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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Outcry - Book 2 - Chapter 5
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The Outcry - Book 2 - Chapter 5 Post by :TomDe Category :Long Stories Author :Henry James Date :May 2012 Read :1348

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The Outcry - Book 2 - Chapter 5

BOOK SECOND. CHAPTER V

Lady Sandgate, left alone with Lord Theign, drew the line at their companion's enthusiasm. "That may be true of Mr. Bender--for it's dreadful how he bears one down. But I simply find him a terror."

"Well," said her friend, who seemed disposed not to fatigue the question, "I dare say a terror will help me." He had other business to which he at once gave himself. "And now, if you please, for that girl."

"I'll send her to you," she replied, "if you can't stay to luncheon."

"I've three or four things to do," he pleaded, "and I lunch with Kitty at one."

She submitted in that case--but disappointedly. "With Berkeley Square then you've time. But I confess I don't quite grasp the so odd inspiration that you've set those men to carry out."

He showed surprise and regret, but even greater decision. "Then it needn't trouble you, dear--it's enough that I myself go straight."

"Are you so very convinced it's straight?"--she wouldn't be a bore to him, but she couldn't not be a blessing.

"What in the world else is it," he asked, "when, having good reasons, one acts on 'em?"

"You must have an immense array," she sighed, "to fly so in the face of Opinion!"

"'Opinion'?" he commented--"I fly in its face? Why, the vulgar thing, as I'm taking my quiet walk, flies in mine! I give it a whack with my umbrella and send it about its business." To which he added with more reproach: "It's enough to have been dished by Grace--without _your falling away!"

Sadly and sweetly she defended herself. "It's only my great affection--and all that these years have been for us: _they it is that make me wish you weren't so proud."

"I've a perfect sense, my dear, of what these years have been for us--a very charming matter. But 'proud' is it you find me of the daughter who does her best to ruin me, or of the one who does her best to humiliate?"

Lady Sandgate, not undiscernibly, took her choice of ignoring the point of this. "Your surrenders to Kitty are your own affair--but are you sure you can really bear to see Grace?"

"I seem expected indeed to bear much," he said with more and more of his parental bitterness, "but I don't know that I'm yet in a funk before my child. Doesn't she _want to see me, with any contrition, after the trick she has played me?" And then as his companion's answer failed: "In spite of which trick you suggest that I should leave the country with no sign of her explaining--?"

His hostess raised her head. "She does want to see you, I know; but you must recall the sequel to that bad hour at Dedborough--when it was you who declined to see _her_."

"Before she left the house with you, the next day, for this?"--he was entirely reminiscent. "What I recall is that even if I had condoned--that evening--her deception of _me in my folly, I still loathed, for my friend's sake, her practical joke on poor John."

Lady Sandgate indulged in the shrug conciliatory. "It was your very complaint that your own appeal to her _became an appeal from herself."

"Yes," he returned, so well he remembered, "she was about as civil to me then--picking a quarrel with me on such a trumped-up ground!--as that devil of a fellow in the newspaper; the taste of whose elegant remarks, for that matter, she must now altogether enjoy!"

His good friend showily balanced and might have been about to reply with weight; but what she in fact brought out was only: "I see you're right about it: I must let her speak for herself."

"That I shall greatly prefer to her speaking--as she did so extraordinarily, out of the blue, at Dedborough, upon my honour--for the wonderful friends she picks up: the picture-man introduced by her (what was his name?) who regularly 'cheeked' me, as I suppose he'd call it, in my own house, and whom I hope, by the way, that under this roof she's not able to be quite so thick with!"

If Lady Sandgate winced at that vain dream she managed not to betray it, and she had, in any embarrassment on this matter, the support, as we know, of her own tried policy. "She leads her life under this roof very much as under yours; and she's not of an age, remember, for me to pretend either to watch her movements or to control her contacts." Leaving him however thus to perform his pleasure the charming woman had before she went an abrupt change of tone. "Whatever your relations with others, dear friend, don't forget that _I'm still here."

Lord Theign accepted the reminder, though, the circumstances being such, it scarce moved him to ecstasy. "That you're here, thank heaven, is of course a comfort--or would be if you understood."

"Ah," she submissively sighed, "if I don't always 'understand' a spirit so much higher than mine and a situation so much more complicated, certainly, I at least always defer, I at least always--well, what can I say but worship?" And then as he remained not other than finely passive, "The old altar, Theign," she went on--"and a spark of the old fire!"

He had not looked at her on this--it was as if he shrank, with his preoccupations, from a tender passage; but he let her take his left hand. "So I feel!" he was, however, kind enough to answer.

"Do feel!" she returned with much concentration. She raised the hand to her pressed lips, dropped it and with a rich "Good-bye!" reached the threshold of the other room.

"May I smoke?" he asked before she had disappeared.

"Dear, yes!"

He had meanwhile taken out his cigarette case and was looking about for a match. But something else occurred to him. "You must come to Victoria."

"Rather!" she said with intensity; and with that she passed away.

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BOOK SECOND. CHAