literally everything. Now she knew not only that she
didn't dislike this−−the state of being found out about; but that on the contrary it was truly what she had come for,
and that for the time at least it would give her something firm to stand on. She struck herself as aware, aware as
she had never been, of really not having had from the beginning anything firm. It would be strange for the
firmness to come, after all, from her learning in these agreeable conditions that she was in some way doomed; but
above all it would prove how little she had hitherto had to hold her up. If she was now to be held up by the mere
process−−since that was perhaps on the cards−−of being let down, this would only testify in turn to her queer little
history. THAT sense of loosely rattling had been no process at all; and it was ridiculously true that her thus sitting
there to see her life put into the scales represented her first approach to the taste of orderly living. Such was
Milly's romantic version−−that her life, especially by the fact of this second interview, WAS put into the scales;
and just the best part of the relation established might have been, for that matter, that the great grave charming
man knew, had known at once, that it was romantic, and in that measure allowed for it. Her only doubt, her only
fear, was whether he perhaps wouldn't even take advantage of her being a little romantic to treat her as romantic
altogether. This doubtless was her danger with him; (237) but she should see, and dangers in general meanwhile
dropped and dropped.

The very place, at the end of a few minutes, the commodious "handsome" room, far back in the fine old house,
soundless from position, somewhat sallow with years of celebrity, somewhat sombre even at midsummer−−the
very place put on for her a look of custom and use, squared itself solidly round her as with promises and
certainties. She had come forth to see the world, and this then was to be the world's light, the rich dusk of a

Book Fifth, Chapter 3                                                                                              78
                                               The Wings of the Dove
London "back," these the world's walls, those the world's curtains and carpet. She should be intimate with the
great bronze clock and mantel−ornaments, conspicuously presented in gratitude and long ago; she should be as
one of the circle of eminent contemporaries, photographed, engraved, signatured, and in particular framed and
glazed, who made up the rest of the decoration, and made up as well so much of the human comfort; and while
she thought of all the clean truths, unfringed, unfingered, that the listening stillness, strained into pauses and
waits, would again and again, for years, have kept distinct, she also wondered what SHE would eventually decide
upon to present in gratitude. She would give something better at least than the brawny Victorian bronzes. This
was precisely an instance of what she felt he knew of her before he had done with her: that she was secretly
romancing at that rate, in the midst of so much else that was more urgent, all over the place. So much for her
secrets with him, none of which really required to be phrased. It would have been thoroughly a secret for her from
any one (238) else that without a dear lady she had picked up just before coming over she wouldn't have a
decently near connexion of any sort, for such an appeal as she was making, to put forward: no one in the least, as
it were, to produce for respectability. But HIS seeing it she didn't mind a scrap, and not a scrap either his knowing
how she had left the dear lady in the dark. She had come alone, putting her friend off with a fraud: giving a
pretext of shops, of a whim, of she didn't know what−−the amusement of being for once in the streets by herself.
The streets by herself were new to her−−she had always had in them a companion or a maid; and he was never to
believe moreover that she couldn't take full in the face anything he might have to say. He was softly amused at her
account of her courage; though he yet showed it somehow without soothing her too grossly. Still, he did want to
know whom she had. Hadn't there been a lady with her on Wednesday?

"Yes−−a different one. Not the one who's travelling with me. I've told HER."

Distinctly he was amused, and it added to his air−−the greatest charm of all−−of giving her lots of time. "You've
told her what?"

"Well," said Milly, "that I visit you in secret."

"And how many persons will she tell?"

"Oh she's devoted. Not one."

"Well, if she's devoted doesn't that make another friend for you?"

It didn't take much computation, but she nevertheless had to think a moment, conscious as she was that he
distinctly WOULD want to fill out his notion of (239) her−−even a little, as it were, to warm the air for her. That
however−−and better early than late−−he must accept as of no use; and she herself felt for an instant quite a
competent certainty on the subject of any such warming. The air, for Milly Theale, was, from the very nature of
the case, destined never to rid itself of a considerable chill. This she could tell him with authority, if she could tell
him nothing else; and she seemed to see now, in short, that it would importantly simplify. "Yes, it makes another;
but they all together wouldn't make−−well, I don't know what to call it but the difference. I mean when one
IS−−really alone. I've never seen anything like the kindness." She pulled up a minute while he waited−−waited
again as if with his reasons for letting her, for almost making her, talk. What she herself wanted was not, for the
third time, to cry, as it were, in public. She HAD never seen anything like the kindness, and she wished to do it
justice; but she knew what she was about, and justice was not wronged by her being able presently to stick to her
point. "Only one's situation is what it is. It's ME it concerns. The rest is delightful and useless. Nobody can really
help. That's why I'm by myself to−day. I WANT to be−−in spite of Miss Croy, who came with me last. If you can
help, so much the better−−and also of course if one can a little one's self. Except for that−−you and me doing our
best−−I like you to see me just as I am. Yes, I like it−−and I don't exaggerate. Shouldn't one, at the start, show the
worst−−so that anything after that may be better? It wouldn't make any real difference−−it WON'T make (240)
any, anything that may happen won't−−to any one. Therefore I feel myself, this way, with you, just as I am;
and−−if you do in the least care to know−−it quite positively bears me up."

Book Fifth, Chapter 3                                                                                                 79
                                              The Wings of the Dove
She put it as to his caring to know, because his manner seemed to give her all her chance, and the impression was
there for her to take. It was strange and deep for her, this impression, and she did accordingly take it straight
home. It showed him−−showed him in spite of himself−−as allowing, somewhere far within, things comparatively
remote, things in fact quite, as she would have said, outside, delicately to weigh with him; showed him as
interested on her behalf in other questions beside the question of what was the matter with her. She accepted such
an interest as regular in the highest type of scientific mind−−his own BEING the highest, magnificently−−because
otherwise obviously it wouldn't be there; but she could at the same time take it as a direct source of light upon
herself, even though that might present her a little as pretending to equal him. Wanting to know more about a
patient than how a patient was constructed or deranged couldn't be, even on the part of the greatest of doctors,
anything but some form or other of the desire to let the patient down easily. When that was the case the reason, in
turn, could only be, too manifestly, pity; and when pity held up its telltale face like a head on a pike, in a French
revolution, bobbing before a window, what was the inference but that the patient was bad? He might say what he
would now−−she would always have seen the head at the window; and in fact from (241) this moment she only
wanted him to say what he would. He might say it too with the greater ease to himself as there wasn't one of her
divinations that−−AS her own−−he would in any way put himself out for. Finally, if he was making her talk she
WAS talking, and what it could at any rate come to for him was that she wasn't afraid. If he wanted to do the
dearest thing in the world for her he would show her he believed she wasn't; which undertaking of hers−−not to
have misled him−−was what she counted at the moment as her presumptuous little hint to him that she was as
good as himself. It put forward the bold idea that he could really BE misled; and there actually passed between
them for some seconds a sign, a sign of the eyes only, that they knew together where they were. This made, in
their brown old temple of truth, its momentary flicker; then what followed it was that he had her, all the same, in
his pocket; and the whole thing wound up for that consummation with his kind dim smile. Such kindness was
wonderful with such dimness; but brightness−−that even of sharp steel−−was of course for the other side of the
business, and it would all come in for her to one tune or another. "Do you mean," he asked, "that you've no
relations at all?−−not a parent, not a sister, not even a cousin nor an aunt?"

She shook her head as with the easy habit of an interviewed heroine or a freak of nature at a show. "Nobody
whatever"−−but the last thing she had come for was to be dreary about it. "I'm a survivor−−a survivor of a general
wreck. You see," she added, "how that's to be taken into account−−that (242) every one else HAS gone. When I
was ten years old there were, with my father and my mother, six of us. I'm all that's left. But they died," she went
on, to be fair all round, "of different things. Still, there it is. And, as I told you before, I'm American. Not that I
mean that makes me worse. However, you'll probably know what it makes me."

"Yes"−−he even showed amusement for it. "I know perfectly what it makes you. It makes you, to begin with, a
capital case."

She sighed, though gratefully, as if again before the social scene. "Ah there you are!"

"Oh no; there 'we' aren't at all! There I am only−−but as much as you like. I've no end of American friends: there
THEY are, if you please, and it's a fact that you couldn't very well be in a better place than in their company. It
puts you with plenty of others−−and that isn't pure solitude." Then he pursued: "I'm sure you've an excellent
spirit; but don't try to bear more things than you need." Which after an instant he further explained. "Hard things
have come to you in youth, but you mustn't think life will be for you all hard things. You've the right to be happy.
You must make up your mind to it. You must accept any form in which happiness may come."

"Oh I'll accept any whatever!" she almost gaily returned. "And it seems to me, for that matter, that I'm accepting a
new one every day. Now THIS!" she smiled.

"This is very well so far as it goes. You can depend on me," the great man said, "for unlimited interest. But I'm
only, after all, one element in fifty. We must (243) gather in plenty of others. Don't mind who knows. Knows, I
mean, that you and I are friends."

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                                              The Wings of the Dove
"Ah you do want to see some one!" she broke out. "You want to get at some one who cares for me." With which,
however, as he simply met this spontaneity in a manner to show that he had often had it from young persons of
her race, and that he was familiar even with the possibilities of THEIR familiarity, she felt her freedom rendered
vain by his silence, and she immediately tried to think of the most reasonable thing she could say. This would be,
precisely, on the subject of that freedom, which she now quickly spoke of as complete. "That's of course by itself
a great boon; so please don't think I don't know it. I can do exactly what I like−−anything in all the wide world. I
haven't a creature to ask−−there's not a finger to stop me. I can shake about till I'm black and blue. That perhaps
isn't ALL joy; but lots of people, I know, would like to try it." He had appeared about to put a question, but then
had let her go on, which she promptly did, for she understood him the next moment as having thus taken it from
her that her means were as great as might be. She had simply given it to him so, and this was all that would ever
pass between them on the odious head. Yet she couldn't help also knowing that an important effect, for his
judgement, or at least for his amusement−−which was his feeling, since, marvellously, he did have feeling−−was
produced by it. All her little pieces had now then fallen together for him like the morsels of coloured glass that
used to make combinations, under the hand, in the depths of one of the polygonal peepshows of (244) childhood.
"So that if it's a question of my doing anything under the sun that will help−−!"

"You'll DO anything under the sun? Good." He took that beautifully, ever so pleasantly, for what it was worth;
but time was needed−−the minutes or so were needed on the spot−−to deal even provisionally with the
substantive question. It was convenient, in its degree, that there was nothing she wouldn't do; but it seemed also
highly and agreeably vague that she should have to do anything. They thus appeared to be taking her, together, for
the moment, and almost for sociability, as prepared to proceed to gratuitous extremities; the upshot of which was
in turn that after much interrogation, auscultation, exploration, much noting of his own sequences and neglecting
of hers, had duly kept up the vagueness, they might have struck themselves, or may at least strike us, as coming
back from an undeterred but useless voyage to the North Pole. Milly was ready, under orders, for the North Pole;
which fact was doubtless what made a blinding anticlimax of her friend's actual abstention from orders. "No," she
heard him again distinctly repeat it, "I don't want you for the present to do anything at all; anything, that is, but
obey a small prescription or two that will be made clear to you, and let me within a few days come to see you at
home."

It was at first heavenly. "Then you'll see Mrs. Stringham." But she didn't mind a bit now.

"Well, I shan't be afraid of Mrs. Stringham." And he said it once more as she asked once more: "Absolutely not; I
'send' you nowhere. England's (245) all right−−anywhere that's pleasant, convenient, decent, will be all right. You
say you can do exactly as you like. Oblige me therefore by being so good as to do it. There's only one thing: you
ought of course, now, as soon as I've seen you again, to get out of London."

Milly thought. "May I then go back to the Continent?"

"By all means back to the Continent. Do go back to the Continent."

"Then how will you keep seeing me? But perhaps," she quickly added, "you won't want to keep seeing me."

He had it all ready; he had really everything all ready. "I shall follow you up; though if you mean that I don't want
you to keep seeing ME−−"

"Well?" she asked.

It was only just here that he struck her the least bit as stumbling. "Well, see all you can. That's what it comes to.
Worry about nothing. You HAVE at least no worries. It's a great rare chance."



Book Fifth, Chapter 3                                                                                               81
                                               The Wings of the Dove

She had got up, for she had had from him both that he would send her something and would advise her promptly
of the date of his coming to her, by which she was virtually dismissed. Yet for herself one or two things kept her.
"May I come back to England too?"

"Rather! Whenever you like. But always, when you do come, immediately let me know."

"Ah," said Milly, "it won't be a great going to and fro."

"Then if you'll stay with us so much the better."

(246) It touched her, the way he controlled his impatience of her; and the fact itself affected her as so precious
that she yielded to the wish to get more from it. "So you don't think I'm out of my mind?"

"Perhaps that IS," he smiled, "all that's the matter."

She looked at him longer. "No, that's too good. Shall I at any rate suffer?"

"Not a bit."

"And yet then live?"

"My dear young lady," said her distinguished friend, "isn't to 'live' exactly what I'm trying to persuade you to take
the trouble to do?"

Book Fifth, Chapter 4
She had gone out with these last words so in her ears that when once she was well away−−back this time in the
great square alone−−it was as if some instant application of them had opened out there before her. It was
positively, that effect, an excitement that carried her on; she went forward into space under the sense of an
impulse received−−an impulse simple and direct, easy above all to act upon. She was borne up for the hour, and
now she knew why she had wanted to come by herself. No one in the world could have sufficiently entered into
her state; no tie would have been close enough to enable a companion to walk beside her without some disparity.
She literally felt, in this first flush, that her only company must be the human race at large, present all round her,
but inspiringly impersonal, and that her only field must be, then and there, the grey immensity of London. Grey
immensity had somehow of a sudden become her element; grey immensity was what her distinguished friend had,
for the moment, furnished her world with and what the question of "living," as he put it to her, living by option,
by volition, inevitably took on for its immediate face. She went straight before her, without weakness, altogether
with strength; and still as she went she was more glad to be alone, for nobody−−not Kate Croy, not Susan
Shepherd either−−would have wished to rush with her as she rushed. She had (248) asked him at the last whether,
being on foot, she might go home so, or elsewhere, and he had replied as if almost amused again at her
extravagance: "You're active, luckily, by nature−−it's beautiful: therefore rejoice in it. BE active, without
folly−−for you're not foolish: be as active as you can and as you like." That had been in fact the final push, as well
as the touch that most made a mixture of her consciousness−−a strange mixture that tasted at one and the same
time of what she had lost and what had been given her. It was wonderful to her, while she took her random
course, that these quantities felt so equal: she had been treated−−hadn't she?−−as if it were in her power to live;
and yet one wasn't treated so−−was one?−−unless it had come up, quite as much, that one might die. The beauty
of the bloom had gone from the small old sense of safety−−that was distinct: she had left it behind her there for
ever. But the beauty of the idea of a great adventure, a big dim experiment or struggle in which she might more
responsibly than ever before take a hand, had been offered her instead. It was as if she had had to pluck off her
breast, to throw away, some friendly ornament, a familiar flower, a little old jewel, that was part of her daily


Book Fifth, Chapter 4                                                                                                82
                                             The Wings of the Dove
dress; and to take up and shoulder as a substitute some queer defensive weapon, a musket, a spear, a
battle−axe−−conducive possibly in a higher degree to a striking appearance, but demanding all the effort of the
military posture.

She felt this instrument, for that matter, already on her back, so that she proceeded now in very truth after the
fashion of a soldier on a march−−proceeded (249) as if, for her initiation, the first charge had been sounded. She
passed along unknown streets, over dusty littery ways, between long rows of fronts not enhanced by the August
light; she felt good for miles and only wanted to get lost; there were moments at corners, where she stopped and
chose her direction, in which she quite lived up to his injunction to rejoice that she was active. It was like a new
pleasure to have so new a reason; she would affirm without delay her option, her volition; taking this personal
possession of what surrounded her was a fair affirmation to start with; and she really didn't care if she made it at
the cost of alarms for Susie. Susie would wonder in due course "whatever," as they said at the hotel, had become
of her; yet this would be nothing either, probably, to wonderments still in store. Wonderments in truth, Milly felt,
even now attended her steps: it was quite as if she saw in people's eyes the reflexion of her appearance and pace.
She found herself moving at times in regions visibly not haunted by odd−looking girls from New York, duskily
draped, sable−plumed, all but incongruously shod and gazing about them with extravagance; she might, from the
curiosity she clearly excited in by−ways, in side−streets peopled with grimy children and costermongers' carts,
which she hoped were slums, literally have had her musket on her shoulder, have announced herself as freshly on
the war−path. But for the fear of overdoing the character she would here and there have begun conversation, have
asked her way; in spite of the fact that, as this would help the requirements of adventure, her way was exactly
what she wanted not to know. The (250) difficulty was that she at last accidentally found it; she had come out, she
presently saw, at the Regent's Park, round which on two or three occasions with Kate Croy her public chariot had
solemnly rolled. But she went into it further now; this was the real thing; the real thing was to be quite away from
the pompous roads, well within the centre and on the stretches of shabby grass. Here were benches and smutty
sheep; here were idle lads at games of ball, with their cries mild in the thick air; here were wanderers anxious and
tired like herself; here doubtless were hundreds of others just in the same box. Their box, their great common
anxiety, what was it, in this grim breathing−space, but the practical question of life? They could live if they
would; that is, like herself, they had been told so: she saw them all about her, on seats, digesting the information,
recognising it again as something in a slightly different shape familiar enough, the blessed old truth that they
would live if they could. All she thus shared with them made her wish to sit in their company; which she so far
did that she looked for a bench that was empty, eschewing a still emptier chair that she saw hard by and for which
she would have paid, with superiority, a fee.

The last scrap of superiority had soon enough left her, if only because she before long knew herself for more tired
than she had proposed. This and the charm, after a fashion, of the situation in itself made her linger and rest; there
was an accepted spell in the sense that nobody in the world knew where she was. It was the first time in her life
that this had happened; (251) somebody, everybody appeared to have known before, at every instant of it, where
she was; so that she was now suddenly able to put it to herself that that hadn't been a life. This present kind of
thing therefore might be−−which was where precisely her distinguished friend seemed to be wishing her to come
out. He wished her also, it was true, not to make, as she was perhaps doing now, too much of her isolation; at the
same time, however, as he clearly desired to deny her no decent source of interest. He was interested−−she arrived
at that−−in her appealing to as many sources as possible; and it fairly filtered into her, as she sat and sat, that he
was essentially propping her up. Had she been doing it herself she would have called it bolstering−−the bolstering
that was simply for the weak; and she thought and thought as she put together the proofs that it was as one of the
weak he was treating her. It was of course as one of the weak that she had gone to him−−but oh with how
sneaking a hope that he might pronounce her, as to all indispensables, a veritable young lioness! What indeed she
was really confronted with was the consciousness that he hadn't after all pronounced her anything: she nursed
herself into the sense that he had beautifully got out of it. Did he think, however, she wondered, that he could
keep out of it to the end?−−though as she weighed the question she yet felt it a little unjust. Milly weighed, in this
extraordinary hour, questions numerous and strange; but she had happily, before she moved, worked round to a
simplification. Stranger than anything for instance was the effect of its rolling over her that, when one considered

Book Fifth, Chapter 4                                                                                              83
                                             The Wings of the Dove
(252) it, he might perhaps have "got out" by one door but to come in with a beautiful beneficent dishonesty by
another. It kept her more intensely motionless there that what he might fundamentally be "up to" was some
disguised intention of standing by her as a friend. Wasn't that what women always said they wanted to do when
they deprecated the addresses of gentlemen they couldn't more intimately go on with? It was what they, no doubt,
sincerely fancied they could make of men of whom they couldn't make husbands. And she didn't even reason that
it was by a similar law the expedient of doctors in general for the invalids of whom they couldn't make patients:
she was somehow so sufficiently aware that HER doctor was−−however fatuous it might sound−−exceptionally
moved. This was the damning little fact−−if she could talk of damnation: that she could believe herself to have
caught him in the act of irrelevantly liking her. She hadn't gone to him to be liked, she had gone to him to be
judged; and he was quite a great enough man to be in the habit, as a rule, of observing the difference. She could
like HIM, as she distinctly did−−that was another matter; all the more that her doing so was now, so obviously for
herself, compatible with judgement. Yet it would have been all portentously mixed had not, as we say, a final and
merciful wave, chilling rather, but washing clear, come to her assistance.

It came of a sudden when all other thought was spent. She had been asking herself why, if her case was
grave−−and she knew what she meant by that−−he should have talked to her at all about what she (253) might
with futility "do"; or why on the other hand, if it were light, he should attach an importance to the office of
friendship. She had him, with her little lonely acuteness−−as acuteness went during the dog−days in the Regent's
Park−−in a cleft stick: she either mattered, and then she was ill; or she didn't matter, and then she was well
enough. Now he was "acting," as they said at home, as if she did matter−−until he should prove the contrary. It
was too evident that a person at his high pressure must keep his inconsistencies, which were probably his highest
amusements, only for the very greatest occasions. Her prevision, in fine, of just where she should catch him
furnished the light of that judgement in which we describe her as daring to indulge. And the judgement it was that
made her sensation simple. He HAD distinguished her−−that was the chill. He hadn't known−−how could
he?−−that she was devilishly subtle, subtle exactly in the manner of the suspected, the suspicious, the condemned.
He in fact confessed to it, in his way, as to an interest in her combinations, her funny race, her funny losses, her
funny gains, her funny freedom, and, no doubt, above all, her funny manners−−funny, like those of Americans at
their best, without being vulgar, legitimating amiability and helping to pass it off. In his appreciation of these
redundancies he dressed out for her the compassion he so signally permitted himself to waste; but its operation for
herself was as directly divesting, denuding, exposing. It reduced her to her ultimate state, which was that of a poor
girl−−with her rent to pay for example−−staring before her in a great city. Milly had her rent to pay, her rent (254)
for her future; everything else but how to meet it fell away from her in pieces, in tatters. This was the sensation
the great man had doubtless not purposed. Well, she must go home, like the poor girl, and see. There might after
all be ways; the poor girl too would be thinking. It came back for that matter perhaps to views already presented.
She looked about her again, on her feet, at her scattered melancholy comrades−−some of them so melancholy as
to be down on their stomachs in the grass, turned away, ignoring, burrowing; she saw once more, with them, those
two faces of the question between which there was so little to choose for inspiration. It was perhaps superficially
more striking that one could live if one would; but it was more appealing, insinuating, irresistible in short, that
one would live if one could.

She found after this, for the day or two, more amusement than she had ventured to count on in the fact, if it were
not a mere fancy, of deceiving Susie; and she presently felt that what made the difference was the mere fancy−−as
this WAS one−−of a countermove to her great man. His taking on himself−−should he do so−−to get at her
companion made her suddenly, she held, irresponsible, made any notion of her own all right for her; though
indeed at the very moment she invited herself to enjoy this impunity she became aware of new matter for surprise,
or at least for speculation. Her idea would rather have been that Mrs. Stringham would have looked at her
hard−−her sketch of the grounds of her independent long excursion showing, she could feel, as almost cynically
superficial. Yet the dear woman so failed, in the (255) event, to avail herself of any right of criticism that it was
sensibly tempting to wonder for an hour if Kate Croy had been playing perfectly fair. Hadn't she possibly, from
motives of the highest benevolence, promptings of the finest anxiety, just given poor Susie what she would have
called the straight tip? It must immediately be mentioned, however, that, quite apart from a remembrance of the

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                                               The Wings of the Dove
distinctness of Kate's promise, Milly, the next thing, found her explanation in a truth that had the merit of being
general. If Susie at this crisis suspiciously spared her, it was really that Susie was always suspiciously sparing
her−−yet occasionally too with portentous and exceptional mercies. The girl was conscious of how she dropped at
times into inscrutable impenetrable deferences−−attitudes that, though without at all intending it, made a
difference for familiarity, for the ease of intimacy. It was as if she recalled herself to manners, to the law of
court−etiquette−−which last note above all helped our young woman to a just appreciation. It was definite for her,
even if not quite solid, that to treat her as a princess was a positive need of her companion's mind; wherefore she
couldn't help it if this lady had her transcendent view of the way the class in question were treated. Susan had read
history, had read Gibbon and Froude and Saint−Simon; she had high lights as to the special allowances made for
the class, and, since she saw them, when young, as effete and overtutored, inevitably ironic and infinitely refined,
one must take it for amusing if she inclined to an indulgence verily Byzantine. If one COULD only be
Byzantine!−−wasn't THAT what she insidiously (256) led one on to sigh? Milly tried to oblige her−−for it really
placed Susan herself so handsomely to be Byzantine now. The great ladies of that race−−it would be somewhere
in Gibbon−−were apparently not questioned about their mysteries. But oh poor Milly and hers! Susan at all events
proved scarce more inquisitive than if she had been a mosaic at Ravenna. Susan was a porcelain monument to the
odd moral that consideration might, like cynicism, have abysses. Besides, the Puritan finally disencumbered−−!
What starved generations wasn't Mrs. Stringham, in fancy, going to make up for?

Kate Croy came straight to the hotel−−came that evening shortly before dinner; specifically and publicly
moreover, in a hansom that, driven apparently very fast, pulled up beneath their windows almost with the clatter
of an accident, a "smash." Milly, alone, as happened, in the great garnished void of their sitting−room, where, a
little, really, like a caged Byzantine, she had been pacing through the queer long−drawn almost sinister delay of
night, an effect she yet liked−−Milly, at the sound, one of the French windows standing open, passed out to the
balcony that overhung, with pretensions, the general entrance, and so was in time for the look that Kate, alighting,
paying her cabman, happened to send up to the front. The visitor moreover had a shilling back to wait for, during
which Milly, from the balcony, looked down at her, and a mute exchange, but with smiles and nods, took place
between them on what had occurred in the morning. It was what Kate had called for, and the tone was thus almost
by accident (257) determined for Milly before her friend came up. What was also, however, determined for her
was, again, yet irrepressibly again, that the image presented to her, the splendid young woman who looked so
particularly handsome in impatience, with the fine freedom of her signal, was the peculiar property of somebody
else's vision, that this fine freedom in short was the fine freedom she showed Mr. Densher. Just so was how she
looked to him, and just so was how Milly was held by her−−held as by the strange sense of seeing through that
distant person's eyes. It lasted, as usual, the strange sense, but fifty seconds; yet in so lasting it produced an effect.
It produced in fact more than one, and we take them in their order. The first was that it struck our young woman
as absurd to say that a girl's looking so to a man could possibly be without connexions; and the second was that by
the time Kate had got into the room Milly was in mental possession of the main connexion it must have for
herself.

She produced this commodity on the spot−−produced it in straight response to Kate's frank "Well, what?" The
enquiry bore of course, with Kate's eagerness, on the issue of the morning's scene, the great man's latest wisdom,
and it doubtless affected Milly a little as the cheerful demand for news is apt to affect troubled spirits when news
is not, in one of the neater forms, prepared for delivery. She couldn't have said what it was exactly that on the
instant determined her; the nearest description of it would perhaps have been as the more vivid impression of all
her friend took for granted. The contrast between (258) this free quantity and the maze of possibilities through
which, for hours, she had herself been picking her way, put on, in short, for the moment, a grossness that even
friendly forms scarce lightened: it helped forward in fact the revelation to herself that she absolutely had nothing
to tell. Besides which, certainly, there was something else−−an influence at the particular juncture still more
obscure. Kate had lost, on the way upstairs, the look−−THE look−−that made her young hostess so subtly think
and one of the signs of which was that she never kept it for many moments at once; yet she stood there, none the
less, so in her bloom and in her strength, so completely again the "handsome girl" beyond all others, the
"handsome girl" for whom Milly had at first gratefully taken her, that to meet her now with the note of the

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                                               The Wings of the Dove
plaintive would amount somehow to a surrender, to a confession. SHE would never in her life be ill; the greatest
doctor would keep her, at the worst, the fewest minutes; and it was as if she had asked just WITH all this practical
impeccability for all that was most mortal in her friend. These things, for Milly, inwardly danced their dance; but
the vibration produced and the dust kicked up had lasted less than our account of them. Almost before she knew it
she was answering, and answering beautifully, with no consciousness of fraud, only as with a sudden flare of the
famous "will−power" she had heard about, read about, and which was what her medical adviser had mainly
thrown her back on. "Oh it's all right. He's lovely."

Kate was splendid, and it would have been clear for Milly now, had the further presumption been (259) needed,
that she had said no word to Mrs. Stringham. "You mean you've been absurd?"

"Absurd." It was a simple word to say, but the consequence of it, for our young woman, was that she felt it, as
soon as spoken, to have done something for her safety.

And Kate really hung on her lips. "There's nothing at all the matter?"

"Nothing to worry about. I shall need a little watching, but I shan't have to do anything dreadful, or even in the
least inconvenient. I can do in fact as I like." It was wonderful for Milly how just to put it so made all its pieces
fall at present quite properly into their places.

Yet even before the full effect came Kate had seized, kissed, blessed her. "My love, you're too sweet! It's too dear!
But it's as I was sure." Then she grasped the full beauty. "You can do as you like?"

"Quite. Isn't it charming?"

"Ah but catch you," Kate triumphed with gaiety, "NOT doing−−! And what SHALL you do?"

"For the moment simply enjoy it. Enjoy"−−Milly was completely luminous−−"having got out of my scrape."

"Learning, you mean, so easily, that you ARE well?"

It was as if Kate had but too conveniently put the words into her mouth. "Learning, I mean, so easily, that I AM
well."

"Only no one's of course well enough to stay in London now. He can't," Kate went on, "want this of you."

(260) "Mercy no−−I'm to knock about. I'm to go to places."

"But not beastly 'climates'−−Engadines, Rivieras, boredoms?"

"No; just, as I say, where I prefer. I'm to go in for pleasure."

"Oh the duck!"−−Kate, with her own shades of familiarity, abounded. "But what kind of pleasure?"

"The highest," Milly smiled.

Her friend met it as nobly. "Which IS the highest?"

"Well, it's just our chance to find out. You must help me."



Book Fifth, Chapter 4                                                                                                   86
                                              The Wings of the Dove

"What have I wanted to do but help you," Kate asked, "from the moment I first laid eyes on you?" Yet with this
too Kate had her wonder. "I like your talking, though, about that. What help, with your luck all round, do you
need?"

Book Fifth, Chapter 5
Milly indeed at last couldn't say; so that she had really for the time brought it along to the point so oddly marked
for her by her visitor's arrival, the truth that she was enviably strong. She carried this out, from that evening, for
each hour still left her, and the more easily perhaps that the hours were now narrowly numbered. All she actually
waited for was Sir Luke Strett's promised visit; as to her proceeding on which, however, her mind was quite made
up. Since he wanted to get at Susie he should have the freest access, and then perhaps he would see how he liked
it. What was between THEM they might settle as between them, and any pressure it should lift from her own
spirit they were at liberty to convert to their use. If the dear man wished to fire Susan Shepherd with a still higher
ideal, he would only after all, at the worst, have Susan on his hands. If devotion, in a word, was what it would
come up for the interested pair to organise, she was herself ready to consume it as the dressed and served dish. He
had talked to her of her "appetite," her account of which, she felt, must have been vague. But for devotion, she
could now see, this appetite would be of the best. Gross, greedy, ravenous−−these were doubtless the proper
names for her: she was at all events resigned in advance to the machinations of sympathy. The day that followed
her lonely excursion was to be the last (262) but two or three of their stay in London; and the evening of that day
practically ranked for them as, in the matter of outside relations, the last of all. People were by this time quite
scattered, and many of those who had so liberally manifested in calls, in cards, in evident sincerity about visits,
later on, over the land, had positively passed in music out of sight; whether as members, these latter, more
especially, of Mrs. Lowder's immediate circle or as members of Lord Mark's−−our friends being by this time able
to make the distinction. The general pitch had thus decidedly dropped, and the occasions still to be dealt with
were special and few. One of these, for Milly, announced itself as the doctor's call already mentioned, as to which
she had now had a note from him: the single other, of importance, was their appointed leave−taking−−for the
shortest separation−−in respect to Mrs. Lowder and Kate. The aunt and the niece were to dine with them alone,
intimately and easily−−as easily as should be consistent with the question of their afterwards going on together to
some absurdly belated party, at which they had had it from Aunt Maud that they would do well to show. Sir Luke
was to make his appearance on the morrow of this, and in respect to that complication Milly had already her plan.

The night was at all events hot and stale, and it was late enough by the time the four ladies had been gathered in,
for their small session, at the hotel, where the windows were still open to the high balconies and the flames of the
candles, behind the pink shades−−disposed as for the vigil of watchers−−were motionless (263) in the air in which
the season lay dead. What was presently settled among them was that Milly, who betrayed on this occasion a
preference more marked than usual, shouldn't hold herself obliged to climb that evening the social stair, however
it might stretch to meet her, and that, Mrs. Lowder and Mrs. Stringham facing the ordeal together, Kate Croy
should remain with her and await their return. It was a pleasure to Milly, ever, to send Susan Shepherd forth; she
saw her go with complacency, liked, as it were, to put people off with her, and noted with satisfaction, when she
so moved to the carriage, the further denudation−−a markedly ebbing tide−−of her little benevolent back. If it
wasn't quite Aunt Maud's ideal, moreover, to take out the new American girl's funny friend instead of the new
American girl herself, nothing could better indicate the range of that lady's merit than the spirit in which−−as at
the present hour for instance−−she made the best of the minor advantage. And she did this with a broad cheerful
absence of illusion; she did it−−confessing even as much to poor Susie−−because, frankly, she WAS
good−natured. When Mrs. Stringham observed that her own light was too abjectly borrowed and that it was as a
link alone, fortunately not missing, that she was valued, Aunt Maud concurred to the extent of the remark: "Well,
my dear, you're better than nothing." To−night furthermore it came up for Milly that Aunt Maud had something
particular in mind. Mrs. Stringham, before adjourning with her, had gone off for some shawl or other accessory,
and Kate, as if a little impatient for their withdrawal, had wandered (264) out to the balcony, where she hovered
for the time unseen, though with scarce more to look at than the dim London stars and the cruder glow, up the


Book Fifth, Chapter 5                                                                                              87
                                              The Wings of the Dove
street, on a corner, of a small public−house in front of which a fagged cab−horse was thrown into relief. Mrs.
Lowder made use of the moment: Milly felt as soon as she had spoken that what she was doing was somehow for
use.

"Dear Susan tells me that you saw in America Mr. Densher−−whom I've never till now, as you may have noticed,
asked you about. But do you mind at last, in connexion with him, doing something for me?" She had lowered her
fine voice to a depth, though speaking with all her rich glibness; and Milly, after a small sharpness of surprise,
was already guessing the sense of her appeal. "Will you name him, in any way you like, to HER"−−and Aunt
Maud gave a nod at the window; "so that you may perhaps find out whether he's back?"

Ever so many things, for Milly, fell into line at this; it was a wonder, she afterwards thought, that she could be
conscious of so many at once. She smiled hard, however, for them all. "But I don't know that it's important to me
to 'find out.' " The array of things was further swollen, however, even as she said this, by its striking her as too
much to say. She therefore tried as quickly to say less. "Except you mean of course that it's important to YOU."
She fancied Aunt Maud was looking at her almost as hard as she was herself smiling, and that gave her another
impulse. "You know I never HAVE yet named him to her; so that if I should break out now−−"

(265) "Well?"−−Mrs. Lowder waited.

"Why she may wonder what I've been making a mystery of. She hasn't mentioned him, you know," Milly went on,
"herself."

"No"−−her friend a little heavily weighed it−−"she wouldn't. So it's she, you see then, who has made the
mystery."

Yes, Milly but wanted to see; only there was so much. "There has been of course no particular reason." Yet that
indeed was neither here nor there. "Do you think," she asked, "he IS back?"

"It will be about his time, I gather, and rather a comfort to me definitely to know."

"Then can't you ask her yourself?"

"Ah we never speak of him!"

It helped Milly for the moment to the convenience of a puzzled pause. "Do you mean he's an acquaintance of
whom you disapprove for her?"

Aunt Maud, as well, just hung fire. "I disapprove of HER for the poor young man. She doesn't care for him."

"And HE cares so much−−?"

"Too much, too much. And my fear is," said Mrs. Lowder, "that he privately besets her. She keeps it to herself,
but I don't want her worried. Neither, in truth," she both generously and confidentially concluded, "do I want
HIM."

Milly showed all her own effort to meet the case. "But what can i do?"

"You can find out where they are. If I myself try," Mrs. Lowder explained, "I shall appear to treat them as if I
supposed them deceiving me."

(266) "And you don't. You don't," Milly mused for her, "suppose them deceiving you."

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                                             The Wings of the Dove

"Well," said Aunt Maud, whose fine onyx eyes failed to blink even though Milly's questions might have been
taken as drawing her rather further than she had originally meant to go−−"well, Kate's thoroughly aware of my
views for her, and that I take her being with me at present, in the way she IS with me, if you know what I mean,
for a loyal assent to them. Therefore as my views don't happen to provide a place at all for Mr. Densher, much, in
a manner, as I like him"−−therefore in short she had been prompted to this step, though she completed her sense,
but sketchily, with the rattle of her large fan.

It assisted them for the moment perhaps, however, that Milly was able to pick out of her sense what might serve
as the clearest part of it. "You do like him then?"

"Oh dear yes. Don't you?"

Milly waited, for the question was somehow as the sudden point of something sharp on a nerve that winced. She
just caught her breath, but she had ground for joy afterwards, she felt, in not really having failed to choose with
quickness sufficient, out of fifteen possible answers, the one that would best serve her. She was then almost
proud, as well, that she had cheerfully smiled. "I did−−three times−−in New York." So came and went, in these
simple words, the speech that was to figure for her, later on, that night, as the one she had ever uttered that cost
her most. She was to lie awake for the gladness of not (267) having taken any line so really inferior as the denial
of a happy impression.

For Mrs. Lowder also moreover her simple words were the right ones; they were at any rate, that lady's laugh
showed, in the natural note of the racy. "You dear American thing! But people may be very good and yet not good
for what one wants."

"Yes," the girl assented, "even I suppose when what one wants is something very good."

"Oh my child, it would take too long just now to tell you all i want! I want everything at once and together−−and
ever so much for you too, you know. But you've seen us," Aunt Maud continued; "you'll have made out."

"Ah," said Milly, "I DON'T make out;" for again−−it came that way in rushes−−she felt an obscurity in things.
"Why, if our friend here doesn't like him−−"

"Should I conceive her interested in keeping things from me?" Mrs. Lowder did justice to the question. "My dear,
how can you ask? Put yourself in her place. She meets me, but on HER terms. Proud young women are proud
young women. And proud old ones are−−well, what i am. Fond of you as we both are, you can help us."

Milly tried to be inspired. "Does it come back then to my asking her straight?"

At this, however, finally, Aunt Maud threw her up. "Oh if you've so many reasons not−−!"

"I've not so many," Milly smiled−−"but I've one. If I break out so suddenly on my knowing him, what will she
make of my not having spoken before?"

(268) Mrs. Lowder looked blank at it. "Why should you care what she makes? You may have only been decently
discreet."

"Ah I HAVE been," the girl made haste to say.

"Besides," her friend went on, "I suggested to you, through Susan, your line."

"Yes, that reason's a reason for ME."

Book Fifth, Chapter 5                                                                                              89
                                               The Wings of the Dove

"And for ME," Mrs. Lowder insisted. "She's not therefore so stupid as not to do justice to grounds so marked. You
can tell her perfectly that I had asked you to say nothing."

"And may I tell her that you've asked me now to speak?"

Mrs. Lowder might well have thought, yet, oddly, this pulled her up. "You can't do it without−−?"

Milly was almost ashamed to be raising so many difficulties. "I'll do what I can if you'll kindly tell me one thing
more." She faltered a little−−it was so prying; but she brought it out. "Will he have been writing to her?"

"It's exactly, my dear, what I should like to know!" Mrs. Lowder was at last impatient. "Push in for yourself and I
dare say she'll tell you."

Even now, all the same, Milly had not quite fallen back. "It will be pushing in," she continued to smile, "for
YOU." She allowed her companion, however, no time to take this up. "The point will be that if he HAS been
writing she may have answered."

"But what point, you subtle thing, is that?"

"It isn't subtle, it seems to me, but quite simple," Milly said, "that if she has answered she has very possibly
spoken of me."

(269) "Very certainly indeed. But what difference will it make?"

The girl had a moment, at this, of thinking it natural Mrs. Lowder herself should so fail of subtlety. "It will make
the difference that he'll have written her in reply that he knows me. And that, in turn," our young woman
explained, "will give an oddity to my own silence."

"How so, if she's perfectly aware of having given you no opening? The only oddity," Aunt Maud lucidly
professed, "is for yourself. It's in HER not having spoken."

"Ah there we are!" said Milly.

And she had uttered it, evidently, in a tone that struck her friend. "Then it HAS troubled you?"

But the enquiry had only to be made to bring the rare colour with fine inconsequence to her face. "Not really the
least little bit!" And, quickly feeling the need to abound in this sense, she was on the point, to cut short, of
declaring that she cared, after all, no scrap how much she obliged. Only she felt at this instant too the intervention
of still other things. Mrs. Lowder was in the first place already beforehand, already affected as by the sudden
vision of her having herself pushed too far. Milly could never judge from her face of her uppermost motive−−it
was so little, in its hard smooth sheen, that kind of human countenance. She looked hard when she spoke fair; the
only thing was that when she spoke hard she didn't likewise look soft. Something, none the less, had arisen in her
now−−a full appreciable tide, entering by the rupture of some bar. She announced that if what she (270) had asked
was to prove in the least a bore her young friend was not to dream of it; making her young friend at the same time,
by the change in her tone, dream on the spot more profusely. She spoke, with a belated light, Milly could
apprehend−−she could always apprehend−−from pity; and the result of that perception, for the girl, was singular:
it proved to her as quickly that Kate, keeping her secret, had been straight with her. From Kate distinctly then, as
to why she was to be pitied, Aunt Maud knew nothing, and was thereby simply putting in evidence the fine side of
her own character. This fine side was that she could almost at any hour, by a kindled preference or a diverted
energy, glow for another interest than her own. She exclaimed as well, at this moment, that Milly must have been
thinking round the case much more than she had supposed; and this remark could affect the girl as quickly and as

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                                              The Wings of the Dove

sharply as any other form of the charge of weakness. It was what every one, if she didn't look out, would soon be
saying−−"There's something the matter with you!" What one was therefore one's self concerned immediately to
establish was that there was nothing at all. "I shall like to help you; I shall like, so far as that goes, to help Kate
herself," she made such haste as she could to declare; her eyes wandering meanwhile across the width of the room
to that dusk of the balcony in which their companion perhaps a little unaccountably lingered. She suggested
hereby her impatience to begin; she almost overtly wondered at the length of the opportunity this friend was
giving them−−referring it, however, so far as words went, to the other (271) friend and breaking off with an
amused: "How tremendously Susie must be beautifying!"

It only marked Aunt Maud, none the less, as too preoccupied for her allusion. The onyx eyes were fixed upon her
with a polished pressure that must signify some enriched benevolence. "Let it go, my dear. We shall after all soon
enough see."

"If he HAS come back we shall certainly see," Milly after a moment replied; "for he'll probably feel that he can't
quite civilly not come to see me. Then THERE," she remarked, "we shall be. It wouldn't then, you see, come
through Kate at all−−it would come through him. Except," she wound up with a smile, "that he won't find me."

She had the most extraordinary sense of interesting her guest, in spite of herself, more than she wanted; it was as
if her doom so floated her on that she couldn't stop−−by very much the same trick it had played her with her
doctor. "Shall you run away from him?"

She neglected the question, wanting only now to get off. "Then," she went on, "you'll deal with Kate directly."

"Shall you run away from HER?" Mrs. Lowder profoundly enquired, while they became aware of Susie's return
through the room, opening out behind them, in which they had dined.

This affected Milly as giving her but an instant; and suddenly, with it, everything she felt in the connexion rose to
her lips for a question that, even as she put it, she knew she was failing to keep colourless. "Is it your own belief
that he IS with her?"

(272) Aunt Maud took it in−−took in, that is, everything of the tone that she just wanted her not to; and the result
for some seconds was but to make their eyes meet in silence. Mrs. Stringham had rejoined them and was asking if
Kate had gone−−an enquiry at once answered by this young lady's reappearance. They saw her again in the open
window, where, looking at them, she had paused−−producing thus on Aunt Maud's part almost too impressive a
"Hush!" Mrs. Lowder indeed without loss of time smothered any danger in a sweeping retreat with Susie; but
Milly's words to her, just uttered, about dealing with her niece directly, struck our young woman as already
recoiling on herself. Directness, however evaded, would be, fully, for HER; nothing in fact would ever have been
for her so direct as the evasion. Kate had remained in the window, very handsome and upright, the outer dark
framing in a highly favourable way her summery simplicities and lightnesses of dress. Milly had, given the
relation of space, no real fear she had heard their talk; only she hovered there as with conscious eyes and some
added advantage. Then indeed, with small delay, her friend sufficiently saw. The conscious eyes, the added
advantage were but those she had now always at command−−those proper to the person Milly knew as known to
Merton Densher. It was for several seconds again as if the TOTAL of her identity had been that of the person
known to him−−a determination having for result another sharpness of its own. Kate had positively but to be there
just as she was to tell her he had come back. It seemed to pass between them in fine (273) without a word that he
was in London, that he was perhaps only round the corner; and surely therefore no dealing of Milly's with her
would yet have been so direct.




Book Fifth, Chapter 5                                                                                               91
                                               The Wings of the Dove

Book Fifth, Chapter 6
It was doubtless because this queer form of directness had in itself, for the hour, seemed so sufficient that Milly
was afterwards aware of having really, all the while−−during the strange indescribable session before the return of
their companions−−done nothing to intensify it. If she was most aware only afterwards, under the long and
discurtained ordeal of the morrow's dawn, that was because she had really, till their evening's end came, ceased
after a little to miss anything from their ostensible comfort. What was behind showed but in gleams and glimpses;
what was in front never at all confessed to not holding the stage. Three minutes hadn't passed before Milly quite
knew she should have done nothing Aunt Maud had just asked her. She knew it moreover by much the same light
that had acted for her with that lady and with Sir Luke Strett. It pressed upon her then and there that she was still
in a current determined, through her indifference, timidity, bravery, generosity−−she scarce could say which−−by
others; that not she but the current acted, and that somebody else always was the keeper of the lock or the dam.
Kate for example had but to open the flood−gate: the current moved in its mass−−the current, as it had been, of
her doing as Kate wanted. What, somehow, in the most extraordinary way in the world, HAD Kate wanted but to
be, of a sudden, more interesting than she had ever been? Milly, for their evening then, quite (275) held her breath
with the appreciation of it. If she hadn't been sure her companion would have had nothing, from her moments with
Mrs. Lowder, to go by, she would almost have seen the admirable creature "cutting in" to anticipate a danger.
This fantasy indeed, while they sat together, dropped after a little; even if only because other fantasies multiplied
and clustered, making fairly, for our young woman, the buoyant medium in which her friend talked and moved.
They sat together, I say, but Kate moved as much as she talked; she figured there, restless and charming, just
perhaps a shade perfunctory, repeatedly quitting her place, taking slowly, to and fro, in the trailing folds of her
light dress, the length of the room−−almost avowedly performing for the pleasure of her hostess.

Mrs. Lowder had said to Milly at Matcham that she and her niece, as allies, could practically conquer the world;
but though it was a speech about which there had even then been a vague grand glamour the girl read into it at
present more of an approach to a meaning. Kate, for that matter, by herself, could conquer anything, and SHE,
Milly Theale, was probably concerned with the "world" only as the small scrap of it that most impinged on her
and that was therefore first to be dealt with. On this basis of being dealt with she would doubtless herself do her
share of the conquering: she would have something to supply, Kate something to take−−each of them thus, to that
tune, something for squaring with Aunt Maud's ideal. This in short was what it came to now−−that the occasion,
in the quiet late lamplight, had the quality of (276) a rough rehearsal of the possible big drama. Milly knew
herself dealt with−−handsomely, completely: she surrendered to the knowledge, for so it was, she felt, that she
supplied her helpful force. And what Kate had to take Kate took as freely and to all appearance as gratefully;
accepting afresh, with each of her long, slow walks, the relation between them so established and consecrating her
companion's surrender simply by the interest she gave it. The interest to Milly herself we naturally mean; the
interest to Kate Milly felt as probably inferior. It easily and largely came for their present talk, for the quick flight
of the hour before the breach of the spell−−it all came, when considered, from the circumstance, not in the least
abnormal, that the handsome girl was in extraordinary "form." Milly remembered her having said that she was at
her best late at night; remembered it by its having, with its fine assurance, made her wonder when SHE was at her
best and how happy people must be who had such a fixed time. She had no time at all; she was never at her
best−−unless indeed it were exactly, as now, in listening, watching, admiring, collapsing. If Kate moreover, quite
mercilessly, had never been so good, the beauty and the marvel of it was that she had never really been so frank:
being a person of such a calibre, as Milly would have said, that, even while "dealing" with you and thereby, as it
were, picking her steps, she could let herself go, could, in irony, in confidence, in extravagance, tell you things
she had never told before. That was the impression−−that she was telling things, and quite conceivably for her
own relief as well; almost as if (277) the errors of vision, the mistakes of proportion, the residuary innocence of
spirit still to be remedied on the part of her auditor, had their moments of proving too much for her nerves. She
went at them just now, these sources of irritation, with an amused energy that it would have been open to Milly to
regard as cynical and that was nevertheless called for−−as to this the other was distinct−−by the way that in
certain connexions the American mind broke down. It seemed at least−−the American mind as sitting there


Book Fifth, Chapter 6                                                                                                 92
                                             The Wings of the Dove
thrilled and dazzled in Milly−−not to understand English society without a separate confrontation with ALL the
cases. It couldn't proceed by−−there was some technical term she lacked until Milly suggested both analogy and
induction, and then, differently, instinct, none of which were right: it had to be led up and introduced to each
aspect of the monster, enabled to walk all round it, whether for the consequent exaggerated ecstasy or for the still
more (as appeared to this critic) disproportionate shock. It might, the monster, Kate conceded, loom large for
those born amid forms less developed and therefore no doubt less amusing; it might on some sides be a strange
and dreadful monster, calculated to devour the unwary, to abase the proud, to scandalise the good; but if one had
to live with it one must, not to be for ever sitting up, learn how: which was virtually in short to−night what the
handsome girl showed herself as teaching.

She gave away publicly, in this process, Lancaster Gate and everything it contained; she gave away, hand over
hand, Milly's thrill continued to note, Aunt Maud and Aunt Maud's glories and Aunt Maud's (278) complacencies;
she gave herself away most of all, and it was naturally what most contributed to her candour. She didn't speak to
her friend once more, in Aunt Maud's strain, of how they could scale the skies; she spoke, by her bright perverse
preference on this occasion, of the need, in the first place, of being neither stupid nor vulgar. It might have been a
lesson, for our young American, in the art of seeing things as they were−−a lesson so various and so sustained that
the pupil had, as we have shown, but receptively to gape. The odd thing furthermore was that it could serve its
purpose while explicitly disavowing every personal bias. It wasn't that she disliked Aunt Maud, who was
everything she had on other occasions declared; but the dear woman, ineffaceably stamped by inscrutable nature
and a dreadful art, wasn't−−how COULD she be?−−what she wasn't. She wasn't any one. She wasn't anything.
She wasn't anywhere. Milly mustn't think it−−one couldn't, as a good friend, let her. Those hours at Matcham
were inesperees, were pure manna from heaven; or if not wholly that perhaps, with humbugging old Lord Mark as
a backer, were vain as a ground for hopes and calculations. Lord Mark was very well, but he wasn't THE cleverest
creature in England, and even if he had been he still wouldn't have been the most obliging. He weighed it out in
ounces, and indeed each of the pair was really waiting for what the other would put down.

"She has put down YOU," said Milly, attached to the subject still; "and I think what you mean is that, on the
counter, she still keeps hold of you."

(279) "Lest"−−Kate took it up−−"he should suddenly grab me and run? Oh as he isn't ready to run he's much less
ready, naturally, to grab. I AM−−you're so far right as that−−on the counter, when I'm not in the shop−window; in
and out of which I'm thus conveniently, commercially whisked: the essence, all of it, of my position, and the
price, as properly, of my aunt's protection." Lord Mark was substantially what she had begun with as soon as they
were alone; the impression was even yet with Milly of her having sounded his name, having imposed it, as a
topic, in direct opposition to the other name that Mrs. Lowder had left in the air and that all her own look, as we
have seen, kept there at first for her companion. The immediate strange effect had been that of her consciously
needing, as it were, an alibi−−which, successfully, she so found. She had worked it to the end, ridden it to and fro
across the course marked for Milly by Aunt Maud, and now she had quite, so to speak, broken it in. "The bore is
that if she wants him so much−−wants him, heaven forgive her! for ME−−he has put us all out, since your arrival,
by wanting somebody else. I don't mean somebody else than you."

Milly threw off the charm sufficiently to shake her head. "Then I haven't made out who it is. If I'm any part of his
alternative he had better stop where he is."

"Truly, truly?−−always, always?"

Milly tried to insist with an equal gaiety. "Would you like me to swear?"

Kate appeared for a moment−−though that was (280) doubtless but gaiety too−−to think. "Haven't we been
swearing enough?"


Book Fifth, Chapter 6                                                                                              93
                                              The Wings of the Dove

"You have perhaps, but I haven't, and I ought to give you the equivalent. At any rate there it is. 'Truly, truly' as
you say−−'always, always.' So I'm not in the way."

"Thanks," said Kate−−"but that doesn't help me."

"Oh it's as simplifying for HIM that I speak of it."

"The difficulty really is that he's a person with so many ideas that it's particularly hard to simplify for him. That's
exactly of course what Aunt Maud has been trying. He won't," Kate firmly continued, "make up his mind about
me."

"Well," Milly smiled, "give him time."

Her friend met it in perfection. "One's DOING that−−one IS. But one remains all the same but one of his ideas."

"There's no harm in that," Milly returned, "if you come out in the end as the best of them. What's a man," she
pursued, "especially an ambitious one, without a variety of ideas?"

"No doubt. The more the merrier." And Kate looked at her grandly. "One can but hope to come out, and do
nothing to prevent it."

All of which made for the impression, fantastic or not, of the alibi. The splendour, the grandeur were for Milly the
bold ironic spirit behind it, so interesting too in itself. What, further, was not less interesting was the fact, as our
young woman noted it, that Kate confined her point to the difficulties, so far as SHE was concerned, raised only
by Lord Mark. She (281) referred now to none that her own taste might present; which circumstance again played
its little part. She was doing what she liked in respect to another person, but she was in no way committed to the
other person, and her moreover talking of Lord Mark as not young and not true were only the signs of her clear
self−consciousness, were all in the line of her slightly hard but scarce the less graceful extravagance. She didn't
wish to show too much her consent to be arranged for, but that was a different thing from not wishing sufficiently
to give it. There was something on it all, as well, that Milly still found occasion to say. "If your aunt has been, as
you tell me, put out by me, I feel she has remained remarkably kind."

"Oh but she has−−whatever might have happened in that respect−−plenty of use for you! You put her in, my dear,
more than you put her out. You don't half see it, but she has clutched your petticoat. You can do anything−−you
can do, I mean, lots that WE can't. You're an outsider, independent and standing by yourself; you're not hideously
relative to tiers and tiers of others." And Kate, facing in that direction, went further and further; wound up, while
Milly gaped, with extraordinary words. "We're of no use to you−−it's decent to tell you. You'd be of use to us, but
that's a different matter. My honest advice to you would be−−" she went indeed all lengths−−"to drop us while
you can. It would be funny if you didn't soon see how awfully better you can do. We've not really done for you
the least thing worth speaking of−−nothing you mightn't easily have had in some other way. Therefore you're
under no obligation. (282) You won't want us next year; we shall only continue to want YOU. But that's no reason
for you, and you mustn't pay too dreadfully for poor Mrs. Stringham's having let you in. She has the best
conscience in the world; she's enchanted with what she has done; but you shouldn't take your people from HER. It
has been quite awful to see you do it."

Milly tried to be amused, so as not−−it was too absurd−−to be fairly frightened. Strange enough indeed−−if not
natural enough−−that, late at night thus, in a mere mercenary house, with Susie away, a want of confidence
should possess her. She recalled, with all the rest of it, the next day, piecing things together in the dawn, that she
had felt herself alone with a creature who paced like a panther. That was a violent image, but it made her a little
less ashamed of having been scared. For all her scare, none the less, she had now the sense to find words. "And
yet without Susie I shouldn't have had YOU."

Book Fifth, Chapter 6                                                                                                  94
                                              The Wings of the Dove
It had been at this point, however, that Kate flickered highest. "Oh you may very well loathe me yet!"

Really at last, thus, it had been too much; as, with her own least feeble flare, after a wondering watch, Milly had
shown. She hadn't cared; she had too much wanted to know; and, though a small solemnity of remonstrance, a
sombre strain, had broken into her tone, it was to figure as her nearest approach to serving Mrs. Lowder. "Why do
you say such things to me?"

This unexpectedly had acted, by a sudden turn of Kate's attitude, as a happy speech. She had risen as she spoke,
and Kate had stopped before her, shining (283) at her instantly with a softer brightness. Poor Milly hereby
enjoyed one of her views of how people, wincing oddly, were often touched by her. "Because you're a dove."
With which she felt herself ever so delicately, so considerately, embraced; not with familiarity or as a liberty
taken, but almost ceremonially and in the manner of an accolade; partly as if, though a dove who could perch on a
finger, one were also a princess with whom forms were to be observed. It even came to her, through the touch of
her companion's lips, that this form, this cool pressure, fairly sealed the sense of what Kate had just said. It was
moreover, for the girl, like an inspiration: she found herself accepting as the right one, while she caught her breath
with relief, the name so given her. She met it on the instant as she would have met revealed truth; it lighted up the
strange dusk in which she lately had walked. THAT was what was the matter with her. She was a dove. Oh
WASN'T she?−−it echoed within her as she became aware of the sound, outside, of the return of their friends.
There was, the next thing, little enough doubt about it after Aunt Maud had been two minutes in the room. She
had come up, Mrs. Lowder, with Susan−−which she needn't have done, at that hour, instead of letting Kate come
down to her; so that Milly could be quite sure it was to catch hold, in some way, of the loose end they had left.
Well, the way she did catch was simply to make the point that it didn't now in the least matter. She had mounted
the stairs for this, and she had her moment again with her younger hostess while Kate, on the spot, as the latter at
the time noted, gave Susan Shepherd (284) unwonted opportunities. Kate was in other words, as Aunt Maud
engaged her friend, listening with the handsomest response to Mrs. Stringham's impression of the scene they had
just quitted. It was in the tone of the fondest indulgence−−almost, really, that of dove cooing to dove−−that Mrs.
Lowder expressed to Milly the hope that it had all gone beautifully. Her "all" had an ample benevolence; it
soothed and simplified; she spoke as if it were the two young women, not she and her comrade, who had been
facing the town together. But Milly's answer had prepared itself while Aunt Maud was on the stair; she had felt in
a rush all the reasons that would make it the most dovelike; and she gave it, while she was about it, as earnest, as
candid. "I don't THINK, dear lady, he's here."

It gave her straightway the measure of the success she could have as a dove: that was recorded in the long look of
deep criticism, a look without a word, that Mrs. Lowder poured forth. And the word, presently, bettered it still.
"Oh you exquisite thing!" The luscious innuendo of it, almost startling, lingered in the room, after the visitors had
gone, like an oversweet fragrance. But left alone with Mrs. Stringham Milly continued to breathe it: she studied
again the dovelike and so set her companion to mere rich reporting that she averted all enquiry into her own case.

That, with the new day, was once more her law−−though she saw before her, of course, as something of a
complication, her need, each time, to decide. She should have to be clear as to how a dove WOULD act. She
settled it, she thought, well enough this (285) morning by quite readopting her plan in respect to Sir Luke Strett.
That, she was pleased to reflect, had originally been pitched in the key of a merely iridescent drab; and although
Mrs. Stringham, after breakfast, began by staring at it as if it had been a priceless Persian carpet suddenly unrolled
at her feet, she had no scruple, at the end of five minutes, in leaving her to make the best of it. "Sir Luke Strett
comes, by appointment, to see me at eleven, but I'm going out on purpose. He's to be told, please, deceptively,
that I'm at home, and you, as my representative, when he comes up, are to see him instead. He'll like that, this
time, better. So do be nice to him." It had taken, naturally, more explanation, and the mention, above all, of the
fact that the visitor was the greatest of doctors; yet when once the key had been offered Susie slipped it on her
bunch, and her young friend could again feel her lovely imagination operate. It operated in truth very much as
Mrs. Lowder's, at the last, had done the night before: it made the air heavy once more with the extravagance of
assent. It might, afresh, almost have frightened our young woman to see how people rushed to meet her: HAD she

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                                               The Wings of the Dove
then so little time to live that the road must always be spared her? It was as if they were helping her to take it out
on the spot. Susie−−she couldn't deny, and didn't pretend to−−might, of a truth, on HER side, have treated such
news as a flash merely lurid; as to which, to do Susie justice, the pain of it was all there. But, none the less, the
margin always allowed her young friend was all there as well; and the proposal now made her−−what was it in
short but Byzantine? The vision of (286) Milly's perception of the propriety of the matter had, at any rate, quickly
engulfed, so far as her attitude was concerned, any surprise and any shock; so that she only desired, the next thing,
perfectly to possess the facts. Milly could easily speak, on this, as if there were only one: she made nothing of
such another as that she had felt herself menaced. The great fact, in fine, was that she KNEW him to desire just
now, more than anything else, to meet, quite apart, some one interested in her. Who therefore so interested as her
faithful Susan? The only other circumstance that, by the time she had quitted her friend, she had treated as worth
mentioning was the circumstance of her having at first intended to keep quiet. She had originally best seen herself
as sweetly secretive. As to that she had changed, and her present request was the result. She didn't say why she
had changed, but she trusted her faithful Susan. Their visitor would trust her not less, and she herself would adore
their visitor. Moreover he wouldn't−−the girl felt sure−−tell her anything dreadful. The worst would be that he
was in love and that he needed a confidant to work it. And now she was going to the National Gallery.

Book Fifth, Chapter 7
The idea of the National Gallery had been with her from the moment of her hearing from Sir Luke Strett about his
hour of coming. It had been in her mind as a place so meagrely visited, as one of the places that had seemed at
home one of the attractions of Europe and one of its highest aids to culture, but that−−the old story−−the typical
frivolous always ended by sacrificing to vulgar pleasures. She had had perfectly, at those whimsical moments on
the Brunig, the half−shamed sense of turning her back on such opportunities for real improvement as had figured
to her, from of old, in connexion with the continental tour, under the general head of "pictures and things"; and at
last she knew for what she had done so. The plea had been explicit−−she had done so for life as opposed to
learning; the upshot of which had been that life was now beautifully provided for. In spite of those few dips and
dashes into the many−coloured stream of history for which of late Kate Croy had helped her to find time, there
were possible great chances she had neglected, possible great moments she should, save for to−day, have all but
missed. She might still, she had felt, overtake one or two of them among the Titians and the Turners; she had been
honestly nursing the hour, and, once she was in the benignant halls, her faith knew itself justified. It was the air
she wanted and the world she would now exclusively choose; the (288) quiet chambers, nobly overwhelming, rich
but slightly veiled, opened out round her and made her presently say "If I could lose myself HERE!" There were
people, people in plenty, but, admirably, no personal question. It was immense, outside, the personal question; but
she had blissfully left it outside, and the nearest it came, for a quarter of an hour, to glimmering again into view
was when she watched for a little one of the more earnest of the lady−copyists. Two or three in particular,
spectacled, aproned, absorbed, engaged her sympathy to an absurd extent, seemed to show her for the time the
right way to live. She should have been a lady copyist−−it met so the case. The case was the case of escape, of
living under water, of being at once impersonal and firm. There it was before one−−one had only to stick and
stick.

Milly yielded to this charm till she was almost ashamed; she watched the lady−copyists till she found herself
wondering what would be thought by others of a young woman, of adequate aspect, who should appear to regard
them as the pride of the place. She would have liked to talk to them, to get, as it figured to her, into their lives, and
was deterred but by the fact that she didn't quite see herself as purchasing imitations and yet feared she might
excite the expectation of purchase. She really knew before long that what held her was the mere refuge, that
something within her was after all too weak for the Turners and Titians. They joined hands about her in a circle
too vast, though a circle that a year before she would only have desired to trace. They were truly for the larger, not
for the smaller life, the life of which the actual (289) pitch, for example, was an interest, the interest of
compassion, in misguided efforts. She marked absurdly her little stations, blinking, in her shrinkage of curiosity,
at the glorious walls, yet keeping an eye on vistas and approaches, so that she shouldn't be flagrantly caught. The


Book Fifth, Chapter 7                                                                                                 96
                                             The Wings of the Dove
vistas and approaches drew her in this way from room to room, and she had been through many parts of the show,
as she supposed, when she sat down to rest. There were chairs in scant clusters, places from which one could
gaze. Milly indeed at present fixed her eyes more than elsewhere on the appearance, first, that she couldn't quite,
after all, have accounted to an examiner for the order of her "schools," and then on that of her being more tired
than she had meant, in spite of her having been so much less intelligent. They found, her eyes, it should be added,
other occupation as well, which she let them freely follow: they rested largely, in her vagueness, on the vagueness
of other visitors; they attached themselves in especial, with mixed results, to the surprising stream of her
compatriots. She was struck with the circumstance that the great museum, early in August, was haunted with
these pilgrims, as also with that of her knowing them from afar, marking them easily, each and all, and
recognising not less promptly that they had ever new lights for her−−new lights on their own darkness. She gave
herself up at last, and it was a consummation like another: what she should have come to the National Gallery for
to−day would be to watch the copyists and reckon the Baedekers. That perhaps was the moral of a menaced state
of health−−that one would sit in public places (290) and count the Americans. It passed the time in a manner; but
it seemed already the second line of defence, and this notwithstanding the pattern, so unmistakeable, of her
country−folk. They were cut out as by scissors, coloured, labelled, mounted; but their relation to her failed to
act−−they somehow did nothing for her. Partly, no doubt, they didn't so much as notice or know her, didn't even
recognise their community of collapse with her, the sign on her, as she sat there, that for her too Europe was
"tough." It came to her idly thus−−for her humour could still play−−that she didn't seem then the same success
with them as with the inhabitants of London, who had taken her up on scarce more of an acquaintance. She could
wonder if they would be different should she go back with this glamour attached; and she could also wonder, if it
came to that, whether she should ever go back. Her friends straggled past, at any rate, in all the vividness of their
absent criticism, and she had even at last the sense of taking a mean advantage.

There was a finer instant, however, at which three ladies, clearly a mother and daughters, had paused before her
under compulsion of a comment apparently just uttered by one of them and referring to some object on the other
side of the room. Milly had her back to the object, but her face very much to her young compatriot, the one who
had spoken and in whose look she perceived a certain gloom of recognition. Recognition, for that matter, sat
confessedly in her own eyes: she KNEW the three, generically, as easily as a school−boy with a crib in his lap
would know the (291) answer in class; she felt, like the school−boy, guilty enough−−questioned, as honour went,
as to her right so to possess, to dispossess, people who hadn't consciously provoked her. She would have been
able to say where they lived, and also how, had the place and the way been but amenable to the positive; she bent
tenderly, in imagination, over marital, paternal Mr. Whatever−he−was, at home, eternally named, with all the
honours and placidities, but eternally unseen and existing only as some one who could be financially heard from.
The mother, the puffed and composed whiteness of whose hair had no relation to her apparent age, showed a
countenance almost chemically clean and dry; her companions wore an air of vague resentment humanised by
fatigue; and the three were equally adorned with short cloaks of coloured cloth surmounted by little tartan hoods.
The tartans were doubtless conceivable as different, but the cloaks, curiously, only thinkable as one. "Handsome?
Well, if you choose to say so." It was the mother who had spoken, who herself added, after a pause during which
Milly took the reference as to a picture: "In the English style." The three pair of eyes had converged, and their
possessors had for an instant rested, with the effect of a drop of the subject, on this last characterisation−−with
that, too, of a gloom not less mute in one of the daughters than murmured in the other. Milly's heart went out to
them while they turned their backs; she said to herself that they ought to have known her, that there was
something between them they might have beautifully put together. But she had lost THEM also−−they were cold;
they left her (292) in her weak wonder as to what they had been looking at. The "handsome" disposed her to
turn−−all the more that the "English style" would be the English school, which she liked; only she saw, before
moving, by the array on the side facing her, that she was in fact among small Dutch pictures. The action of this
was again appreciable−−the dim surmise that it wouldn't then be by a picture that the spring in the three ladies had
been pressed. It was at all events time she should go, and she turned as she got on her feet. She had had behind her
one of the entrances and various visitors who had come in while she sat, visitors single and in pairs−−by one of
the former of whom she felt her eyes suddenly held.


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                                              The Wings of the Dove
This was a gentleman in the middle of the place, a gentleman who had removed his hat and was for a moment,
while he glanced, absently, as she could see, at the top tier of the collection, tapping his forehead with his
pocket−handkerchief. The occupation held him long enough to give Milly time to take for granted−−and a few
seconds sufficed−−that his face was the object just observed by her friends. This could only have been because
she concurred in their tribute, even qualified; and indeed "the English style" of the gentleman−−perhaps by instant
contrast to the American−−was what had had the arresting power. This arresting power, at the same time−−and
that was the marvel−−had already sharpened almost to pain, for in the very act of judging the bared head with
detachment she felt herself shaken by a knowledge of it. It was Merton Densher's own, and he was standing there,
standing long enough unconscious (293) for her to fix him and then hesitate. These successions were swift, so that
she could still ask herself in freedom if she had best let him see her. She could still reply to this that she shouldn't
like him to catch her in the effort to prevent it; and she might further have decided that he was too preoccupied to
see anything had not a perception intervened that surpassed the first in violence. She was unable to think
afterwards how long she had looked at him before knowing herself as otherwise looked at; all she was coherently
to put together was that she had had a second recognition without his having noticed her. The source of this latter
shock was nobody less than Kate Croy−−Kate Croy who was suddenly also in the line of vision and whose eyes
met her eyes at their next movement. Kate was but two yards off−−Mr. Densher wasn't alone. Kate's face
specifically said so, for after a stare as blank at first as Milly's it broke into a far smile. That was what,
wonderfully−−in addition to the marvel of their meeting−−passed from her for Milly; the instant reduction to easy
terms of the fact of their being there, the two young women, together. It was perhaps only afterwards that the girl
fully felt the connexion between this touch and her already established conviction that Kate was a prodigious
person; yet on the spot she none the less, in a degree, knew herself handled and again, as she had been the night
before, dealt with−−absolutely even dealt with for her greater pleasure. A minute in fine hadn't elapsed before
Kate had somehow made her provisionally take everything as natural. The provisional was just the
charm−−acquiring that character (294) from one moment to the other; it represented happily so much that Kate
would explain on the very first chance. This left moreover−−and that was the greatest wonder−−all due margin for
amusement at the way things happened, the monstrous oddity of their turning up in such a place on the very heels
of their having separated without allusion to it. The handsome girl was thus literally in control of the scene by the
time Merton Densher was ready to exclaim with a high flush or a vivid blush−−one didn't distinguish the
embarrassment from the joy−−"Why Miss Theale: fancy!" and "Why Miss Theale: what luck!"

Miss Theale had meanwhile the sense that for him too, on Kate's part, something wonderful and unspoken was
determinant; and this although, distinctly, his companion had no more looked at him with a hint than he had
looked at her with a question. He had looked and was looking only at Milly herself, ever so pleasantly and
considerately−−she scarce knew what to call it; but without prejudice to her consciousness, all the same, that
women got out of predicaments better than men. The predicament of course wasn't definite nor phraseable−−and
the way they let all phrasing pass was presently to recur to our young woman as a characteristic triumph of the
civilised state; but she took it for granted, insistently, with a small private flare of passion, because the one thing
she could think of to do for him was to show him how she eased him off. She would really, tired and nervous,
have been much disconcerted if the opportunity in question hadn't saved her. It was what (295) had saved her
most, what had made her, after the first few seconds, almost as brave for Kate as Kate was for her, had made her
only ask herself what their friend would like of her. That he was at the end of three minutes, without the least
complicated reference, so smoothly "their" friend was just the effect of their all being sublimely civilised. The
flash in which he saw this was, for Milly, fairly inspiring−−to that degree in fact that she was even now, on such a
plane, yearning to be supreme. It took, no doubt, a big dose of inspiration to treat as not funny−−or at least as not
unpleasant−−the anomaly, for Kate, that SHE knew their gentleman, and for herself, that Kate was spending the
morning with him; but everything continued to make for this after Milly had tasted of her draught. She was to
wonder in subsequent reflexion what in the world they had actually said, since they had made such a success of
what they didn't say; the sweetness of the draught for the time, at any rate, was to feel success assured. What
depended on this for Mr. Densher was all obscurity to her, and she perhaps but invented the image of his need as a
short cut to accommodation. Whatever the facts, their perfect manners, all round, saw them through. The finest
part of Milly's own inspiration, it may further be mentioned, was the quick perception that what would be of most

Book Fifth, Chapter 7                                                                                                98
                                               The Wings of the Dove
service was, so to speak, her own native wood−note. She had long been conscious with shame for her thin blood,
or at least for her poor economy, of her unused margin as an American girl−−closely indeed as in English air the
text might appear to cover the page. She still had reserves of spontaneity, (296) if not of comicality; so that all this
cash in hand could now find employment. She became as spontaneous as possible and as American as it might
conveniently appeal to Mr. Densher, after his travels, to find her. She said things in the air, and yet flattered
herself that she struck him as saying them not in the tone of agitation but in the tone of New York. In the tone of
New York agitation was beautifully discounted, and she had now a sufficient view of how much it might
accordingly help her.

The help was fairly rendered before they left the place; when her friends presently accepted her invitation to
adjourn with her to luncheon at her hotel it was in Fifth Avenue that the meal might have waited. Kate had never
been there so straight, but Milly was at present taking her; and if Mr. Densher had been he had at least never had
to come so fast. She proposed it as the natural thing−−proposed it as the American girl; and she saw herself
quickly justified by the pace at which she was followed. The beauty of the case was that to do it all she had only
to appear to take Kate's hint. This had said in its fine first smile "Oh yes, our look's queer−−but give me time";
and the American girl could give time as nobody else could. What Milly thus gave she therefore made them
take−−even if, as they might surmise, it was rather more than they wanted. In the porch of the museum she
expressed her preference for a four−wheeler; they would take their course in that guise precisely to multiply the
minutes. She was more than ever justified by the positive charm that her spirit imparted even to their use of this
conveyance; and she (297) touched her highest point−−that is certainly for herself−−as she ushered her
companions into the presence of Susie. Susie was there with luncheon as well as with her return in prospect; and
nothing could now have filled her own consciousness more to the brim than to see this good friend take in how
little she was abjectly anxious. The cup itself actually offered to this good friend might in truth well be startling,
for it was composed beyond question of ingredients oddly mixed. She caught Susie fairly looking at her as if to
know whether she had brought in guests to hear Sir Luke Strett's report. Well, it was better her companion should
have too much than too little to wonder about; she had come out "anyway," as they said at home, for the interest
of the thing; and interest truly sat in her eyes. Milly was none the less, at the sharpest crisis, a little sorry for her;
she could of necessity extract from the odd scene so comparatively little of a soothing secret. She saw Mr.
Densher suddenly popping up, but she saw nothing else that had happened. She saw in the same way her young
friend indifferent to her young friend's doom, and she lacked what would explain it. The only thing to keep her in
patience was the way, after luncheon, Kate almost, as might be said, made up to her. This was actually perhaps as
well what most kept Milly herself in patience. It had in fact for our young woman a positive beauty−−was so
marked as a deviation from the handsome girl's previous courses. Susie had been a bore to the handsome girl, and
the change was now suggestive. The two sat together, after they had risen from table, in the apartment in which
they had (298) lunched, making it thus easy for the other guest and his entertainer to sit in the room adjacent.
This, for the latter personage, was the beauty; it was almost, on Kate's part, like a prayer to be relieved. If she
honestly liked better to be "thrown with" Susan Shepherd than with their other friend, why that said practically
everything. It didn't perhaps altogether say why she had gone out with him for the morning, but it said, as one
thought, about as much as she could say to his face.

Little by little indeed, under the vividness of Kate's behaviour, the probabilities fell back into their order. Merton
Densher was in love and Kate couldn't help it−−could only be sorry and kind: wouldn't that, without wild flurries,
cover everything? Milly at all events tried it as a cover, tried it hard, for the time; pulled it over her, in the front,
the larger room, drew it up to her chin with energy. If it didn't, so treated, do everything for her, it did so much
that she could herself supply the rest. She made that up by the interest of her great question, the question of
whether, seeing him once more, with all that, as she called it to herself, had come and gone, her impression of him
would be different from the impression received in New York. That had held her from the moment of their
leaving the museum; it kept her company through their drive and during luncheon; and now that she was a quarter
of an hour alone with him it became acute. She was to feel at this crisis that no clear, no common answer, no
direct satisfaction on this point, was to reach her; she was to see her question itself simply go to pieces. She
couldn't tell if he (299) were different or not, and she didn't know nor care if SHE were: these things had ceased to

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matter in the light of the only thing she did know. This was that she liked him, as she put it to herself, as much as
ever; and if that were to amount to liking a new person the amusement would be but the greater. She had thought
him at first very quiet, in spite of his recovery from his original confusion; though even the shade of
bewilderment, she yet perceived, had not been due to such vagueness on the subject of her reintensified identity as
the probable sight, over there, of many thousands of her kind would sufficiently have justified. No, he was quiet,
inevitably, for the first half of the time, because Milly's own lively line−−the line of spontaneity−−made
everything else relative; and because too, so far as Kate was spontaneous, it was ever so finely in the air among
them that the normal pitch must be kept. Afterwards, when they had got a little more used, as it were, to each
other's separate felicity, he had begun to talk more, clearly bethinking himself at a given moment of what HIS
natural lively line would be. It would be to take for granted she must wish to hear of the States, and to give her in
its order everything he had seen and done there. He abounded, of a sudden−−he almost insisted; he returned, after
breaks, to the charge; and the effect was perhaps the more odd as he gave no clue whatever to what he had
admired, as he went, or to what he hadn't. He simply drenched her with his sociable story−−especially during the
time they were away from the others. She had stopped then being American−−all to let him be English; a
permission of which (300) he took, she could feel, both immense and unconscious advantage. She had really
never cared less for the States than at this moment; but that had nothing to do with the matter. It would have been
the occasion of her life to learn about them, for nothing could put him off, and he ventured on no reference to
what had happened for herself. It might have been almost as if he had known that the greatest of all these
adventures was her doing just what she did then.

It was at this point that she saw the smash of her great question complete, saw that all she had to do with was the
sense of being there with him. And there was no chill for this in what she also presently saw−−that, however he
had begun, he was now acting from a particular desire, determined either by new facts or new fancies, to be like
every one else, simplifyingly "kind" to her. He had caught on already as to manner−−fallen into line with every
one else; and if his spirits verily HAD gone up it might well be that he had thus felt himself lighting on the
remedy for all awkwardness. Whatever he did or he didn't Milly knew she should still like him−−there was no
alternative to that; but her heart could none the less sink a little on feeling how much his view of her was destined
to have in common with−−as she now sighed over it−−THE view. She could have dreamed of his not having THE
view, of his having something or other, if need be quite viewless, of his own; but he might have what he could
with least trouble, and THE view wouldn't be after all a positive bar to her seeing him. The defect of it in
general−−if she might so ungraciously criticise−−was that, by its sweet universality, (301) it made relations rather
prosaically a matter of course. It anticipated and superseded the−−likewise sweet−−operation of real affinities. It
was this that was doubtless marked in her power to keep him now−−this and her glassy lustre of attention to his
pleasantness about the scenery in the Rockies. She was in truth a little measuring her success in detaining him by
Kate's success in "standing" Susan. It wouldn't be, if she could help it, Mr. Densher who should first break down.
Such at least was one of the forms of the girl's inward tension; but beneath even this deep reason was a motive
still finer. What she had left at home on going out to give it a chance was meanwhile still, was more sharply and
actively, there. What had been at the top of her mind about it and then been violently pushed down−−this quantity
was again working up. As soon as their friends should go Susie would break out, and what she would break out
upon wouldn't be−−interested in that gentleman as she had more than once shown herself−−the personal fact of
Mr. Densher. Milly had found in her face at luncheon a feverish glitter, and it told what she was full of. She didn't
care now for Mr. Densher's personal facts. [sic. Norton emendation: fact.] Mr. Densher had risen before her only
to find his proper place in her imagination already of a sudden occupied. His personal fact failed, so far as she was
concerned, to BE personal, and her companion noticed the failure. This could only mean that she was full to the
brim of Sir Luke Strett and of what she had had from him. What HAD she had from him? It was indeed now
working upward again that Milly would do well to know, though knowledge looked stiff in the (302) light of
Susie's glitter. It was therefore on the whole because Densher's young hostess was divided from it by so thin a
partition that she continued to cling to the Rockies.

END OF VOLUME 1 of THE WINGS OF THE DOVE


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Volume 2

Book Sixth, Chapter 1
"I say, you know, Kate−−you DID stay!" had been Merton Densher's punctual remark on their adventure after
they had, as it were, got out of it; an observation which she not less promptly, on her side, let him see that she
forgave in him only because he was a man. She had to recognise, with whatever disappointment, that it was
doubtless the most helpful he could make in this character. The fact of the adventure was flagrant between them;
they had looked at each other, on gaining the street, as people look who have just rounded together a dangerous
corner, and there was therefore already enough unanimity sketched out to have lighted, for her companion,
anything equivocal in her action. But the amount of light men DID need!−−Kate could have been eloquent at this
moment about that. What, however, on his seeing more, struck him as most distinct in her was her sense that,
reunited after his absence and having been now half the morning together, it behooved them to face without delay
the question of handling their immediate future. That it would require some handling, that they should still have to
deal, deal in a crafty manner, with difficulties and delays, was the great matter he had come back to, greater than
any but the refreshed consciousness of their personal need of each other. (4) This need had had twenty minutes,
the afternoon before, to find out where it stood, and the time was fully accounted for by the charm of the
demonstration. He had arrived at Euston at five, having wired her from Liverpool the moment he landed, and she
had quickly decided to meet him at the station, whatever publicity might attend such an act. When he had praised
her for it on alighting from his train she had answered frankly enough that such things should be taken at a jump.
She didn't care to−day who saw her, and she profited by it for her joy. To−morrow, inevitably, she should have
time to think and then, as inevitably, would become a baser creature, a creature of alarms and precautions. It was
none the less for to−morrow at an early hour that she had appointed their next meeting, keeping in mind for the
present a particular obligation to show at Lancaster Gate by six o'clock. She had given, with imprecations, her
reason−−people to tea, eternally, and a promise to Aunt Maud; but she had been liberal enough on the spot and
had suggested the National Gallery for the morning quite as with an idea that had ripened in expectancy. They
might be seen there too, but nobody would know them; just as, for that matter, now, in the refreshment−room to
which they had adjourned, they would incur the notice but, at the worst, of the unacquainted. They would "have
something" there for the facility it would give. Thus had it already come up for them again that they had no place
of convenience.

He found himself on English soil with all sorts of feelings, but he hadn't quite faced having to reckon (5) with a
certain ruefulness in regard to that subject as one of the strongest. He was aware later on that there were questions
his impatience had shirked; whereby it actually rather smote him, for want of preparation and assurance, that he
had nowhere to "take" his love. He had taken it thus, at Euston−−and on Kate's own suggestion−−into the place
where people had beer and buns, and had ordered tea at a small table in the corner; which, no doubt, as they were
lost in the crowd, did well enough for a stop−gap. It perhaps did as well as her simply driving with him to the
door of his lodging, which had had to figure as the sole device of his own wit. That wit, the truth was, had broken
down a little at the sharp prevision that once at his door they would have to hang back. She would have to stop
there, wouldn't come in with him, couldn't possibly; and he shouldn't be able to ask her, would feel he couldn't
without betraying a deficiency of what would be called, even at their advanced stage, respect for her: that again
was all that was clear except the further fact that it was maddening. Compressed and concentrated, confined to a
single sharp pang or two, but none the less in wait for him there on the Euston platform and lifting its head as that
of a snake in the garden, was the disconcerting sense that "respect," in their game, seemed somehow−−he scarce
knew what to call it−−a fifth wheel to the coach. It was properly an inside thing, not an outside, a thing to make
love greater, not to make happiness less. They had met again for happiness, and he distinctly felt, during his most
lucid moment or two, how he must keep watch on anything that (6) really menaced that boon. If Kate had
consented to drive away with him and alight at his house there would probably enough have occurred for them, at
the foot of his steps, one of those strange instants between man and woman that blow upon the red spark, the
spark of conflict, ever latent in the depths of passion. She would have shaken her head−−oh sadly, divinely−−on


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                                              The Wings of the Dove
the question of coming in; and he, though doing all justice to her refusal, would have yet felt his eyes reach
further into her own than a possible word at such a time could reach. This would have meant the suspicion, the
dread of the shadow, of an adverse will. Lucky therefore in the actual case that the scant minutes took another
turn and that by the half−hour she did in spite of everything contrive to spend with him Kate showed so well how
she could deal with things that maddened. She seemed to ask him, to beseech him, and all for his better comfort,
to leave her, now and henceforth, to treat them in her own way.

She had still met it in naming so promptly, for their early convenience, one of the great museums; and indeed with
such happy art that his fully seeing where she had placed him hadn't been till after he left her. His absence from
her for so many weeks had had such an effect upon him that his demands, his desires had grown; and only the
night before, as his ship steamed, beneath summer stars, in sight of the Irish coast, he had felt all the force of his
particular necessity. He hadn't in other words at any point doubted he was on his way to say to her that really their
mistake must end. Their mistake was to have believed that they (7) COULD hold out−−hold out, that is, not
against Aunt Maud, but against an impatience that, prolonged and exasperated, made a man ill. He had known
more than ever, on their separating in the court of the station, how ill a man, and even a woman, could feel from
such a cause; but he struck himself as also knowing that he had already suffered Kate to begin finely to apply
antidotes and remedies and subtle sedatives. It had a vulgar sound−−as throughout, in love, the names of things,
the verbal terms of intercourse, were, compared with love itself, horribly vulgar; but it was as if, after all, he
might have come back to find himself "put off," though it would take him of course a day or two to see. His letters
from the States had pleased whom it concerned, though not so much as he had meant they should; and he should
be paid according to agreement and would now take up his money. It wasn't in truth very much to take up, so that
he hadn't in the least come back flourishing a chequebook; that new motive for bringing his mistress to terms he
couldn't therefore pretend to produce. The ideal certainty would have been to be able to present a change of
prospect as a warrant for the change of philosophy, and without it he should have to make shift but with the
pretext of the lapse of time. The lapse of time−−not so many weeks after all, she might always of course
say−−couldn't at any rate have failed to do something for him; and that consideration it was that had just now
tided him over, all the more that he had his vision of what it had done personally for Kate. This had come out for
him with a splendour that almost scared him even in their small corner (8) of the room at Euston−−almost scared
him because it just seemed to blaze at him that waiting was the game of dupes. Not yet had she been so the
creature he had originally seen; not yet had he felt so soundly safely sure. It was all there for him, playing on his
pride of possession as a hidden master in a great dim church might play on the grandest organ. His final sense was
that a woman couldn't be like that and then ask of one the impossible.

She had been like that afresh on the morrow; and so for the hour they had been able to float in the mere joy of
contact−−such contact as their situation in pictured public halls permitted. This poor makeshift for closeness
confessed itself in truth, by twenty small signs of unrest even on Kate's part, inadequate; so little could a decent
interest in the interesting place presume to remind them of its claims. They had met there in order not to meet in
the streets and not again, with an equal want of invention and of style, at a railway−station; not again, either, in
Kensington Gardens, which, they could easily and tacitly agree, would have had too much of the taste of their old
frustrations. The present taste, the taste that morning in the pictured halls, had been a variation; yet Densher had at
the end of a quarter of an hour fully known what to conclude from it. This fairly consoled him for their
awkwardness, as if he had been watching it affect her. She might be as nobly charming as she liked, and he had
seen nothing to touch her in the States; she couldn't pretend that in such conditions as those she herself
BELIEVED it enough to appease him. She couldn't pretend she believed he (9) would believe it enough to render
her a like service. It wasn't enough for that purpose−−she as good as showed him it wasn't. That was what he
could be glad, by demonstration, to have brought her to. He would have said to her had he put it crudely and on
the spot: "NOW am I to understand you that you consider this sort of thing can go on?" It would have been open
to her, no doubt, to reply that to have him with her again, to have him all kept and treasured, so still, under her
grasping hand, as she had held him in their yearning interval, was a sort of thing that he must allow her to have no
quarrel about; but that would be a mere gesture of her grace, a mere sport of her subtlety. She knew as well as he
what they wanted; in spite of which indeed he scarce could have said how beautifully he mightn't once more have

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                                              The Wings of the Dove
named it and urged it if she hadn't, at a given moment, blurred, as it were, the accord. They had soon seated
themselves for better talk, and so they had remained a while, intimate and superficial. The immediate things to say
had been many, for they hadn't exhausted them at Euston. They drew upon them freely now, and Kate appeared
quite to forget−−which was prodigiously becoming to her−−to look about for surprises. He was to try afterwards,
and try in vain, to remember what speech or what silence of his own, what natural sign of the eyes or accidental
touch of the hand, had precipitated for her, in the midst of this, a sudden different impulse. She had got up, with
inconsequence, as if to break the charm, though he wasn't aware of what he had done at the moment to make the
charm a danger. She had (10) patched it up agreeably enough the next minute by some odd remark about some
picture, to which he hadn't so much as replied; it being quite independently of this that he had himself exclaimed
on the dreadful closeness of the rooms. He had observed that they must go out again to breathe; and it was as if
their common consciousness, while they passed into another part, was that of persons who, infinitely engaged
together, had been startled and were trying to look natural. It was probably while they were so occupied−−as the
young man subsequently reconceived−−that they had stumbled upon his little New York friend. He thought of her
for some reason as little, though she was of about Kate's height, to which, any more than to any other felicity in
his mistress, he had never applied the diminutive.

What was to be in the retrospect more distinct to him was the process by which he had become aware that Kate's
acquaintance with her was greater than he had gathered. She had written of it in due course as a new and amusing
one, and he had written back that he had met over there, and that he much liked, the young person; whereupon she
had answered that he must find out about her at home. Kate, in the event, however, had not returned to that, and
he had of course, with so many things to find out about, been otherwise taken up. Little Miss Theale's individual
history was not stuff for his newspaper; besides which, moreover, he was seeing but too many little Miss Theales.
They even went so far as to impose themselves as one of the groups of social phenomena that fell into the scheme
of his public letters. For this (11) group in especial perhaps−−the irrepressible, the supereminent young
persons−−his best pen was ready. Thus it was that there could come back to him in London, an hour or two after
their luncheon with the American pair, the sense of a situation for which Kate hadn't wholly prepared him.
Possibly indeed as marked as this was his recovered perception that preparations, of more than one kind, had been
exactly what, both yesterday and to−day, he felt her as having in hand. That appearance in fact, if he dwelt on it,
so ministered to apprehension as to require some brushing away. He shook off the suspicion to some extent, on
their separating first from their hostesses and then from each other, by the aid of a long and rather aimless walk.
He was to go to the office later, but he had the next two or three hours, and he gave himself as a pretext that he
had eaten much too much. After Kate had asked him to put her into a cab−−which, as an announced, a resumed
policy on her part, he found himself deprecating−−he stood a while by a corner and looked vaguely forth at his
London. There was always doubtless a moment for the absentee recaptured−−THE moment, that of the reflux of
the first emotion−−at which it was beyond disproof that one was back. His full parenthesis was closed, and he was
once more but a sentence, of a sort, in the general text, the text that, from his momentary street−corner, showed as
a great grey page of print that somehow managed to be crowded without being "fine." The grey, however, was
more or less the blur of a point of view not yet quite seized again; and there would be colour enough to come out.
He was (12) back, flatly enough, but back to possibilities and prospects, and the ground he now somewhat
sightlessly covered was the act of renewed possession.

He walked northward without a plan, without suspicion, quite in the direction his little New York friend, in her
restless ramble, had taken a day or two before. He reached, like Milly, the Regent's Park; and though he moved
further and faster he finally sat down, like Milly, from the force of thought. For him too in this position, be it
added−−and he might positively have occupied the same bench−−various troubled fancies folded their wings. He
had no more yet said what he really wanted than Kate herself had found time. She should hear enough of that in a
couple of days. He had practically not pressed her as to what most concerned them; it had seemed so to concern
them during these first hours but to hold each other, spiritually speaking, close. This at any rate was palpable, that
there were at present more things rather than fewer between them. The explanation about the two ladies would be
part of the lot, yet could wait with all the rest. They were not meanwhile certainly what most made him
roam−−the missing explanations weren't. That was what she had so often said before, and always with the effect

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                                              The Wings of the Dove
of suddenly breaking off: "Now please call me a good cab." Their previous encounters, the times when they had
reached in their stroll the south side of the park, had had a way of winding up with this special irrelevance. It was
effectively what most divided them, for he would generally, but for her reasons, have been able to jump in with
her. What did she think he (13) wished to do to her?−−it was a question he had had occasion to put. A small
matter, however, doubtless−−since, when it came to that, they didn't depend on cabs good or bad for the sense of
union: its importance was less from the particular loss than as a kind of irritating mark of her expertness. This
expertness, under providence, had been great from the first, so far as joining him was concerned; and he was
critical only because it had been still greater, even from the first too, in respect to leaving him. He had put the
question to her again that afternoon, on the repetition of her appeal−−had asked her once more what she supposed
he wished to do. He recalled, on his bench in the Regent's Park, the freedom of fancy, funny and pretty, with
which she had answered; recalled the moment itself, while the usual hansom charged them, during which he felt
himself, disappointed as he was, grimacing back at the superiority of her very "humour," in its added grace of
gaiety, to the celebrated solemn American. Their fresh appointment had been at all events by that time made, and
he should see what her choice in respect to it−−a surprise as well as a relief−−would do toward really simplifying.
It meant either new help or new hindrance, though it took them at least out of the streets. And her naming this
privilege had naturally made him ask if Mrs. Lowder knew of his return.

"Not from me," Kate had replied. "But I shall speak to her now." And she had argued, as with rather a quick fresh
view, that it would now be quite easy. "We've behaved for months so properly that I've margin surely for my
mention of you. You'll (14) come to see HER, and she'll leave you with me; she'll show her good nature, and her
lack of betrayed fear, in that. With her, you know, you've never broken, quite the contrary, and she likes you as
much as ever. We're leaving town; it will be the end; just now therefore it's nothing to ask. I'll ask to−night," Kate
had wound up, "and if you'll leave it to me−−my cleverness, I assure you, has grown infernal−−I'll make it all
right."

He had of course thus left it to her and he was wondering more about it now than he had wondered there in Brook
Street. He repeated to himself that if it wasn't in the line of triumph it was in the line of muddle. This indeed, no
doubt, was as a part of his wonder for still other questions. Kate had really got off without meeting his little
challenge about the terms of their intercourse with her dear Milly. Her dear Milly, it was sensible, WAS somehow
in the picture. Her dear Milly, popping up in his absence, occupied−−he couldn't have said quite why he felt
it−−more of the foreground than one would have expected her in advance to find clear. She took up room, and it
was almost as if room had been made for her. Kate had appeared to take for granted he would know why it had
been made; but that was just the point. It was a foreground in which he himself, in which his connexion with
Kate, scarce enjoyed a space to turn round. But Miss Theale was perhaps at the present juncture a possibility of
the same sort as the softened, if not the squared, Aunt Maud. It might be true of her also that if she weren't a bore
she'd be a convenience. It rolled over him of a sudden, after he had (15) resumed his walk, that this might easily
be what Kate had meant. The charming girl adored her−−Densher had for himself made out that−−and would
protect, would lend a hand, to their interviews. These might take place, in other words, on her premises, which
would remove them still better from the streets. THAT was an explanation which did hang together. It was
impaired a little, of a truth, by this fact that their next encounter was rather markedly not to depend upon her. Yet
this fact in turn would be accounted for by the need of more preliminaries. One of the things he conceivably
should gain on Thursday at Lancaster Gate would be a further view of that propriety.

Book Sixth, Chapter 2
It was extraordinary enough that he should actually be finding himself, when Thursday arrived, none so wide of
the mark. Kate hadn't come all the way to this for him, but she had come to a good deal by the end of a quarter of
an hour. What she had begun with was her surprise at her appearing to have left him on Tuesday anything more to
understand. The parts, as he now saw, under her hand, did fall more or less together, and it wasn't even as if she
had spent the interval in twisting and fitting them. She was bright and handsome, not fagged and worn, with the


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                                             The Wings of the Dove
general clearness; for it certainly stuck out enough that if the American ladies themselves weren't to be squared,
which was absurd, they fairly imposed the necessity of trying Aunt Maud again. One couldn't say to them, kind as
she had been to them: "We'll meet, please, whenever you'll let us, at your house; but we count on you to help us to
keep it secret." They must in other terms inevitably speak to Aunt Maud−−it would be of the last awkwardness to
ask them not to: Kate had embraced all this in her choice of speaking first. What Kate embraced altogether was
indeed wonderful to−day for Densher, though he perhaps struck himself rather as getting it out of her piece by
piece than as receiving it in a steady light. He had always felt, however, that the more he asked of her the more he
found her prepared, as he imaged (17) it, to hand out. He had said to her more than once even before his absence:
"You keep the key of the cupboard, and I foresee that when we're married you'll dole me out my sugar by lumps."
She had replied that she rejoiced in his assumption that sugar would be his diet, and the domestic arrangement so
prefigured might have seemed already to prevail. The supply from the cupboard at this hour was doubtless, of a
truth, not altogether cloyingly sweet; but it met in a manner his immediate requirements. If her explanations at
any rate prompted questions the questions no more exhausted them than they exhausted her patience. And they
were naturally, of the series, the simpler; as for instance in his taking it from her that Miss Theale then could do
nothing for them. He frankly brought out what he had ventured to think possible. "If we can't meet here and we've
really exhausted the charms of the open air and the crowd, some such little raft in the wreck, some occasional
opportunity like that of Tuesday, has been present to me these two days as better than nothing. But if our friends
are so accountable to this house of course there's no more to be said. And it's one more nail, thank God, in the
coffin of our odious delay." He was but too glad without more ado to point the moral. "Now I hope you see we
can't work it anyhow."

If she laughed for this−−and her spirits seemed really high−−it was because of the opportunity that, at the hotel,
he had most shown himself as enjoying. "Your idea's beautiful when one remembers that you hadn't a word
except for Milly." But she was as beautifully good−humoured. "You might of course (18) get used to her−−you
WILL. You're quite right−−so long as they're with us or near us." And she put it, lucidly, that the dear things
couldn't HELP, simply as charming friends, giving them a lift. "They'll speak to Aunt Maud. but they won't shut
their doors to us: that would be another matter. A friend always helps−−and she's a friend." She had left Mrs.
Stringham by this time out of the question; she had reduced it to Milly. "Besides, she particularly likes us. She
particularly likes YOU. I say, old boy, make something of that." He felt her dodging the ultimatum he had just
made sharp, his definite reminder of how little, at the best, they could work it; but there were certain of his
remarks−−those mostly of the sharper penetration−−that it had been quite her practice from the first not formally,
not reverently to notice. She showed the effect of them in ways less trite. This was what happened now: he didn't
think in truth that she wasn't really minding. She took him up, none the less, on a minor question. "You say we
can't meet here, but you see it's just what we do. What could be more lovely than this?"

It wasn't to torment him−−that again he didn't believe; but he had to come to the house in some discomfort, so that
he frowned a little at her calling it thus a luxury. Wasn't there an element in it of coming back into bondage? The
bondage might be veiled and varnished, but he knew in his bones how little the very highest privileges of
Lancaster Gate could ever be a sign of their freedom. They were upstairs, in one of the smaller apartments of
state, a room arranged as a boudoir, but visibly unused−−it defied (19) familiarity−−and furnished in the ugliest of
blues. He had immediately looked with interest at the closed doors, and Kate had met his interest with the
assurance that it was all right, that Aunt Maud did them justice−−so far, that was, as this particular time was
concerned; that they should be alone and have nothing to fear. But the fresh allusion to this that he had drawn
from her acted on him now more directly, brought him closer still to the question. They WERE alone−−it WAS
all right: he took in anew the shut doors and the permitted privacy, the solid stillness of the great house. They
connected themselves on the spot with something made doubly vivid in him by the whole present play of her
charming strong will. What it amounted to was that he couldn't have her−−hanged if he could!−−evasive. He
couldn't and he wouldn't−−wouldn't have her inconvenient and elusive. He didn't want her deeper than himself,
fine as it might be as wit or as character; he wanted to keep her where their communications would be straight and
easy and their intercourse independent. The effect of this was to make him say in a moment: "Will you take me
just as I am?"

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                                               The Wings of the Dove
She turned a little pale for the tone of truth in it−−which qualified to his sense delightfully the strength of her will;
and the pleasure he found in this was not the less for her breaking out after an instant into a strain that stirred him
more than any she had ever used with him. "Ah do let me try myself! I assure you I see my way−−so don't spoil it:
wait for me and give me time. Dear man," Kate said, "only believe in me, and it will be beautiful."

(20) He hadn't come back to hear her talk of his believing in her as if he didn't; but he had come back−−and it all
was upon him now−−to seize her with a sudden intensity that her manner of pleading with him had made, as
happily appeared, irresistible. He laid strong hands upon her to say, almost in anger, "Do you love me, love me,
love me?" and she closed her eyes as with the sense that he might strike her but that she could gratefully take it.
Her surrender was her response, her response her surrender; and, though scarce hearing what she said, he so
profited by these things that it could for the time be ever so intimately appreciable to him that he was keeping her.
The long embrace in which they held each other was the rout of evasion, and he took from it the certitude that
what she had from him was real to her. It was stronger than an uttered vow, and the name he was to give it in
afterthought was that she had been sublimely sincere. THAT was all he asked−−sincerity making a basis that
would bear almost anything. This settled so much, and settled it so thoroughly, that there was nothing left to ask
her to swear to. Oaths and vows apart, now they could talk. It seemed in fact only now that their questions were
put on the table. He had taken up more expressly at the end of five minutes her plea for her own plan, and it was
marked that the difference made by the passage just enacted was a difference in favour of her choice of means.
Means had somehow suddenly become a detail−−her province and her care; it had grown more consistently vivid
that her intelligence was one with her passion. "I certainly don't want," he said−−and he could say it (21) with a
smile of indulgence−−"to be all the while bringing it up that I don't trust you."

"I should hope not! What do you think I want to do?"

He had really at this to make out a little what he thought, and the first thing that put itself in evidence was of
course the oddity, after all, of their game, to which he could but frankly allude. "We're doing, at the best, in trying
to temporise in so special a way, a thing most people would call us fools for." But his visit passed, all the same,
without his again attempting to make "just as he was" serve. He had no more money just as he was than he had
had just as he had been, or than he should have, probably, when it came to that, just as he always would be;
whereas she, on her side, in comparison with her state of some months before, had measureably more to
relinquish. He easily saw how their meeting at Lancaster Gate gave more of an accent to that quantity than their
meeting at stations or in parks; and yet on the other hand he couldn't urge this against it. If Mrs. Lowder was
indifferent her indifference added in a manner to what Kate's taking him as he was would call on her to sacrifice.
Such in fine was her art with him that she seemed to put the question of their still waiting into quite other terms
than the terms of ugly blue, of florid Sevres, of complicated brass, in which their boudoir expressed it. She said
almost all in fact by saying, on this article of Aunt Maud, after he had once more pressed her, that when he should
see her, as must inevitably soon happen, he would understand. "Do you mean," he asked at this, "that there's any
DEFINITE (22) sign of her coming round? I'm not talking," he explained, "of mere hypocrisies in her, or mere
brave duplicities. Remember, after all, that supremely clever as we are, and as strong a team, I admit, as there is
going−−remember that she can play with us quite as much as we play with her."

"She doesn't want to play with ME, my dear," Kate lucidly replied; "she doesn't want to make me suffer a bit
more than she need. She cares for me too much, and everything she does or doesn't do has a value. THIS has a
value−−her being as she has been about us to−day. I believe she's in her room, where she's keeping strictly to
herself while you're here with me. But that isn't 'playing'−−not a bit."

"What is it then," the young man returned−−"from the moment it isn't her blessing and a cheque?"

Kate was complete. "It's simply her absence of smallness. There IS something in her above trifles. She
GENERALLY trusts us; she doesn't propose to hunt us into corners: and if we frankly ask for a thing−−why,"
said Kate, "she shrugs, but she lets it go. She has really but one fault−−she's indifferent, on such ground as she has

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                                               The Wings of the Dove

taken about us, to details. However," the girl cheerfully went on, "it isn't in detail we fight her."

"It seems to me," Densher brought out after a moment's thought of this, "that it's in detail we deceive her"−−a
speech that, as soon as he had uttered it, applied itself for him, as also visibly for his companion, to the afterglow
of their recent embrace.

Any confusion attaching to this adventure, however, dropped from Kate, whom, as he could see with (23) sacred
joy, it must take more than that to make compunctious. "I don't say we can do it again. I mean," she explained,
"meet here."

Densher indeed had been wondering where they could do it again. If Lancaster Gate was so limited that issue
reappeared. "I mayn't come back at all?"

"Certainly−−to see her. It's she, really," his companion smiled, "who's in love with you."

But it made him−−a trifle more grave−−look at her a moment. "Don't make out, you know, that every one's in
love with me."

She hesitated. "I don't say every one."

"You said just now Miss Theale."

"I said she liked you−−yes."

"Well, it comes to the same thing." With which, however, he pursued: "Of course I ought to thank Mrs. Lowder in
person. I mean for THIS−−as from myself."

"Ah but, you know, not too much!" She had an ironic gaiety for the implications of his "this," besides wishing to
insist on a general prudence. "She'll wonder what you're thanking her for!"

Densher did justice to both considerations. "Yes, I can't very well tell her all."

It was perhaps because he said it so gravely that Kate was again in a manner amused. Yet she gave out light. "You
can't very well 'tell' her anything, and that doesn't matter. Only be nice to her. Please her; make her see how clever
you are−−only without letting her see that you're trying. If you're charming to her you've nothing else to do."

But she oversimplified too. "I can be 'charming' (24) to her, so far as I see, only by letting her suppose I give you
up−−which I'll be hanged if I do! It IS," he said with feeling, "a game."

"Of course it's a game. But she'll never suppose you give me up−−or I give YOU−−if you keep reminding her
how you enjoy our interviews."

"Then if she has to see us as obstinate and constant," Densher asked, "what good does it do?"

Kate was for a moment checked. "What good does what−−?"

"Does my pleasing her−−does anything. I CAN'T," he impatiently declared, "please her."

Kate looked at him hard again, disappointed at his want of consistency; but it appeared to determine in her
something better than a mere complaint. "Then i can! Leave it to me." With which she came to him under the
compulsion, again, that had united them shortly before, and took hold of him in her urgency to the same tender

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                                              The Wings of the Dove

purpose. It was her form of entreaty renewed and repeated, which made after all, as he met it, their great fact
clear. And it somehow clarified ALL things so to possess each other. The effect of it was that, once more, on
these terms, he could only be generous. He had so on the spot then left everything to her that she reverted in the
course of a few moments to one of her previous−−and as positively seemed−−her most precious ideas. "You
accused me just now of saying that Milly's in love with you. Well, if you come to that, I do say it. So there you
are. That's the good she'll do us. It makes a basis for her seeing you−−so that she'll help us to go on."

(25) Densher stared−−she was wondrous all round. "And what sort of a basis does it make for my seeing HER?"

"Oh I don't mind!" Kate smiled.

"Don't mind my leading her on?"

She put it differently. "Don't mind her leading YOU."

"Well, she won't−−so it's nothing not to mind. But how can that 'help,' " he pursued, "with what she knows?"

"What she knows? [sic] That needn't prevent."

He wondered. "Prevent her loving us?"

"Prevent her helping you. She's LIKE that," Kate Croy explained.

It took indeed some understanding. "Making nothing of the fact that I love another?"

"Making everything," said Kate. "To console you."

"But for what?"

"For not getting your other."

He continued to stare. "But how does she know−−?"

"That you WON'T get her? She doesn't; but on the other hand she doesn't know you will. Meanwhile she sees you
baffled, for she knows of Aunt Maud's stand. THAT"−−Kate was lucid−−"gives her the chance to be nice to you."

"And what does it give ME," the young man none the less rationally asked, "the chance to be? A brute of a
humbug to her?"

Kate so possessed her facts, as it were, that she smiled at his violence. "You'll extraordinarily like (26) her. She's
exquisite. And there are reasons. I mean others."

"What others?"

"Well, I'll tell you another time. Those I give you," the girl added, "are enough to go on with."

"To go on to what?"

"Why, to seeing her again−−say as soon as you can: which, moreover, on all grounds, is no more than decent of
you."


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                                              The Wings of the Dove

He of course took in her reference, and he had fully in mind what had passed between them in New York. It had
been no great quantity, but it had made distinctly at the time for his pleasure; so that anything in the nature of an
appeal in the name of it could have a slight kindling consequence. "Oh I shall naturally call again without delay.
Yes," said Densher, "her being in love with me is nonsense; but I must, quite independently of that, make every
acknowledgement of favours received."

It appeared practically all Kate asked. "Then you see. I shall meet you there."

"I don't quite see," he presently returned, "why she should wish to receive YOU for it."

"She receives me for myself−−that is for HER self. She thinks no end of me. That I should have to drum it into
you!"

Yet still he didn't take it. "Then I confess she's beyond me."

Well, Kate could but leave it as she saw it. "She regards me as already−−in these few weeks−−her dearest friend.
It's quite separate. We're in, she and I, ever so deep." And it was to confirm this that, (27) as if it had flashed upon
her that he was somewhere at sea, she threw out at last her own real light. "She doesn't of course know I care for
YOU. She thinks I care so little that it's not worth speaking of." That he HAD been somewhere at sea these
remarks made quickly clear, and Kate hailed the effect with surprise. "Have you been supposing that she does
know−−?"

"About our situation? Certainly, if you're such friends as you show me−−and if you haven't otherwise represented
it to her." She uttered at this such a sound of impatience that he stood artlessly vague. "You HAVE denied it to
her?"

She threw up her arms at his being so backward. " 'Denied it'? My dear man, we've never spoken of you."

"Never, never?"

"Strange as it may appear to your glory−−never."

He couldn't piece it together. "But won't Mrs. Lowder have spoken?"

"Very probably. But of YOU. Not of me."

This struck him as obscure. "How does she know me but as part and parcel of you?"

"How?" Kate triumphantly asked. "Why exactly to make nothing of it, to have nothing to do with it, to stick
consistently to her line about it. Aunt Maud's line is to keep all reality out of our relation−−that is out of my being
in danger from you−−by not having so much as suspected or heard of it. She'll get rid of it, as she believes, by
ignoring it and sinking it−−if she only does so hard enough. Therefore SHE, in her manner, 'denies' it if you will.
That's how she knows you otherwise than as part and parcel of me. (28) She won't for a moment have allowed
either to Mrs. Stringham or to Milly that I've in any way, as they say, distinguished you."

"And you don't suppose," said Densher, "that they must have made it out for themselves?"

"No, my dear, I don't; not even," Kate declared, "after Milly's so funnily bumping against us on Tuesday."

"She doesn't see from THAT−−?"


Book Sixth, Chapter 2                                                                                               109
                                              The Wings of the Dove

"That you're, so to speak, mad about me. Yes, she sees, no doubt, that you regard me with a complacent eye−−for
you show it, I think, always too much and too crudely. But nothing beyond that. i don't show it too much; I don't
perhaps−−to please you completely where others are concerned−−show it enough."

"Can you show it or not as you like?" Densher demanded.

It pulled her up a little, but she came out resplendent. "Not where YOU are concerned. Beyond seeing that you're
rather gone," she went on, "Milly only sees that I'm decently good to you."

"Very good indeed she must think it!"

"Very good indeed then. She easily sees me," Kate smiled, "as very good indeed."

The young man brooded. "But in a sense to take some explaining."

"Then I explain." She was really fine; it came back to her essential plea for her freedom of action and his beauty
of trust. "I mean," she added, "I WILL explain."

"And what will i do?"

(29) "Recognise the difference it must make if she thinks." But here in truth Kate faltered. It was his silence alone
that, for the moment, took up her apparent meaning; and before he again spoke she had returned to remembrance
and prudence. They were now not to forget that, Aunt Maud's liberality having put them on their honour, they
mustn't spoil their case by abusing it. He must leave her in time; they should probably find it would help them.
But she came back to Milly too. "Mind you go to see her."

Densher still, however, took up nothing of this. "Then I may come again?"

"For Aunt Maud−−as much as you like. But we can't again," said Kate, "play her THIS trick. I can't see you here
alone."

"Then where?"

"Go to see Milly," she for all satisfaction repeated.

"And what good will that do me?"

"Try it and you'll see."

"You mean you'll manage to be there?" Densher asked. "Say you are, how will that give us privacy?"

"Try it−−you'll see," the girl once more returned. "We must manage as we can."

"That's precisely what i feel. It strikes me we might manage better." His idea of this was a thing that made him an
instant hesitate; yet he brought it out with conviction. "Why won't you come to ME?"

It was a question her troubled eyes seemed to tell him he was scarce generous in expecting her definitely to
answer, and by looking to him to wait at least she appealed to something that she presently made him feel as his
pity. It was on that special shade of tenderness (30) that he thus found himself thrown back; and while he asked of
his spirit and of his flesh just what concession they could arrange she pressed him yet again on the subject of her
singular remedy for their embarrassment. It might have been irritating had she ever struck him as having in her

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                                              The Wings of the Dove

mind a stupid corner. "You'll see," she said, "the difference it will make."

Well, since she wasn't stupid she was intelligent; it was he who was stupid−−the proof of which was that he
would do what she liked. But he made a last effort to understand, her allusion to the "difference" bringing him
round to it. He indeed caught at something subtle but strong even as he spoke. "Is what you meant a moment ago
that the difference will be in her being made to believe you hate me?"

Kate, however, had simply, for this gross way of putting it, one of her more marked shows of impatience; with
which in fact she sharply closed their discussion. He opened the door on a sign from her, and she accompanied
him to the top of the stairs with an air of having so put their possibilities before him that questions were idle and
doubts perverse. "I verily believe I SHALL hate you if you spoil for me the beauty of what I see!"

Book Sixth, Chapter 3
He was really, notwithstanding, to hear more from her of what she saw; and the very next occasion had for him
still other surprises than that. He received from Mrs. Lowder on the morning after his visit to Kate the telegraphic
expression of a hope that he might be free to dine with them that evening; and his freedom affected him as
fortunate even though in some degree qualified by her missive. "Expecting American friends whom I'm so glad to
find you know!" His knowledge of American friends was clearly an accident of which he was to taste the fruit to
the last bitterness. This apprehension, however, we hasten to add, enjoyed for him, in the immediate event, a
certain merciful shrinkage; the immediate event being that, at Lancaster Gate, five minutes after his due arrival,
prescribed him for eight−thirty, Mrs. Stringham came in alone. The long daylight, the postponed lamps, the habit
of the hour, made dinners late and guests still later; so that, punctual as he was, he had found Mrs. Lowder alone,
with Kate herself not yet in the field. He had thus had with her several bewildering moments−−bewildering by
reason, fairly, of their tacit invitation to him to be supernaturally simple. This was exactly, goodness knew, what
he wanted to be; but he had never had it so largely and freely−−SO supernaturally simply, for that
matter−−imputed to him as of easy achievement. (32) It was a particular in which Aunt Maud appeared to offer
herself as an example, appeared to say quite agreeably: "What I want of you, don't you see? is to be just exactly as
i am." The quantity of the article required was what might especially have caused him to stagger−−he liked so, in
general, the quantities in which Mrs. Lowder dealt. He would have liked as well to ask her how feasible she
supposed it for a poor young man to resemble her at any point; but he had after all soon enough perceived that he
was doing as she wished by letting his wonder show just a little as silly. He was conscious moreover of a small
strange dread of the results of discussion with her−−strange, truly, because it was her good nature, not her
asperity, that he feared. Asperity might have made him angry−−in which there was always a comfort; good
nature, in his conditions, had a tendency to make him ashamed−−which Aunt Maud indeed, wonderfully, liking
him for himself, quite struck him as having guessed. To spare him therefore she also avoided discussion; she kept
him down by refusing to quarrel with him. This was what she now proposed to him to enjoy, and his secret
discomfort was his sense that on the whole it was what would best suit him. Being kept down was a bore, but his
great dread, verily, was of being ashamed, which was a thing distinct; and it mattered but little that he was
ashamed of that too.

It was of the essence of his position that in such a house as this the tables could always be turned on him. "What
do you offer, what do you offer?"−−the place, however muffled in convenience and decorum, constantly hummed
for him with that thick (33) irony. The irony was a renewed reference to obvious bribes, and he had already seen
how little aid came to him from denouncing the bribes as ugly in form. That was what the precious metals−−they
alone−−could afford to be; it was vain enough for him accordingly to try to impart a gloss to his own comparative
brummagem. The humiliation of this impotence was precisely what Aunt Maud sought to mitigate for him by
keeping him down; and as her effort to that end had doubtless never yet been so visible he had probably never felt
so definitely placed in the world as while he waited with her for her half−dozen other guests. She welcomed him
genially back from the States, as to his view of which her few questions, though not coherent, were


Book Sixth, Chapter 3                                                                                              111
                                              The Wings of the Dove
comprehensive, and he had the amusement of seeing in her, as through a clear glass, the outbreak of a plan and
the sudden consciousness of a curiosity. She became aware of America, under his eyes, as a possible scene for
social operations; the idea of a visit to the wonderful country had clearly but just occurred to her, yet she was
talking of it, at the end of a minute, as her favourite dream. He didn't believe in it, but he pretended to; this helped
her as well as anything else to treat him as harmless and blameless. She was so engaged, with the further aid of a
complete absence of allusions, when the highest effect was given her method by the beautiful entrance of Kate.
The method therefore received support all round, for no young man could have been less formidable than the
person to the relief of whose shyness her niece ostensibly came. The ostensible, in Kate, struck him altogether, on
this occasion, as prodigious; while (34) scarcely less prodigious, for that matter, was his own reading, on the spot,
of the relation between his companions−−a relation lighted for him by the straight look, not exactly loving nor
lingering, yet searching and soft, that, on the part of their hostess, the girl had to reckon with as she advanced. It
took her in from head to foot, and in doing so it told a story that made poor Densher again the least bit sick: it
marked so something with which Kate habitually and consummately reckoned.

That was the story−−that she was always, for her beneficent dragon, under arms; living up, every hour, but
especially at festal hours, to the "value" Mrs. Lowder had attached to her. High and fixed, this estimate ruled on
each occasion at Lancaster Gate the social scene; so that he now recognised in it something like the artistic idea,
the plastic substance, imposed by tradition, by genius, by criticism, in respect to a given character, on a
distinguished actress. As such a person was to dress the part, to walk, to look, to speak, in every way to express,
the part, so all this was what Kate was to do for the character she had undertaken, under her aunt's roof, to
represent. It was made up, the character, of definite elements and touches−−things all perfectly ponderable to
criticism; and the way for her to meet criticism was evidently at the start to be sure her make−up had had the last
touch and that she looked at least no worse than usual. Aunt Maud's appreciation of that to−night was indeed
managerial, and the performer's own contribution fairly that of the faultless soldier on parade. Densher saw
himself for the moment as in his purchased stall (35) at the play; the watchful manager was in the depths of a box
and the poor actress in the glare of the footlights. But she PASSED, the poor performer−−he could see how she
always passed; her wig, her paint, her jewels, every mark of her expression impeccable, and her entrance
accordingly greeted with the proper round of applause. Such impressions as we thus note for Densher come and
go, it must be granted, in very much less time than notation demands; but we may none the less make the point
that there was, still further, time among them for him to feel almost too scared to take part in the ovation. He
struck himself as having lost, for the minute, his presence of mind−−so that in any case he only stared in silence at
the older woman's technical challenge and at the younger one's disciplined face. It was as if the drama−−it thus
came to him, for the fact of a drama there was no blinking−−was between THEM, them quite preponderantly;
with Merton Densher relegated to mere spectatorship, a paying place in front, and one of the most expensive. This
was why his appreciation had turned for the instant to fear−−had just turned, as we have said, to sickness; and in
spite of the fact that the disciplined face did offer him over the footlights, as he believed, the small gleam, fine
faint but exquisite, of a special intelligence. So might a practised performer, even when raked by double−barrelled
glasses, seem to be all in her part and yet convey a sign to the person in the house she loved best.

The drama, at all events, as Densher saw it, meanwhile went on−−amplified soon enough by the advent of two
other guests, stray gentlemen both, stragglers (36) in the rout of the season, who visibly presented themselves to
Kate during the next moments as subjects for a like impersonal treatment and sharers in a like usual mercy. At
opposite ends of the social course, they displayed, in respect to the "figure" that each, in his way, made, one the
expansive, the other the contractile effect of the perfect white waistcoat. A scratch company of two innocuous
youths and a pacified veteran was therefore what now offered itself to Mrs. Stringham, who rustled in a little
breathless and full of the compunction of having had to come alone. Her companion, at the last moment, had been
indisposed−−positively not well enough, and so had packed her off, insistently, with excuses, with wild regrets.
This circumstance of their charming friend's illness was the first thing Kate took up with Densher on their being
able after dinner, without bravado, to have ten minutes "naturally," as she called it−−which wasn't what HE
did−−together; but it was already as if the young man had, by an odd impression, throughout the meal, not been
wholly deprived of Miss Theale's participation. Mrs. Lowder had made dear Milly the topic, and it proved, on the

Book Sixth, Chapter 3                                                                                               112
                                             The Wings of the Dove
spot, a topic as familiar to the enthusiastic younger as to the sagacious older man. Any knowledge they might lack
Mrs. Lowder's niece was moreover alert to supply, while Densher himself was freely appealed to as the most
privileged, after all, of the group. Wasn't it he who had in a manner invented the wonderful creature−−through
having seen her first, caught her in her native jungle? Hadn't he more or less paved the way for her by his prompt
recognition of her (37) rarity, by preceding her, in a friendly spirit−−as he had the "ear" of society−−with a sharp
flashlight or two?

He met, poor Densher, these enquiries as he could, listening with interest, yet with discomfort; wincing in
particular, dry journalist as he was, to find it seemingly supposed of him that he had put his pen−−oh his
"pen!"−−at the service of private distinction. The ear of society?−−they were talking, or almost, as if he had
publicly paragraphed a modest young lady. They dreamt dreams, in truth, he appeared to perceive, that fairly
waked HIM up, and he settled himself in his place both to resist his embarrassment and to catch the full
revelation. His embarrassment came naturally from the fact that if he could claim no credit for Miss Theale's
success, so neither could he gracefully insist on his not having been concerned with her. What touched him most
nearly was that the occasion took on somehow the air of a commemorative banquet, a feast to celebrate a brilliant
if brief career. There was of course more said about the heroine than if she hadn't been absent, and he found
himself rather stupefied at the range of Milly's triumph. Mrs. Lowder had wonders to tell of it; the two wearers of
the waistcoat, either with sincerity or with hypocrisy, professed in the matter an equal expertness; and Densher at
last seemed to know himself in presence of a social "case." It was Mrs. Stringham, obviously, whose testimony
would have been most invoked hadn't she been, as her friend's representative, rather confined to the function of
inhaling the incense; so that Kate, who treated her beautifully, (38) smiling at her, cheering and consoling her
across the table, appeared benevolently both to speak and to interpret for her. Kate spoke as if she wouldn't
perhaps understand THEIR way of appreciating Milly, but would let them none the less, in justice to their good
will, express it in their coarser fashion. Densher himself wasn't unconscious in respect to this of a certain broad
brotherhood with Mrs. Stringham; wondering indeed, while he followed the talk, how it might move American
nerves. He had only heard of them before, but in his recent tour he had caught them in the remarkable fact, and
there was now a moment or two when it came to him that he had perhaps−−and not in the way of an
escape−−taken a lesson from them.

They quivered, clearly, they hummed and drummed, they leaped and bounded in Mrs. Stringham's typical
organism−−this lady striking him as before all things excited, as, in the native phrase, keyed−up, to a perception
of more elements in the occasion than he was himself able to count. She was accessible to sides of it, he imagined,
that were as yet obscure to him; for, though she unmistakeably rejoiced and soared, he none the less saw her at
moments as even more agitated than pleasure required. It was a state of emotion in her that could scarce represent
simply an impatience to report at home. Her little dry New England brightness−−he had "sampled" all the shades
of the American complexity, if complexity it were−−had its actual reasons for finding relief most in silence; so
that before the subject was changed he perceived (with surprise at the others) that they had given her enough of it.
He had quite had enough of it himself (39) by the time he was asked if it were true that their friend had really not
made in her own country the mark she had chalked so large in London. It was Mrs. Lowder herself who addressed
him that enquiry; while he scarce knew if he were the more impressed with her launching it under Mrs.
Stringham's nose or with her hope that he would allow to London the honour of discovery. The less expansive of
the white waistcoats propounded the theory that they saw in London−−for all that was said−−much further than in
the States: it wouldn't be the first time, he urged, that they had taught the Americans to appreciate (especially
when it was funny) some native product. He didn't mean that Miss Theale was funny−−though she was weird, and
this was precisely her magic; but it might very well be that New York, in having her to show, hadn't been aware
of its luck. There WERE plenty of people who were nothing over there and yet were awfully taken up in England;
just as−−to make the balance right, thank goodness−−they sometimes sent out beauties and celebrities who left
the Briton cold. The Briton's temperature in truth wasn't to be calculated−−a formulation of the matter that was
not reached, however, without producing in Mrs. Stringham a final feverish sally. She announced that if the point
of view for a proper admiration of her young friend HAD seemed to fail a little in New York, there was no
manner of doubt of her having carried Boston by storm. It pointed the moral that Boston, for the finer taste, left

Book Sixth, Chapter 3                                                                                           113
                                             The Wings of the Dove
New York nowhere; and the good lady, as the exponent of this doctrine−−which she set forth at a certain length−−
(40) made, obviously, to Densher's mind, her nearest approach to supplying the weirdness in which Milly's
absence had left them deficient. She made it indeed effective for him by suddenly addressing him. "You know
nothing, sir−−but not the least little bit−−about my friend."

He hadn't pretended he did, but there was a purity of reproach in Mrs. Stringham's face and tone, a purity charged
apparently with solemn meanings; so that for a little, small as had been his claim, he couldn't but feel that she
exaggerated. He wondered what she did mean, but while doing so he defended himself. "I certainly don't know
enormously much−−beyond her having been most kind to me, in New York, as a poor bewildered and newly
landed alien, and my having tremendously appreciated it." To which he added, he scarce knew why, what had an
immediate success. "Remember, Mrs. Stringham, that you weren't then present."

"Ah there you are!" said Kate with much gay expression, though what it expressed he failed at the time to make
out.

"You weren't present THEN, dearest," Mrs. Lowder richly concurred. "You don't know," she continued with
mellow gaiety, "how far things may have gone."

It made the little woman, he could see, really lose her head. She had more things in that head than any of them in
any other; unless perhaps it were Kate, whom he felt as indirectly watching him during this foolish passage,
though it pleased him−−and because of the foolishness−−not to meet her eyes. He met Mrs. Stringham's, which
affected him: with her he (41) could on occasion clear it up−−a sense produced by the mute communion between
them and really the beginning, as the event was to show, of something extraordinary. It was even already a little
the effect of this communion that Mrs. Stringham perceptibly faltered in her retort to Mrs. Lowder's joke. "Oh it's
precisely my point that Mr. Densher CAN'T have had vast opportunities." And then she smiled at him. "I wasn't
away, you know, long."

It made everything, in the oddest way in the world, immediately right for him. "And I wasn't THERE long,
either." He positively saw with it that nothing for him, so far as she was concerned, would again be wrong. "She's
beautiful, but I don't say she's easy to know."

"Ah she's a thousand and one things!" replied the good lady, as if now to keep well with him.

He asked nothing better. "She was off with you to these parts before I knew it. I myself was off too−−away off to
wonderful parts, where I had endlessly more to see."

"But you didn't forget her!" Aunt Maud interposed with almost menacing archness.

"No, of course I didn't forget her. One doesn't forget such charming impressions. But I never," he lucidly
maintained, "chattered to others about her."

"She'll thank you for that, sir," said Mrs. Stringham with a flushed firmness.

"Yet doesn't silence in such a case," Aunt Maud blandly enquired, "very often quite prove the depth of the
impression?"

He would have been amused, hadn't he been (42) slightly displeased, at all they seemed desirous to fasten on him.
"Well, the impression was as deep as you like. But I really want Miss Theale to know," he pursued for Mrs.
Stringham, "that I don't figure by any consent of my own as an authority about her."



Book Sixth, Chapter 3                                                                                          114
                                              The Wings of the Dove
Kate came to his assistance−−if assistance it was−−before their friend had had time to meet this charge. "You're
right about her not being easy to know. One SEES her with intensity−−sees her more than one sees almost any
one; but then one discovers that that isn't knowing her and that one may know better a person whom one doesn't
'see,' as I say, half so much."

The discrimination was interesting, but it brought them back to the fact of her success; and it was at that
comparatively gross circumstance, now so fully placed before them, that Milly's anxious companion sat and
looked−−looked very much as some spectator in an old−time circus might have watched the oddity of a Christian
maiden, in the arena, mildly, caressingly, martyred. It was the nosing and fumbling not of lions and tigers but of
domestic animals let loose as for the joke. Even the joke made Mrs. Stringham uneasy, and her mute communion
with Densher, to which we have alluded, was more and more determined by it. He wondered afterwards if Kate
had made this out; though it was not indeed till much later on that he found himself, in thought, dividing the
things she might have been conscious of from the things she must have missed. If she actually missed, at any rate,
Mrs. Stringham's discomfort, that but showed how her own idea held her. Her (43) own idea was, by insisting on
the fact of the girl's prominence as a feature of the season's end, to keep Densher in relation, for the rest of them,
both to present and to past. "It's everything that has happened SINCE that makes you naturally a little shy about
her. You don't know what has happened since, but we do; we've seen it and followed it; we've a little been OF it."
The great thing for him, at this, as Kate gave it, WAS in fact quite irresistibly that the case was a real one−−the
kind of thing that, when one's patience was shorter than one's curiosity, one had vaguely taken for possible in
London, but in which one had never been even to this small extent concerned. The little American's sudden social
adventure, her happy and, no doubt, harmless flourish, had probably been favoured by several accidents, but it
had been favoured above all by the simple spring−board of the scene, by one of those common caprices of the
numberless foolish flock, gregarious movements as inscrutable as ocean−currents. The huddled herd had drifted
to her blindly−−it might as blindly have drifted away. There had been of course a signal, but the great reason was
probably the absence at the moment of a larger lion. The bigger beast would come and the smaller would then
incontinently vanish. It was at all events characteristic, and what was of the essence of it was grist to his
scribbling mill, matter for his journalising hand. That hand already, in intention, played over it, the "motive," as a
sign of the season, a feature of the time, of the purely expeditious and rough−and−tumble nature of the social
boom. The boom as in ITSELF required−−that would (44) be the note; the subject of the process a comparatively
minor question. Anything was boomable enough when nothing else was more so: the author of the "rotten" book,
the beauty who was no beauty, the heiress who was only that, the stranger who was for the most part saved from
being inconveniently strange but by being inconveniently familiar, the American whose Americanism had been
long desperately discounted, the creature in fine as to whom spangles or spots of any sufficiently marked and
exhibited sort could be loudly enough predicated.

So he judged at least, within his limits, and the idea that what he had thus caught in the fact was the trick of
fashion and the tone of society went so far as to make him take up again his sense of independence. He had
supposed himself civilised; but if this was civilisation−−! One could smoke one's pipe outside when twaddle was
within. He had rather avoided, as we have remarked, Kate's eyes, but there came a moment when he would fairly
have liked to put it across the table, to her: "I say, light of my life, is THIS the great world?" There came another,
it must be added−−and doubtless as a result of something that, over the cloth, did hang between them−−when she
struck him as having quite answered: "Dear no−−for what do you take me? Not the least little bit: only a poor
silly, though quite harmless, imitation." What she might have passed for saying, however, was practically merged
in what she did say, for she came overtly to his aid, very much as if guessing some of his thoughts. She
enunciated, to relieve his bewilderment, the obvious truth that you couldn't leave London for three (45) months at
that time of the year and come back to find your friends just where they were. As they had OF COURSE been
jigging away they might well be so red in the face that you wouldn't know them. She reconciled in fine his
disclaimer about Milly with that honour of having discovered her which it was vain for him modestly to shirk. He
HAD unearthed her, but it was they, all of them together, who had developed her. She was always a charmer, one
of the greatest ever seen, but she wasn't the person he had "backed."


Book Sixth, Chapter 3                                                                                             115
                                             The Wings of the Dove
Densher was to feel sure afterwards that Kate had had in these pleasantries no conscious, above all no insolent
purpose of making light of poor Susan Shepherd's property in their young friend−−which property, by such
remarks, was very much pushed to the wall; but he was also to know that Mrs. Stringham had secretly resented
them, Mrs. Stringham holding the opinion, of which he was ultimately to have a glimpse, that all the Kate Croys
in Christendom were but dust for the feet of her Milly. That, it was true, would be what she must reveal only
when driven to her last entrenchments and well cornered in her passion−−the rare passion of friendship, the sole
passion of her little life save the one other, more imperturbably cerebral, that she entertained for the art of Guy de
Maupassant. She slipped in the observation that her Milly was incapable of change, was just exactly, on the
contrary, the same Milly; but this made little difference in the drift of Kate's contention. She was perfectly kind to
Susie: it was as if she positively knew her as handicapped for any disagreement by (46) feeling that she, Kate, had
"type," and by being committed to admiration of type. Kate had occasion subsequently−−she found it
somehow−−to mention to our young man Milly's having spoken to her of this view on the good lady's part. She
would like−−Milly had had it from her−−to put Kate Croy in a book and see what she could so do with her. "Chop
me up fine or serve me whole"−−it was a way of being got at that Kate professed she dreaded. It would be Mrs.
Stringham's, however, she understood, because Mrs. Stringham, oddly, felt that with such stuff as the strange
English girl was made of, stuff that (in spite of Maud Manningham, who was full of sentiment) she had never
known, there was none other to be employed. These things were of later evidence, yet Densher might even then
have felt them in the air. They were practically in it already when Kate, waiving the question of her friend's
chemical change, wound up with the comparatively unobjectionable proposition that he must now, having missed
so much, take them all up, on trust, further on. He met it peacefully, a little perhaps as an example to Mrs.
Stringham−−"Oh as far on as you like!" This even had its effect: Mrs. Stringham appropriated as much of it as
might be meant for herself. The nice thing about her was that she could measure how much; so that by the time
dinner was over they had really covered ground.

Book Sixth, Chapter 4
The younger of the other men, it afterwards appeared, was most in his element at the piano; so that they had
coffee and comic songs upstairs−−the gentlemen, temporarily relinquished, submitting easily in this interest to
Mrs. Lowder's parting injunction not to sit too tight. Our especial young man sat tighter when restored to the
drawing−room; he made it out perfectly with Kate that they might, off and on, foregather without offence. He had
perhaps stronger needs in this general respect than she; but she had better names for the scant risks to which she
consented. It was the blessing of a big house that intervals were large and, of an August night, that windows were
open; whereby, at a given moment, on the wide balcony, with the songs sufficiently sung, Aunt Maud could hold
her little court more freshly. Densher and Kate, during these moments, occupied side by side a small sofa−−a
luxury formulated by the latter as the proof, under criticism, of their remarkably good conscience. "To seem not to
know each other−−once you're here−−would be," the girl said, "to overdo it"; and she arranged it charmingly that
they MUST have some passage to put Aunt Maud off the scent. She would be wondering otherwise what in the
world they found their account in. For Densher, none the less, the profit of snatched moments, snatched contacts,
was partial and poor; there were in particular (48) at present more things in his mind than he could bring out while
watching the windows. It was true, on the other hand, that she suddenly met most of them−−and more than he
could see on the spot−−by coming out for him with a reference to Milly that was not in the key of those made at
dinner. "She's not a bit right, you know. I mean in health. just see her to−night. I mean it looks grave. For you she
would have come, you know, if it had been at all possible."

He took this in such patience as he could muster. "What in the world's the matter with her?"

But Kate continued without saying. "Unless indeed your being here has been just a reason for her funking it."

"What in the world's the matter with her?" Densher asked again.



Book Sixth, Chapter 4                                                                                            116
                                              The Wings of the Dove

"Why just what I've told you−−that she likes you so much."

"Then why should she deny herself the joy of meeting me?"

Kate cast about−−it would take so long to explain. "And perhaps it's true that she IS bad. She easily may be."

"Quite easily, I should say, judging by Mrs. Stringham, who's visibly preoccupied and worried."

"Visibly enough. Yet it mayn't," said Kate, "be only for that."

"For what then?"

But this question too, on thinking, she neglected. "Why, if it's anything real, doesn't that poor lady go home?
She'd be anxious, and she has done all she need to be civil."

(49) "I think," Densher remarked, "she has been quite beautifully civil."

It made Kate, he fancied, look at him the least bit harder; but she was already, in a manner, explaining. "Her
preoccupation is probably on two different heads. One of them would make her hurry back, but the other makes
her stay. She's commissioned to tell Milly all about you."

"Well then," said the young man between a laugh and a sigh, "I'm glad I felt, downstairs, a kind of 'drawing' to
her. Wasn't I rather decent to her?"

"Awfully nice. You've instincts, you fiend. It's all," Kate declared, "as it should be."

"Except perhaps," he after a moment cynically suggested, "that she isn't getting much good of me now. Will she
report to Milly on THIS?" And then as Kate seemed to wonder what "this" might be: "On our present disregard
for appearances."

"Ah leave appearances to me!" She spoke in her high way. "I'll make them all right. Aunt Maud, moreover," she
added, "has her so engaged that she won't notice." Densher felt, with this, that his companion had indeed
perceptive flights he couldn't hope to match−−had for instance another when she still subjoined: "And Mrs.
Stringham's appearing to respond just in order to make that impression."

"Well," Densher dropped with some humour, "life's very interesting! I hope it's really as much so for you as you
make it for others; I mean judging by what you make it for me. You seem to me to represent it as thrilling for ces
dames, in a different way for each: Aunt Maud, Susan Shepherd, Milly. But (50) what IS," he wound up, "the
matter? Do you mean she's as ill as she looks?"

Kate's face struck him as replying at first that his derisive speech deserved no satisfaction; then she appeared to
yield to a need of her own−−the need to make the point that "as ill as she looked" was what Milly scarce could be.
If she had been as ill as she looked she could scarce be a question with them, for her end would in that case be
near. She believed herself nevertheless−−and Kate couldn't help believing her too−−seriously menaced. There
was always the fact that they had been on the point of leaving town, the two ladies, and had suddenly been pulled
up. "We bade them good−bye−−or all but−−Aunt Maud and I, the night before Milly, popping so very oddly into
the National Gallery for a farewell look, found you and me together. They were then to get off a day or two later.
But they've not got off−−they're not getting off. When I see them and I saw them this morning−−they have showy
reasons. They do mean to go, but they've postponed it." With which the girl brought out: "They've postponed it
for YOU." He protested so far as a man might without fatuity, since a protest was itself credulous; but Kate, as
ever, understood herself. "You've made Milly change her mind. She wants not to miss you−−though she wants

Book Sixth, Chapter 4                                                                                             117
                                              The Wings of the Dove

also not to show she wants you; which is why, as I hinted a moment ago, she may consciously have hung back
to−night. She doesn't know when she may see you again−−she doesn't know she ever may. She doesn't see the
future. It has opened out before her in these last weeks as a dark confused thing."

(51) Densher wondered. "After the tremendous time you've all been telling me she has had?"

"That's it. There's a shadow across it."

"The shadow, you consider, of some physical break−up?"

"Some physical break−down. Nothing less. She's scared. She has so much to lose. And she wants more."

"Ah well," said Densher with a sudden strange sense of discomfort, "couldn't one say to her that she can't have
everything?"

"No−−for one wouldn't want to. She really," Kate went on, "has been somebody here. Ask Aunt Maud−−you may
think me prejudiced," the girl oddly smiled. "Aunt Maud will tell you−−the world's before her. It has all come
since you saw her, and it's a pity you've missed it, for it certainly would have amused you. She has really been a
perfect success−−I mean of course so far as possible in the scrap of time−−and she has taken it like a perfect
angel. If you can imagine an angel with a thumping bank−account you'll have the simplest expression of the kind
of thing. Her fortune's absolutely huge; Aunt Maud has had all the facts, or enough of them, in the last confidence,
from 'Susie,' and Susie speaks by book. Take them then, in the last confidence, from ME. There she is." Kate
expressed above all what it most came to. "It's open to her to make, you see, the very greatest marriage. I assure
you we're not vulgar about her. Her possibilities are quite plain."

Densher showed he neither disbelieved nor grudged them. "But what good then on earth can I do her?"

(52) Well, she had it ready. "You can console her."

"And for what?"

"For all that, if she's stricken, she must see swept away. I shouldn't care for her if she hadn't so much," Kate very
simply said. And then as it made him laugh not quite happily: "I shouldn't trouble about her if there were one
thing she did have." The girl spoke indeed with a noble compassion. "She has nothing."

"Not all the young dukes?"

"Well we must see−−see if anything can come of them. She at any rate does love life. To have met a person like
you," Kate further explained, "is to have felt you become, with all the other fine things, a part of life. Oh she has
you arranged!"

"YOU have, it strikes me, my dear"−−and he looked both detached and rueful. "Pray what am I to do with the
dukes?"

"Oh the dukes will be disappointed!"

"Then why shan't I be?"

"You'll have expected less," Kate wonderfully smiled. "Besides, you WILL be. You'll have expected enough for
that."


Book Sixth, Chapter 4                                                                                             118
                                                The Wings of the Dove

"Yet it's what you want to let me in for?"

"I want," said the girl, "to make things pleasant for her. I use, for the purpose, what I have. You're what I have of
most precious, and you're therefore what I use most."

He looked at her long. "I wish I could use YOU a little more." After which, as she continued to smile at him, "Is it
a bad case of lungs?" he asked.

Kate showed for a little as if she wished it might be. (53) "Not lungs, I think. Isn't consumption, taken in time,
now curable?"

"People are, no doubt, patched up." But he wondered. "Do you mean she has something that's past patching?" And
before she could answer: "It's really as if her appearance put her outside of such things−−being, in spite of her
youth, that of a person who has been through all it's conceivable she should be exposed to. She affects one, I
should say, as a creature saved from a shipwreck. Such a creature may surely, in these days, on the doctrine of
chances, go to sea again with confidence. She has HAD her wreck−−she has met her adventure."

"Oh I grant you her wreck!"−−Kate was all response so far. "But do let her have still her adventure. There are
wrecks that are not adventures."

"Well−−if there be also adventures that are not wrecks!" Densher in short was willing, but he came back to his
point. "What I mean is that she has none of the effect−−on one's nerves or whatever−−of an invalid."

Kate on her side did this justice. "No−−that's the beauty of her."

"The beauty−−?"

"Yes, she's so wonderful. She won't show for that, any more than your watch, when it's about to stop for want of
being wound up, gives you convenient notice or shows as different from usual. She won't die, she won't live, by
inches. She won't smell, as it were, of drugs. She won't taste, as it were, of medicine. No one will know."

"Then what," he demanded, frankly mystified (54) now, "are we talking about? In what extraordinary state IS
she?"

Kate went on as if, at this, making it out in a fashion for herself. "I believe that if she's ill at all she's very ill. I
believe that if she's bad she's not a LITTLE bad. I can't tell you why, but that's how I see her. She'll really live or
she'll really not. She'll have it all or she'll miss it all. Now I don't think she'll have it all."

Densher had followed this with his eyes upon her, her own having thoughtfully wandered, and as if it were more
impressive than lucid. "You 'think' and you 'don't think,' and yet you remain all the while without an inkling of her
complaint?"

"No, not without an inkling; but it's a matter in which I don't want knowledge. She moreover herself doesn't want
one to want it: she has, as to what may be preying upon her, a kind of ferocity of modesty, a kind of−−I don't
know what to call it−−intensity of pride. And then and then−−" But with this she faltered.

"And then what?"

"I'm a brute about illness. I hate it. It's well for you, my dear," Kate continued, "that you're as sound as a bell."

"Thank you!" Densher laughed. "It's rather good then for yourself too that you're as strong as the sea."

Book Sixth, Chapter 4                                                                                                   119
                                              The Wings of the Dove

She looked at him now a moment as for the selfish gladness of their young immunities. It was all they had
together, but they had it at least without a flaw−−each had the beauty, the physical felicity, the personal (55)
virtue, love and desire of the other. Yet it was as if that very consciousness threw them back the next moment into
pity for the poor girl who had everything else in the world, the great genial good they, alas, didn't have, but failed
on the other hand of this. "How we're talking about her!" Kate compunctiously sighed. But there were the facts.
"From illness I keep away."

"But you don't−−since here you are, in spite of all you say, in the midst of it."

"Ah I'm only watching−−!"

"And putting me forward in your place? Thank you!"

"Oh," said Kate, "I'm breaking you in. Let it give you the measure of what I shall expect of you. One can't begin
too soon."

She drew away, as from the impression of a stir on the balcony, the hand of which he had a minute before
possessed himself; and the warning brought him back to attention. "You haven't even an idea if it's a case for
surgery?"

"I dare say it may be; that is that if it comes to anything it may come to that. Of course she's in the highest hands."

"The doctors are after her then?"

"She's after THEM−−it's the same thing. I think I'm free to say it now−−she sees Sir Luke Strett."

It made him quickly wince. "Ah fifty thousand knives!" Then after an instant: "One seems to guess."

Yes, but she waved it away. "Don't guess. Only do as I tell you."

(56) For a moment now, in silence, he took it all in, might have had it before him. "What you want of me then is
to make up to a sick girl."

"Ah but you admit yourself that she doesn't affect you as sick. You understand moreover just how much−−and
just how little."

"It's amazing," he presently answered, "what you think I understand."

"Well, if you've brought me to it, my dear," she returned, "that has been your way of breaking ME in. Besides
which, so far as making up to her goes, plenty of others will."

Densher for a little, under this suggestion, might have been seeing their young friend on a pile of cushions and in
a perpetual tea−gown, amid flowers and with drawn blinds, surrounded by the higher nobility. "Others can follow
their tastes. Besides, others are free."

"But so are you, my dear!"

She had spoken with impatience, and her suddenly quitting him had sharpened it; in spite of which he kept his
place, only looking up at her. "You're prodigious!"



Book Sixth, Chapter 4                                                                                              120
                                              The Wings of the Dove
"Of course I'm prodigious!"−−and, as immediately happened, she gave a further sign of it that he fairly sat
watching. The door from the lobby had, as she spoke, been thrown open for a gentleman who, immediately
finding her within his view, advanced to greet her before the announcement of his name could reach her
companion. Densher none the less felt himself brought quickly into relation; Kate's welcome to the visitor became
almost precipitately an (57) appeal to her friend, who slowly rose to meet it. "I don't know whether you know
Lord Mark." And then for the other party: "Mr. Merton Densher−−who has just come back from America."

"Oh!" said the other party while Densher said nothing−−occupied as he mainly was on the spot with weighing the
sound in question. He recognised it in a moment as less imponderable than it might have appeared, as having
indeed positive claims. It wasn't, that is, he knew, the "Oh!" of the idiot, however great the superficial
resemblance: it was that of the clever, the accomplished man; it was the very specialty of the speaker, and a deal
of expensive training and experience had gone to producing it. Densher felt somehow that, as a thing of value
accidentally picked up, it would retain an interest of curiosity. The three stood for a little together in an
awkwardness to which he was conscious of contributing his share; Kate failing to ask Lord Mark to be seated, but
letting him know that he would find Mrs. Lowder, with some others, on the balcony.

"Oh and Miss Theale I suppose?−−as I seemed to hear outside, from below, Mrs. Stringham's unmistakeable
voice."

"Yes, but Mrs. Stringham's alone. Milly's unwell," the girl explained, "and was compelled to disappoint us."

"Ah 'disappoint'−−rather!" And, lingering a little, he kept his eyes on Densher. "She isn't really bad, I trust?"

Densher, after all he had heard, easily supposed him interested in Milly; but he could imagine him (58) also
interested in the young man with whom he had found Kate engaged and whom he yet considered without visible
intelligence. That young man concluded in a moment that he was doing what he wanted, satisfying himself as to
each. To this he was aided by Kate, who produced a prompt: "Oh dear no; I think not. I've just been reassuring
Mr. Densher," she added−−"who's as concerned as the rest of us. I've been calming his fears."

"Oh!" said Lord Mark again−−and again it was just as good. That was for Densher, the latter could see, or think
he saw. And then for the others: "MY fears would want calming. We must take great care of her. This way?"

She went with him a few steps, and while Densher, hanging about, gave them frank attention, presently paused
again for some further colloquy. What passed between them their observer lost, but she was presently with him
again, Lord Mark joining the rest.

Densher was by this time quite ready for her. "It's HE who's your aunt's man?"

"Oh immensely."

"I mean for YOU."

"That's what I mean too," Kate smiled. "There he is. Now you can judge."

"Judge of what?"

"Judge of him."

"Why should I judge of him?" Densher asked. "I've nothing to do with him."

"Then why do you ask about him?"

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                                              The Wings of the Dove

"To judge of you−−which is different."

Kate seemed for a little to look at the difference. (59) "To take the measure, do you mean, of my danger?"

He hesitated; then he said: "I'm thinking, I dare say, of Miss Theale's. How does your aunt reconcile his interest in
her−−?"

"With his interest in me?"

"With her own interest in you," Densher said while she reflected. "If that interest−−Mrs. Lowder's−−takes the
form of Lord Mark, hasn't he rather to look out for the forms HE takes?"

Kate seemed interested in the question, but "Oh he takes them easily," she answered. "The beauty is that she
doesn't trust him."

"That Milly doesn't?"

"Yes−−Milly either. But I mean Aunt Maud. Not really."

Densher gave it his wonder. "Takes him to her heart and yet thinks he cheats?"

"Yes," said Kate−−"that's the way people are. What they think of their enemies, goodness knows, is bad enough;
but I'm still more struck with what they think of their friends. Milly's own state of mind, however," she went on,
"is lucky. That's Aunt Maud's security, though she doesn't yet fully recognise it−−besides being Milly's own."

"You conceive it a real escape then not to care for him?"

She shook her head in beautiful grave deprecation. "You oughtn't to make me say too much. But I'm glad I don't."

"Don't say too much?"

"Don't care for Lord Mark."

(60) "Oh!" Densher answered with a sound like his lordship's own. To which he added: "You absolutely hold that
that poor girl doesn't?"

"Ah you know what I hold about that poor girl!" It had made her again impatient.

Yet he stuck a minute to the subject. "You scarcely call him, I suppose, one of the dukes."

"Mercy, no−−far from it. He's not, compared with other possibilities, 'in' it. Milly, it's true," she said, to be exact,
"has no natural sense of social values, doesn't in the least understand our differences or know who's who or what's
what."

"I see. That," Densher laughed, "is her reason for liking ME."

"Precisely. She doesn't resemble me," said Kate, "who at least know what I lose."

Well, it had all risen for Densher to a considerable interest. "And Aunt Maud−−why shouldn't SHE know? I mean
that your friend there isn't really anything. Does she suppose him of ducal value?"


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                                               The Wings of the Dove

"Scarcely; save in the sense of being uncle to a duke. That's undeniably something. He's the best moreover we can
get."

"Oh, oh!" said Densher; and his doubt was not all derisive.

"It isn't Lord Mark's grandeur," she went on without heeding this; "because perhaps in the line of that alone−−as
he has no money−−more could be done. But she's not a bit sordid; she only counts with the sordidness of others.
Besides, he's grand enough, with a duke in his family and at the other end of the string. THE thing's his genius."

(61) "And do you believe in that?"

"In Lord Mark's genius?" Kate, as if for a more final opinion than had yet been asked of her, took a moment to
think. She balanced indeed so that one would scarce have known what to expect; but she came out in time with a
very sufficient "Yes!"

"Political?"

"Universal. I don't know at least," she said, "what else to call it when a man's able to make himself without effort,
without violence, without machinery of any sort, so intensely felt. He has somehow an effect without his being in
any traceable way a cause."

"Ah but if the effect," said Densher with conscious superficiality, "isn't agreeable−−?"

"Oh but it is!"

"Not surely for every one."

"If you mean not for you," Kate returned, "you may have reasons−−and men don't count. Women don't know if
it's agreeable or not."

"Then there you are!"

"Yes, precisely−−that takes, on his part, genius."

Densher stood before her as if he wondered what everything she thus promptly, easily and above all amusingly
met him with, would have been found, should it have come to an analysis, to "take." Something suddenly, as if
under a last determinant touch, welled up in him and overflowed−−the sense of his good fortune and her variety,
of the future she promised, the interest she supplied. "All women but you are stupid. How can I look at another?
You're different and different−−and then you're different again. No marvel Aunt Maud builds on you−−except
(62) that you're so much too good for what she builds FOR. Even 'society' won't know how good for it you are; it's
too stupid, and you're beyond it. You'd have to pull it uphill−−it's you yourself who are at the top. The women one
meets−−what are they but books one has already read? You're a whole library of the unknown, the uncut." He
almost moaned, he ached, from the depth of his content. "Upon my word I've a subscription!"

She took it from him with her face again giving out all it had in answer, and they remained once more confronted
and united in their essential wealth of life. "It's you who draw me out. I exist in you. Not in others."

It had been, however, as if the thrill of their association itself pressed in him, as great felicities do, the sharp
spring of fear. "See here, you know: don't, DON'T−−!"

"Don't what?"

Book Sixth, Chapter 4                                                                                                  123
                                              The Wings of the Dove
"Don't fail me. It would kill me."

She looked at him a minute with no response but her eyes. "So you think you'll kill ME in time to prevent it?" She
smiled, but he saw her the next instant as smiling through tears; and the instant after this she had got, in respect to
the particular point, quite off. She had come back to another, which was one of her own; her own were so closely
connected that Densher's were at best but parenthetic. Still she had a distance to go. "You do then see your way?"
She put it to him before they joined−−as was high time−−the others. And she made him understand she meant his
way with Milly.

(63) He had dropped a little in presence of the explanation; then she had brought him up to a sort of recognition.
He could make out by this light something of what he saw, but a dimness also there was, undispelled since his
return. "There's something you must definitely tell me. If our friend knows that all the while−−?"

She came straight to his aid, formulating for him his anxiety, though quite to smooth it down. "All the while she
and I here were growing intimate, you and I were in unmentioned relation? If she knows that, yes, she knows our
relation must have involved your writing to me."

"Then how could she suppose you weren't answering?"

"She doesn't suppose it."

"How then can she imagine you never named her?"

"She doesn't. She knows now I did name her. I've told her everything. She's in possession of reasons that will
perfectly do."

Still he just brooded. "She takes things from you exactly as I take them?"

"Exactly as you take them."

"She's just such another victim?"

"Just such another. You're a pair."

"Then if anything happens," said Densher, "we can console each other?"

"Ah something MAY indeed happen," she returned, "if you'll only go straight!"

He watched the others an instant through the window. "What do you mean by going straight?"

(64) "Not worrying. Doing as you like. Try, as I've told you before, and you'll see. You'll have me perfectly,
always, to refer to."

"Oh rather, I hope! But if she's going away?"

It pulled Kate up but a moment. "I'll bring her back. There you are. You won't be able to say I haven't made it
smooth for you."

He faced it all, and certainly it was queer. But it wasn't the queerness that after another minute was uppermost. He
was in a wondrous silken web, and it WAS amusing. "You spoil me!"


Book Sixth, Chapter 4                                                                                              124
                                                The Wings of the Dove
He wasn't sure if Mrs. Lowder, who at this juncture reappeared, had caught his word as it dropped from him;
probably not, he thought, her attention being given to Mrs. Stringham, with whom she came through and who was
now, none too soon, taking leave of her. They were followed by Lord Mark and by the other men, but two or three
things happened before any dispersal of the company began. One of these was that Kate found time to say to him
with furtive emphasis: "You must go now!" Another was that she next addressed herself in all frankness to Lord
Mark, drew near to him with an almost reproachful "Come and talk to ME!"−−a challenge resulting after a minute
for Densher in a consciousness of their installation together in an out−of−the−way corner, though not the same he
himself had just occupied with her. Still another was that Mrs. Stringham, in the random intensity of her
farewells, affected him as looking at him with a small grave intimation, something into which he afterwards read
the meaning that if he had happened to desire a few words with her after dinner (65) he would have found her
ready. This impression was naturally light, but it just left him with the sense of something by his own act
overlooked, unappreciated. It gathered perhaps a slightly sharper shade from the mild formality of her
"Good−night, sir!" as she passed him; a matter as to which there was now nothing more to be done, thanks to the
alertness of the young man he by this time had appraised as even more harmless than himself. This personage had
forestalled him in opening the door for her and was evidently−−with a view, Densher might have judged, to
ulterior designs on Milly−−proposing to attend her to her carriage. What further occurred was that Aunt Maud,
having released her, immediately had a word for himself. It was an imperative "Wait a minute," by which she both
detained and dismissed him; she was particular about her minute, but he hadn't yet given her, as happened, a sign
of withdrawal.

"Return to our little friend. You'll find her really interesting."

"If you mean Miss Theale," he said, "I shall certainly not forget her. But you must remember that, so far as her
'interest' is concerned, I myself discovered, I−−as was said at dinner−−invented her."

"Well, one seemed rather to gather that you hadn't taken out the patent. Don't, I only mean, in the press of other
things, too much neglect her."

Affected, surprised by the coincidence of her appeal with Kate's, he asked himself quickly if it mightn't help him
with her. He at any rate could but try. "You're all looking after my manners. That's exactly, you know, what Miss
Croy has been saying to (66) me. SHE keeps me up−−she has had so much to say about them."

He found pleasure in being able to give his hostess an account of his passage with Kate that, while quite
veracious, might be reassuring to herself. But Aunt Maud, wonderfully and facing him straight, took it as if her
confidence were supplied with other props. If she saw his intention in it she yet blinked neither with doubt nor
with acceptance; she only said imperturbably: "Yes, she'll herself do anything for her friend; so that she but
preaches what she practises."

Densher really quite wondered if Aunt Maud knew how far Kate's devotion went. He was moreover a little
puzzled by this special harmony; in face of which he quickly asked himself if Mrs. Lowder had bethought herself
of the American girl as a distraction for him, and if Kate's mastery of the subject were therefore but an appearance
addressed to her aunt. What might really BECOME in all this of the American girl was therefore a question that,
on the latter contingency, would lose none of its sharpness. However, questions could wait, and it was easy, so far
as he understood, to meet Mrs. Lowder. "It isn't a bit, all the same, you know, that I resist. I find Miss Theale
charming."

Well, it was all she wanted. "Then don't miss a chance."

"The only thing is," he went on, "that she's−−naturally now−−leaving town and, as I take it, going abroad."



Book Sixth, Chapter 4                                                                                           125
                                                The Wings of the Dove

Aunt Maud looked indeed an instant as if she herself had been dealing with this difficulty. "She won't (67) go,"
she smiled in spite of it, "till she has seen you. Moreover, when she does go−−" She paused, leaving him
uncertain. But the next minute he was still more at sea. "We shall go too."

He gave a smile that he himself took for slightly strange. "And what good will that do ME?"

"We shall be near them somewhere, and you'll come out to us."

"Oh!" he said a little awkwardly.

"I'll see that you do. I mean I'll write to you."

"Ah thank you, thank you!" Merton Densher laughed. She was indeed putting him on his honour, and his honour
winced a little at the use he rather helplessly saw himself suffering her to believe she could make of it. "There are
all sorts of things," he vaguely remarked, "to consider."

"No doubt. But there's above all the great thing."

"And pray what's that?"

"Why the importance of your not losing the occasion of your life. I'm treating you handsomely, I'm looking after
it for you. I CAN−−I can smooth your path. She's charming, she's clever and she's good. And her fortune's a real
fortune."

Ah there she was, Aunt Maud! The pieces fell together for him as he felt her thus buying him off, and buying
him−−it would have been funny if it hadn't been so grave−−with Miss Theale's money. He ventured, derisive,
fairly to treat it as extravagant. "I'm much obliged to you for the handsome offer−−"

"Of what doesn't belong to me?" She wasn't abashed. "I don't say it does−−but there's no reason it shouldn't to
YOU. Mind you moreover"−− (68) she kept it up−−"I'm not one who talks in the air. And you owe me
something−−if you want to know why."

Distinct he felt her pressure; he felt, given her basis, her consistency; he even felt, to a degree that was
immediately to receive an odd confirmation, her truth. Her truth, for that matter, was that she believed him
bribeable: a belief that for his own mind as well, while they stood there, lighted up the impossible. What then in
this light did Kate believe him? But that wasn't what he asked aloud. "Of course I know I owe you thanks for a
deal of kind treatment. Your inviting me for instance to−night−−!"

"Yes, my inviting you to−night's a part of it. But you don't know," she added, "how far I've gone for you."

He felt himself red and as if his honour were colouring up; but he laughed again as he could. "I see how far you're
going."

"I'm the most honest woman in the world, but I've nevertheless done for you what was necessary." And then as
her now quite sombre gravity only made him stare: "To start you it WAS necessary. From ME it has the weight."
He but continued to stare, and she met his blankness with surprise. "Don't you understand me? I've told the proper
lie for you." Still he only showed her his flushed strained smile; in spite of which, speaking with force and as if he
must with a minute's reflexion see what she meant, she turned away from him. "I depend upon you now to make
me right!"



Book Sixth, Chapter 4                                                                                             126
                                             The Wings of the Dove

The minute's reflexion he was of course more free (69) to take after he had left the house. He walked up the
Bayswater Road, but he stopped short, under the murky stars, before the modern church, in the middle of the
square that, going eastward, opened out on his left. He had had his brief stupidity, but now he understood. She had
guaranteed to Milly Theale through Mrs. Stringham that Kate didn't care for him. She had affirmed through the
same source that the attachment was only his. He made it out, he made it out, and he could see what she meant by
its starting him. She had described Kate as merely compassionate, so that Milly might be compassionate too.
"Proper" indeed it was, her lie−−the very properest possible and the most deeply, richly diplomatic. So Milly was
successfully deceived.

Book Sixth, Chapter 5
To see her alone, the poor girl, he none the less promptly felt, was to see her after all very much on the old basis,
the basis of his three visits in New York; the new element, when once he was again face to face with her, not
really amounting to much more than a recognition, with a little surprise, of the positive extent of the old basis.
Everything but that, everything embarrassing fell away after he had been present five minutes: it was in fact
wonderful that their excellent, their pleasant, their permitted and proper and harmless American relation−−the
legitimacy of which he could thus scarce express in names enough−−should seem so unperturbed by other
matters. They had both since then had great adventures−−such an adventure for him was his mental annexation of
her country; and it was now, for the moment, as if the greatest of them all were this acquired consciousness of
reasons other than those that had already served. Densher had asked for her, at her hotel, the day after Aunt
Maud's dinner, with a rich, that is with a highly troubled, preconception of the part likely to be played for him at
present, in any contact with her, by Kate's and Mrs. Lowder's so oddly conjoined and so really superfluous
attempts to make her interesting. She had been interesting enough without them−−that appeared to−day to come
back to him; and, admirable and beautiful as was the charitable zeal of the two (71) ladies, it might easily have
nipped in the bud the germs of a friendship inevitably limited but still perfectly open to him. What had happily
averted the need of his breaking off, what would as happily continue to avert it, was his own good sense and good
humour, a certain spring of mind in him which ministered, imagination aiding, to understandings and allowances
and which he had positively never felt such ground as just now to rejoice in the possession of. Many men−−he
practically made the reflexion−−wouldn't have taken the matter that way, would have lost patience, finding the
appeal in question irrational, exorbitant; and, thereby making short work with it, would have let it render any
further acquaintance with Miss Theale impossible. He had talked with Kate of this young woman's being
"sacrificed," and that would have been one way, so far as he was concerned, to sacrifice her. Such, however, had
not been the tune to which his at first bewildered view had, since the night before, cleared itself up. It wasn't so
much that he failed of being the kind of man who "chucked," for he knew himself as the kind of man wise enough
to mark the case in which chucking might be the minor evil and the least cruelty. It was that he liked too much
every one concerned willingly to show himself merely impracticable. He liked Kate, goodness knew, and he also
clearly enough liked Mrs. Lowder. He liked in particular Milly herself; and hadn't it come up for him the evening
before that he quite liked even Susan Shepherd? He had never known himself so generally merciful. It was a
footing, at all events, whatever accounted for it, on (72) which he should surely be rather a muff not to manage by
one turn or another to escape disobliging. Should he find he couldn't work it there would still be time enough. The
idea of working it crystallised before him in such guise as not only to promise much interest−−fairly, in case of
success, much enthusiasm; but positively to impart to failure an appearance of barbarity.

Arriving thus in Brook Street both with the best intentions and with a margin consciously left for some primary
awkwardness, he found his burden, to his great relief, unexpectedly light. The awkwardness involved in the
responsibility so newly and so ingeniously traced for him turned round on the spot to present him another face.
This was simply the face of his old impression, which he now fully recovered−−the impression that American
girls, when, rare case, they had the attraction of Milly, were clearly the easiest people in the world. Had what had
happened been that this specimen of the class was from the first so committed to ease that nothing subsequent
COULD ever make her difficult? That affected him now as still more probable than on the occasion of the hour or


Book Sixth, Chapter 5                                                                                            127
                                               The Wings of the Dove
two lately passed with her in Kate's society. Milly Theale had recognised no complication, to Densher's view,
while bringing him, with his companion, from the National Gallery and entertaining them at luncheon; it was
therefore scarce supposable that complications had become so soon too much for her. His pretext for presenting
himself was fortunately of the best and simplest; the least he could decently do, given their happy acquaintance,
was to call with an enquiry after (73) learning that she had been prevented by illness from meeting him at dinner.
And then there was the beautiful accident of her other demonstration; he must at any rate have given a sign as a
sequel to the hospitality he had shared with Kate. Well, he was giving one now−−such as it was; he was finding
her, to begin with, accessible, and very naturally and prettily glad to see him. He had come, after luncheon, early,
though not so early but that she might already be out if she were well enough; and she was well enough and yet
was still at home. He had an inner glimpse, with this, of the comment Kate would have made on it; it wasn't
absent from his thought that Milly would have been at home by HER account because expecting, after a talk with
Mrs. Stringham, that a certain person might turn up. He even−−so pleasantly did things go−−enjoyed freedom of
mind to welcome, on that supposition, a fresh sign of the beautiful hypocrisy of women. He went so far as to
enjoy believing the girl MIGHT have stayed in for him; it helped him to enjoy her behaving as if she hadn't. She
expressed, that is, exactly the right degree of surprise; she didn't a bit overdo it: the lesson of which was,
perceptibly, that, so far as his late lights had opened the door to any want of the natural in their meetings, he might
trust her to take care of it for him as well as for herself.

She had begun this, admirably, on his entrance, with her turning away from the table at which she had apparently
been engaged in letter−writing; it was the very possibility of his betraying a concern for her as one of the afflicted
that she had within the first minute conjured away. She was never, never−−did (74) he understand?−−to be one of
the afflicted for him; and the manner in which he understood it, something of the answering pleasure that he
couldn't help knowing he showed, constituted, he was very soon after to acknowledge, something like a start for
intimacy. When things like that could pass people had in truth to be equally conscious of a relation. It soon made
one, at all events, when it didn't find one made. She had let him ask−−there had been time for that, his allusion to
her friend's explanatory arrival at Lancaster Gate without her being inevitable; but she had blown away, and quite
as much with the look in her eyes as with the smile on her lips, every ground for anxiety and every chance for
insistence. How was she?−−why she was as he thus saw her and as she had reasons of her own, nobody else's
business, for desiring to appear. Kate's account of her as too proud for pity, as fiercely shy about so personal a
secret, came back to him; so that he rejoiced he could take a hint, especially when he wanted to. The question the
girl had quickly disposed of−−"Oh it was nothing: I'm all right, thank you!"−−was one he was glad enough to be
able to banish. It wasn't at all, in spite of the appeal Kate had made to him on it, his affair; for his interest had
been invoked in the name of compassion, and the name of compassion was exactly what he felt himself at the end
of two minutes forbidden so much as to whisper. He had been sent to see her in order to be sorry for her, and how
sorry he might be, quite privately, he was yet to make out. Didn't that signify, however, almost not at
all?−−inasmuch as, whatever his upshot, he was never to (75) give her a glimpse of it. Thus the ground was
unexpectedly cleared; though it was not till a slightly longer time had passed that he read clear, at first with
amusement and then with a strange shade of respect, what had most operated. Extraordinarily, quite amazingly, he
began to see that if his pity hadn't had to yield to still other things it would have had to yield quite definitely to her
own. That was the way the case had turned round: he had made his visit to be sorry for her, but he would repeat
it−−if he did repeat it−−in order that she might be sorry for him. His situation made him, she judged−−when once
one liked him−−a subject for that degree of tenderness: he felt this judgement in her, and felt it as something he
should really, in decency, in dignity, in common honesty, have very soon to reckon with.

Odd enough was it certainly that the question originally before him, the question placed there by Kate, should so
of a sudden find itself quite dislodged by another. This other, it was easy to see, came straight up with the fact of
her beautiful delusion and her wasted charity; the whole thing preparing for him as pretty a case of conscience as
he could have desired, and one at the prospect of which he was already wincing. If he was interesting it was
because he was unhappy; and if he was unhappy it was because his passion for Kate had spent itself in vain; and if
Kate was indifferent, inexorable, it was because she had left Milly in no doubt of it. That above all was what came
up for him−−how clear an impression of this attitude, how definite an account of his own failure, Kate must have

Book Sixth, Chapter 5                                                                                                128
                                               The Wings of the Dove
given her friend. His immediate (76) quarter of an hour there with the girl lighted up for him almost luridly such
an inference; it was almost as if the other party to their remarkable understanding had been with them as they
talked, had been hovering about, had dropped in to look after her work. The value of the work affected him as
different from the moment he saw it so expressed in poor Milly. Since it was false that he wasn't loved, so his
right was quite quenched to figure on that ground as important; and if he didn't look out he should find himself
appreciating in a way quite at odds with straightness the good faith of Milly's benevolence. THERE was the place
for scruples; there the need absolutely to mind what he was about. If it wasn't proper for him to enjoy
consideration on a perfectly false footing, where was the guarantee that, if he kept on, he mightn't soon himself
pretend to the grievance in order not to miss the sweet? Consideration−−from a charming girl−−was soothing on
whatever theory; and it didn't take him far to remember that he had himself as yet done nothing deceptive. It was
Kate's description of him, his defeated state, it was none of his own; his responsibility would begin, as he might
say, only with acting it out. The sharp point was, however, in the difference between acting and not acting: this
difference in fact it was that made the case of conscience. He saw it with a certain alarm rise before him that
everything was acting that was not speaking the particular word. "If you like me because you think SHE doesn't, it
isn't a bit true: she DOES like me awfully!"−−that would have been the particular word; which there were at the
same time but too palpably (77) such difficulties about his uttering. Wouldn't it be virtually as indelicate to
challenge her as to leave her deluded?−−and this quite apart from the exposure, so to speak, of Kate, as to whom
it would constitute a kind of betrayal. Kate's design was something so extraordinarily special to Kate that he felt
himself shrink from the complications involved in judging it. Not to give away the woman one loved, but to back
her up in her mistakes−−once they had gone a certain length−−that was perhaps chief among the inevitabilities of
the abjection of love. Loyalty was of course supremely prescribed in presence of any design on her part, however
roundabout, to do one nothing but good.

Densher had quite to steady himself not to be awestruck at the immensity of the good his own friend must on all
this evidence have wanted to do him. Of one thing indeed meanwhile he was sure: Milly Theale wouldn't herself
precipitate his necessity of intervention. She would absolutely never say to him: "IS it so impossible she shall ever
care for you seriously?"−−without which nothing could well be less delicate than for him aggressively to set her
right. Kate would be free to do that if Kate, in some prudence, some contrition, for some better reason in fine,
should revise her plan; but he asked himself what, failing this, HE could do that wouldn't be after all more gross
than doing nothing. This brought him round again to the acceptance of the fact that the poor girl liked him. She
put it, for reasons of her own, on a simple, a beautiful ground, a ground that already supplied her with the pretext
she required. The (78) ground was there, that is, in the impression she had received, retained, cherished; the
pretext, over and above it, was the pretext for acting on it. That she now believed as she did made her sure at last
that she might act; so that what Densher therefore would have struck at would be the root, in her soul, of a pure
pleasure. It positively lifted its head and flowered, this pure pleasure, while the young man now sat with her, and
there were things she seemed to say that took the words out of his mouth. These were not all the things she did
say; they were rather what such things meant in the light of what he knew. Her warning him for instance off the
question of how she was, the quick brave little art with which she did that, represented to his fancy a truth she
didn't utter. "I'm well for YOU−−that's all you have to do with or need trouble about: I shall never be anything so
horrid as ill for you. So there you are; worry about me, spare me, please, as little as you can. Don't be afraid, in
short, to ignore my 'interesting' side. It isn't, you see, even now while you sit here, that there aren't lots of others.
Only do THEM justice and we shall get on beautifully." This was what was folded finely up in her talk−−all quite
ostensibly about her impressions and her intentions. She tried to put Densher again on his American doings, but
he wouldn't have that to−day. As he thought of the way in which, the other afternoon, before Kate, he had sat
complacently "jawing," he accused himself of excess, of having overdone it, having made−−at least
apparently−−more of a "set" at their entertainer than he was at all events then intending. He turned the tables,
drawing (79) her out about London, about her vision of life there, and only too glad to treat her as a person with
whom he could easily have other topics than her aches and pains. He spoke to her above all of the evidence
offered him at Lancaster Gate that she had come but to conquer; and when she had met this with full and gay
assent−−"How could I help being the feature of the season, the what−do−you−call−it, the theme of every
tongue?"−−they fraternised freely over all that had come and gone for each since their interrupted encounter in

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                                             The Wings of the Dove
New York.

At the same time, while many things in quick succession came up for them, came up in particular for Densher,
nothing perhaps was just so sharp as the odd influence of their present conditions on their view of their past ones.
It was as if they hadn't known how "thick" they had originally become, as if, in a manner, they had really fallen to
remembrance of more passages of intimacy than there had in fact at the time quite been room for. They were in a
relation now so complicated, whether by what they said or by what they didn't say, that it might have been
seeking to justify its speedy growth by reaching back to one of those fabulous periods in which prosperous states
place their beginnings. He recalled what had been said at Mrs. Lowder's about the steps and stages, in people's
careers, that absence caused one to miss, and about the resulting frequent sense of meeting them further on;
which, with some other matters also recalled, he took occasion to communicate to Milly. The matters he couldn't
mention mingled themselves with those he did; so that it would doubtless have been (80) hard to say which of the
two groups now played most of a part. He was kept face to face with this young lady by a force absolutely
resident in their situation and operating, for his nerves, with the swiftness of the forces commonly regarded by
sensitive persons as beyond their control. The current thus determined had positively become for him, by the time
he had been ten minutes in the room, something that, but for the absurdity of comparing the very small with the
very great, he would freely have likened to the rapids of Niagara. An uncriticised acquaintance between a clever
young man and a responsive young woman could do nothing more, at the most, than go, and his actual experiment
went and went and went. Nothing probably so conduced to make it go as the marked circumstance that they had
spoken all the while not a word about Kate; and this in spite of the fact that, if it were a question for them of what
had occurred in the past weeks, nothing had occurred comparable to Kate's predominance. Densher had but the
night before appealed to her for instruction as to what he must do about her, but he fairly winced to find how little
this came to. She had foretold him of course how little; but it was a truth that looked different when shown him by
Milly. It proved to him that the latter had in fact been dealt with, but it produced in him the thought that Kate
might perhaps again conveniently be questioned. He would have liked to speak to her before going further−−to
make sure she really meant him to succeed quite so much. With all the difference that, as we say, came up for
him, it came up afresh, naturally, that he might make his visit (81) brief and never renew it; yet the strangest thing
of all was that the argument against that issue would have sprung precisely from the beautiful little eloquence
involved in Milly's avoidances.

Precipitate these well might be, since they emphasised the fact that she was proceeding in the sense of the
assurances she had taken. Over the latter she had visibly not hesitated, for hadn't they had the merit of giving her a
chance? Densher quite saw her, felt her take it; the chance, neither more nor less, of help rendered him according
to her freedom. It was what Kate had left her with: "Listen to him, i? Never! So do as you like." What Milly
"liked" was to do, it thus appeared, as she was doing: our young man's glimpse of which was just what would
have been for him not less a glimpse of the peculiar brutality of shaking her off. The choice exhaled its shy
fragrance of heroism, for it was not aided by any question of parting with Kate. She would be charming to Kate as
well as to Kate's adorer; she would incur whatever pain could dwell for her in the sight−−should she continue to
be exposed to the sight−−of the adorer thrown with the adored. It wouldn't really have taken much more to make
him wonder if he hadn't before him one of those rare cases of exaltation−−food for fiction, food for poetry−−in
which a man's fortune with the woman who doesn't care for him is positively promoted by the woman who does.
It was as if Milly had said to herself: "Well, he can at least meet her in my society, if that's anything to him; so
that my line can only be to make my society attractive." She certainly couldn't have made a (82) different
impression if she HAD so reasoned. All of which, none the less, didn't prevent his soon enough saying to her,
quite as if she were to be whirled into space: "And now, then, what becomes of you? Do you begin to rush about
on visits to country−houses?"

She disowned the idea with a headshake that, put on what face she would, couldn't help betraying to him
something of her suppressed view of the possibility−−ever, ever perhaps−−of any such proceedings. They weren't
at any rate for her now. "Dear no. We go abroad for a few weeks somewhere of high air. That has been before us
for many days; we've only been kept on by last necessities here. However, everything's done and the wind's in our

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                                               The Wings of the Dove

sails."

"May you scud then happily before it! But when," he asked, "do you come back?"

She looked ever so vague; then as if to correct it: "Oh when the wind turns. And what do you do with your
summer?"

"Ah I spend it in sordid toil. I drench it with mercenary ink. My work in your country counts for play as well. You
see what's thought of the pleasure your country can give. My holiday's over."

"I'm sorry you had to take it," said Milly, "at such a different time from ours. If you could but have worked while
we've been working−−"

"I might be playing while you play? Oh the distinction isn't great with me. There's a little of each for me, of work
and of play, in either. But you and Mrs. Stringham, with Miss Croy and Mrs. Lowder−−you all," he went on,
"have been given up, like navvies or niggers, to real physical toil. Your (83) rest is something you've earned and
you need. My labour's comparatively light."

"Very true," she smiled; "but all the same I like mine."

"It doesn't leave you 'done'?"

"Not a bit. I don't get tired when I'm interested. Oh I could go far."

He bethought himself. "Then why don't you?−−since you've got here, as I learn, the whole place in your pocket."

"Well, it's a kind of economy−−I'm saving things up. I've enjoyed so what you speak of−−though your account of
it's fantastic−−that I'm watching over its future, that I can't help being anxious and careful. I want−−in the interest
itself of what I've had and may still have−−not to make stupid mistakes. The way not to make them is to get off
again to a distance and see the situation from there. I shall keep it fresh," she wound up as if herself rather pleased
with the ingenuity of her statement−−"I shall keep it fresh, by that prudence, for my return."

"Ah then you WILL return? Can you promise one that?"

Her face fairly lighted at his asking for a promise; but she made as if bargaining a little. "Isn't London rather awful
in winter?"

He had been going to ask her if she meant for the invalid; but he checked the infelicity of this and took the
enquiry as referring to social life. "No−−I like it, with one thing and another; it's less of a mob than later on; and it
would have for US the merit−−should you come here then−−that we should probably see (84) more of you. So do
reappear for us−−if it isn't a question of climate."

She looked at that a little graver. "If what isn't a question−−?"

"Why the determination of your movements. You spoke just now of going somewhere for that."

"For better air?"−−she remembered. "Oh yes, one certainly wants to get out of London in August."

"Rather, of course!"−−he fully understood. "Though I'm glad you've hung on long enough for me to catch you.
Try us at any rate," he continued, "once more."


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                                                 The Wings of the Dove

"Whom do you mean by 'us'?" she presently asked.

It pulled him up an instant−−representing, as he saw it might have seemed, an allusion to himself as conjoined
with Kate, whom he was proposing not to mention any more than his hostess did. But the issue was easy. "I mean
all of us together, every one you'll find ready to surround you with sympathy."

It made her, none the less, in her odd charming way, challenge him afresh. "Why do you say sympathy?"

"Well, it's doubtless a pale word. What we SHALL feel for you will be much nearer worship."

"As near then as you like!" With which at last Kate's name was sounded. "The people I'd most come back for are
the people you know. I'd do it for Mrs. Lowder, who has been beautifully kind to me."

"So she has to ME," said Densher. "I feel," he added as she at first answered nothing, "that, quite (85) contrary to
anything I originally expected, I've made a good friend of her."

"i didn't expect it either−−its turning out as it has. But I did," said Milly, "with Kate. I shall come back for her too.
I'd do anything"−−she kept it up−−"for Kate."

Looking at him as with conscious clearness while she spoke, she might for the moment have effectively laid a trap
for whatever remains of the ideal straightness in him were still able to pull themselves together and operate. He
was afterwards to say to himself that something had at that moment hung for him by a hair. "Oh I know what one
would do for Kate!"−−it had hung for him by a hair to break out with that, which he felt he had really been kept
from by an element in his consciousness stronger still. The proof of the truth in question was precisely in his
silence; resisting the impulse to break out was what he WAS doing for Kate. This at the time moreover came and
went quickly enough; he was trying the next minute but to make Milly's allusion easy for herself. "Of course I
know what friends you are−−and of course I understand," he permitted himself to add, "any amount of devotion to
a person so charming. That's the good turn then she'll do us all−−I mean her working for your return."

"Oh you don't know," said Milly, "how much I'm really on her hands."

He could but accept the appearance of wondering how much he might show he knew. "Ah she's very masterful."

"She's great. Yet I don't say she bullies me."

(86) "No−−that's not the way. At any rate it isn't hers," he smiled. He remembered, however, then that an undue
acquaintance with Kate's ways was just what he mustn't show; and he pursued the subject no further than to
remark with a good intention that had the further merit of representing a truth: "I don't feel as if I knew
her−−really to call know."

"Well, if you come to that, I don't either!" she laughed. The words gave him, as soon as they were uttered, a sense
of responsibility for his own; though during a silence that ensued for a minute he had time to recognise that his
own contained after all no element of falsity. Strange enough therefore was it that he could go too far−−if it WAS
too far−−without being false. His observation was one he would perfectly have made to Kate herself. And before
he again spoke, and before Milly did, he took time for more still−−for feeling how just here it was that he must
break short off if his mind was really made up not to go further. It was as if he had been at a corner−−and fairly
put there by his last speech; so that it depended on him whether or no to turn it. The silence, if prolonged but an
instant, might even have given him a sense of her waiting to see what he would do. It was filled for them the next
thing by the sound, rather voluminous for the August afternoon, of the approach, in the street below them, of
heavy carriage−wheels and of horses trained to "step." A rumble, a great shake, a considerable effective clatter,
had been apparently succeeded by a pause at the door of the hotel, which was in turn accompanied by a due

Book Sixth, Chapter 5                                                                                               132
                                             The Wings of the Dove
display of diminished prancing and stamping. "You've a visitor," (87) Densher laughed, "and it must be at least an
ambassador."

"It's only my own carriage; it does that−−isn't it wonderful?−−every day. But we find it, Mrs. Stringham and I, in
the innocence of our hearts, very amusing." She had got up, as she spoke, to assure herself of what she said; and at
the end of a few steps they were together on the balcony and looking down at her waiting chariot, which made
indeed a brave show. "Is it very awful?"

It was to Densher's eyes−−save for its absurd heaviness−−only pleasantly pompous. "It seems to me delightfully
rococo. But how do I know? You're mistress of these things, in contact with the highest wisdom. You occupy a
position, moreover, thanks to which your carriage−−well, by this time, in the eye of London, also occupies one."
But she was going out, and he mustn't stand in her way. What had happened the next minute was first that she had
denied she was going out, so that he might prolong his stay; and second that she had said she would go out with
pleasure if he would like to drive−−that in fact there were always things to do, that there had been a question for
her to−day of several in particular, and that this in short was why the carriage had been ordered so early. They
perceived, as she said these things, that an enquirer had presented himself, and, coming back, they found Milly's
servant announcing the carriage and prepared to accompany her. This appeared to have for her the effect of
settling the matter−−on the basis, that is, of Densher's happy response. Densher's happy response, however, had as
yet hung fire, the (88) process we have described in him operating by this time with extreme intensity. The system
of not pulling up, not breaking off, had already brought him headlong, he seemed to feel, to where they actually
stood; and just now it was, with a vengeance, that he must do either one thing or the other. He had been waiting
for some moments, which probably seemed to him longer than they were; this was because he was anxiously
watching himself wait. He couldn't keep that up for ever; and since one thing or the other was what he must do, it
was for the other that he presently became conscious of having decided. If he had been drifting it settled itself in
the manner of a bump, of considerable violence, against a firm object in the stream. "Oh yes; I'll go with you with
pleasure. It's a charming idea."

She gave no look to thank him−−she rather looked away; she only said at once to her servant, "In ten minutes";
and then to her visitor, as the man went out, "We'll go somewhere−−I shall like that. But I must ask of you
time−−as little as possible−−to get ready." She looked over the room to provide for him, keep him there. "There
are books and things−−plenty; and I dress very quickly." He caught her eyes only as she went, on which he
thought them pretty and touching.

Why especially touching at that instant he could certainly scarce have said; it was involved, it was lost in the
sense of her wishing to oblige him. Clearly what had occurred was her having wished it so that she had made him
simply wish, in civil acknowledgement, to oblige HER; which he had now fully done by (89) turning his corner.
He was quite round it, his corner, by the time the door had closed upon her and he stood there alone. Alone he
remained for three minutes more−−remained with several very living little matters to think about. One of these
was the phenomenon−−typical, highly American, he would have said−−of Milly's extreme spontaneity. It was
perhaps rather as if he had sought refuge−−refuge from another question−−in the almost exclusive contemplation
of this. Yet this, in its way, led him nowhere; not even to a sound generalisation about American girls. It was
spontaneous for his young friend to have asked him to drive with her alone−−since she hadn't mentioned her
companion; but she struck him after all as no more advanced in doing it than Kate, for instance, who wasn't an
American girl, might have struck him in not doing it. Besides, Kate WOULD have done it, though Kate wasn't at
all, in the same sense as Milly, spontaneous. And then in addition Kate HAD done it−−or things very like it.
Furthermore he was engaged to Kate−−even if his ostensibly not being put her public freedom on other grounds.
On all grounds, at any rate, the relation between Kate and freedom, between freedom and Kate, was a different
one from any he could associate or cultivate, as to anything, with the girl who had just left him to prepare to give
herself up to him. It had never struck him before, and he moved about the room while he thought of it, touching
none of the books placed at his disposal. Milly was forward, as might be said, but not advanced; whereas Kate
was backward−−backward still, comparatively, as an English girl−−and yet advanced (90) in a high degree.

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                                             The Wings of the Dove
However−−though this didn't straighten it out−−Kate was of course two or three years older; which at their time
of life considerably counted.

Thus ingeniously discriminating, Densher continued slowly to wander; yet without keeping at bay for long the
sense of having rounded his corner. He had so rounded it that he felt himself lose even the option of taking
advantage of Milly's absence to retrace his steps. If he might have turned tail, vulgarly speaking, five minutes
before, he couldn't turn tail now; he must simply wait there with his consciousness charged to the brim. Quickly
enough moreover that issue was closed from without; in the course of three minutes more Miss Theale's servant
had returned. He preceded a visitor whom he had met, obviously, at the foot of the stairs and whom, throwing
open the door, he loudly announced as Miss Croy. Kate, on following him in, stopped short at sight of
Densher−−only, after an instant, as the young man saw with free amusement, not from surprise and still less from
discomfiture. Densher immediately gave his explanation−−Miss Theale had gone to prepare to drive−−on receipt
of which the servant effaced himself.

"And you're going with her?" Kate asked.

"Yes−−with your approval; which I've taken, as you see, for granted."

"0h," she laughed, "my approval's complete!" She was thoroughly consistent and handsome about it.

"What I mean is of course," he went on−−for he (91) was sensibly affected by her gaiety−−"at your so lively
instigation."

She had looked about the room−−she might have been vaguely looking for signs of the duration, of the character
of his visit, a momentary aid in taking a decision. "Well, instigation then, as much as you like." She treated it as
pleasant, the success of her plea with him; she made a fresh joke of this direct impression of it. "So much so as
that? Do you know I think I won't wait?"

"Not to see her−−after coming?"

"Well, with you in the field−−! I came for news of her, but she must be all right. If she IS−−"

But he took her straight up. "Ah how do I know?" He was moved to say more. "It's not i who am responsible for
her, my dear. It seems to me it's you." She struck him as making light of a matter that had been costing him
sundry qualms; so that they couldn't both be quite just. Either she was too easy or he had been too anxious. He
didn't want at all events to feel a fool for that. "I'm doing nothing−−and shall not, I assure you, do anything but
what I'm told."

Their eyes met with some intensity over the emphasis he had given his words; and he had taken it from her the
next moment that he really needn't get into a state. What in the world was the matter? She asked it, with interest,
for all answer. "Isn't she better−−if she's able to see you?"

"She assures me she's in perfect health."

Kate's interest grew. "I knew she would." On which she added: "It won't have been really for illness that she
stayed away last night."

(92) "For what then?"

"Well−−for nervousness."


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                                               The Wings of the Dove

"Nervousness about what?"

"Oh you know!" She spoke with a hint of impatience, smiling however the next moment. "I've told you that."

He looked at her to recover in her face what she had told him; then it was as if what he saw there prompted him to
say: "What have you told HER?"

She gave him her controlled smile, and it was all as if they remembered where they were, liable to surprise,
talking with softened voices, even stretching their opportunity, by such talk, beyond a quite right feeling. Milly's
room would be close at hand, and yet they were saying things−−! For a moment, none the less, they kept it up.
"Ask HER, if you like; you're free−−she'll tell you. Act as you think best; don't trouble about what you think I
may or mayn't have told. I'm all right with her," said Kate. "So there you are."

"If you mean HERE I am," he answered, "it's unmistakeable. If you also mean that her believing in you is all I
have to do with you're so far right as that she certainly does believe in you."

"Well then take example by her."

"She's really doing it for you," Densher continued. "She's driving me out for you."

"In that case," said Kate with her soft tranquillity, "you can do it a little for HER. I'm not afraid," she smiled.

He stood before her a moment, taking in again the face she put on it and affected again, as he had already (93) so
often been, by more things in this face and in her whole person and presence than he was, to his relief, obliged to
find words for. It wasn't, under such impressions, a question of words. "I do nothing for any one in the world but
you. But for you I'll do anything."

"Good, good," said Kate. "That's how I like you."

He waited again an instant. "Then you swear to it?"

"To 'it'? To what?"

"Why that you do 'like' me. Since it's all for that, you know, that I'm letting you do−−well, God knows what with
me."

She gave at this, with a stare, a disheartened gesture−−the sense of which she immediately further expressed. "If
you don't believe in me then, after all, hadn't you better break off before you've gone further?"

"Break off with you?"

"Break off with Milly. You might go now," she said, "and I'll stay and explain to her why it is."

He wondered−−as if it struck him. "What would you say?"

"Why that you find you can't stand her, and that there's nothing for me but to bear with you as I best may."

He considered of this. "How much do you abuse me to her?"

"Exactly enough. As much as you see by her attitude."


Book Sixth, Chapter 5                                                                                                 135
                                              The Wings of the Dove

Again he thought. "It doesn't seem to me I ought to mind her attitude."

(94) "Well then, just as you like. I'll stay and do my best for you."

He saw she was sincere, was really giving him a chance; and that of itself made things clearer. The feeling of how
far he had gone came back to him not in repentance, but in this very vision of an escape; and it was not of what he
had done, but of what Kate offered, that he now weighed the consequence. "Won't it make her−−her not finding
me here−−be rather more sure there's something between us?"

Kate thought. "Oh I don't know. It will of course greatly upset her. But you needn't trouble about that. She won't
die of it."

"Do you mean she WILL?" Densher presently asked.

"Don't put me questions when you don't believe what I say. You make too many conditions."

She spoke now with a shade of rational weariness that made the want of pliancy, the failure to oblige her, look
poor and ugly; so that what it suddenly came back to for him was his deficiency in the things a man of any taste,
so engaged, so enlisted, would have liked to make sure of being able to show−−imagination, tact, positively even
humour. The circumstance is doubtless odd, but the truth is none the less that the speculation uppermost with him
at this juncture was: "What if I should begin to bore this creature?" And that, within a few seconds, had translated
itself. "If you'll swear again you love me−−!"

She looked about, at door and window, as if he were asking for more than he said. "Here? There's nothing
between us here," Kate smiled.

(95) "Oh ISN'T there?" Her smile itself, with this, had so settled something for him that he had come to her
pleadingly and holding out his hands, which she immediately seized with her own as if both to check him and to
keep him. It was by keeping him thus for a minute that she did check him; she held him long enough, while, with
their eyes deeply meeting, they waited in silence for him to recover himself and renew his discretion. He coloured
as with a return of the sense of where they were, and that gave her precisely one of her usual victories, which
immediately took further form. By the time he had dropped her hands he had again taken hold, as it were, of
Milly's. It was not at any rate with Milly he had broken. "I'll do all you wish," he declared as if to acknowledge
the acceptance of his condition that he had practically, after all, drawn from her−−a declaration on which she then,
recurring to her first idea, promptly acted.

"If you ARE as good as that I go. You'll tell her that, finding you with her, I wouldn't wait. Say that, you know,
from yourself. She'll understand."

She had reached the door with it−−she was full of decision; but he had before she left him one more doubt. "I
don't see how she can understand enough, you know, without understanding too much."

"You don't need to see."

He required then a last injunction. "I must simply go it blind?"

"You must simply be kind to her."

"And leave the rest to you?"

"Leave the rest to HER," said Kate disappearing.

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                                              The Wings of the Dove

It came back then afresh to that, as it had come (96) before. Milly, three minutes after Kate had gone, returned in
her array−−her big black hat, so little superstitiously in the fashion, her fine black garments throughout, the
swathing of her throat, which Densher vaguely took for an infinite number of yards of priceless lace, and which,
its folded fabric kept in place by heavy rows of pearls, hung down to her feet like the stole of a priestess. He
spoke to her at once of their friend's visit and flight. "She hadn't known she'd find me," he said−−and said at
present without difficulty. He had so rounded his corner that it wasn't a question of a word more or less.

She took this account of the matter as quite sufficient; she glossed over whatever might be awkward. "I'm
sorry−−but I of course often see HER." He felt the discrimination in his favour and how it justified Kate. This was
Milly's tone when the matter was left to her. Well, it should now be wholly left.

Book Seventh, Chapter 1
When Kate and Densher abandoned her to Mrs. Stringham on the day of her meeting them together and bringing
them to luncheon, Milly, face to face with that companion, had had one of those moments in which the warned,
the anxious fighter of the battle of life, as if once again feeling for the sword at his side, carries his hand straight
to the quarter of his courage. She laid hers firmly on her heart, and the two women stood there showing each other
a strange front. Susan Shepherd had received their great doctor's visit, which had been clearly no small affair for
her; but Milly had since then, with insistence, kept in place, against communication and betrayal, as she now
practically confessed, the barrier of their invited guests. "You've been too dear. With what I see you're full of you
treated them beautifully. ISN'T Kate charming when she wants to be?"

Poor Susie's expression, contending at first, as in a high fine spasm, with different dangers, had now quite let itself
go. She had to make an effort to reach a point in space already so remote. "Miss Croy? Oh she was pleasant and
clever. She knew," Mrs. Stringham added. "She knew."

Milly braced herself−−but conscious above all, at the moment, of a high compassion for her mate. She made her
out as struggling−−struggling in all her nature against the betrayal of pity, which in itself, (100) given her nature,
could only be a torment. Milly gathered from the struggle how much there was of the pity, and how therefore it
was both in her tenderness and in her conscience that Mrs. Stringham suffered. Wonderful and beautiful it was
that this impression instantly steadied the girl. Ruefully asking herself on what basis of ease, with the drop of their
barrier, they were to find themselves together, she felt the question met with a relief that was almost joy. The
basis, the inevitable basis, was that she was going to be sorry for Susie, who, to all appearance, had been
condemned in so much more uncomfortable a manner to be sorry for HER. Mrs. Stringham's sorrow would hurt
Mrs. Stringham, but how could her own ever hurt? She had, the poor girl, at all events, on the spot, five minutes
of exaltation in which she turned the tables on her friend with a pass of the hand, a gesture of an energy that made
a wind in the air. "Kate knew," she asked, "that you were full of Sir Luke Strett?"

"She spoke of nothing, but she was gentle and nice; she seemed to want to help me through." Which the good lady
had no sooner said, however, than she almost tragically gasped at herself. She glared at Milly with a pretended
pluck. "What I mean is that she saw one had been taken up with something. When I say she knows I should say
she's a person who guesses." And her grimace was also, on its side, heroic. "But SHE doesn't matter, Milly."

The girl felt she by this time could face anything. "Nobody matters, Susie. Nobody." Which her next words,
however, rather contradicted. "Did he take it (101) ill that I wasn't here to see him? Wasn't it really just what he
wanted−−to have it out, so much more simply, with YOU?"

"We didn't have anything 'out,' Milly," Mrs. Stringham delicately quavered.

"Didn't he awfully like you," Milly went on, "and didn't he think you the most charming person I could possibly


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have referred him to for an account of me? Didn't you hit it off tremendously together and in fact fall quite in
love, so that it will really be a great advantage for you to have me as a common ground? You're going to make, I
can see, no end of a good thing of me."

"My own child, my own child!" Mrs. Stringham pleadingly murmured; yet showing as she did so that she feared
the effect even of deprecation.

"Isn't he beautiful and good too himself ?−−altogether, whatever he may say, a lovely acquaintance to have made?
You're just the right people for me−−I see it now; and do you know what, between you, you must do?" Then as
Susie still but stared, wonderstruck and holding herself: "You must simply see me through. Any way you choose.
Make it out together. I, on my side, will be beautiful too, and we'll be−−the three of us, with whatever others, oh
as many as the case requires, any one you like!−−a sight for the gods. I'll be as easy for you as carrying a feather."
Susie took it for a moment in such silence that her young friend almost saw her−−and scarcely withheld the
observation−−as taking it for "a part of the disease." This accordingly helped Milly to be, as she judged, definite
and wise. "He's at any rate (102) awfully interesting, isn't he?−−which is so much to the good. We haven't at
least−−as we might have, with the way we tumbled into it−−got hold of one of the dreary."

"Interesting, dearest?"−−Mrs. Stringham felt her feet firmer. "I don't know if he's interesting or not; but I do
know, my own," she continued to quaver, "that he's just as much interested as you could possibly desire."

"Certainly−−that's it. Like all the world."

"No, my precious, not like all the world. Very much more deeply and intelligently."

"Ah there you are!" Milly laughed. "That's the way, Susie, I want you. So 'buck' up, my dear. We'll have beautiful
times with him. Don't worry."

"I'm not worrying, Milly." And poor Susie's face registered the sublimity of her lie.

It was at this that, too sharply penetrated, her companion went to her, met by her with an embrace in which things
were said that exceeded speech. Each held and clasped the other as if to console her for this unnamed woe, the
woe for Mrs. Stringham of learning the torment of helplessness, the woe for Milly of having HER, at such a time,
to think of. Milly's assumption was immense, and the difficulty for her friend was that of not being able to gainsay
it without bringing it more to the proof than tenderness and vagueness could permit. Nothing in fact came to the
proof between them but that they could thus cling together−−except indeed that, as we have indicated, the pledge
of protection and support was all the younger woman's own. "I don't ask you," she presently (103) said, "what he
told you for yourself, nor what he told you to tell me, nor how he took it, really, that I had left him to you, nor
what passed between you about me in any way. It wasn't to get that out of you that I took my means to make sure
of your meeting freely−−for there are things I don't want to know. I shall see him again and again and shall know
more than enough. All I do want is that you shall see me through on HIS basis, whatever it is; which it's
enough−−for the purpose−−that you yourself should know: that is with him to show you how. I'll make it
charming for you−−that's what I mean; I'll keep you up to it in such a way that half the time you won't know
you're doing it. And for that you're to rest upon me. There. It's understood. We keep each other going, and you
may absolutely feel of me that I shan't break down. So, with the way you haven't so much as a dig of the elbow to
fear, how could you be safer?"

"He told me I CAN help you−−of course he told me that," Susie, on her side, eagerly contended. "Why shouldn't
he, and for what else have I come out with you? But he told me nothing dreadful−−nothing, nothing, nothing," the
poor lady passionately protested. "Only that you must do as you like and as he tells you−−which IS just simply to
do as you like."


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"I must keep in sight of him. I must from time to time go to him. But that's of course doing as I like. It's lucky,"
Milly smiled, "that I like going to him."

Mrs. Stringham was here in agreement; she gave a clutch at the account of their situation that most showed it as
workable. "That's what WILL be charming (104) for me, and what I'm sure he really wants of me−−to help you to
do as you like."

"And also a little, won't it be," Milly laughed, "to save me from the consequences? Of course," she added, "there
must first BE things I like."

"Oh I think you'll find some," Mrs. Stringham more bravely said. "I think there ARE some−−as for instance just
this one. I mean," she explained, "really having us so."

Milly thought. "Just as if I wanted you comfortable about HIM, and him the same about you? Yes−−I shall get the
good of it."

Susan Shepherd appeared to wander from this into a slight confusion. "Which of them are you talking of?"

Milly wondered an instant−−then had a light. "I'm not talking of Mr. Densher." With which moreover she showed
amusement. "Though if you can be comfortable about Mr. Densher too so much the better."

"Oh you meant Sir Luke Strett? Certainly he's a fine type. Do you know," Susie continued, "whom he reminds me
of? Of OUR great man−−Dr. Buttrick of Boston."

Milly recognised Dr. Buttrick of Boston, but she dropped him after a tributary pause. "What do you think, now
that you've seen him, of Mr. Densher?"

It was not till after consideration, with her eyes fixed on her friend's, that Susie produced her answer. "I think he's
very handsome."

Milly remained smiling at her, though putting on a little the manner of a teacher with a pupil. "Well, (105) that
will do for the first time. I HAVE done," she went on, "what I wanted."

"Then that's all WE want. You see there are plenty of things."

Milly shook her head for the "plenty." "The best is not to know−−that includes them all. I don't−−I don't know.
Nothing about anything−−except that you're WITH me. Remember that, please. There won't be anything that, on
my side, for you, I shall forget. So it's all right."

The effect of it by this time was fairly, as intended, to sustain Susie, who dropped in spite of herself into the
reassuring. "Most certainly it's all right. I think you ought to understand that he sees no reason−−"

"Why I shouldn't have a grand long life?" Milly had taken it straight up, as to understand it and for a moment
consider it. But she disposed of it otherwise. "Oh of course I know THAT." She spoke as if her friend's point were
small.

Mrs. Stringham tried to enlarge it. "Well, what I mean is that he didn't say to me anything that he hasn't said to
yourself."

"Really?−−I would in his place!" She might have been disappointed, but she had her good humour. "He tells me
to LIVE"−−and she oddly limited the word.

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                                              The Wings of the Dove
It left Susie a little at sea. "Then what do you want more?"

"My dear," the girl presently said, "I don't 'want,' as I assure you, anything. Still," she added, "I AM living. Oh
yes, I'm living."

It put them again face to face, but it had wound (106) Mrs. Stringham up. "So am I then, you'll see!"−−she spoke
with the note of her recovery. Yet it was her wisdom now−−meaning by it as much as she did−−not to say more
than that. She had risen by Milly's aid to a certain command of what was before them; the ten minutes of their talk
had in fact made her more distinctly aware of the presence in her mind of a new idea. It was really perhaps an old
idea with a new value; it had at all events begun during the last hour, though at first but feebly, to shine with a
special light. That was because in the morning darkness had so suddenly descended−−a sufficient shade of night
to bring out the power of a star. The dusk might be thick yet, but the sky had comparatively cleared; and Susan
Shepherd's star from this time on continued to twinkle for her. It was for the moment, after her passage with
Milly, the one spark left in the heavens. She recognised, as she continued to watch it, that it had really been set
there by Sir Luke Strett's visit and that the impressions immediately following had done no more than fix it.
Milly's reappearance with Mr. Densher at her heels−−or, so oddly perhaps, at Miss Croy's heels, Miss Croy being
at Milly's−−had contributed to this effect, though it was only with the lapse of the greater obscurity that Susie
made that out. The obscurity had reigned during the hour of their friends' visit, faintly clearing indeed while, in
one of the rooms, Kate Croy's remarkable advance to her intensified the fact that Milly and the young man were
conjoined in the other. If it hadn't acquired on the spot all the intensity of which it was capable, this was because
the poor lady still sat (107) in her primary gloom, the gloom the great benignant doctor had practically left behind
him.

The intensity the circumstance in question MIGHT wear to the informed imagination would have been
sufficiently revealed for us, no doubt−−and with other things to our purpose−−in two or three of those
confidential passages with Mrs. Lowder that she now permitted herself. She hadn't yet been so glad that she
believed in her old friend: for if she hadn't had, at such a pass, somebody or other to believe in she should
certainly have stumbled by the way. Discretion had ceased to consist of silence; silence was gross and thick,
whereas wisdom should taper, however tremulously, to a point. She betook herself to Lancaster Gate the morning
after the colloquy just noted; and there, in Maud Manningham's own sanctum, she gradually found relief in giving
an account of herself. An account of herself was one of the things that she had long been in the habit of expecting
herself regularly to give−−the regularity depending of course much on such tests of merit as might, by laws
beyond her control, rise in her path. She never spared herself in short a proper sharpness of conception of how she
had behaved, and it was a statement that she for the most part found herself able to make. What had happened at
present was that nothing, as she felt, was left of her to report to; she was all too sunk in the inevitable and the
abysmal. To give an account of herself she must give it to somebody else, and her first instalment of it to her
hostess was that she must please let her cry. She couldn't cry, with Milly in observation, at the hotel, which she
had accordingly left for (108) that purpose; and the power happily came to her with the good opportunity. She
cried and cried at first−−she confined herself to that; it was for the time the best statement of her business. Mrs.
Lowder moreover intelligently took it as such, though knocking off a note or two more, as she said, while Susie
sat near her table. She could resist the contagion of tears, but her patience did justice to her visitor's most vivid
plea for it. "I shall never be able, you know, to cry again−−at least not ever with HER; so I must take it out when I
can. Even if she does herself it won't be for me to give away; for what would that be but a confession of despair?
I'm not with her for that−−I'm with her to be regularly sublime. Besides, Milly won't cry herself."

"I'm sure I hope," said Mrs. Lowder, "that she won't have occasion to."

"She won't even if she does have occasion. She won't shed a tear. There's something that will prevent her."

"0h!" said Mrs. Lowder.


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                                              The Wings of the Dove
"Yes, her pride," Mrs. Stringham explained in spite of her friend's doubt, and it was with this that her
communication took consistent form. It had never been pride, Maud Manningham had hinted, that kept HER from
crying when other things made for it; it had only been that these same things, at such times, made still more for
business, arrangements, correspondence, the ringing of bells, the marshalling of servants, the taking of decisions.
"I might be crying now," she said, "if I weren't writing letters"−−and this quite without harshness for her anxious
companion, (109) to whom she allowed just the administrative margin for difference. She had interrupted her no
more than she would have interrupted the piano−tuner. It gave poor Susie time; and when Mrs. Lowder, to save
appearances and catch the post, had, with her addressed and stamped notes, met at the door of the room the
footman summoned by the pressure of a knob, the facts of the case were sufficiently ready for her. It took but two
or three, however, given their importance, to lay the ground for the great one−−Mrs. Stringham's interview of the
day before with Sir Luke, who had wished to see her about Milly.

"He had wished it himself?"

"I think he was glad of it. Clearly indeed he was. He stayed a quarter of an hour. I could see that for HIM it was
long. He's interested," said Mrs. Stringham.

"Do you mean in her case?"

"He says it ISN'T a case."

"What then is it?"

"It isn't, at least," Mrs. Stringham explained, "the case she believed it to be−−thought it at any rate MIGHT
be−−when, without my knowledge, she went to see him. She went because there was something she was afraid of,
and he examined her thoroughly−−he has made sure. She's wrong−−she hasn't what she thought."

"And what did she think?" Mrs. Lowder demanded.

"He didn't tell me."

"And you didn't ask?"

(110) "I asked nothing," said poor Susie−−"I only took what he gave me. He gave me no more than he had to−−he
was beautiful," she went on. "He IS, thank God, interested."

"He must have been interested in YOU, dear," Maud Manningham observed with kindness.

Her visitor met it with candour. "Yes, love, I think he IS. I mean that he sees what he can do with me."

Mrs. Lowder took it rightly. "For HER."

"For her. Anything in the world he will or he must. He can use me to the last bone, and he likes at least that. He
says the great thing for her is to be happy."

"It's surely the great thing for every one. Why, therefore," Mrs. Lowder handsomely asked, "should we cry so
hard about it?"

"Only," poor Susie wailed, "that it's so strange, so beyond us. I mean if she can't be."

"She must be." Mrs. Lowder knew no impossibles. "She SHALL be."

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                                              The Wings of the Dove

"Well−−if you'll help. He thinks, you know, we CAN help."

Mrs. Lowder faced a moment, in her massive way, what Sir Luke Strett thought. She sat back there, her knees
apart, not unlike a picturesque ear−ringed matron at a market−stall; while her friend, before her, dropped their
items, tossed the separate truths of the matter one by one, into her capacious apron. "But is that all he came to you
for−−to tell you she must be happy?"

"That she must be MADE so−−that's the point. It seemed enough, as he told me," Mrs. Stringham went (111) on;
"he makes it somehow such a grand possible affair."

"Ah well, if he makes it possible!"

"I mean especially he makes it grand. He gave it to me, that is, as MY part. The rest's his own."

"And what's the rest?" Mrs. Lowder asked.

"I don't know. HIS business. He means to keep hold of her."

"Then why do you say it isn't a 'case'? It must be very much of one."

Everything in Mrs. Stringham confessed to the extent of it. "It's only that it isn't THE case she herself supposed."

"It's another?"

"It's another."

"Examining her for what she supposed he finds something else?"

"Something else."

"And what does he find?"

"Ah," Mrs. Stringham cried, "God keep me from knowing!"

"He didn't tell you that?"

But poor Susie had recovered herself. "What I mean is that if it's there I shall know in time. He's considering, but I
can trust him for it−−because he does, I feel, trust me. He's considering," she repeated.

"He's in other words not sure?"

"Well, he's watching. I think that's what he means. She's to get away now, but to come back to him in three
months."

"Then I think," said Maud Lowder, "that he oughtn't meanwhile to scare us."

(112) It roused Susie a little, Susie being already enrolled in the great doctor's cause. This came out at least in her
glimmer of reproach. "Does it scare us to enlist us for her happiness?"

Mrs. Lowder was rather stiff for it. "Yes; it scares ME. I'm always scared−−I may call it so−−till I understand.
What happiness is he talking about?"

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                                              The Wings of the Dove

Mrs. Stringham at this came straight. "Oh you know!"

She had really said it so that her friend had to take it; which the latter in fact after a moment showed herself as
having done. A strange light humour in the matter even perhaps suddenly aiding, she met it with a certain
accommodation. "Well, say one seems to see. The point is−−!" But, fairly too full now of her question, she
dropped.

"The point is will it CURE?"

"Precisely. Is it absolutely a remedy−−THE specific?"

"Well, I should think we might know!" Mrs. Stringham delicately declared.

"Ah but we haven't the complaint."

"Have you never, dearest, been in love?" Susan Shepherd enquired.

"Yes, my child; but not by the doctor's direction."

Maud Manningham had spoken perforce with a break into momentary mirth, which operated−−and happily
too−−as a challenge to her visitor's spirit. "Oh of course we don't ask his leave to fall. But it's something to know
he thinks it good for us."

(113) "My dear woman," Mrs. Lowder cried, "it strikes me we know it without him. So that when THAT'S all he
has to tell us−−!"

"Ah," Mrs. Stringham interposed, "it isn't 'all.' I feel Sir Luke will have more; he won't have put me off with
anything inadequate. I'm to see him again; he as good as told me that he'll wish it. So it won't be for nothing."

"Then what will it be for? Do you mean he has somebody of his own to propose? Do you mean you told him
nothing?"

Mrs. Stringham dealt with these questions. "I showed him I understood him. That was all I could do. I didn't feel
at liberty to be explicit; but I felt, even though his visit so upset me, the comfort of what I had from you night
before last."

"What I spoke to you of in the carriage when we had left her with Kate?"

"You had SEEN, apparently, in three minutes. And now that he's here, now that I've met him and had my
impression of him, I feel," said Mrs. Stringham, "that you've been magnificent."

"Of course I've been magnificent. When," asked Maud Manningham, "was I anything else? But Milly won't be,
you know, if she marries Merton Densher."

"Oh it's always magnificent to marry the man one loves. But we're going fast!" Mrs. Stringham woefully smiled.

"The thing IS to go fast if I see the case right. What had I after all but my instinct of that on coming back with
you, night before last, to pick up Kate? I felt (114) what I felt−−I knew in my bones the man had returned."

"That's just where, as I say, you're magnificent. But wait," said Mrs. Stringham, "till you've seen him."


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                                             The Wings of the Dove

"I shall see him immediately"−−Mrs. Lowder took it up with decision. "What IS then," she asked, "your
impression?"

Mrs. Stringham's impression seemed lost in her doubts. "How can he ever care for her?"

Her companion, in her companion's heavy manner, sat on it. "By being put in the way of it."

"For God's sake then," Mrs. Stringham wailed, "PUT him in the way! You have him, one feels, in your hand."

Maud Lowder's eyes at this rested on her friend's. "Is that your impression of him?"

"It's my impression, dearest, of you. You handle every one."

Mrs. Lowder's eyes still rested, and Susan Shepherd now felt, for a wonder, not less sincere by seeing that she
pleased her. But there was a great limitation. "I don't handle Kate."

It suggested something that her visitor hadn't yet had from her−−something the sense of which made Mrs.
Stringham gasp. "Do you mean Kate cares for HIM?"

That fact the lady of Lancaster Gate had up to this moment, as we know, enshrouded, and her friend's quick
question had produced a change in her face. She blinked−−then looked at the question hard; after which, whether
she had inadvertently betrayed (115) herself or had only reached a decision and then been affected by the quality
of Mrs. Stringham's surprise, she accepted all results. What took place in her for Susan Shepherd was not simply
that she made the best of them, but that she suddenly saw more in them to her purpose than she could have
imagined. A certain impatience in fact marked in her this transition: she had been keeping back, very hard, an
important truth and wouldn't have liked to hear that she hadn't concealed it cleverly. Susie nevertheless felt herself
pass as not a little of a fool with her for not having thought of it. What Susie indeed, however, most thought of at
present, in the quick, new light of it, was the wonder of Kate's dissimulation. She had time for that view while she
waited for an answer to her cry. "Kate thinks she cares. But she's mistaken. And no one knows it." These things,
distinct and responsible, were Mrs. Lowder's retort. Yet they weren't all of it. "YOU don't know it−−that must be
your line. Or rather your line must be that you deny it utterly."

"Deny that she cares for him?"

"Deny that she so much as thinks that she does. Positively and absolutely. Deny that you've so much as heard of
it."

Susie faced this new duty. "To Milly, you mean−−if she asks?"

"To Milly, naturally. No one else WILL ask."

"Well," said Mrs. Stringham after a moment, "Milly won't."

Mrs. Lowder wondered. "Are you sure?"

(116) "Yes, the more I think of it. And luckily for ME. I lie badly."

"i lie well, thank God," Mrs. Lowder almost snorted, "when, as sometimes will happen, there's nothing else so
good. One must always do the best. But without lies then," she went on, "perhaps we can work it out." Her
interest had risen; her friend saw her, as within some minutes, more enrolled and inflamed−−presently felt in her
what had made the difference. Mrs. Stringham, it was true, descried this at the time but dimly; she only made out

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                                             The Wings of the Dove
at first that Maud had found a reason for helping her. The reason was that, strangely, she might help Maud too, for
which she now desired to profess herself ready even to lying. What really perhaps most came out for her was that
her hostess was a little disappointed at her doubt of the social solidity of this appliance; and that in turn was to
become a steadier light. The truth about Kate's delusion, as her aunt presented it, the delusion about the state of
her affections, which might be removed−−this was apparently the ground on which they now might more
intimately meet. Mrs. Stringham saw herself recruited for the removal of Kate's delusion−−by arts, however, in
truth, that she as yet quite failed to compass. Or was it perhaps to be only for the removal of Mr.
Densher's?−−success in which indeed might entail other successes. Before that job, unfortunately, her heart had
already failed. She felt that she believed in her bones what Milly believed, and what would now make working for
Milly such a dreadful upward tug. All this within her was confusedly present−−a cloud of questions out of which
(117) Maud Manningham's large seated self loomed, however, as a mass more and more definite, taking in fact
for the consultative relation something of the form of an oracle. From the oracle the sound did come−−or at any
rate the sense did, a sense all accordant with the insufflation she had just seen working. "Yes," the sense was, "I'll
help you for Milly, because if that comes off I shall be helped, by its doing so, for Kate"−−a view into which Mrs.
Stringham could now sufficiently enter. She found herself of a sudden, strange to say, quite willing to operate to
Kate's harm, or at least to Kate's good as Mrs. Lowder with a noble anxiety measured it. She found herself in short
not caring what became of Kate−−only convinced at bottom of the predominance of Kate's star. Kate wasn't in
danger. Kate wasn't pathetic; Kate Croy, whatever happened, would take care of Kate Croy. She saw moreover by
this time that her friend was travelling even beyond her own speed. Mrs. Lowder had already, in mind, drafted a
rough plan of action, a plan vividly enough thrown off as she said: "You must stay on a few days, and you must
immediately, both of you, meet him at dinner." In addition to which Maud claimed the merit of having by an
instinct of pity, of prescient wisdom, done much, two nights before, to prepare that ground. "The poor child, when
I was with her there while you were getting your shawl, quite gave herself away to me."

"Oh I remember how you afterwards put it to me. Though it was nothing more," Susie did herself the justice to
observe, "than what I too had quite felt."

But Mrs. Lowder fronted her so on this that she (118) wondered what she had said. "I suppose I ought to be
edified at what you can so beautifully give up."

"Give up?" Mrs. Stringham echoed. "Why, I give up nothing−−I cling."

Her hostess showed impatience, turning again with some stiffness to her great brass−bound cylinder−desk and
giving a push to an object or two disposed there. "i give up then. You know how little such a person as Mr.
Densher was to be my idea for her. You know what I've been thinking perfectly possible."

"Oh you've been great"−−Susie was perfectly fair. "A duke, a duchess, a princess, a palace: you've made me
believe in them too. But where we break down is that SHE doesn't believe in them. Luckily for her−−as it seems
to be turning out−−she doesn't want them. So what's one to do? I assure you I've had many dreams. But I've only
one dream now."

Mrs. Stringham's tone in these last words gave so fully her meaning that Mrs. Lowder could but show herself as
taking it in. They sat a moment longer confronted on it. "Her having what she does want?"

"If it WILL do anything for her."

Mrs. Lowder seemed to think what it might do; but she spoke for the instant of something else. "It does provoke
me a bit, you know−−for of course I'm a brute. And I had thought of all sorts of things. Yet it doesn't prevent the
fact that we must be decent."

"We must take her"−−Mrs. Stringham carried that out−−"as she is."

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                                              The Wings of the Dove

"And we must take Mr. Densher as HE is." With (119) which Mrs. Lowder gave a sombre laugh. "It's a pity he
isn't better!"

"Well, if he were better," her friend rejoined, "you'd have liked him for your niece; and in that case Milly would
interfere. I mean," Susie added, "interfere with YOU."

"She interferes with me as it is−−not that it matters now. But I saw Kate and her−−really as soon as you came to
me−−set up side by side. I saw your girl−−I don't mind telling you−−helping my girl; and when I say that," Mrs.
Lowder continued, "you'll probably put in for yourself that it was part of the reason of my welcome to you. So
you see what I give up. I do give it up. But when I take that line," she further set forth, "I take it handsomely. So
good−bye to it all. Good−day to Mrs. Densher! Heavens!" she growled.

Susie held herself a minute. "Even as Mrs. Densher my girl will be somebody."

"Yes, she won't be nobody. Besides," said Mrs. Lowder, "we're talking in the air."

Her companion sadly assented. "We're leaving everything out."

"It's nevertheless interesting." And Mrs. Lowder had another thought. "HE'S not quite nobody either." It brought
her back to the question she had already put and which her friend hadn't at the time dealt with. "What in fact do
you make of him?"

Susan Shepherd, at this, for reasons not clear even to herself, was moved a little to caution. So she remained
general. "He's charming."

She had met Mrs. Lowder's eyes with that extreme (120) pointedness in her own to which people resort when they
are not quite candid−−a circumstance that had its effect. "Yes; he's charming."

The effect of the words, however, was equally marked; they almost determined in Mrs. Stringham a return of
amusement. "I thought you didn't like him!"

"I don't like him for Kate."

"But you don't like him for Milly either."

Mrs. Stringham rose as she spoke, and her friend also got up. "I like him, my dear, for myself."

"Then that's the best way of all."

"Well, it's one way. He's not good enough for my niece, and he's not good enough for you. One's an aunt, one's a
wretch and one's a fool."

"Oh I'M not−−not either," Susie declared.

But her companion kept on. "One lives for others. YOU do that. If I were living for myself I shouldn't at all mind
him."

But Mrs. Stringham was sturdier. "Ah if I find him charming it's however I'm living."

Well, it broke Mrs. Lowder down. She hung fire but an instant, giving herself away with a laugh. "Of course he's
all right in himself."

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                                              The Wings of the Dove
"That's all I contend," Susie said with more reserve; and the note in question−−what Merton Densher was "in
himself"−−closed practically, with some inconsequence, this first of their councils.

Book Seventh, Chapter 2
It had at least made the difference for them, they could feel, of an informed state in respect to the great doctor,
whom they were now to take as watching, waiting, studying, or at any rate as proposing to himself some such
process before he should make up his mind. Mrs. Stringham understood him as considering the matter meanwhile
in a spirit that, on this same occasion, at Lancaster Gate, she had come back to a rough notation of before retiring.
She followed the course of his reckoning. If what they had talked of COULD happen−−if Milly, that is, could
have her thoughts taken off herself−−it wouldn't do any harm and might conceivably do much good. If it couldn't
happen−−if, anxiously, though tactfully working, they themselves, conjoined, could do nothing to contribute to
it−−they would be in no worse a box than before. Only in this latter case the girl would have had her free range
for the summer, for the autumn; she would have done her best in the sense enjoined on her, and, coming back at
the end to her eminent man, would−−besides having more to show him−−find him more ready to go on with her.
It was visible further to Susan Shepherd−−as well as being ground for a second report to her old friend−−that
Milly did her part for a working view of the general case, inasmuch as she mentioned frankly and promptly that
she meant to go and say good−bye to Sir (122) Luke Strett and thank him. She even specified what she was to
thank him for, his having been so easy about her behaviour.

"You see I didn't know that−−for the liberty I took−−I shouldn't afterwards get a stiff note from him."

So much Milly had said to her, and it had made her a trifle rash. "Oh you'll never get a stiff note from him in your
life."

She felt her rashness, the next moment, at her young friend's question. "Why not, as well as any one else who has
played him a trick?"

"Well, because he doesn't regard it as a trick. He could understand your action. It's all right, you see."

"Yes−−I do see. It IS all right. He's easier with me than with any one else, because that's the way to let me down.
He's only making believe, and I'm not worth hauling up."

Rueful at having provoked again this ominous flare, poor Susie grasped at her only advantage. "Do you really
accuse a man like Sir Luke Strett of trifling with you?"

She couldn't blind herself to the look her companion gave her−−a strange half−amused perception of what she
made of it. "Well, so far as it's trifling with me to pity me so much."

"He doesn't pity you," Susie earnestly reasoned. "He just−−the same as any one else−−likes you."

"He has no business then to like me. He's not the same as any one else."

"Why not, if he wants to work for you?"

(123) Milly gave her another look, but this time a wonderful smile. "Ah there you are!" Mrs. Stringham coloured,
for there indeed she was again. But Milly let her off. "Work for me, all the same−−work for me! It's of course
what I want." Then as usual she embraced her friend. "I'm not going to be as nasty as this to HIM."

"I'm sure I hope not!"−−and Mrs. Stringham laughed for the kiss. "I've no doubt, however, he'd take it from you!


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                                             The Wings of the Dove
It's YOU, my dear, who are not the same as any one else."

Milly's assent to which, after an instant, gave her the last word. "No, so that people can take anything from me."
And what Mrs. Stringham did indeed resignedly take after this was the absence on her part of any account of the
visit then paid. It was the beginning in fact between them of an odd independence−−an independence positively of
action and custom−−on the subject of Milly's future. They went their separate ways with the girl's intense assent;
this being really nothing but what she had so wonderfully put in her plea for after Mrs. Stringham's first encounter
with Sir Luke. She fairly favoured the idea that Susie had or was to have other encounters−−private pointed
personal; she favoured every idea, but most of all the idea that she herself was to go on as if nothing were the
matter. Since she was to be worked for that would be her way; and though her companions [Norton emendation:
companion] learned from herself nothing of it this was in the event her way with her medical adviser. She put her
visit to him on the simplest ground; she had come just to tell him how touched she had been (124) by his good
nature. That required little explaining, for, as Mrs. Stringham had said, he quite understood he could but reply that
it was all right.

"I had a charming quarter of an hour with that clever lady. You've got good friends."

"So each one of them thinks of all the others. But so I also think," Milly went on, "of all of them together. You're
excellent for each other. And it's in that way, I dare say, that you're best for me."

There came to her on this occasion one of the strangest of her impressions, which was at the same time one of the
finest of her alarms−−the glimmer of a vision that if she should go, as it were, too far, she might perhaps deprive
their relation of facility if not of value. Going too far was failing to try at least to remain simple. He would be
quite ready to hate her if she did, by heading him off at every point, embarrass his exercise of a kindness that, no
doubt, rather constituted for him a high method. Susie wouldn't hate her, since Susie positively wanted to suffer
for her; Susie had a noble idea that she might somehow so do her good. Such, however, was not the way in which
the greatest of London doctors was to be expected to wish to do it. He wouldn't have time even should he wish;
whereby, in a word, Milly felt herself intimately warned. Face to face there with her smooth strong director, she
enjoyed at a given moment quite such another lift of feeling as she had known in her crucial talk with Susie. It
came round to the same thing; him too she would help to help her if that could possibly be; but if it couldn't
possibly be she would assist also to make this right. (125) It wouldn't have taken many minutes more, on the basis
in question, almost to reverse for her their characters of patient and physician. What WAS he in fact but patient,
what was she but physician, from the moment she embraced once for all the necessity, adopted once for all the
policy, of saving him alarms about her subtlety? She would leave the subtlety to him: he would enjoy his use of it,
and she herself, no doubt, would in time enjoy his enjoyment. She went so far as to imagine that the inward
success of these reflexions flushed her for the minute, to his eyes, with a certain bloom, a comparative appearance
of health; and what verily next occurred was that he gave colour to the presumption. "Every little helps, no
doubt!"−−he noticed good−humouredly her harmless sally. "But, help or no help, you're looking, you know,
remarkably well."

"Oh I thought I was," she answered; and it was as if already she saw his line. Only she wondered what he would
have guessed. If he had guessed anything at all it would be rather remarkable of him. As for what there WAS to
guess, he couldn't−−if this was present to him−−have arrived at it save by his own acuteness. That acuteness was
therefore immense; and if it supplied the subtlety she thought of leaving him to, his portion would be none so bad.
Neither, for that matter, would hers be−−which she was even actually enjoying. She wondered if really then there
mightn't be something for her. She hadn't been sure in coming to him that she was "better," and he hadn't used, he
would be awfully careful not to use, that compromising term about her; (126) in spite of all of which she would
have been ready to say, for the amiable sympathy of it, "Yes, I MUST be," for he had this unaided sense of
something that had happened to her. It was a sense unaided, because who could have told him of anything? Susie,
she was certain, hadn't yet seen him again, and there were things it was impossible she could have told him the
first time. Since such was his penetration, therefore, why shouldn't she gracefully, in recognition of it, accept the

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                                                The Wings of the Dove
new circumstance, the one he was clearly wanting to congratulate her on, as a sufficient cause? If one nursed a
cause tenderly enough it might produce an effect; and this, to begin with, would be a way of nursing. "You gave
me the other day," she went on, "plenty to think over, and I've been doing that−−thinking it over−−quite as you'll
have probably wished me. I think I must be pretty easy to treat," she smiled, "since you've already done me so
much good."

The only obstacle to reciprocity with him was that he looked in advance so closely related to all one's possibilities
that one missed the pleasure of really improving it. "Oh no, you're extremely difficult to treat. I've need with you,
I assure you, of all my wit."

"Well, I mean I do come up." She hadn't meanwhile a bit believed in his answer, convinced as she was that if she
HAD been difficult it would be the last thing he would have told her. "I'm doing," she said, "as I like."

"Then it's as i like. But you must really, though we're having such a decent month, get straight (127) away." In
pursuance of which, when she had replied with promptitude that her departure−−for the Tyrol and then for
Venice−−was quite fixed for the fourteenth, he took her up with alacrity. "For Venice? That's perfect, for we shall
meet there. I've a dream of it for October, when I'm hoping for three weeks off; three weeks during which, if I can
get them clear, my niece, a young person who has quite the whip hand of me, is to take me where she prefers. I
heard from her only yesterday that she expects to prefer Venice."

"That's lovely then. I shall expect you there. And anything that, in advance or in any way, I can do for you−−!"

"Oh thank you. My niece, I seem to feel, does for me. But it will be capital to find you there."

"I think it ought to make you feel," she said after a moment, "that I AM easy to treat."

But he shook his head again; he wouldn't have it. "You've not come to that YET."

"One has to be so bad for it?"

"Well, I don't think I've ever come to it−−to 'ease' of treatment. I doubt if it's possible. I've not, if it is, found any
one bad enough. The ease, you see, is for YOU."

"I see−−I see."

They had an odd friendly, but perhaps the least bit awkward pause on it; after which Sir Luke asked: "And that
clever lady−−she goes with you?"

"Mrs. Stringham? Oh dear, yes. She'll stay with me, I hope, to the end."

(128) He had a cheerful blankness. "To the end of what?"

"Well−−of everything."

"Ah then," he laughed, "you're in luck. The end of everything is far off. This, you know, I'm hoping," said Sir
Luke, "is only the beginning." And the next question he risked might have been a part of his hope. "Just you and
she together?"

"No, two other friends; two ladies of whom we've seen more here than of any one and who are just the right
people for us."


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                                                The Wings of the Dove
He thought a moment. "You'll be four women together then?"

"Ah," said Milly, "we're widows and orphans. But I think," she added as if to say what she saw would reassure
him, "that we shall not be unattractive, as we move, to gentlemen. When you talk of 'life' I suppose you mean
mainly gentlemen."

"When I talk of 'life,' " he made answer after a moment during which he might have been appreciating her
raciness−−"when I talk of life I think I mean more than anything else the beautiful show of it, in its freshness,
made by young persons of your age. So go on as you are. I see more and more HOW you are. You can't," he went
so far as to say for pleasantness, "better it."

She took it from him with a great show of peace. "One of our companions will be Miss Croy, who came with me
here first. It's in HER that life is splendid; and a part of that is even that she's devoted to me. But she's above all
magnificent in herself. So that if you'd like," she freely threw out, "to see HER−−"

(129) "Oh I shall like to see any one who's devoted to you, for clearly it will be jolly to be 'in' it. So that if she's to
be at Venice I SHALL see her?"

"We must arrange it−−I shan't fail. She moreover has a friend who may also be there"−−Milly found herself going
on to this. "He's likely to come, I believe, for he always follows her."

Sir Luke wondered. "You mean they're lovers?"

"HE is," Milly smiled; "but not she. She doesn't care for him."

Sir Luke took an interest. "What's the matter with him?"

"Nothing but that she doesn't like him."

Sir Luke kept it up. "Is he all right?"

"Oh he's very nice. Indeed he's remarkably so."

"And he's to be in Venice?"

"So she tells me she fears. For if he is there he'll be constantly about with her."

"And she'll be constantly about with you?"

"As we're great friends−−yes."

"Well then," said Sir Luke, "you won't be four women alone."

"Oh no; I quite recognise the chance of gentlemen. But he won't," Milly pursued in the same wondrous way,
"have come, you see, for ME."

"No−−I see. But can't you help him?"

"Can't YOU?" Milly after a moment quaintly asked. Then for the joke of it she explained. "I'm putting you, you
see, in relation with my entourage."


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                                              The Wings of the Dove

It might have been for the joke of it too, by this time, that her eminent friend fell in. "But if this gentleman ISN'T
of your 'entourage'? I mean if he's (130) of−−what do you call her?−−Miss Croy's. Unless indeed you also take an
interest in him."

"Oh certainly I take an interest in him!"

"You think there may be then some chance for him?"

"I like him," said Milly, "enough to hope so."

"Then that's all right. But what, pray," Sir Luke next asked, "have I to do with him?"

"Nothing," said Milly, "except that if you're to be there, so may he be. And also that we shan't in that case be
simply four dreary women."

He considered her as if at this point she a little tried his patience. "YOU'RE the least 'dreary' woman I've ever,
ever seen. Ever, do you know? There's no reason why you shouldn't have a really splendid life."

"So every one tells me," she promptly returned.

"The conviction−−strong already when I had seen you once−−is strengthened in me by having seen your friend.
There's no doubt about it. The world's before you."

"What did my friend tell you?" Milly asked.

"Nothing that wouldn't have given you pleasure. We talked about you−−and freely. I don't deny that. But it shows
me I don't require of you the impossible."

She was now on her feet. "I think I know what you require of me."

"Nothing, for you," he went on, "IS impossible. So go on." He repeated it again−−wanting her so to feel that
to−day he saw it. "You're all right."

"Well," she smiled−−"keep me so."

"Oh you'll get away from me."

(131) "Keep me, keep me," she simply continued with her gentle eyes on him.

She had given him her hand for good−bye, and he thus for a moment did keep her. Something then, while he
seemed to think if there were anything more, came back to him; though something of which there wasn't too much
to be made. "Of course if there's anything I CAN do for your friend: I mean the gentleman you speak of−−?" He
gave out in short that he was ready.

"Oh Mr. Densher?" It was as if she had forgotten.

"Mr. Densher−−is that his name?"

"Yes−−but his case isn't so dreadful." She had within a minute got away from that.



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                                              The Wings of the Dove

"No doubt−−if YOU take an interest." She had got away, but it was as if he made out in her eyes−−though they
also had rather got away−−a reason for calling her back. "Still, if there's anything one can do−−?"

She looked at him while she thought, while she smiled. "I'm afraid there's really nothing one can do."

Book Seventh, Chapter 3
Not yet so much as this morning had she felt herself sink into possession; gratefully glad that the warmth of the
Southern summer was still in the high florid rooms, palatial chambers where hard cool pavements took reflexions
in their lifelong polish, and where the sun on the stirred sea−water, flickering up through open windows, played
over the painted "subjects" in the splendid ceilings−−medallions of purple and brown, of brave old melancholy
colour, medals as of old reddened gold, embossed and beribboned, all toned with time and all flourished and
scolloped and gilded about, set in their great moulded and figured concavity (a nest of white cherubs, friendly
creatures of the air) and appreciated by the aid of that second tier of smaller lights, straight openings to the front,
which did everything, even with the Baedekers and photographs of Milly's party dreadfully meeting the eye, to
make of the place an apartment of state. This at last only, though she had enjoyed the palace for three weeks,
seemed to count as effective occupation; perhaps because it was the first time she had been alone−−really to call
alone−−since she had left London, it ministered to her first full and unembarrassed sense of what the great
Eugenio had done for her. The great Eugenio, recommended by grand−dukes and Americans, had entered her
service during the last hours of all−−had crossed from Paris, after (133) multiplied pourparlers with Mrs.
Stringham, to whom she had allowed more than ever a free hand, on purpose to escort her to the Continent and
encompass her there, and had dedicated to her, from the moment of their meeting, all the treasures of his
experience. She had judged him in advance−−polyglot and universal, very dear and very deep−−as probably but a
swindler finished to the finger−tips; for he was for ever carrying one well−kept Italian hand to his heart and
plunging the other straight into her pocket, which, as she had instantly observed him to recognise, fitted it like a
glove. The remarkable thing was that these elements of their common consciousness had rapidly gathered into an
indestructible link, formed the ground of a happy relation; being by this time, strangely, grotesquely, delightfully,
what most kept up confidence between them and what most expressed it.

She had seen quickly enough what was happening−−the usual thing again, yet once again. Eugenio had, in an
interview of five minutes, understood her, had got hold, like all the world, of the idea not so much of the care with
which she must be taken up as of the care with which she must be let down. All the world understood her, all the
world had got hold; but for nobody yet, she felt, would the idea have been so close a tie or won from herself so
patient a surrender. Gracefully, respectfully, consummately enough−−always with hands in position and the look,
in his thick neat white hair, smooth fat face and black professional, almost theatrical eyes, as of some famous
tenor grown too old to make love, but with an art still to make money−−did he on occasion convey to her (134)
that she was, of all the clients of his glorious career, the one in whom his interest was most personal and paternal.
The others had come in the way of business, but for her his sentiment was special. Confidence rested thus on her
completely believing that: there was nothing of which she felt more sure. It passed between them every time they
conversed; he was abysmal, but this intimacy lived on the surface. He had taken his place already for her among
those who were to see her through, and meditation ranked him, in the constant perspective, for the final function,
side by side with poor Susie−−whom she was now pitying more than ever for having to be herself so sorry and to
say so little about it. Eugenio had the general tact of a residuary legatee−−which was a character that could be
definitely worn; whereas she could see Susie, in the event of her death, in no character at all, Susie being
insistently, exclusively concerned in her mere makeshift duration. This principle, for that matter, Milly at present,
with a renewed flare of fancy, felt she should herself have liked to believe in. Eugenio had really done for her
more than he probably knew−−he didn't after all know everything−−in having, for the wind−up of the autumn, on
a weak word from her, so admirably, so perfectly established her. Her weak word, as a general hint, had been: "At
Venice, please, if possible, no dreadful, no vulgar hotel; but, if it can be at all managed−−you know what I
mean−−some fine old rooms, wholly independent, for a series of months. Plenty of them too, and the more


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                                              The Wings of the Dove
interesting the better: part of a palace, historic and picturesque, but strictly inodorous, where we shall (135) be to
ourselves, with a cook, don't you know?−−with servants, frescoes, tapestries, antiquities, the thorough
make−believe of a settlement."

The proof of how he better and better understood her was in all the place; as to his masterly acquisition of which
she had from the first asked no questions. She had shown him enough what she thought of it, and her forbearance
pleased him; with the part of the transaction that mainly concerned her she would soon enough become
acquainted, and his connexion with such values as she would then find noted could scarce help growing, as it
were, still more residuary. Charming people, conscious Venice−lovers, evidently, had given up their house to her,
and had fled to a distance, to other countries, to hide their blushes alike over what they had, however briefly,
alienated, and over what they had, however durably, gained. They had preserved and consecrated, and she
now−−her part of it was shameless−−appropriated and enjoyed. Palazzo Leporelli held its history still in its great
lap, even like a painted idol, a solemn puppet hung about with decorations. Hung about with pictures and relics,
the rich Venetian past, the ineffaceable character, was here the presence revered and served: which brings us back
to our truth of a moment ago−−the fact that, more than ever, this October morning, awkward novice though she
might be, Milly moved slowly to and fro as the priestess of the worship. Certainly it came from the sweet taste of
solitude, caught again and cherished for the hour; always a need of her nature, moreover, when things spoke to
her with penetration. It was mostly in stillness they spoke to (136) her best; amid voices she lost the sense. Voices
had surrounded her for weeks, and she had tried to listen, had cultivated them and had answered back; these had
been weeks in which there were other things they might well prevent her from hearing. More than the prospect
had at first promised or threatened she had felt herself going on in a crowd and with a multiplied escort; the four
ladies pictured by her to Sir Luke Strett as a phalanx comparatively closed and detached had in fact proved a
rolling snowball, condemned from day to day to cover more ground. Susan Shepherd had compared this portion
of the girl's excursion to the Empress Catherine's famous progress across the steppes of Russia; improvised
settlements appeared at each turn of the road, villagers waiting with addresses drawn up in the language of
London. Old friends in fine were in ambush, Mrs. Lowder's, Kate Croy's, her own; when the addresses weren't in
the language of London they were in the more insistent idioms of American centres. The current was swollen
even by Susie's social connexions; so that there were days, at hotels, at Dolomite picnics, on lake steamers, when
she could almost repay to Aunt Maud and Kate with interest the debt contracted by the London "success" to
which they had opened the door.

Mrs. Lowder's success and Kate's, amid the shock of Milly's and Mrs. Stringham's compatriots, failed but little,
really, of the concert−pitch; it had gone almost as fast as the boom, over the sea, of the last great native novel.
Those ladies were "so different"−−different, observably enough, from the ladies so (137) appraising them; it being
throughout a case mainly of ladies, of a dozen at once sometimes, in Milly's apartment, pointing, also at once, that
moral and many others. Milly's companions were acclaimed not only as perfectly fascinating in themselves, the
nicest people yet known to the acclaimers, but as obvious helping hands, socially speaking, for the eccentric
young woman, evident initiators and smoothers of her path, possible subduers of her eccentricity. Short intervals,
to her own sense, stood now for great differences, and this renewed inhalation of her native air had somehow left
her to feel that she already, that she mainly, struck the compatriot as queer and dissociated. She moved such a
critic, it would appear, as to rather an odd suspicion, a benevolence induced by a want of complete trust: all of
which showed her in the light of a person too plain and too ill−clothed for a thorough good time, and yet too rich
and too befriended−−an intuitive cunning within her managing this last−−for a thorough bad one. The
compatriots, in short, by what she made out, approved her friends for their expert wisdom with her; in spite of
which judicial sagacity it was the compatriots who recorded themselves as the innocent parties. She saw things in
these days that she had never seen before, and she couldn't have said why save on a principle too terrible to name;
whereby she saw that neither Lancaster Gate was what New York took it for, nor New York what Lancaster Gate
fondly fancied it in coquetting with the plan of a series of American visits. The plan might have been,
humorously, on Mrs. Lowder's part, for the improvement of her social (138) position−−and it had verily in that
direction lights that were perhaps but half a century too prompt; at all of which Kate Croy assisted with the cool
controlled facility that went so well, as the others said, with her particular kind of good looks, the kind that led

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                                              The Wings of the Dove
you to expect the person enjoying them WOULD dispose of disputations, speculations, aspirations, in a few very
neatly and brightly uttered words, so simplified in sense, however, that they sounded, even when guiltless, like
rather aggravated slang. It wasn't that Kate hadn't pretended too that SHE should like to go to America; it was
only that with this young woman Milly had constantly proceeded, and more than ever of late, on the theory of
intimate confessions, private frank ironies that made up for their public grimaces and amid which, face to face,
they wearily put off the mask.

These puttings−off of the mask had finally quite become the form taken by their moments together, moments
indeed not increasingly frequent and not prolonged, thanks to the consciousness of fatigue on Milly's side
whenever, as she herself expressed it, she got out of harness. They flourished their masks, the independent pair, as
they might have flourished Spanish fans; they smiled and sighed on removing them; but the gesture, the smiles,
the sighs, strangely enough, might have been suspected the greatest reality in the business. Strangely enough, we
say, for the volume of effusion in general would have been found by either on measurement to be scarce
proportional to the paraphernalia of relief. It was when they called each other's attention to their ceasing to
pretend, it (139) was then that what they were keeping back was most in the air. There was a difference, no doubt,
and mainly to Kate's advantage: Milly didn't quite see what her friend could keep back, was possessed of, in fine,
that would be so subject to retention; whereas it was comparatively plain sailing for Kate that poor Milly had a
treasure to hide. This was not the treasure of a shy, an abject affection−−concealment, on that head, belonging to
quite another phase of such states; it was much rather a principle of pride relatively bold and hard, a principle that
played up like a fine steel spring at the lightest pressure of too near a footfall. Thus insuperably guarded was the
truth about the girl's own conception of her validity; thus was a wondering pitying sister condemned wistfully to
look at her from the far side of the moat she had dug round her tower. Certain aspects of the connexion of these
young women show for us, such is the twilight that gathers about them, in the likeness of some dim scene in a
Maeterlinck play; we have positively the image, in the delicate dusk, of the figures so associated and yet so
opposed, so mutually watchful: that of the angular pale princess, ostrich−plumed, black−robed, hung about with
amulets, reminders, relics, mainly seated, mainly still, and that of the upright restless slow−circling lady of her
court who exchanges with her, across the black water streaked with evening gleams, fitful questions and answers.
The upright lady, with thick dark braids down her back, drawing over the grass a more embroidered train, makes
the whole circuit, and makes it again, and the broken talk, brief and sparingly allusive, seems (140) more to cover
than to free their sense. This is because, when it fairly comes to not having others to consider, they meet in an air
that appears rather anxiously to wait for their words. Such an impression as that was in fact grave, and might be
tragic; so that, plainly enough, systematically at last, they settled to a care of what they said.

There could be no gross phrasing to Milly, in particular, of the probability that if she wasn't so proud she might be
pitied with more comfort−−more to the person pitying; there could be no spoken proof, no sharper demonstration
than the consistently considerate attitude, that this marvellous mixture of her weakness and of her strength, her
peril, if such it were, and her option, made her, kept her, irresistibly interesting. Kate's predicament in the matter
was, after all, very much Mrs. Stringham's own, and Susan Shepherd herself indeed, in our Maeterlinck picture,
might well have hovered in the gloaming by the moat. It may be declared for Kate, at all events, that her sincerity
about her friend, through this time, was deep, her compassionate imagination strong; and that these things gave
her a virtue, a good conscience, a credibility for herself, so to speak, that were later to be precious to her. She
grasped with her keen intelligence the logic of their common duplicity, went unassisted through the same ordeal
as Milly's other hushed follower, easily saw that for the girl to be explicit was to betray divinations, gratitudes,
glimpses of the felt contrast between her fortune and her fear−−all of which would have contradicted her
systematic bravado. That was it, Kate wonderingly (141) saw: to recognise was to bring down the avalanche−−the
avalanche Milly lived so in watch for and that might be started by the lightest of breaths; though less possibly the
breath of her own stifled plaint than that of the vain sympathy, the mere helpless gaping inference of others. With
so many suppressions as these, therefore, between them, their withdrawal together to unmask had to fall back, as
we have hinted, on a nominal motive−−which was decently represented by a joy at the drop of chatter. Chatter
had in truth all along attended their steps, but they took the despairing view of it on purpose to have ready, when
face to face, some view or other of something. The relief of getting out of harness−−that was the moral of their

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                                             The Wings of the Dove
meetings; but the moral of this, in turn, was that they couldn't so much as ask each other why harness need be
worn. Milly wore it as a general armour.

She was out of it at present, for some reason, as she hadn't been for weeks; she was always out of it, that is, when
alone, and her companions had never yet so much as just now affected her as dispersed and suppressed. It was as
if still again, still more tacitly and wonderfully, Eugenio had understood her, taking it from her without a word
and just bravely and brilliantly in the name, for instance, of the beautiful day: "Yes, get me an hour alone; take
them off−−I don't care where; absorb, amuse, detain them; drown them, kill them if you will: so that I may just a
little, all by myself, see where I am." She was conscious of the dire impatience of it, for she gave up Susie as well
as the others to him−−Susie who would have drowned (142) her very self for her; gave her up to a mercenary
monster through whom she thus purchased respites. Strange were the turns of life and the moods of weakness;
strange the flickers of fancy and the cheats of hope; yet lawful, all the same−−weren't they?−−those experiments
tried with the truth that consisted, at the worst, but in practising on one's self. She was now playing with the
thought that Eugenio might INCLUSIVELY assist her: he had brought home to her, and always by remarks that
were really quite soundless, the conception, hitherto ungrasped, of some complete use of her wealth itself, some
use of it as a counter−move to fate. It had passed between them as preposterous that with so much money she
should just stupidly and awkwardly WANT−−any more want a life, a career, a consciousness, than want a house,
a carriage or a cook. It was as if she had had from him a kind of expert professional measure of what he was in a
position, at a stretch, to undertake for her; the thoroughness of which, for that matter, she could closely compare
with a looseness on Sir Luke Strett's part that−−at least in Palazzo Leporelli when mornings were fine−−showed
as almost amateurish. Sir Luke hadn't said to her "Pay enough money and leave the rest to ME"−−which was
distinctly what Eugenio did say. Sir Luke had appeared indeed to speak of purchase and payment, but in reference
to a different sort of cash. Those were amounts not to be named nor reckoned, and such moreover as she wasn't
sure of having at her command. Eugenio−−this was the difference−−could name, could reckon, and prices of HIS
kind were things she had never suffered (143) to scare her. She had been willing, goodness knew, to pay enough
for anything, for everything, and here was simply a new view of the sufficient quantity. She amused herself−−for
it came to that, since Eugenio was there to sign the receipt−−with possibilities of meeting the bill. She was more
prepared than ever to pay enough, and quite as much as ever to pay too much. What else−−if such were points at
which your most trusted servant failed−−was the use of being, as the dear Susies of earth called you, a princess in
a palace?

She made now, alone, the full circuit of the place, noble and peaceful while the summer sea, stirring here and
there a curtain or an outer blind, breathed into its veiled spaces. She had a vision of clinging to it; that perhaps
Eugenio could manage. She was IN it, as in the ark of her deluge, and filled with such a tenderness for it that why
shouldn't this, in common mercy, be warrant enough? She would never, never leave it−−she would engage to that;
would ask nothing more than to sit tight in it and float on and on. The beauty and intensity, the real momentary
relief of this conceit, reached their climax in the positive purpose to put the question to Eugenio on his return as
she had not yet put it; though the design, it must be added, dropped a little when, coming back to the great saloon
from which she had started on her pensive progress, she found Lord Mark, of whose arrival in Venice she had
been unaware, and who had now−−while a servant was following her through empty rooms−−been asked, in her
absence, to wait. He had waited then, Lord Mark, he was waiting−−oh unmistakeably; (144) never before had he
so much struck her as the man to do that on occasion with patience, to do it indeed almost as with gratitude for the
chance, though at the same time with a sort of notifying firmness. The odd thing, as she was afterwards to recall,
was that her wonder for what had brought him was not immediate, but had come at the end of five minutes; and
also, quite incoherently, that she felt almost as glad to see him, and almost as forgiving of his interruption of her
solitude, as if he had already been in her thought or acting at her suggestion. He was somehow, at the best, the end
of a respite; one might like him very much and yet feel that his presence tempered precious solitude more than
any other known to one: in spite of all of which, as he was neither dear Susie, nor dear Kate, nor dear Aunt Maud,
nor even, for the least, dear Eugenio in person, the sight of him did no damage to her sense of the dispersal of her
friends. She hadn't been so thoroughly alone with him since those moments of his showing her the great portrait at
Matcham, the moments that had exactly made the high−water−mark of her security, the moments during which

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                                             The Wings of the Dove
her tears themselves, those she had been ashamed of, were the sign of her consciously rounding her protective
promontory, quitting the blue gulf of comparative ignorance and reaching her view of the troubled sea. His
presence now referred itself to his presence then, reminding her how kind he had been, altogether, at Matcham,
and telling her, unexpectedly, at a time when she could particularly feel it, that, for such kindness and for the
beauty of what they remembered together, she hadn't lost him−− (145) quite the contrary. To receive him
handsomely, to receive him there, to see him interested and charmed, as well, clearly, as delighted to have found
her without some other person to spoil it−−these things were so pleasant for the first minutes that they might have
represented on her part some happy foreknowledge.

She gave an account of her companions while he on his side failed to press her about them, even though
describing his appearance, so unheralded, as the result of an impulse obeyed on the spot. He had been shivering at
Carlsbad, belated there and blue, when taken by it; so that, knowing where they all were, he had simply caught the
first train. He explained how he had known where they were; he had heard−−what more natural?−−from their
friends, Milly's and his. He mentioned this betimes, but it was with his mention, singularly, that the girl became
conscious of her inner question about his reason. She noticed his plural, which added to Mrs. Lowder or added to
Kate; but she presently noticed also that it didn't affect her as explaining. Aunt Maud had written to him, Kate
apparently−−and this was interesting−−had written to him; but their design presumably hadn't been that he should
come and sit there as if rather relieved, so far as THEY were concerned, at postponements. He only said "Oh!"
and again "Oh!" when she sketched their probable morning for him, under Eugenio's care and Mrs.
Stringham's−−sounding it quite as if any suggestion that he should overtake them at the Rialto or the Bridge of
Sighs would leave him temporarily cold. This precisely it was that, after a little, operated for Milly as an obscure
(146) but still fairly direct check to confidence. He had known where they all were from the others, but it was not
for the others that, in his actual dispositions, he had come. That, strange to say, was a pity; for, stranger still to
say, she could have shown him more confidence if he himself had had less intention. His intention so chilled her,
from the moment she found herself divining it, that, just for the pleasure of going on with him fairly, just for the
pleasure of their remembrance together of Matcham and the Bronzino, the climax of her fortune, she could have
fallen to pleading with him and to reasoning, to undeceiving him in time. There had been, for ten minutes, with
the directness of her welcome to him and the way this clearly pleased him, something of the grace of amends
made, even though he couldn't know it−−amends for her not having been originally sure, for instance at that first
dinner of Aunt Maud's, that he was adequately human. That first dinner of Aunt Maud's added itself to the hour at
Matcham, added itself to other things, to consolidate, for her present benevolence, the ease of their relation,
making it suddenly delightful that he had thus turned up. He exclaimed, as he looked about, on the charm of the
place: "What a temple to taste and an expression of the pride of life, yet, with all that, what a jolly HOME!"−−so
that, for his entertainment, she could offer to walk him about though she mentioned that she had just been, for her
own purposes, in a general prowl, taking everything in more susceptibly than before. He embraced her offer
without a scruple and seemed to rejoice that he was to find her susceptible.

Book Seventh, Chapter 4
She couldn't have said what it was, in the conditions, that renewed the whole solemnity, but by the end of twenty
minutes a kind of wistful hush had fallen upon them, as before something poignant in which her visitor also
participated. That was nothing verily but the perfection of the charm−−or nothing rather but their excluded
disinherited state in the presence of it. The charm turned on them a face that was cold in its beauty, that was full
of a poetry never to be theirs, that spoke with an ironic smile of a possible but forbidden life. It all rolled afresh
over Milly: "Oh the impossible romance−−!" The romance for her, yet once more, would be to sit there for ever,
through all her time, as in a fortress; and the idea became an image of never going down, of remaining aloft in the
divine dustless air, where she would hear but the plash of the water against stone. The great floor on which they
moved was at an altitude, and this prompted the rueful fancy. "Ah not to go down−−never, never to go down!" she
strangely sighed to her friend.



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                                             The Wings of the Dove

"But why shouldn't you," he asked, "with that tremendous old staircase in your court? There ought of course
always to be people at top and bottom, in Veronese costumes, to watch you do it."

She shook her head both lightly and mournfully enough at his not understanding. "Not even (148) for people in
Veronese costumes. I mean that the positive beauty is that one needn't go down. I don't move in fact," she
added−−"now. I've not been out, you know. I stay up. That's how you happily found me."

Lord Mark wondered−−he was, oh yes, adequately human. "You don't go about?"

She looked over the place, the storey above the apartments in which she had received him, the sala corresponding
to the sala below and fronting the great canal with its gothic arches. The casements between the arches were open,
the ledge of the balcony broad, the sweep of the canal, so overhung, admirable, and the flutter toward them of the
loose white curtain an invitation to she scarce could have said what. But there was no mystery after a moment; she
had never felt so invited to anything as to make that, and that only, just where she was, her adventure. It would
be−−to this it kept coming back−−the adventure of not stirring. "I go about just here."

"Do you mean," Lord Mark presently asked, "that you're really not well?"

They were at the window, pausing, lingering, with the fine old faded palaces opposite and the slow Adriatic tide
beneath; but after a minute, and before she answered, she had closed her eyes to what she saw and unresistingly
dropped her face into her arms, which rested on the coping. She had fallen to her knees on the cushion of the
window−place, and she leaned there, in a long silence, with her forehead down. She knew that her silence was
itself too straight an (149) answer, but it was beyond her now to say that she saw her way. She would have made
the question itself impossible to others−−impossible for example to such a man as Merton Densher; and she could
wonder even on the spot what it was a sign of in her feeling for Lord Mark that from his lips it almost tempted her
to break down. This was doubtless really because she cared for him so little; to let herself go with him thus, suffer
his touch to make her cup overflow, would be the relief−−since it was actually, for her nerves, a question of
relief−−that would cost her least. If he had come to her moreover with the intention she believed, or even if this
intention had but been determined in him by the spell of their situation, he mustn't be mistaken about her
value−−for what value did she now have? It throbbed within her as she knelt there that she had none at all;
though, holding herself, not yet speaking, she tried, even in the act, to recover what might be possible of it. With
that there came to her a light: wouldn't her value, for the man who should marry her, be precisely in the ravage of
her disease? SHE mightn't last, but her money would. For a man in whom the vision of her money should be
intense, in whom it should be most of the ground for "making up" to her, any prospective failure on her part to be
long for this world might easily count as a positive attraction. Such a man, proposing to please, persuade, secure
her, appropriate her for such a time, shorter or longer, as nature and the doctors should allow, would make the
best of her, ill, damaged, disagreeable though she might be, for the sake of eventual benefits: she being (150)
clearly a person of the sort esteemed likely to do the handsome thing by a stricken and sorrowing husband.

She had said to herself betimes, in a general way, that whatever habits her youth might form, that of seeing an
interested suitor in every bush should certainly never grow to be one of them−−an attitude she had early judged as
ignoble, as poisonous. She had had accordingly in fact as little to do with it as possible and she scarce knew why
at the present moment she should have had to catch herself in the act of imputing an ugly motive. It didn't sit, the
ugly motive, in Lord Mark's cool English eyes; the darker side of it at any rate showed, to her imagination, but
briefly. Suspicion moreover, with this, simplified itself: there was a beautiful reason−−indeed there were
two−−why her companion's motive shouldn't matter. One was that even should he desire her without a penny she
wouldn't marry him for the world; the other was that she felt him, after all, perceptively, kindly, very pleasantly
and humanly, concerned for her. They were also two things, his wishing to be well, to be very well, with her, and
his beginning to feel her as threatened, haunted, blighted; but they were melting together for him, making him, by
their combination, only the more sure that, as he probably called it to himself, he liked her. That was presently
what remained with her−−his really doing it; and with the natural and proper incident of being conciliated by her

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                                                The Wings of the Dove
weakness. Would she really have had him−−she could ask herself that−−disconcerted or disgusted by it? If he
could only be touched (151) enough to do what she preferred, not to raise, not to press any question, he might
render her a much better service than by merely enabling her to refuse him. Again, again it was strange, but he
figured to her for the moment as the one safe sympathiser. It would have made her worse to talk to others, but she
wasn't afraid with him of how he might wince and look pale. She would keep him, that is, her one easy
relation−−in the sense of easy for himself. Their actual outlook had meanwhile such charm, what surrounded
them within and without did so much toward making appreciative stillness as natural as at the opera, that she
could consider she hadn't made him hang on her lips when at last, instead of saying if she were well or ill, she
repeated: "I go about here. I don't get tired of it. I never should−−it suits me so. I adore the place," she went on,
"and I don't want in the least to give it up."

"Neither should I if I had your luck. Still, with that luck, for one's ALL−−! Should you positively like to live
here?"

"I think I should like," said poor Milly after an instant, "to die here."

Which made him, precisely, laugh. That was what she wanted when a person did care: it was the pleasant human
way, without depths of darkness. "Oh it's not good enough for THAT! That requires picking. But can't you keep
it? It is, you know, the sort of place to see you in; you carry out the note, fill it, people it, quite by yourself, and
you might do much worse−−I mean for your friends−−than show yourself here a while, three or four months,
every (152) year. But it's not my notion for the rest of the time. One has quite other uses for you."

"What sort of a use for me is it," she smilingly enquired, "to kill me?"

"Do you mean we should kill you in England?"

"Well, I've seen you and I'm afraid. You're too much for me−−too many. England bristles with questions. This is
more, as you say there, my form."

"Oho, oho!"−−he laughed again as if to humour her. "Can't you then buy it−−for a price? Depend upon it they'll
treat for money. That is for money enough."

"I've exactly," she said, "been wondering if they won't. I think I shall try. But if I get it I shall cling to it." They
were talking sincerely. "It will be my life−−paid for as that. It will become my great gilded shell; so that those
who wish to find me must come and hunt me up."

"Ah then you WILL be alive," said Lord Mark.

"Well, not quite extinct perhaps, but shrunken, wasted, wizened; rattling about here like the dried kernel of a nut."

"Oh," Lord Mark returned, "we, much as you mistrust us, can do better for you than that."

"In the sense that you'll feel it better for me really to have it over?"

He let her see now that she worried him, and after a look at her, of some duration, without his glasses−−which
always altered the expression of his eyes−−he re−settled the nippers on his nose and went back to the view. But
the view, in turn, soon enough released him. "Do you remember something I said to (153) you that day at
Matcham−−or at least fully meant to?"

"Oh yes, I remember everything at Matcham. It's another life."


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                                               The Wings of the Dove

"Certainly it will be−−I mean the kind of thing: what I then wanted it to represent for you. Matcham, you know,"
he continued, "is symbolic. I think I tried to rub that into you a little."

She met him with the full memory of what he had tried−−not an inch, not an ounce of which was lost to her.
"What I meant is that it seems a hundred years ago."

"Oh for me it comes in better. Perhaps a part of what makes me remember it," he pursued, "is that I was quite
aware of what might have been said about what I was doing. I wanted you to take it from me that I should perhaps
be able to look after you−−well, rather better. Rather better, of course, than certain other persons in particular."

"Precisely−−than Mrs. Lowder, than Miss Croy, even than Mrs. Stringham."

"Oh Mrs. Stringham's all right!" Lord Mark promptly amended.

It amused her even with what she had else to think of; and she could show him at all events how little, in spite of
the hundred years, she had lost what he alluded to. The way he was with her at this moment made in fact the other
moment so vivid as almost to start again the tears it had started at the time. "You could do so much for me, yes. I
perfectly understood you."

"I wanted, you see," he despite this explained, (154) "to FIX your confidence. I mean, you know, in the right
place."

"Well, Lord Mark, you did−−it's just exactly now, my confidence, where you put it then. The only difference,"
said Milly, "is that I seem now to have no use for it. Besides," she then went on, "I do seem to feel you disposed
to act in a way that would undermine it a little."

He took no more notice of these last words than if she hadn't said them, only watching her at present as with a
gradual new light. "Are you REALLY in any trouble?"

To this, on her side, she gave no heed. Making out his light was a little a light for herself. "Don't say, don't try to
say, anything that's impossible. There are much better things you can do."

He looked straight at it and then straight over it. "It's too monstrous that one can't ask you as a friend what one
wants so to know."

"What is it you want to know?" She spoke, as by a sudden turn, with a slight hardness. "Do you want to know if
I'm badly ill?"

The sound of it in truth, though from no raising of her voice, invested the idea with a kind of terror, but a terror all
for others. Lord Mark winced and flushed−−clearly couldn't help it; but he kept his attitude together and spoke
even with unwonted vivacity. "Do you imagine I can see you suffer and not say a word?"

"You won't see me suffer−−don't be afraid. I shan't be a public nuisance. That's why I should have liked THIS: it's
so beautiful in itself and yet it's (155) out of the gangway. You won't know anything about anything," she added;
and then as if to make with decision an end: "And you DON'T! No, not even you." He faced her through it with
the remains of his expression, and she saw him as clearly−−for HIM−−bewildered; which made her wish to be
sure not to have been unkind. She would be kind once for all; that would be the end. "I'm very badly ill."

"And you don't do anything?"

"I do everything. Everything's THIS," she smiled. "I'm doing it now. One can't do more than live."

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                                              The Wings of the Dove

"Ah than live in the right way, no. But is THAT what you do? Why haven't you advice?"

He had looked about at the rococo elegance as if there were fifty things it didn't give her, so that he suggested
with urgency the most absent. But she met his remedy with a smile. "I've the best advice in the world. I'm acting
under it now. I act upon it in receiving you, in talking with you thus. One can't, as I tell you, do more than live."

"Oh live!" Lord Mark ejaculated.

"Well, it's immense for ME." She finally spoke as if for amusement; now that she had uttered her truth, that he
had learnt it from herself as no one had yet done, her emotion had, by the fact, dried up. There she was; but it was
as if she would never speak again. "I shan't," she added, "have missed everything."

"Why should you have missed ANYTHING?" She felt, as he sounded this, to what, within the minute, he had
made up his mind. "You're the person in the world for whom that's least necessary; for whom (156) one would
call it in fact most impossible; for whom 'missing' at all will surely require an extraordinary amount of misplaced
good will. Since you believe in advice, for God's sake take MINE. I know what you want."

Oh she knew he would know it. But she had brought it on herself−−or almost. Yet she spoke with kindness. "I
think I want not to be too much worried."

"You want to be adored." It came at last straight. "Nothing would worry you less. I mean as I shall do it. It IS
so"−−he firmly kept it up. "You're not loved enough."

"Enough for what, Lord Mark?"

"Why to get the full good of it."

Well, she didn't after all mock at him. "I see what you mean. That full good of it which consists in finding one's
self forced to love in return." She had grasped it, but she hesitated. "Your idea is that I might find myself forced to
love YOU?"

"Oh 'forced'−−!" He was so fine and so expert, so awake to anything the least ridiculous, and of a type with which
the preaching of passion somehow so ill consorted−−he was so much all these things that he had absolutely to
take account of them himself. And he did so, in a single intonation, beautifully. Milly liked him again, liked him
for such shades as that, liked him so that it was woeful to see him spoiling it, and still more woeful to have to rank
him among those minor charms of existence that she gasped at moments to remember she must give up. "Is it
inconceivable to you that you might try?"

(157) "To be so favourably affected by you−−?"

"To believe in me. To believe in me," Lord Mark repeated.

Again she hesitated. "To 'try' in return for your trying?"

"Oh I shouldn't have to!" he quickly declared. The prompt neat accent, however, his manner of disposing of her
question, failed of real expression, as he himself the next moment intelligently, helplessly, almost comically
saw−−a failure pointed moreover by the laugh into which Milly was immediately startled. As a suggestion to her
of a healing and uplifting passion it WAS in truth deficient; it wouldn't do as the communication of a force that
should sweep them both away. And the beauty of him was that he too, even in the act of persuasion, of
self−persuasion, could understand that, and could thereby show but the better as fitting into the pleasant
commerce of prosperity. The way she let him see that she looked at him was a thing to shut him out, of itself,

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                                              The Wings of the Dove
from services of danger, a thing that made a discrimination against him never yet made−−made at least to any
consciousness of his own. Born to float in a sustaining air, this would be his first encounter with a judgement
formed in the sinister light of tragedy. The gathering dusk of HER personal world presented itself to him, in her
eyes, as an element in which it was vain for him to pretend he could find himself at home, since it was charged
with depressions and with dooms, with the chill of the losing game. Almost without her needing to speak, and
simply by the fact that there could be, in such a case, no decent (158) substitute for a felt intensity, he had to take
it from her that practically he was afraid−−whether afraid to protest falsely enough, or only afraid of what might
be eventually disagreeable in a compromised alliance, being a minor question. She believed she made out besides,
wonderful girl, that he had never quite expected to have to protest about anything beyond his natural
convenience−−more, in fine, than his disposition and habits, his education as well, his personal moyens, in short,
permitted. His predicament was therefore one he couldn't like, and also one she willingly would have spared him
hadn't he brought it on himself. No man, she was quite aware, could enjoy thus having it from her that he wasn't
good for what she would have called her reality. It wouldn't have taken much more to enable her positively to
make out in him that he was virtually capable of hinting−−had his innermost feeling spoken−−at the propriety
rather, in his interest, of some cutting down, some dressing up, of the offensive real. He would meet that halfway,
but the real must also meet HIM. Milly's sense of it for herself, which was so conspicuously, so financially
supported, couldn't, or wouldn't, so accommodate him, and the perception of that fairly showed in his face after a
moment like the smart of a blow. It had marked the one minute during which he could again be touching to her.
By the time he had tried once more, after all, to insist, he had quite ceased to be so.

By this time she had turned from their window to make a diversion, had walked him through other rooms,
appealing again to the inner charm of the (159) place, going even so far for that purpose as to point afresh her
independent moral, to repeat that if one only had such a house for one's own and loved it and cherished it enough,
it would pay one back in kind, would close one in from harm. He quite grasped for the quarter of an hour the
perch she held out to him−−grasped it with one hand, that is, while she felt him attached to his own clue with the
other; he was by no means either so sore or so stupid, to do him all justice, as not to be able to behave more or
less as if nothing had happened. It was one of his merits, to which she did justice too, that both his native and his
acquired notion of behaviour rested on the general assumption that nothing−−nothing to make a deadly difference
for him−−ever COULD happen. It was, socially, a working view like another, and it saw them easily enough
through the greater part of the rest of their adventure. Downstairs again, however, with the limit of his stay in
sight, the sign of his smarting, when all was said, reappeared for her−−breaking out moreover, with an effect of
strangeness, in another quite possibly sincere allusion to her state of health. He might for that matter have been
seeing what he could do in the way of making it a grievance that she should snub him for a charity, on his own
part, exquisitely roused. "It's true, you know, all the same, and I don't care a straw for your trying to freeze one
up." He seemed to show her, poor man, bravely, how little he cared. "Everybody knows affection often makes
things out when indifference doesn't notice. And that's why I know that i notice."

"Are you sure you've got it right?" the girl smiled. (160) "I thought rather that affection was supposed to be
blind."

"Blind to faults, not to beauties," Lord Mark promptly returned.

"And are my extremely private worries, my entirely domestic complications, which I'm ashamed to have given
you a glimpse of−−are they beauties?"

"Yes, for those who care for you−−as every one does. Everything about you is a beauty. Besides which I don't
believe," he declared, "in the seriousness of what you tell me. It's too absurd you should have ANY trouble about
which something can't be done. If you can't get the right thing, who CAN, in all the world, I should like to know?
You're the first young woman of your time. I mean what I say." He looked, to do him justice, quite as if he did;
not ardent, but clear−−simply so competent, in such a position, to compare, that his quiet assertion had the force
not so much perhaps of a tribute as of a warrant. "We're all in love with you. I'll put it that way, dropping any

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                                              The Wings of the Dove
claim of my own, if you can bear it better. I speak as one of the lot. You weren't born simply to torment us−−you
were born to make us happy. Therefore you must listen to us."

She shook her head with her slowness, but this time with all her mildness. "No, I mustn't listen to you−−that's just
what I mustn't do. The reason is, please, that it simply kills me. I must be as attached to you as you will, since you
give that lovely account of yourselves. I give you in return the fullest possible belief of what it would be−−" (161)
And she pulled up a little. "I give and give and give−−there you are; stick to me as close as you like and see if I
don't. Only I can't listen or receive or accept−−I can't AGREE. I can't make a bargain. I can't really. You must
believe that from me. It's all I've wanted to say to you, and why should it spoil anything?"

He let her question fall−−though clearly, it might have seemed, because, for reasons or for none, there was so
much that WAS spoiled. "You want somebody of your own." He came back, whether in good faith or in bad, to
that; and it made her repeat her headshake. He kept it up as if his faith were of the best. "You want somebody, you
want somebody."

She was to wonder afterwards if she hadn't been at this juncture on the point of saying something emphatic and
vulgar−−"Well, I don't at all events want YOU!" What somehow happened, nevertheless, the pity of it being
greater than the irritation−−the sadness, to her vivid sense, of his being so painfully astray, wandering in a desert
in which there was nothing to nourish him−−was that his error amounted to positive wrongdoing. She was
moreover so acquainted with quite another sphere of usefulness for him that her having suffered him to insist
almost convicted her of indelicacy. Why hadn't she stopped him off with her first impression of his purpose? She
could do so now only by the allusion she had been wishing not to make. "Do you know I don't think you're doing
very right?−−and as a thing quite apart, I mean, from my listening to you. That's not right (162) either−−except
that I'm NOT listening. You oughtn't to have come to Venice to see ME−−and in fact you've not come, and you
mustn't behave as if you had. You've much older friends than I, and ever so much better. Really, if you've come at
all, you can only have come−−properly, and if I may say so honourably−−for the best friend, as I believe her to
be, that you have in the world."

When once she had said it he took it, oddly enough, as if he had been more or less expecting it. Still, he looked at
her very hard, and they had a moment of this during which neither pronounced a name, each apparently
determined that the other should. It was Milly's fine coercion, in the event, that was the stronger. "Miss Croy?"
Lord Mark asked.

It might have been difficult to make out that she smiled. "Mrs. Lowder." He did make out something, and then
fairly coloured for its attestation of his comparative simplicity. "I call HER on the whole the best. I can't imagine
a man's having a better."

Still with his eyes on her he turned it over. "Do you want me to marry Mrs. Lowder?"

At which it seemed to her that it was he who was almost vulgar! But she wouldn't in any way have that. "You
know, Lord Mark, what I mean. One isn't in the least turning you out into the cold world. There's no cold world
for you at all, I think," she went on; "nothing but a very warm and watchful and expectant world that's waiting for
you at any moment you choose to take it up."

He never budged, but they were standing on the polished concrete and he had within a few minutes (163)
possessed himself again of his hat. "Do you want me to marry Kate Croy?"

"Mrs. Lowder wants it−−I do no wrong, I think, in saying that; and she understands moreover that you know she
does."



Book Seventh, Chapter 4                                                                                           162
                                             The Wings of the Dove

Well, he showed how beautifully he could take it; and it wasn't obscure to her, on her side, that it was a comfort to
deal with a gentleman. "It's ever so kind of you to see such opportunities for me. But what's the use of my tackling
Miss Croy?"

Milly rejoiced on the spot to be so able to point out. "Because she's the handsomest and cleverest and most
charming creature I ever saw, and because if I were a man I should simply adore her. In fact I do as it is." It was a
luxury of response.

"Oh, my dear lady, plenty of people adore her. But that can't further the case of ALL."

"Ah," she went on, "I know about 'people.' If the case of one's bad, the case of another's good. I don't see what you
have to fear from any one else," she said, "save through your being foolish, this way, about ME."

So she said, but she was aware the next moment of what he was making of what she didn't see. "Is it your
idea−−since we're talking of these things in these ways−−that the young lady you describe in such superlative
terms is to be had for the asking?"

"Well, Lord Mark, try. She IS a great person. But don't be humble." She was almost gay.

It was this apparently, at last, that was too much for him. "But don't you really KNOW?"

As a challenge, practically, to the commonest intelligence (164) she could pretend to, it made her of course wish
to be fair. "I 'know,' yes, that a particular person's very much in love with her."

"Then you must know by the same token that she's very much in love with a particular person."

"Ah I beg your pardon!"−−and Milly quite flushed at having so crude a blunder imputed to her. "You're wholly
mistaken."

"It's not true?"

"It's not true."

His stare became a smile. "Are you very, very sure?"

"As sure as one can be"−−and Milly's manner could match it−−"when one has every assurance. I speak on the best
authority."

He hesitated. "Mrs. Lowder's?"

"No. I don't call Mrs. Lowder's the best."

"Oh I thought you were just now saying," he laughed, "that everything about her's so good."

"Good for you"−−she was perfectly clear. "For you," she went on, "let her authority be the best. She doesn't
believe what you mention, and you must know yourself how little she makes of it. So you can take it from her. i
take it−−" But Milly, with the positive tremor of her emphasis, pulled up.

"You take it from Kate?"

"From Kate herself."

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                                              The Wings of the Dove

"That she's thinking of no one at all?"

"Of no one at all." Then, with her intensity, she went on. "She has given me her word for it."

"0h!" said Lord Mark. To which he next added: "And what do you call her word?"

(165) It made Milly, on her side, stare−−though perhaps partly but with the instinct of gaining time for the
consciousness that she was already a little further "in" than she had designed. "Why, Lord Mark, what should
YOU call her word?"

"Ah I'm not obliged to say. I've not asked her. You apparently have."

Well, it threw her on her defence−−a defence that she felt, however, especially as of Kate. "We're very intimate,"
she said in a moment; "so that, without prying into each other's affairs, she naturally tells me things."

Lord Mark smiled as at a lame conclusion. "You mean then she made you of her own movement the declaration
you quote?"

Milly thought again, though with hindrance rather than help in her sense of the way their eyes now met−−met as
for their each seeing in the other more than either said. What she most felt that she herself saw was the strange
disposition on her companion's part to disparage Kate's veracity. She could be only concerned to "stand up" for
that.

"I mean what I say: that when she spoke of her having no private interest−−"

"She took her oath to you?" Lord Mark interrupted.

Milly didn't quite see why he should so catechise her; but she met it again for Kate. "She left me in no doubt
whatever of her being free."

At this Lord Mark did look at her, though he continued to smile. "And thereby in no doubt of YOUR being too?"
It was as if as soon as he had said it, (166) however, he felt it as something of a mistake, and she couldn't herself
have told by what queer glare at him she had instantly signified that. He at any rate gave her glare no time to act
further; he fell back on the spot, and with a light enough movement, within his rights. "That's all very well, but
why in the world, dear lady, should she be swearing to you?"

She had to take this "dear lady" as applying to herself; which disconcerted her when he might now so gracefully
have used it for the aspersed Kate. Once more it came to her that she must claim her own part of the aspersion.
"Because, as I've told you, we're such tremendous friends."

"0h," said Lord Mark, who for the moment looked as if that might have stood rather for an absence of such
rigours. He was going, however, as if he had in a manner, at the last, got more or less what he wanted. Milly felt,
while he addressed his next few words to leave−taking, that she had given rather more than she intended or than
she should be able, when once more getting herself into hand, theoretically to defend. Strange enough in fact that
he had had from her, about herself−−and, under the searching spell of the place, infinitely straight−−what no one
else had had: neither Kate, nor Aunt Maud, nor Merton Densher, nor Susan Shepherd. He had made her within a
minute, in particular, she was aware, lose her presence of mind, and she now wished he would take himself off, so
that she might either recover it or bear the loss better in solitude. If he paused, however, she almost at the same
time saw, it was because of his watching the approach, from the end of the sala, of (167) one of the gondoliers,
who, whatever excursions were appointed for the party with the attendance of the others, always, as the most
decorative, most sashed and starched, remained at the palace on the theory that she might whimsically want

Book Seventh, Chapter 4                                                                                           164
                                             The Wings of the Dove
him−−which she never, in her caged freedom, had yet done. Brown Pasquale, slipping in white shoes over the
marble and suggesting to her perpetually charmed vision she could scarce say what, either a mild Hindoo, too
noiseless almost for her nerves, or simply a barefooted seaman on the deck of a ship−−Pasquale offered to sight a
small salver, which he obsequiously held out to her with its burden of a visiting−card. Lord Mark−−and as if also
for admiration of him−−delayed his departure to let her receive it; on which she read it with the instant effect of
another blow to her presence of mind. This precarious quantity was indeed now so gone that even for dealing with
Pasquale she had to do her best to conceal its disappearance. The effort was made, none the less, by the time she
had asked if the gentleman were below and had taken in the fact that he had come up. He had followed the
gondolier and was waiting at the top of the staircase.

"I'll see him with pleasure." To which she added for her companion, while Pasquale went off: "Mr. Merton
Densher."

"0h!" said Lord Mark−−in a manner that, making it resound through the great cool hall, might have carried it even
to Densher's car as a judgement of his identity heard and noted once before.

Book Eighth, Chapter 1
Densher became aware, afresh, that he disliked his hotel−−and all the more promptly that he had had occasion of
old to make the same discrimination. The establishment, choked at that season with the polyglot herd, cockneys of
all climes, mainly German, mainly American, mainly English, it appeared as the corresponding sensitive nerve
was touched, sounded loud and not sweet, sounded anything and everything but Italian, but Venetian. The
Venetian was all a dialect, he knew; yet it was pure Attic beside some of the dialects at the bustling inn. It made,
"abroad," both for his pleasure and his pain that he had to feel at almost any point how he had been through
everything before. He had been three or four times, in Venice, during other visits, through this pleasant irritation
of paddling away−−away from the concert of false notes in the vulgarised hall, away from the amiable American
families and overfed German porters. He had in each case made terms for a lodging more private and not more
costly, and he recalled with tenderness these shabby but friendly asylums, the windows of which he should easily
know again in passing on canal or through campo. The shabbiest now failed of an appeal to him, but he found
himself at the end of forty−eight hours forming views in respect to a small independent quartiere, far down the
Grand Canal, which he had once occupied for a month with (172) a sense of pomp and circumstance and yet also
with a growth of initiation into the homelier Venetian mysteries. The humour of those days came back to him for
an hour, and what further befell in this interval, to be brief, was that, emerging on a traghetto in sight of the
recognised house, he made out on the green shutters of his old, of his young windows the strips of white pasted
paper that figure in Venice as an invitation to tenants. This was in the course of his very first walk apart, a walk
replete with impressions to which he responded with force. He had been almost without cessation, since his
arrival, at Palazzo Leporelli, where, as happened, a turn of bad weather on the second day had kept the whole
party continuously at home. The episode had passed for him like a series of hours in a museum, though without
the fatigue of that; and it had also resembled something that he was still, with a stirred imagination, to find a name
for. He might have been looking for the name while he gave himself up, subsequently, to the ramble−−he saw that
even after years he couldn't lose his way−−crowned with his stare across the water at the little white papers.

He was to dine at the palace in an hour or two, and he had lunched there, at an early luncheon, that morning. He
had then been out with the three ladies, the three being Mrs. Lowder, Mrs. Stringham and Kate, and had kept
afloat with them, under a sufficient Venetian spell, until Aunt Maud had directed him to leave them and return to
Miss Theale. Of two circumstances connected with this disposition of his person he was even now not unmindful;
the first being (173) that the lady of Lancaster Gate had addressed him with high publicity and as if expressing
equally the sense of her companions, who had not spoken, but who might have been taken−−yes, Susan Shepherd
quite equally with Kate−−for inscrutable parties to her plan. What he could as little contrive to forget was that he
had, before the two others, as it struck him−−that was to say especially before Kate−−done exactly as he was


Book Eighth, Chapter 1                                                                                           165
                                              The Wings of the Dove
bidden; gathered himself up without a protest and retraced his way to the palace. Present with him still was the
question of whether he looked a fool for it, of whether the awkwardness he felt as the gondola rocked with the
business of his leaving it−−they could but make, in submission, for a landing−place that was none of the
best−−had furnished his friends with such entertainment as was to cause them, behind his back, to exchange
intelligent smiles. He had found Milly Theale twenty minutes later alone, and he had sat with her till the others
returned to tea. The strange part of this was that it had been very easy, extraordinarily easy. He knew it for strange
only when he was away from her, because when he was away from her he was in contact with particular things
that made it so. At the time, in her presence, it was as simple as sitting with his sister might have been, and not, if
the point were urged, very much more thrilling. He continued to see her as he had first seen her−−that remained
ineffaceably behind. Mrs. Lowder, Susan Shepherd, his own Kate, might, each in proportion, see her as a
princess, as an angel, as a star, but for himself, luckily, she hadn't as yet complications to any point of discomfort:
(174) the princess, the angel, the star, were muffled over, ever so lightly and brightly, with the little American girl
who had been kind to him in New York and to whom certainly−−though without making too much of it for either
of them−−he was perfectly willing to be kind in return. She appreciated his coming in on purpose, but there was
nothing in that−−from the moment she was always at home−−that they couldn't easily keep up. The only note the
least bit high that had even yet sounded between them was this admission on her part that she found it best to
remain within. She wouldn't let him call it keeping quiet, for she insisted that her palace−−with all its romance
and art and history−−had set up round her a whirlwind of suggestion that never dropped for an hour. It wasn't
therefore, within such walls, confinement, it was the freedom of all the centuries: in respect to which Densher
granted good−humouredly that they were then blown together, she and he, as much as she liked, through space.

Kate had found on the present occasion a moment to say to him that he suggested a clever cousin calling on a
cousin afflicted, and bored for his pains; and though he denied on the spot the "bored" he could so far see it as an
impression he might make that he wondered if the same image wouldn't have occurred to Milly. As soon as Kate
appeared again the difference came up−−the oddity, as he then instantly felt it, of his having sunk so deep. It was
sinking because it was all doing what Kate had conceived for him; it wasn't in the least doing−−and that had been
his notion of his life−−anything he himself had conceived. (175) The difference, accordingly, renewed, sharp,
sore, was the irritant under which he had quitted the palace and under which he was to make the best of the
business of again dining there. He said to himself that he must make the best of everything; that was in his mind,
at the traghetto, even while, with his preoccupation about changing quarters, he studied, across the canal, the look
of his former abode. It had done for the past, would it do for the present? would it play in any manner into the
general necessity of which he was conscious? That necessity of making the best was the instinct−−as he indeed
himself knew−−of a man somehow aware that if he let go at one place he should let go everywhere. If he took off
his hand, the hand that at least helped to hold it together, the whole queer fabric that built him in would fall away
in a minute and admit the light. It was really a matter of nerves; it was exactly because he was nervous that he
COULD go straight; yet if that condition should increase he must surely go wild. He was walking in short on a
high ridge, steep down on either side, where the proprieties−−once he could face at all remaining there−−reduced
themselves to his keeping his head. It was Kate who had so perched him, and there came up for him at moments,
as he found himself planting one foot exactly before another, a sensible sharpness of irony as to her management
of him. It wasn't that she had put him in danger−−to be in real danger with her would have had another quality.
There glowed for him in fact a kind of rage at what he wasn't having; an exasperation, a resentment, begotten
truly by the very impatience of desire, in respect (176) to his postponed and relegated, his so extremely
manipulated state. It was beautifully done of her, but what was the real meaning of it unless that he was
perpetually bent to her will? His idea from the first, from the very first of his knowing her, had been to be, as the
French called it, bon prince with her, mindful of the good humour and generosity, the contempt, in the matter of
confidence, for small outlays and small savings, that belonged to the man who wasn't generally afraid. There were
things enough, goodness knew−−for it was the moral of his plight−−that he couldn't afford; but what had had a
charm for him if not the notion of living handsomely, to make up for it, in another way? of not at all events
reading the romance of his existence in a cheap edition. All he had originally felt in her came back to him, was
indeed actually as present as ever−−how he had admired and envied what he called to himself her pure talent for
life, as distinguished from his own, a poor weak thing of the occasion, amateurishly patched up; only it irritated

Book Eighth, Chapter 1                                                                                            166
                                              The Wings of the Dove
him the more that this was exactly what was now, ever so characteristically, standing out in her.

It was thanks to her pure talent for life, verily, that he was just where he was and that he was above all just HOW
he was. The proof of a decent reaction in him against so much passivity was, with no great richness, that he at
least knew−−knew, that is, how he was, and how little he liked it as a thing accepted in mere helplessness. He
was, for the moment, wistful−−that above all described it; that was so large a part of the force that, as the autumn
afternoon closed in, kept him, on his traghetto, positively throbbing with (177) his question. His question
connected itself, even while he stood, with his special smothered soreness, his sense almost of shame; and the
soreness and the shame were less as he let himself, with the help of the conditions about him, regard it as serious.
It was born, for that matter, partly of the conditions, those conditions that Kate had so almost insolently braved,
had been willing, without a pang, to see him ridiculously−−ridiculously so far as just complacently−−exposed to.
How little it COULD be complacently he was to feel with the last thoroughness before he had moved from his
point of vantage. His question, as we have called it, was the interesting question of whether he had really no will
left. How could he know−−that was the point−−without putting the matter to the test? It had been right to be bon
prince, and the joy, something of the pride, of having lived, in spirit, handsomely, was even now compatible with
the impulse to look into their account; but he held his breath a little as it came home to him with supreme
sharpness that, whereas he had done absolutely everything that Kate had wanted, she had done nothing whatever
that he had. So it was in fine that his idea of the test by which he must try that possibility kept referring itself, in
the warm early dusk, the approach of the Southern night−−"conditions" these, such as we just spoke of−−to the
glimmer, more and more ghostly as the light failed, of the little white papers on his old green shutters. By the time
he looked at his watch he had been for a quarter of an hour at this post of observation and reflexion; but by the
time he walked away again he had found his answer to the idea that had grown so importunate. (178) Since a
proof of his will was wanted it was indeed very exactly in wait for him−−it lurked there on the other side of the
Canal. A ferryman at the little pier had from time to time accosted him; but it was a part of the play of his
nervousness to turn his back on that facility. He would go over, but he walked, very quickly, round and round,
crossing finally by the Rialto. The rooms, in the event, were unoccupied; the ancient padrona was there with her
smile all a radiance but her recognition all a fable; the ancient rickety objects too, refined in their shabbiness,
amiable in their decay, as to which, on his side, demonstrations were tenderly veracious; so that before he took his
way again he had arranged to come in on the morrow.

He was amusing about it that evening at dinner−−in spite of an odd first impulse, which at the palace quite melted
away, to treat it merely as matter for his own satisfaction. This need, this propriety, he had taken for granted even
up to the moment of suddenly perceiving, in the course of talk, that the incident would minister to innocent gaiety.
Such was quite its effect, with the aid of his picture−−an evocation of the quaint, of the humblest rococo, of a
Venetian interior in the true old note. He made the point for his hostess that her own high chambers, though they
were a thousand grand things, weren't really this; made it in fact with such success that she presently declared it
his plain duty to invite her on some near day to tea. She had expressed as yet−−he could feel it as felt among them
all−−no such clear wish to go anywhere, not even to make an effort for a parish feast, or an autumn sunset, nor to
descend her staircase for Titian or (179) Gianbellini. It was constantly Densher's view that, as between himself
and Kate, things were understood without saying, so that he could catch in her, as she but too freely could in him,
innumerable signs of it, the whole soft breath of consciousness meeting and promoting consciousness. This view
was so far justified to−night as that Milly's offer to him of her company was to his sense taken up by Kate in spite
of her doing nothing to show it. It fell in so perfectly with what she had desired and foretold that she was−−and
this was what most struck him−−sufficiently gratified and blinded by it not to know, from the false quality of his
response, from his tone and his very look, which for an instant instinctively sought her own, that he had answered
inevitably, almost shamelessly, in a mere time−gaining sense. It gave him on the spot, her failure of perception,
almost a beginning of the advantage he had been planning for−−that is at least if she too were not darkly
dishonest. She might, he was not unaware, have made out, from some deep part of her, the bearing, in respect to
herself, of the little fact he had announced; for she was after all capable of that, capable of guessing and yet of
simultaneously hiding her guess. It wound him up a turn or two further, none the less, to impute to her now a
weakness of vision by which he could himself feel the stronger. Whatever apprehension of his motive in shifting

Book Eighth, Chapter 1                                                                                             167
                                               The Wings of the Dove
his abode might have brushed her with its wings, she at all events certainly didn't guess that he was giving their
friend a hollow promise. That was what she had herself imposed on him; there had been in the prospect from the
first a definite particular point at which hollowness, to call (180) it by its least compromising name, would have to
begin. Therefore its hour had now charmingly sounded.

Whatever in life he had recovered his old rooms for, he had not recovered them to receive Milly Theale: which
made no more difference in his expression of happy readiness than if he had been−−just what he was trying not to
be−−fully hardened and fully base. So rapid in fact was the rhythm of his inward drama that the quick vision of
impossibility produced in him by his hostess's direct and unexpected appeal had the effect, slightly sinister, of
positively scaring him. It gave him a measure of the intensity, the reality of his now mature motive. It prompted in
him certainly no quarrel with these things, but it made them as vivid as if they already flushed with success. It was
before the flush of success that his heart beat almost to dread. The dread was but the dread of the happiness to be
compassed; only that was in itself a symptom. That a visit from Milly should, in this projection of necessities,
strike him as of the last incongruity, quite as a hateful idea, and above all as spoiling, should one put it grossly, his
game−−the adoption of such a view might of course have an identity with one of those numerous ways of being a
fool that seemed so to abound for him. It would remain none the less the way to which he should be in advance
most reconciled. His mature motive, as to which he allowed himself no grain of illusion, had thus in an hour taken
imaginative possession of the place: that precisely was how he saw it seated there, already unpacked and settled,
for Milly's innocence, for Milly's beauty, no matter how short a time, (181) to be housed with. There were things
she would never recognise, never feel, never catch in the air; but this made no difference in the fact that her
brushing against them would do nobody any good. The discrimination and the scruple were for HIM. So he felt all
the parts of the case together, while Kate showed admirably as feeling none of them. Of course, however−−when
hadn't it to be his last word?−−Kate was always sublime.

That came up in all connexions during the rest of these first days; came up in especial under pressure of the fact
that each time our plighted pair snatched, in its passage, at the good fortune of half an hour together, they were
doomed−−though Densher felt it as all by HIS act−−to spend a part of the rare occasion in wonder at their luck
and in study of its queer character. This was the case after he might be supposed to have got, in a manner, used to
it; it was the case after the girl−−ready always, as we say, with the last word−−had given him the benefit of her
righting of every wrong appearance, a support familiar to him now in reference to other phases. It was still the
case after he possibly might, with a little imagination, as she freely insisted, have made out, by the visible
working of the crisis, what idea on Mrs. Lowder's part had determined it. Such as the idea was−−and that it suited
Kate's own book she openly professed−−he had only to see how things were turning out to feel it strikingly
justified. Densher's reply to all this vividness was that of course Aunt Maud's intervention hadn't been occult,
even for HIS vividness, from the moment she had written him, with characteristic concentration, that if (182) he
should see his way to come to Venice for a fortnight she should engage he would find it no blunder. It took Aunt
Maud really to do such things in such ways; just as it took him, he was ready to confess, to do such others as he
must now strike them all−−didn't he?−−as committed to. [sic] Mrs. Lowder's admonition had been of course a
direct reference to what she had said to him at Lancaster Gate before his departure the night Milly had failed them
through illness; only it had at least matched that remarkable outbreak in respect to the quantity of good nature it
attributed to him. The young man's discussions of his situation−−which were confined to Kate; he had none with
Aunt Maud herself−−suffered a little, it may be divined, by the sense that he couldn't put everything off, as he
privately expressed it, on other people. His ears, in solitude, were apt to burn with the reflexion that Mrs. Lowder
had simply tested him, seen him as he was and made out what could be done with him. She had had but to whistle
for him and he had come. If she had taken for granted his good nature she was as justified as Kate declared. This
awkwardness of his conscience, both in respect to his general plasticity, the fruit of his feeling plasticity, within
limits, to be a mode of life like another−−certainly better than some, and particularly in respect to such confusion
as might reign about what he had really come for−−this inward ache was not wholly dispelled by the style,
charming as that was, of Kate's poetic versions. Even the high wonder and delight of Kate couldn't set him right
with himself when there was something quite distinct from these things that kept him wrong.


Book Eighth, Chapter 1                                                                                              168
                                              The Wings of the Dove
(183) In default of being right with himself he had meanwhile, for one thing, the interest of seeing−−and quite for
the first time in his life−−whether, on a given occasion, that might be quite so necessary to happiness as was
commonly assumed and as he had up to this moment never doubted. He was engaged distinctly in an
adventure−−he who had never thought himself cut out for them, and it fairly helped him that he was able at
moments to say to himself that he mustn't fall below it. At his hotel, alone, by night, or in the course of the few
late strolls he was finding time to take through dusky labyrinthine alleys and empty campi, overhung with
mouldering palaces, where he paused in disgust at his want of ease and where the sound of a rare footstep on the
enclosed pavement was like that of a retarded dancer in a banquet−hall deserted−−during these interludes he
entertained cold views, even to the point, at moments, on the principle that the shortest follies are the best, of
thinking of immediate departure as not only possible but as indicated. He had however only to cross again the
threshold of Palazzo Leporelli to see all the elements of the business compose, as painters called it, differently. It
began to strike him then that departure wouldn't curtail, but would signally coarsen his folly, and that above all, as
he hadn't really "begun" anything, had only submitted, consented, but too generously indulged and condoned the
beginnings of others, he had no call to treat himself with superstitious rigour. The single thing that was clear in
complications was that, whatever happened, one was to behave as a gentleman−−to which was added indeed the
perhaps slightly less shining (184) truth that complications might sometimes have their tedium beguiled by a
study of the question of how a gentleman would behave. This question, I hasten to add, was not in the last resort
Densher's greatest worry. Three women were looking to him at once, and, though such a predicament could never
be, from the point of view of facility, quite the ideal, it yet had, thank goodness, its immediate workable law. The
law was not to be a brute−−in return for amiabilities. He hadn't come all the way out from England to be a brute.
He hadn't thought of what it might give him to have a fortnight, however handicapped, with Kate in Venice, to be
a brute. He hadn't treated Mrs. Lowder as if in responding to her suggestion he had understood her−−he hadn't
done that either to be a brute. And what he had prepared least of all for such an anti−climax was the prompt and
inevitable, the achieved surrender−−AS a gentleman, oh that indubitably!−−to the unexpected impression made
by poor pale exquisite Milly as the mistress of a grand old palace and the dispenser of an hospitality more
irresistible, thanks to all the conditions, than any ever known to him.

This spectacle had for him an eloquence, an authority, a felicity−−he scarce knew by what strange name to call
it−−for which he said to himself that he had not consciously bargained. Her welcome, her frankness, sweetness,
sadness, brightness, her disconcerting poetry, as he made shift at moments to call it, helped as it was by the beauty
of her whole setting and by the perception at the same time, on the observer's part, that this element gained from
(185) her, in a manner, for effect and harmony, as much as it gave−−her whole attitude had, to his imagination,
meanings that hung about it, waiting upon her, hovering, dropping and quavering forth again, like vague faint
snatches, mere ghosts of sound, of old−fashioned melancholy music. It was positively well for him, he had his
times of reflecting, that he couldn't put it off on Kate and Mrs. Lowder, as a gentleman so conspicuously wouldn't,
that−−well, that he had been rather taken in by not having known in advance! There had been now five days of it
all without his risking even to Kate alone any hint of what he ought to have known and of what in particular
therefore had taken him in. The truth was doubtless that really, when it came to any free handling and naming of
things, they were living together, the five of them, in an air in which an ugly effect of "blurting out" might easily
be produced. He came back with his friend on each occasion to the blest miracle of renewed propinquity, which
had a double virtue in that favouring air. He breathed on it as if he could scarcely believe it, yet the time had
passed, in spite of this privilege, without his quite committing himself, for her ear, to any such comment on
Milly's high style and state as would have corresponded with the amount of recognition it had produced in him.
Behind everything for him was his renewed remembrance, which had fairly become a habit, that he had been the
first to know her. This was what they had all insisted on, in her absence, that day at Mrs. Lowder's; and this was in
especial what had made him feel its influence on his immediately paying her a second (186) visit. Its influence
had been all there, been in the high−hung, rumbling carriage with them, from the moment she took him to drive,
covering them in together as if it had been a rug of softest silk. It had worked as a clear connexion with something
lodged in the past, something already their own. He had more than once recalled how he had said to himself even
at that moment, at some point in the drive, that he was not THERE, not just as he was in so doing it, through Kate
and Kate's idea, but through Milly and Milly's own, and through himself and HIS own, unmistakeably−−as well as

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                                              The Wings of the Dove

through the little facts, whatever they had amounted to, of his time in New York.

Book Eighth, Chapter 2
There was at last, with everything that made for it, an occasion when he got from Kate, on what she now spoke of
as his eternal refrain, an answer of which he was to measure afterwards the precipitating effect. His eternal refrain
was the way he came back to the riddle of Mrs. Lowder's view of her profit−−a view so hard to reconcile with the
chances she gave them to meet. Impatiently, at this, the girl denied the chances, wanting to know from him, with a
fine irony that smote him rather straight, whether he felt their opportunities as anything so grand. He looked at her
deep in the eyes when she had sounded this note; it was the least he could let her off with for having made him
visibly flush. For some reason then, with it, the sharpness dropped out of her tone, which became sweet and
sincere. " 'Meet,' my dear man," she expressively echoed; "does it strike you that we get, after all, so very much
out of our meetings?"

"On the contrary−−they're starvation diet. All I mean is−−and it's all I've meant from the day I came−−that we at
least get more than Aunt Maud."

"Ah but you see," Kate replied, "you don't understand what Aunt Maud gets."

"Exactly so−−and it's what I don't understand that keeps me so fascinated with the question. SHE gives me no
light; she's prodigious. She takes everything as of a natural−−!"

(188) "She takes it as 'of a natural' that at this rate I shall be making my reflexions about you. There's every
appearance for her," Kate went on, "that what she had made her mind up to as possible IS possible; that what she
had thought more likely than not to happen IS happening. The very essence of her, as you surely by this time have
made out for yourself, is that when she adopts a view she−−well, to her own sense, really brings the thing about,
fairly terrorises with her view any other, any opposite view, and those, not less, who represent that. I've often
thought success comes to her"−−Kate continued to study the phenomenon−−"by the spirit in her that dares and
defies her idea not to prove the right one. One has seen it so again and again, in the face of everything, BECOME
the right one."

Densher had for this, as he listened, a smile of the largest response. "Ah my dear child, if you can explain I of
course needn't not 'understand.' I'm condemned to that," he on his side presently explained, "only when
understanding fails." He took a moment; then he pursued: "Does she think she terrorises US?" To which he added
while, without immediate speech, Kate but looked over the place: "Does she believe anything so stiff as that
you've really changed about me?" He knew now that he was probing the girl deep−−something told him so; but
that was a reason the more. "Has she got it into her head that you dislike me?"

To this, of a sudden, Kate's answer was strong. "You could yourself easily put it there!"

He wondered. "By telling her so?"

(189) "No," said Kate as with amusement at his simplicity; "I don't ask that of you."

"Oh my dear," Densher laughed, "when you ask, you know, so little−−!"

There was a full irony in this, on his own part, that he saw her resist the impulse to take up. "I'm perfectly justified
in what I've asked," she quietly returned. "It's doing beautifully for you." Their eyes again intimately met, and the
effect was to make her proceed. "You're not a bit unhappy."



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                                             The Wings of the Dove

"Oh ain't I?" he brought out very roundly.

"It doesn't practically show−−which is enough for Aunt Maud. You're wonderful, you're beautiful," Kate said;
"and if you really want to know whether I believe you're doing it you may take from me perfectly that I see it
coming." With which, by a quick transition, as if she had settled the case, she asked him the hour.

"Oh only twelve−ten"−−he had looked at his watch. "We've taken but thirteen minutes; we've time yet."

"Then we must walk. We must go toward them."

Densher, from where they had been standing, measured the long reach of the Square. "They're still in their shop.
They're safe for half an hour."

"That shows then, that shows!" said Kate.

This colloquy had taken place in the middle of Piazza San Marco, always, as a great social saloon, a
smooth−floored, blue−roofed chamber of amenity, favourable to talk; or rather, to be exact, not in the middle, but
at the point where our pair had paused by a common impulse after leaving the great mosque−like (190) church. It
rose now, domed and pinnacled, but a little way behind them, and they had in front the vast empty space, enclosed
by its arcades, to which at that hour movement and traffic were mostly confined. Venice was at breakfast, the
Venice of the visitor and the possible acquaintance, and, except for the parties of importunate pigeons picking up
the crumbs of perpetual feasts, their prospect was clear and they could see their companions hadn't yet been, and
weren't for a while longer likely to be, disgorged by the lace−shop, in one of the loggie, where, shortly before,
they had left them for a look−in−−the expression was artfully Densher's−−at Saint Mark's. Their morning had
happened to take such a turn as brought this chance to the surface; yet his allusion, just made to Kate, hadn't been
an overstatement of their general opportunity. The worst that could be said of their general opportunity was that it
was essentially in presence−−in presence of every one; every one consisting at this juncture, in a peopled world,
of Susan Shepherd, Aunt Maud and Milly. But the proof how, even in presence, the opportunity could become
special was furnished precisely by this view of the compatibility of their comfort with a certain amount of
lingering. The others had assented to their not waiting in the shop; it was of course the least the others could do.
What had really helped them this morning was the fact that, on his turning up, as he always called it, at the palace,
Milly had not, as before, been able to present herself. Custom and use had hitherto seemed fairly established; on
his coming round, day after day−−eight days had (191) been now so conveniently marked−−their friends, Milly's
and his, conveniently dispersed and left him to sit with her till luncheon. Such was the perfect operation of the
scheme on which he had been, as he phrased it to himself, had out; so that certainly there was that amount of
justification for Kate's vision of success. He HAD, for Mrs. Lowder−−he couldn't help it while sitting there−−the
air, which was the thing to be desired, of no absorption in Kate sufficiently deep to be alarming. He had failed
their young hostess each morning as little as she had failed him; it was only to−day that she hadn't been well
enough to see him.

That had made a mark, all round; the mark was in the way in which, gathered in the room of state, with the place,
from the right time, all bright and cool and beflowered, as always, to receive her descent, they−−the rest of
them−−simply looked at each other. It was lurid−−lurid, in all probability, for each of them privately−−that they
had uttered no common regrets. It was strange for our young man above all that, if the poor girl was indisposed to
THAT degree, the hush of gravity, of apprehension, of significance of some sort, should be the most the
case−−that of the guests−−could permit itself. The hush, for that matter, continued after the party of four had gone
down to the gondola and taken their places in it. Milly had sent them word that she hoped they would go out and
enjoy themselves, and this indeed had produced a second remarkable look, a look as of their knowing, one quite
as well as the other, what such a message meant as provision for the alternative beguilement (192) of Densher.
She wished not to have spoiled his morning, and he had therefore, in civility, to take it as pleasantly patched up.
Mrs. Stringham had helped the affair out, Mrs. Stringham who, when it came to that, knew their friend better than

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                                              The Wings of the Dove
any of them. She knew her so well that she knew herself as acting in exquisite compliance with conditions
comparatively obscure, approximately awful to them, by not thinking it necessary to stay at home. She had
corrected that element of the perfunctory which was the slight fault, for all of them, of the occasion; she had
invented a preference for Mrs. Lowder and herself; she had remembered the fond dreams of the visitation of lace
that had hitherto always been brushed away by accidents, and it had come up as well for her that Kate had, the
day before, spoken of the part played by fatality in her own failure of real acquaintance with the inside of Saint
Mark's. Densher's sense of Susan Shepherd's conscious intervention had by this time a corner of his mind all to
itself; something that had begun for them at Lancaster Gate was now a sentiment clothed in a shape; her action,
ineffably discreet, had at all events a way of affecting him as for the most part subtly, even when not superficially,
in his own interest. They were not, as a pair, as a "team," really united; there were too many persons, at least
three, and too many things, between them; but meanwhile something was preparing that would draw them closer.
He scarce knew what: probably nothing but his finding, at some hour when it would be a service to do so, that she
had all the while understood him. He even had a presentiment (193) of a juncture at which the understanding of
every one else would fail and this deep little person's alone survive.

Such was to−day, in its freshness, the moral air, as we may say, that hung about our young friends; these had been
the small accidents and quiet forces to which they owed the advantage we have seen them in some sort enjoying.
It seemed in fact fairly to deepen for them as they stayed their course again; the splendid Square, which had so
notoriously, in all the years, witnessed more of the joy of life than any equal area in Europe, furnished them, in
their remoteness from earshot, with solitude and security. It was as if, being in possession, they could say what
they liked; and it was also as if, in consequence of that, each had an apprehension of what the other wanted to say.
It was most of all for them, moreover, as if this very quantity, seated on their lips in the bright historic air, where
the only sign for their cars was the flutter of the doves, begot in the heart of each a fear. There might have been a
betrayal of that in the way Densher broke the silence resting on her last words. "What did you mean just now that
I can do to make Mrs. Lowder believe? For myself, stupidly, if you will, I don't see, from the moment I can't lie to
her, what else there IS but lying."

Well, she could tell him. "You can say something both handsome and sincere to her about Milly−−whom you
honestly like so much. That wouldn't be lying; and, coming from you, it would have an effect. You don't, you
know, say much about her." (194) And Kate put before him the fruit of observation. "You don't, you know, speak
of her at all."

"And has Aunt Maud," Densher asked, "told you so?" Then as the girl, for answer, only seemed to bethink herself,
"You must have extraordinary conversations!" he exclaimed.

Yes, she had bethought herself. "We have extraordinary conversations."

His look, while their eyes met, marked him as disposed to hear more about them; but there was something in her
own, apparently, that defeated the opportunity. He questioned her in a moment on a different matter, which had
been in his mind a week, yet in respect to which he had had no chance so good as this. "Do you happen to know
then, as such wonderful things pass between you, what she makes of the incident, the other day, of Lord Mark's so
very superficial visit?−−his having spent here, as I gather, but the two or three hours necessary for seeing our
friend and yet taken no time at all, since he went off by the same night's train, for seeing any one else. What can
she make of his not having waited to see YOU, or to see herself−−with all he owes her?"

"Oh of course," said Kate, "she understands. He came to make Milly his offer of marriage−−he came for nothing
but that. As Milly wholly declined it his business was for the time at an end. He couldn't quite on the spot turn
round to make up to US."

Kate had looked surprised that, as a matter of taste on such an adventurer's part, Densher shouldn't see it. But
Densher was lost in another thought. "Do you mean that when, turning up myself, I found him (195) leaving her,

Book Eighth, Chapter 2                                                                                            172
                                              The Wings of the Dove

that was what had been taking place between them?"

"Didn't you make it out, my dear?" Kate enquired.

"What sort of a blundering weathercock then IS he?" the young man went on in his wonder.

"Oh don't make too little of him!" Kate smiled. "Do you pretend that Milly didn't tell you?"

"How great an ass he had made of himself?"

Kate continued to smile. "You ARE in love with her, you know."

He gave her another long look. "Why, since she has refused him, should my opinion of Lord Mark show it? I'm
not obliged, however, to think well of him for such treatment of the other persons I've mentioned, and I feel I
don't understand from you why Mrs. Lowder should."

"She doesn't−−but she doesn't care," Kate explained. "You know perfectly the terms on which lots of London
people live together even when they're supposed to live very well. He's not committed to us−−he was having his
try. Mayn't an unsatisfied man," she asked, "always have his try?"

"And come back afterwards, with confidence in a welcome, to the victim of his inconstancy?"

Kate consented, as for argument, to be thought of as a victim. "Oh but he has HAD his try at ME. So it's all right."

"Through your also having, you mean, refused him?"

She balanced an instant during which Densher might have just wondered if pure historic truth were (196) to suffer
a slight strain. But she dropped on the right side. "I haven't let it come to that. I've been too discouraging. Aunt
Maud," she went on−−now as lucid as ever−−"considers, no doubt, that she has a pledge from him in respect to
me; a pledge that would have been broken if Milly had accepted him. As the case stands that makes no
difference."

Densher laughed out. "It isn't HIS merit that he has failed."

"It's still his merit, my dear, that he's Lord Mark. He's just what he was, and what he knew he was. It's not for me
either to reflect on him after I've so treated him."

"Oh," said Densher impatiently, "you've treated him beautifully."

"I'm glad," she smiled, "that you can still be jealous." But before he could take it up she had more to say. "I don't
see why it need puzzle you that Milly's so marked line gratifies Aunt Maud more than anything else can displease
her. What does she see but that Milly herself recognises her situation with you as too precious to be spoiled? Such
a recognition as that can't but seem to her to involve in some degree your own recognition. Out of which she
therefore gets it that the more you have for Milly the less you have for me."

There were moments again−−we know that from the first they had been numerous−−when he felt with a strange
mixed passion the mastery of her mere way of putting things. There was something in it that bent him at once to
conviction and to reaction. And this effect, however it be named, now broke into his (197) tone. "Oh if she began
to know what I have for you−−!"



Book Eighth, Chapter 2                                                                                           173
                                             The Wings of the Dove

It wasn't ambiguous, but Kate stood up to it. "Luckily for us we may really consider she doesn't. So successful
have we been."

"Well," he presently said, "I take from you what you give me, and I suppose that, to be consistent−−to stand on
my feet where I do stand at all−−I ought to thank you. Only, you know, what you give me seems to me, more than
anything else, the larger and larger size of my job. It seems to me more than anything else what you expect of me.
It never seems to me somehow what I may expect of YOU. There's so much you DON'T give me."

She appeared to wonder. "And pray what is it I don't−−?"

"I give you proof," said Densher. "You give me none."

"What then do you call proof?" she after a moment ventured to ask.

"Your doing something for me."

She considered with surprise. "Am I not doing THIS for you? Do you call this nothing?"

"Nothing at all."

"Ah I risk, my dear, everything for it."

They had strolled slowly further, but he was brought up short. "I thought you exactly contend that, with your aunt
so bamboozled, you risk nothing!"

It was the first time since the launching of her wonderful idea that he had seen her at a loss. He judged the next
instant moreover that she didn't like it−− (198) either the being so or the being seen, for she soon spoke with an
impatience that showed her as wounded; an appearance that produced in himself, he no less quickly felt, a sharp
pang of indulgence. "What then do you wish me to risk?"

The appeal from danger touched him, but all to make him, as he would have said, worse. "What I wish is to be
loved. How can I feel at this rate that I AM?" Oh she understood him, for all she might so bravely disguise it, and
that made him feel straighter than if she hadn't. Deep, always, was his sense of life with her−−deep as it had been
from the moment of those signs of life that in the dusky London of two winters ago they had originally
exchanged. He had never taken her for unguarded, ignorant, weak; and if he put to her a claim for some intenser
faith between them this was because he believed it could reach her and she could meet it. "I can go on perhaps,"
he said, "with help. But I can't go on without."

She looked away from him now, and it showed him how she understood. "We ought to be there−−I mean when
they come out."

"They WON'T come out−−not yet. And I don't care if they do." To which he straightway added, as if to deal with
the charge of selfishness that his words, sounding for himself, struck him as enabling her to make: "Why not have
done with it all and face the music as we are?" It broke from him in perfect sincerity. "Good God, if you'd only
TAKE me!"

It brought her eyes round to him again, and he (199) could see how, after all, somewhere deep within, she felt his
rebellion more sweet than bitter. Its effect on her spirit and her sense was visibly to hold her an instant. "We've
gone too far," she none the less pulled herself together to reply. "Do you want to kill her?"

He had an hesitation that wasn't all candid. "Kill, you mean, Aunt Maud?"

Book Eighth, Chapter 2                                                                                            174
                                              The Wings of the Dove

"You know whom I mean. We've told too many lies."

Oh at this his head went up. "I, my dear, have told none!"

He had brought it out with a sharpness that did him good, but he had naturally, none the less, to take the look it
made her give him. "Thank you very much."

Her expression, however, failed to check the words that had already risen to his lips. "Rather than lay myself open
to the least appearance of it I'll go this very night."

"Then go," said Kate Croy.

He knew after a little, while they walked on again together, that what was in the air for him, and disconcertingly,
was not the violence, but much rather the cold quietness, of the way this had come from her. They walked on
together, and it was for a minute as if their difference had become of a sudden, in all truth, a split−−as if the basis
of his departure had been settled. Then, incoherently and still more suddenly, recklessly moreover, since they now
might easily, from under the arcades, be observed, he passed his hand into her arm with a force that produced for
(200) them another pause. "I'll tell any lie you want, any your idea requires, if you'll only come to me."

"Come to you?"

"Come to me."

"How? Where?"

She spoke low, but there was somehow, for his uncertainty, a wonder in her being so equal to him. "To my rooms,
which are perfectly possible, and in taking which, the other day, I had you, as you must have felt, in view. We can
arrange it−−with two grains of courage. People in our case always arrange it." She listened as for the good
information, and there was support for him−−since it was a question of his going step by step−−in the way she
took no refuge in showing herself shocked. He had in truth not expected of her that particular vulgarity, but the
absence of it only added the thrill of a deeper reason to his sense of possibilities. For the knowledge of what she
was he had absolutely to SEE her now, incapable of refuge, stand there for him in all the light of the day and of
his admirable merciless meaning. Her mere listening in fact made him even understand himself as he hadn't yet
done. Idea for idea, his own was thus already, and in the germ, beautiful. "There's nothing for me possible but to
feel that I'm not a fool. It's all I have to say, but you must know what it means. WITH you I can do it−−I'll go as
far as you demand or as you will yourself. Without you−−I'll be hanged! And I must be sure."

She listened so well that she was really listening after he had ceased to speak. He had kept his grasp of her,
drawing her close, and though they had again, (201) for the time, stopped walking, his talk−−for others at a
distance−−might have been, in the matchless place, that of any impressed tourist to any slightly more detached
companion. On possessing himself of her arm he had made her turn, so that they faced afresh to Saint Mark's,
over the great presence of which his eyes moved while she twiddled her parasol. She now, however, made a
motion that confronted them finally with the opposite end. Then only she spoke−−"Please take your hand out of
my arm." He understood at once: she had made out in the shade of the gallery the issue of the others from their
place of purchase. So they went to them side by side, and it was all right. The others had seen them as well and
waited for them, complacent enough, under one of the arches. They themselves too−−he argued that Kate would
argue−−looked perfectly ready, decently patient, properly accommodating. They themselves suggested nothing
worse−−always by Kate's system−−than a pair of the children of a supercivilised age making the best of an
awkwardness. They didn't nevertheless hurry−−that would overdo it; so he had time to feel, as it were, what he
felt. He felt, ever so distinctly−−it was with this he faced Mrs. Lowder−−that he was already in a sense possessed
of what he wanted. There was more to come−−everything; he had by no means, with his companion, had it all out.

Book Eighth, Chapter 2                                                                                            175
                                              The Wings of the Dove

Yet what he was possessed of was real−−the fact that she hadn't thrown over his lucidity the horrid shadow of
cheap reprobation. Of this he had had so sore a fear that its being dispelled was in itself of the nature of bliss. The
danger (202) had dropped−−it was behind him there in the great sunny space. So far she was good for what he
wanted.

Book Eighth, Chapter 3
She was good enough, as it proved, for him to put to her that evening, and with further ground for it, the next
sharpest question that had been on his lips in the morning−−which his other preoccupation had then, to his
consciousness, crowded out. His opportunity was again made, as befell, by his learning from Mrs. Stringham, on
arriving, as usual, with the close of day, at the palace, that Milly must fail them again at dinner, but would to all
appearance be able to come down later. He had found Susan Shepherd alone in the great saloon, where even more
candles than their friend's large common allowance−−she grew daily more splendid; they were all struck with it
and chaffed her about it−−lighted up the pervasive mystery of Style. He had thus five minutes with the good lady
before Mrs. Lowder and Kate appeared−−minutes illumined indeed to a longer reach than by the number of
Milly's candles.

"MAY she come down−−ought she if she isn't really up to it?"

He had asked that in the wonderment always stirred in him by glimpses−−rare as were these−−of the inner truth
about the girl. There was of course a question of health−−it was in the air, it was in the ground he trod, in the food
he tasted, in the sounds he heard, it was everywhere. But it was everywhere with the effect of a request to
him−−to his very delicacy, (204) to the common discretion of others as well as his own−−that no allusion to it
should be made. There had practically been none, that morning, on her explained non−appearance−−the absence
of it, as we know, quite monstrous and awkward; and this passage with Mrs. Stringham offered him his first
licence to open his eyes. He had gladly enough held them closed; all the more that his doing so performed for his
own spirit a useful function. If he positively wanted not to be brought up with his nose against Milly's facts, what
better proof could he have that his conduct was marked by straightness? It was perhaps pathetic for her, and for
himself was perhaps even ridiculous; but he hadn't even the amount of curiosity that he would have had about an
ordinary friend. He might have shaken himself at moments to try, for a sort of dry decency, to have it; but that
too, it appeared, wouldn't come. In what therefore was the duplicity? He was at least sure about his feelings−−it
being so established that he had none at all. They were all for Kate, without a feather's weight to spare. He was
acting for Kate−−not, by the deviation of an inch, for her friend. He was accordingly not interested, for had he
been interested he would have cared, and had he cared he would have wanted to know. Had he wanted to know he
wouldn't have been purely passive, and it was his pure passivity that had to represent his dignity and his honour.
His dignity and his honour, at the same time, let us add, fortunately fell short to−night of spoiling his little talk
with Susan Shepherd. One glimpse−−it was as if she had wished to give him that; and it was as if, (205) for
himself, on current terms, he could oblige her by accepting it. She not only permitted, she fairly invited him to
open his eyes. "I'm so glad you're here." It was no answer to his question, but it had for the moment to serve. And
the rest was fully to come.

He smiled at her and presently found himself, as a kind of consequence of communion with her, talking her own
language. "It's a very wonderful experience."

"Well"−−and her raised face shone up at him−−"that's all I want you to feel about it. If I weren't afraid," she
added, "there are things I should like to say to you."

"And what are you afraid of, please?" he encouragingly asked.

"Of other things that I may possibly spoil. Besides, I don't, you know, seem to have the chance. You're always,


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                                              The Wings of the Dove

you know, WITH her."

He was strangely supported, it struck him, in his fixed smile; which was the more fixed as he felt in these last
words an exact description of his course. It was an odd thing to have come to, but he WAS always with her. "Ah,"
he none the less smiled, "I'm not with her now."

"No−−and I'm so glad, since I get this from it. She's ever so much better."

"Better? Then she HAS been worse?"

Mrs. Stringham waited. "She has been marvellous−−that's what she has been. She IS marvellous. But she's really
better."

"Oh then if she's really better−−!" But he (206) checked himself, wanting only to be easy about it and above all
not to appear engaged to the point of mystification. "We shall miss her the more at dinner."

Susan Shepherd, however, was all there for him. "She's keeping herself. You'll see. You'll not really need to miss
anything. There's to be a little party."

"Ah I do see−−by this aggravated grandeur."

"Well, it IS lovely, isn't it? I want the whole thing. She's lodged for the first time as she ought, from her type, to
be; and doing it−−I mean bringing out all the glory of the place−−makes her really happy. It's a Veronese picture,
as near as can be−−with me as the inevitable dwarf, the small blackamoor, put into a corner of the foreground for
effect. If I only had a hawk or a hound or something of that sort I should do the scene more honour. The old
housekeeper, the woman in charge here, has a big red cockatoo that I might borrow and perch on my thumb for
the evening." These explanations and sundry others Mrs. Stringham gave, though not all with the result of making
him feel that the picture closed him in. What part was there for HIM, with his attitude that lacked the highest
style, in a composition in which everything else would have it? "They won't, however, be at dinner, the few
people she expects−−they come round afterwards from their respective hotels; and Sir Luke Strett and his niece,
the principal ones, will have arrived from London but an hour or two ago. It's for HIM she has wanted to do
something−−to let it begin at once. We shall see more (207) of him, because she likes him; and I'm so
glad−−she'll be glad too−−that YOU'RE to see him." The good lady, in connexion with it, was urgent, was almost
unnaturally bright. "So I greatly hope−−!" But her hope fairly lost itself in the wide light of her cheer.

He considered a little this appearance, while she let him, he thought, into still more knowledge than she uttered.
"What is it you hope?"

"Well, that you'll stay on."

"Do you mean after dinner?" She meant, he seemed to feel, so much that he could scarce tell where it ended or
began.

"Oh that, of course. Why we're to have music−−beautiful instruments and songs; and not Tasso declaimed as in
the guide−books either. She has arranged it−−or at least I have. That is Eugenio has. Besides, you're in the
picture."

"0h−−I!" said Densher almost with the gravity of a real protest.

"You'll be the grand young man who surpasses the others and holds up his head and the wine−cup. What we
hope," Mrs. Stringham pursued, "is that you'll be faithful to us−−that you've not come for a mere foolish few

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                                             The Wings of the Dove
days."

Densher's more private and particular shabby realities turned, without comfort, he was conscious, at this touch, in
the artificial repose he had in his anxiety about them but half−managed to induce. The way smooth ladies,
travelling for their pleasure and housed in Veronese pictures, talked to plain embarrassed workingmen, engaged in
an unprecedented (208) sacrifice of time and of the opportunity for modest acquisition! The things they took for
granted and the general misery of explaining! He couldn't tell them how he had tried to work, how it was partly
what he had moved into rooms for, only to find himself, almost for the first time in his life, stricken and sterile;
because that would give them a false view of the source of his restlessness, if not of the degree of it. It would
operate, indirectly perhaps, but infallibly, to add to that weight as of expected performance which these very
moments with Mrs. Stringham caused more and more to settle on his heart. He had incurred it, the expectation of
performance; the thing was done, and there was no use talking; again, again the cold breath of it was in the air. So
there he was. And at best he floundered. "I'm afraid you won't understand when I say I've very tiresome things to
consider. Botherations, necessities at home. The pinch, the pressure in London."

But she understood in perfection; she rose to the pinch and the pressure and showed how they had been her own
very element. "Oh the daily task and the daily wage, the golden guerdon or reward? No one knows better than I
how they haunt one in the flight of the precious deceiving days. Aren't they just what I myself have given up? I've
given up all to follow HER. I wish you could feel as I do. And can't you," she asked, "write about Venice?"

He very nearly wished, for the minute, that he could feel as she did; and he smiled for her kindly. "Do YOU write
about Venice?"

"No; but I would−−oh wouldn't I?−−if I hadn't (209) so completely given up. She's, you know, my princess, and
to one's princess−−"

"One makes the whole sacrifice?"

"Precisely. There you are!"

It pressed on him with this that never had a man been in so many places at once. "I quite understand that she's
yours. Only you see she's not mine." He felt he could somehow, for honesty, risk that, as he had the moral
certainty she wouldn't repeat it and least of all to Mrs. Lowder, who would find in it a disturbing implication. This
was part of what he liked in the good lady, that she didn't repeat, and also that she gave him a delicate sense of her
shyly wishing him to know it. That was in itself a hint of possibilities between them, of a relation, beneficent and
elastic for him, which wouldn't engage him further than he could see. Yet even as he afresh made this out he felt
how strange it all was. She wanted, Susan Shepherd then, as appeared, the same thing Kate wanted, only wanted
it, as still further appeared, in so different a way and from a motive so different, even though scarce less deep.
Then Mrs. Lowder wanted, by so odd an evolution of her exuberance, exactly what each of the others did; and he
was between them all, he was in the midst. Such perceptions made occasions−−well, occasions for fairly
wondering if it mightn't be best just to consent, luxuriously, to BE the ass the whole thing involved. Trying not to
be and yet keeping in it was of the two things the more asinine. He was glad there was no male witness; it was a
circle of petticoats; he shouldn't have liked a man to see him. He only had for a moment a sharp thought (210) of
Sir Luke Strett, the great master of the knife whom Kate in London had spoken of Milly as in commerce with, and
whose renewed intervention at such a distance, just announced to him, required some accounting for. He had a
vision of great London surgeons−−if this one was a surgeon−−as incisive all round; so that he should perhaps
after all not wholly escape the ironic attention of his own sex. The most he might be able to do was not to care;
while he was trying not to he could take that in. It was a train, however, that brought up the vision of Lord Mark
as well. Lord Mark had caught him twice in the fact−−the fact of his absurd posture; and that made a second male.
But it was comparatively easy not to mind Lord Mark.


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                                              The Wings of the Dove

His companion had before this taken him up, and in a tone to confirm her discretion, on the matter of Milly's not
being his princess. "Of course she's not. You must do something first."

Densher gave it his thought. "Wouldn't it be rather SHE who must?"

It had more than he intended the effect of bringing her to a stand. "I see. No doubt, if one takes it so." Her cheer
was for the time in eclipse, and she looked over the place, avoiding his eyes, as in the wonder of what Milly could
do. "And yet she has wanted to be kind."

It made him on the spot feel a brute. "Of course she has. No one could be more charming. She has treated me as if
i were somebody. Call her my hostess as I've never had nor imagined a hostess, and I'm with you altogether. Of
course," he added in the right spirit for her, "I do see that it's quite court life."

(211) She promptly showed how this was almost all she wanted of him. "That's all I mean, if you understand it of
such a court as never was: one of the courts of heaven, the court of a reigning seraph, a sort of a vice−queen of an
angel. That will do perfectly."

"Oh well then I grant it. Only court life as a general thing, you know," he observed, "isn't supposed to pay."

"Yes, one has read; but this is beyond any book. That's just the beauty here; it's why she's the great and only
princess. With her, at her court," said Mrs. Stringham, "it does pay." Then as if she had quite settled it for him:
"You'll see for yourself."

He waited a moment, but said nothing to discourage her. "I think you were right just now. One must do something
first."

"Well, you've done something."

"No−−I don't see that. I can do more."

Oh well, she seemed to say, if he would have it so! "You can do everything, you know."

"Everything" was rather too much for him to take up gravely, and he modestly let it alone, speaking the next
moment, to avert fatuity, of a different but a related matter. "Why has she sent for Sir Luke Strett if, as you tell
me, she's so much better?"

"She hasn't sent. He has come of himself," Mrs. Stringham explained. "He has wanted to come."

"Isn't that rather worse then−−if it means he mayn't be easy?"

"He was coming, from the first, for his holiday. She has known that these several weeks." After (212) which Mrs.
Stringham added: "You can MAKE him easy."

"i can?" he candidly wondered. It was truly the circle of petticoats. "What have I to do with it for a man like that?"

"How do you know," said his friend, "what he's like? He's not like any one you've ever seen. He's a great
beneficent being."

"Ah then he can do without me. I've no call, as an outsider, to meddle."

"Tell him, all the same," Mrs. Stringham urged, "what you think."

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                                               The Wings of the Dove

"What I think of Miss Theale?" Densher stared. It was, as they said, a large order. But he found the right note. "It's
none of his business."

It did seem a moment for Mrs. Stringham too the right note. She fixed him at least with an expression still bright,
but searching, that showed almost to excess what she saw in it; though what this might be he was not to make out
till afterwards. "Say THAT to him then. Anything will do for him as a means of getting at you."

"And why should he get at me?"

"Give him a chance to. Let him talk to you. Then you'll see."

All of which, on Mrs. Stringham's part, sharpened his sense of immersion in an element rather more strangely
than agreeably warm−−a sense that was moreover, during the next two or three hours, to be fed to satiety by
several other impressions. Milly came down after dinner, half a dozen friends−−objects of interest mainly, it
appeared, to the ladies of (213) Lancaster Gate−−having by that time arrived; and with this call on her attention,
the further call of her musicians ushered by Eugenio, but personally and separately welcomed, and the supreme
opportunity offered in the arrival of the great doctor, who came last of all, he felt her diffuse in wide warm waves
the spell of a general, a beatific mildness. There was a deeper depth of it, doubtless, for some than for others; what
he in particular knew of it was that he seemed to stand in it up to his neck. He moved about in it and it made no
plash; he floated, he noiselessly swam in it, and they were all together, for that matter, like fishes in a crystal pool.
The effect of the place, the beauty of the scene, had probably much to do with it; the golden grace of the high
rooms, chambers of art in themselves, took care, as an influence, of the general manner, and made people bland
without making them solemn. They were only people, as Mrs. Stringham had said, staying for the week or two at
the inns, people who during the day had fingered their Baedekers, gaped at their frescoes and differed, over
fractions of francs, with their gondoliers. But Milly, let loose among them in a wonderful white dress, brought
them somehow into relation with something that made them more finely genial; so that if the Veronese picture of
which he had talked with Mrs. Stringham was not quite constituted, the comparative prose of the previous hours,
the traces of insensibility qualified by "beating down," were at last almost nobly disowned. There was perhaps
something for him in the accident of his seeing her for the first time in white, but she hadn't yet had
occasion−−circulating with a clearness (214) intensified−−to strike him as so happily pervasive. She was
different, younger, fairer, with the colour of her braided hair more than ever a not altogether lucky challenge to
attention; yet he was loth wholly to explain it by her having quitted this once, for some obscure yet doubtless
charming reason, her almost monastic, her hitherto inveterate black. Much as the change did for the value of her
presence, she had never yet, when all was said, made it for HIM; and he was not to fail of the further amusement
of judging her determined in the matter by Sir Luke Strett's visit. If he could in this connexion have felt jealous of
Sir Luke Strett, whose strong face and type, less assimilated by the scene perhaps than any others, he was anon to
study from the other side of the saloon, that would doubtless have been most amusing of all. But he couldn't be
invidious, even to profit by so high a tide; he felt himself too much "in" it, as he might have said: a moment's
reflexion put him more in than any one. The way Milly neglected him for other cares while Kate and Mrs.
Lowder, without so much as the attenuation of a joke, introduced him to English ladies−−that was itself a proof;
for nothing really of so close a communion had up to this time passed between them as the single bright look and
the three gay words (all ostensibly of the last lightness) with which her confessed consciousness brushed by him.

She was acquitting herself to−night as hostess, he could see, under some supreme idea, an inspiration which was
half her nerves and half an inevitable harmony; but what he especially recognised was the (215) character that had
already several times broken out in her and that she so oddly appeared able, by choice or by instinctive affinity, to
keep down or to display. She was the American girl as he had originally found her−−found her at certain
moments, it was true, in New York, more than at certain others; she was the American girl as, still more than then,
he had seen her on the day of her meeting him in London and in Kate's company. It affected him as a large though
queer social resource in her−−such as a man, for instance, to his diminution, would never in the world be able to
command; and he wouldn't have known whether to see it in an extension or a contraction of "personality," taking

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                                              The Wings of the Dove
it as he did most directly for a confounding extension of surface. Clearly too it was the right thing this evening all
round: that came out for him in a word from Kate as she approached him to wreak on him a second introduction.
He had under cover of the music melted away from the lady toward whom she had first pushed him; and there
was something in her to affect him as telling evasively a tale of their talk in the Piazza. To what did she want to
coerce him as a form of penalty for what he had done to her there? It was thus in contact uppermost for him that
he had done something; not only caused her perfect intelligence to act in his interest, but left her unable to get
away, by any mere private effort, from his inattackable logic. With him thus in presence, and near him−−and it
had been as unmistakeable through dinner−−there was no getting away for her at all, there was less of it than ever:
so she could only either deal with the question straight, either frankly (216) yield or ineffectually struggle or
insincerely argue, or else merely express herself by following up the advantage she did possess. It was part of that
advantage for the hour−−a brief fallacious makeweight to his pressure−−that there were plenty of things left in
which he must feel her will. They only told him, these indications, how much she was, in such close quarters,
feeling his; and it was enough for him again that her very aspect, as great a variation in its way as Milly's own,
gave him back the sense of his action. It had never yet in life been granted him to know, almost materially to taste,
as he could do in these minutes, the state of what was vulgarly called conquest. He had lived long enough to have
been on occasion "liked," but it had never begun to be allowed him to be liked to any such tune in any such
quarter. It was a liking greater than Milly's−−or it would be: he felt it in him to answer for that. So at all events he
read the case while he noted that Kate was somehow−−for Kate−−wanting in lustre. As a striking young presence
she was practically superseded; of the mildness that Milly diffused she had assimilated all her share; she might
fairly have been dressed to−night in the little black frock, superficially indistinguishable, that Milly had laid aside.
This represented, he perceived, the opposite pole from such an effect as that of her wonderful entrance, under her
aunt's eyes−−he had never forgotten it−−the day of their younger friend's failure at Lancaster Gate. She was, in
her accepted effacement−−it was actually her acceptance that made the beauty and repaired the damage−−under
her aunt's eyes now; but whose eyes were not (217) effectually preoccupied? It struck him none the less certainly
that almost the first thing she said to him showed an exquisite attempt to appear if not unconvinced at least
self−possessed.

"Don't you think her good enough NOW?"

Almost heedless of the danger of overt freedoms, she eyed Milly from where they stood, noted her in renewed
talk, over her further wishes, with the members of her little orchestra, who had approached her with
demonstrations of deference enlivened by native humours−−things quite in the line of old Venetian comedy. The
girl's idea of music had been happy−−a real solvent of shyness, yet not drastic; thanks to the intermissions,
discretions, a general habit of mercy to gathered barbarians, that reflected the good manners of its interpreters,
representatives though these might be but of the order in which taste was natural and melody rank. It was easy at
all events to answer Kate. "Ah my dear, you know how good I think her!"

"But she's TOO nice," Kate returned with appreciation. "Everything suits her so−−especially her pearls. They go
so with her old lace. I'll trouble you really to look at them." Densher, though aware he had seen them before, had
perhaps not "really" looked at them, and had thus not done justice to the embodied poetry−−his mind, for Milly's
aspects, kept coming back to that−−which owed them part of its style. Kate's face, as she considered them, struck
him: the long, priceless chain, wound twice round the neck, hung, heavy and pure, down the front of the wearer's
breast−−so far down that Milly's (218) trick, evidently unconscious, of holding and vaguely fingering and
entwining a part of it, conduced presumably to convenience. "She's a dove," Kate went on, "and one somehow
doesn't think of doves as bejewelled. Yet they suit her down to the ground."

"Yes−−down to the ground is the word." Densher saw now how they suited her, but was perhaps still more aware
of something intense in his companion's feeling about them. Milly was indeed a dove; this was the figure, though
it most applied to her spirit. Yet he knew in a moment that Kate was just now, for reasons hidden from him,
exceptionally under the impression of that element of wealth in her which was a power, which was a great power,
and which was dove−like only so far as one remembered that doves have wings and wondrous flights, have them

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                                               The Wings of the Dove

as well as tender tints and soft sounds. It even came to him dimly that such wings could in a given case−−HAD,
truly, in the case with which he was concerned−−spread themselves for protection. Hadn't they, for that matter,
lately taken an inordinate reach, and weren't Kate and Mrs. Lowder, weren't Susan Shepherd and he, wasn't HE in
particular, nestling under them to a great increase of immediate ease? All this was a brighter blur in the general
light, out of which he heard Kate presently going on.

"Pearls have such a magic that they suit every one."

"They would uncommonly suit you," he frankly returned.

"Oh yes, I see myself!"

As she saw herself, suddenly, he saw her−−she (219) would have been splendid; and with it he felt more what she
was thinking of. Milly's royal ornament had−−under pressure now not wholly occult−−taken on the character of a
symbol of differences, differences of which the vision was actually in Kate's face. It might have been in her face
too that, well as she certainly would look in pearls, pearls were exactly what Merton Densher would never be able
to give her. Wasn't THAT the great difference that Milly to−night symbolised? She unconsciously represented to
Kate, and Kate took it in at every pore, that there was nobody with whom she had less in common than a
remarkably handsome girl married to a man unable to make her on any such lines as that the least little present. Of
these absurdities, however, it was not till afterwards that Densher thought. He could think now, to any purpose,
only of what Mrs. Stringham had said to him before dinner. He could but come back to his friend's question of a
minute ago. "She's certainly good enough, as you call it, in the sense that I'm assured she's better. Mrs. Stringham,
an hour or two since, was in great feather to me about it. She evidently believes her better."

"Well, if they choose to call it so−−!"

"And what do YOU call it−−as against them?"

"I don't call it anything to any one but you. I'm not 'against' them!" Kate added as with just a fresh breath of
impatience for all he had to be taught.

"That's what I'm talking about," he said. "What do you call it to me?"

It made her wait a little. "She isn't better. She's worse. But that has nothing to do with it."

(220) "Nothing to do?" He wondered.

But she was clear. "Nothing to do with US. Except of course that we're doing our best for her. We're making her
want to live." And Kate again watched her. "To−night she does want to live." She spoke with a kindness that had
the strange property of striking him as inconsequent−−so much, and doubtless so unjustly, had all her clearness
been an implication of the hard. "It's wonderful. It's beautiful."

"It's beautiful indeed."

He hated somehow the helplessness of his own note; but she had given it no heed. "She's doing it for HIM"−−and
she nodded in the direction of Milly's medical visitor. "She wants to be for him at her best. But she can't deceive
him."

Densher had been looking too; which made him say in a moment: "And do you think YOU can? I mean, if he's to
be with us here, about your sentiments. If Aunt Maud's so thick with him−−!"


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                                             The Wings of the Dove

Aunt Maud now occupied in fact a place at his side and was visibly doing her best to entertain him, though this
failed to prevent such a direction of his own eyes−−determined, in the way such things happen, precisely by the
attention of the others−−as Densher became aware of and as Kate promptly marked. "He's looking at YOU. He
wants to speak to you."

"So Mrs. Stringham," the young man laughed, "advised me he would."

"Then let him. Be right with him. I don't need," Kate went on in answer to the previous question, "to deceive him.
Aunt Maud, if it's necessary, will (221) do that. I mean that, knowing nothing about me, he can see me only as she
sees me. She sees me now so well. He has nothing to do with me."

"Except to reprobate you," Densher suggested.

"For not caring for YOU? Perfectly. As a brilliant young man driven by it into your relation with Milly−−as all
THAT I leave you to him."

"Well," said Densher sincerely enough, "I think I can thank you for leaving me to some one easier perhaps with
me than yourself."

She had been looking about again meanwhile, the lady having changed her place, for the friend of Mrs. Lowder's
to whom she had spoken of introducing him. "All the more reason why I should commit you then to Lady Wells."

"Oh but wait." It was not only that he distinguished Lady Wells from afar, that she inspired him with no
eagerness, and that, somewhere at the back of his head, he was fairly aware of the question, in germ, of whether
this was the kind of person he should be involved with when they were married. It was furthermore that the
consciousness of something he had not got from Kate in the morning, and that logically much concerned him, had
been made more keen by these very moments−−to say nothing of the consciousness that, with their general
smallness of opportunity, he must squeeze each stray instant hard. If Aunt Maud, over there with Sir Luke, noted
him as a little "attentive," that might pass for a futile demonstration on the part of a gentleman who had to confess
to having, not very gracefully, changed his mind. Besides, just now, he didn't care for Aunt (222) Maud except in
so far as he was immediately to show. "How can Mrs. Lowder think me disposed of with any finality, if I'm
disposed of only to a girl who's dying? If you're right about that, about the state of the case, you're wrong about
Mrs. Lowder's being squared. If Milly, as you say," he lucidly pursued, "can't deceive a great surgeon, or
whatever, the great surgeon won't deceive other people−−not those, that is, who are closely concerned. He won't
at any rate deceive Mrs. Stringham, who's Milly's greatest friend; and it will be very odd if Mrs. Stringham
deceives Aunt Maud, who's her own."

Kate showed him at this the cold glow of an idea that really was worth his having kept her for. "Why will it be
odd? I marvel at your seeing your way so little."

Mere curiosity even, about his companion, had now for him its quick, its slightly quaking intensities. He had
compared her once, we know, to a "new book," an uncut volume of the highest, the rarest quality; and his emotion
(to justify that) was again and again like the thrill of turning the page. "Well, you know how deeply I marvel at
the way YOU see it!"

"It doesn't in the least follow," Kate went on, "that anything in the nature of what you call deception on Mrs.
Stringham's part will be what you call odd. Why shouldn't she hide the truth?"

"From Mrs. Lowder?" Densher stared. "Why should she?"

"To please you."

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                                              The Wings of the Dove

"And how in the world can it please me?"

(223) Kate turned her head away as if really at last almost tired of his density. But she looked at him again as she
spoke. "Well then to please Milly." And before he could question: "Don't you feel by this time that there's nothing
Susan Shepherd won't do for you?"

He had verily after an instant to take it in, so sharply it corresponded with the good lady's recent reception of him.
It was queerer than anything again, the way they all came together round him. But that was an old story, and
Kate's multiplied lights led him on and on. It was with a reserve, however, that he confessed this. "She's ever so
kind. Only her view of the right thing may not be the same as yours."

"How can it be anything different if it's the view of serving you?"

Densher for an instant, but only for an instant, hung fire. "Oh the difficulty is that I don't, upon my honour, even
yet quite make out how yours does serve me."

"It helps you−−put it then," said Kate very simply−−"to serve ME. It gains you time."

"Time for what?"

"For everything!" She spoke at first, once more, with impatience; then as usual she qualified. "For anything that
may happen."

Densher had a smile, but he felt it himself as strained. "You're cryptic, love!"

It made her keep her eyes on him, and he could thus see that, by one of those incalculable motions in her without
which she wouldn't have been a quarter so interesting, they half−filled with tears from some source he had too
roughly touched. "I'm taking a (224) trouble for you I never dreamed I should take for any human creature."

Oh it went home, making him flush for it; yet he soon enough felt his reply on his lips. "Well, isn't my whole
insistence to you now that I can conjure trouble away?" And he let it, his insistence, come out again; it had so
constantly had, all the week, but its step or two to make. "There NEED be none whatever between us. There need
be nothing but our sense of each other."

It had only the effect at first that her eyes grew dry while she took up again one of the so numerous links in her
close chain. "You can tell her anything you like, anything whatever."

"Mrs. Stringham? I HAVE nothing to tell her."

"You can tell her about US. I mean," she wonderfully pursued, "that you do still like me."

It was indeed so wonderful that it amused him. "Only not that you still like me."

She let his amusement pass. "I'm absolutely certain she wouldn't repeat it."

"I see. To Aunt Maud."

"You don't quite see. Neither to Aunt Maud nor to any one else." Kate then, he saw, was always seeing Milly
much more, after all, than he was; and she showed it again as she went on. "THERE, accordingly, is your time."



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                                              The Wings of the Dove
She did at last make him think, and it was fairly as if light broke, though not quite all at once. "You must let me
say I DO see. Time for something in particular that I understand you regard as possible. Time too that, I further
understand, is time for you as well."

(225) "Time indeed for me as well." And encouraged visibly by his glow of concentration, she looked at him as
through the air she had painfully made clear. Yet she was still on her guard. "Don't think, however, I'll do ALL
the work for you. If you want things named you must name them."

He had quite, within the minute, been turning names over; and there was only one, which at last stared at him
there dreadful, that properly fitted. "Since she's to die I'm to marry her?"

It struck him even at the moment as fine in her that she met it with no wincing nor mincing. She might for the
grace of silence, for favour to their conditions, have only answered him with her eyes. But her lips bravely moved.
"To marry her."

"So that when her death has taken place I shall in the natural course have money?"

It was before him enough now, and he had nothing more to ask; he had only to turn, on the spot, considerably cold
with the thought that all along−−to his stupidity, his timidity−−it had been, it had been only, what she meant. Now
that he was in possession moreover she couldn't forbear, strangely enough, to pronounce the words she hadn't
pronounced: they broke through her controlled and colourless voice as if she should be ashamed, to the very end,
to have flinched. "You'll in the natural course have money. We shall in the natural course be free."

"Oh, oh, oh!" Densher softly murmured.

"Yes, yes, yes." But she broke off. "Come to Lady Wells."

(226) He never budged−−there was too much else. "I'm to propose it then−−marriage−−on the spot?"

There was no ironic sound he needed to give it; the more simply he spoke the more he seemed ironic. But she
remained consummately proof. "Oh I can't go into that with you, and from the moment you don't wash your hands
of me I don't think you ought to ask me. You must act as you like and as you can."

He thought again. "I'm far−−as I sufficiently showed you this morning−−from washing my hands of you."

"Then," said Kate, "it's all right."

"All right?" His eagerness flamed. "You'll come?"

But he had had to see in a moment that it wasn't what she meant. "You'll have a free hand, a clear field, a
chance−−well, quite ideal."

"Your descriptions"−−her "ideal" was such a touch!−−"are prodigious. And what I don't make out is how, caring
for me, you can like it."

"I don't like it, but I'm a person, thank goodness, who can do what I don't like."

It wasn't till afterwards that, going back to it, he was to read into this speech a kind of heroic ring, a note of
character that belittled his own incapacity for action. Yet he saw indeed even at the time the greatness of knowing
so well what one wanted. At the time too, moreover, he next reflected that he after all knew what HE did. But
something else on his lips was uppermost. "What I don't make out then is how you can even bear it."

Book Eighth, Chapter 3                                                                                           185
                                              The Wings of the Dove

"Well, when you know me better you'll find out (227) how much I can bear." And she went on before he could
take up, as it were, her too many implications. That it was left to him to know her, spiritually, "better" after his
long sacrifice to knowledge−−this for instance was a truth he hadn't been ready to receive so full in the face. She
had mystified him enough, heaven knew, but that was rather by his own generosity than by hers. And what, with
it, did she seem to suggest she might incur at his hands? In spite of these questions she was carrying him on. "All
you'll have to do will be to stay."

"And proceed to my business under your eyes?"

"Oh dear no−−we shall go."

" 'Go?' " he wondered. "Go when, go where?"

"In a day or two−−straight home. Aunt Maud wishes it now."

It gave him all he could take in to think of. "Then what becomes of Miss Theale?"

"What I tell you. She stays on, and you stay with her."

He stared. "All alone?"

She had a smile that was apparently for his tone. "You're old enough−−with plenty of Mrs. Stringham."

Nothing might have been so odd for him now, could he have measured it, as his being able to feel, quite while he
drew from her these successive cues, that he was essentially "seeing what she would say"−−an instinct compatible
for him therefore with that absence of a need to know her better to which she had a moment before done injustice.
If it hadn't been appearing to him in gleams that she would somewhere (228) break down, he probably couldn't
have gone on. Still, as she wasn't breaking down there was nothing for him but to continue. "Is your going Mrs.
Lowder's idea?"

"Very much indeed. Of course again you see what it does for us. And I don't," she added, "refer only to our going,
but to Aunt Maud's view of the general propriety of it."

"I see again, as you say," Densher said after a moment. "It makes everything fit."

"Everything."

The word, for a little, held the air, and he might have seemed the while to be looking, by no means dimly now, at
all it stood for. But he had in fact been looking at something else. "You leave her here then to die?"

"Ah she believes she won't die. Not if you stay. I mean," Kate explained, "Aunt Maud believes."

"And that's all that's necessary?"

Still indeed she didn't break down. "Didn't we long ago agree that what she believes is the principal thing for us?"

He recalled it, under her eyes, but it came as from long ago. "Oh yes. I can't deny it." Then he added: "So that if I
stay−−"

"It won't"−−she was prompt−−"be our fault."


Book Eighth, Chapter 3                                                                                            186
                                               The Wings of the Dove

"If Mrs. Lowder still, you mean, suspects us?"

"If she still suspects us. But she won't."

Kate gave it an emphasis that might have appeared to leave him nothing more; and he might in fact well have
found nothing if he hadn't presently found: "But what if she doesn't accept me?"

(229) It produced in her a look of weariness that made the patience of her tone the next moment touch him. "You
can but try."

"Naturally I can but try. Only, you see, one has to try a little hard to propose to a dying girl."

"She isn't for you as if she's dying." It had determined in Kate the flash of justesse he could perhaps most, on
consideration, have admired, since her retort touched the truth. There before him was the fact of how Milly
to−night impressed him, and his companion, with her eyes in his own and pursuing his impression to the depths of
them, literally now perched on the fact in triumph. She turned her head to where their friend was again in range,
and it made him turn his, so that they watched a minute in concert. Milly, from the other side, happened at the
moment to notice them, and she sent across toward them in response all the candour of her smile, the lustre of her
pearls, the value of her life, the essence of her wealth. It brought them together again with faces made fairly grave
by the reality she put into their plan. Kate herself grew a little pale for it, and they had for a time only a silence.
The music, however, gay and vociferous, had broken out afresh and protected more than interrupted them. When
Densher at last spoke it was under cover.

"I might stay, you know, without trying."

"Oh to stay IS to try."

"To have for herself, you mean, the appearance of it?"

"I don't see how you can have the appearance more."

(230) Densher waited. "You think it then possible she may OFFER marriage?"

"I can't think−−if you really want to know−−what she may NOT offer!"

"In the manner of princesses, who do such things?"

"In any manner you like. So be prepared."

Well, he looked as if he almost were. "It will be for me then to accept. But that's the way it must come."

Kate's silence, so far, let it pass; but presently said: "You'll, on your honour, stay then?"

His answer made her wait, but when it came it was distinct. "Without you, you mean?"

"Without us."

"And you yourselves go at latest−−?"

"Not later than Thursday."


Book Eighth, Chapter 3                                                                                            187
                                               The Wings of the Dove

It made three days. "Well," he said, "I'll stay, on my honour, if you'll come to me. On YOUR honour."

Again, as before, this made her momentarily rigid, with a rigour out of which, at a loss, she vaguely cast about
her. Her rigour was more to him, nevertheless, than all her readiness; for her readiness was the woman herself,
and this other thing a mask, a stop−gap and a "dodge." She cast about, however, as happened, and not for the
instant in vain. Her eyes, turned over the room, caught at a pretext. "Lady Wells is tired of waiting: she's
coming−−see−−to US."

Densher saw in fact, but there was a distance for their visitor to cross, and he still had time. "If you (231) decline
to understand me I wholly decline to understand you. I'll do nothing."

"Nothing?" It was as if she tried for the minute to plead.

"I'll do nothing. I'll go off before you. I'll go to−morrow."

He was to have afterwards the sense of her having then, as the phrase was−−and for vulgar triumphs too−−seen he
meant it. She looked again at Lady Wells, who was nearer, but she quickly came back. "And if I do understand?"

"I'll do everything."

She found anew a pretext in her approaching friend: he was fairly playing with her pride. He had never, he then
knew, tasted, in all his relation with her, of anything so sharp−−too sharp for mere sweetness−−as the vividness
with which he saw himself master in the conflict. "Well, I understand."

"On your honour?"

"On my honour."

"You'll come?"

"I'll come."

Book Ninth, Chapter 1
It was after they had gone that he truly felt the difference, which was most to be felt moreover in his faded old
rooms. He had recovered from the first a part of his attachment to this scene of contemplation, within sight, as it
was, of the Rialto bridge, on the hither side of that arch of associations and the left going up the Canal; he had
seen it in a particular light, to which, more and more, his mind and his hands adjusted it; but the interest the place
now wore for him had risen at a bound, becoming a force that, on the spot, completely engaged and absorbed him,
and relief from which−−if relief was the name−−he could find only by getting away and out of reach. What had
come to pass within his walls lingered there as an obsession importunate to all his senses; it lived again, as a
cluster of pleasant memories, at every hour and in every object; it made everything but itself irrelevant and
tasteless. It remained, in a word, a conscious watchful presence, active on its own side, for ever to be reckoned
with, in face of which the effort at detachment was scarcely less futile than frivolous. Kate had come to him; it
was only once−−and this not from any failure of their need, but from such impossibilities, for bravery alike and
for subtlety, as there was at the last no blinking; yet she had come, that once, to stay, as people called it; and what
survived of her, what reminded and insisted, was something he (236) couldn't have banished if he had wished.
Luckily he didn't wish, even though there might be for a man almost a shade of the awful in so unqualified a
consequence of his act. It had simply WORKED, his idea, the idea he had made her accept; and all erect before
him, really covering the ground as far as he could see, was the fact of the gained success that this represented. It


Book Ninth, Chapter 1                                                                                              188
                                               The Wings of the Dove
was, otherwise, but the fact of the idea as directly applied, as converted from a luminous conception into an
historic truth. He had known it before but as desired and urged, as convincingly insisted on for the help it would
render; so that at present, WITH the help rendered, it seemed to acknowledge its office and to set up, for memory
and faith, an insistence of its own. He had in fine judged his friend's pledge in advance as an inestimable value,
and what he must now know his case for was that of a possession of the value to the full. Wasn't it perhaps even
rather the value that possessed HIM, kept him thinking of it and waiting on it, turning round and round it and
making sure of it again from this side and that?

It played for him−−certainly in this prime afterglow−−the part of a treasure kept at home in safety and sanctity,
something he was sure of finding in its place when, with each return, he worked his heavy old key in the lock. The
door had but to open for him to be with it again and for it to be all there; so intensely there that, as we say, no
other act was possible to him than the renewed act, almost the hallucination, of intimacy. Wherever he looked or
sat or stood, to whatever aspect he gave for the instant the advantage, it was in view as nothing of the moment,
(237) nothing begotten of time or of chance could be, or ever would; it was in view as, when the curtain has risen,
the play on the stage is in view, night after night, for the fiddlers. He remained thus, in his own theatre, in his
single person, perpetual orchestra to the ordered drama, the confirmed "run"; playing low and slow, moreover, in
the regular way, for the situations of most importance. No other visitor was to come to him; he met, he bumped
occasionally, in the Piazza or in his walks, against claimants to acquaintance, remembered or forgotten, at present
mostly effusive, sometimes even inquisitive; but he gave no address and encouraged no approach; he couldn't for
his life, he felt, have opened his door to a third person. Such a person would have interrupted him, would have
profaned his secret or perhaps have guessed it; would at any rate have broken the spell of what he conceived
himself−−in the absence of anything "to show"−−to be inwardly doing. He was giving himself up−−that was quite
enough−−to the general feeling of his renewed engagement to fidelity. The force of the engagement, the quantity
of the article to be supplied, the special solidity of the contract, the way, above all, as a service for which the price
named by him had been magnificently paid, his equivalent office was to take effect−−such items might well fill
his consciousness when there was nothing from outside to interfere. Never was a consciousness more rounded and
fastened down over what filled it; which is precisely what we have spoken of as, in its degree, the oppression of
success, the somewhat chilled state−−tending to the solitary−−of supreme recognition. (238) If it was slightly
awful to feel so justified, this was by the loss of the warmth of the element of mystery. The lucid reigned instead
of it, and it was into the lucid that he sat and stared. He shook himself out of it a dozen times a day, tried to break
by his own act his constant still communion. It wasn't still communion she had meant to bequeath him; it was the
very different business of that kind of fidelity of which the other name was careful action.

Nothing, he perfectly knew, was less like careful action than the immersion he enjoyed at home. The actual grand
queerness was that to be faithful to Kate he had positively to take his eyes, his arms, his lips straight off her−−he
had to let her alone. He had to remember it was time to go to the palace−−which in truth was a mercy, since the
check was not less effectual than imperative. What it came to, fortunately, as yet, was that when he closed the
door behind him for an absence he always shut her in. Shut her out−−it came to that rather, when once he had got
a little away; and before he reached the palace, much more after hearing at his heels the bang of the greater
portone, he felt free enough not to know his position as oppressively false. As Kate was ALL in his poor rooms,
and not a ghost of her left for the grander, it was only on reflexion that the falseness came out; so long as he left it
to the mercy of beneficent chance it offered him no face and made of him no claim that he couldn't meet without
aggravation of his inward sense. This aggravation had been his original horror; yet what−−in Milly's presence,
each day−−was horror doing with him but virtually letting him off? (239) He shouldn't perhaps get off to the end;
there was time enough still for the possibility of shame to pounce. Still, however, he did constantly a little more
what he liked best, and that kept him for the time more safe. What he liked best was, in any case, to know WHY
things were as he felt them; and he knew it pretty well, in this case, ten days after the retreat of his other friends.
He then fairly perceived that−−even putting their purity of motive at its highest−−it was neither Kate nor he who
made his strange relation to Milly, who made her own, so far as it might be, innocent; it was neither of them who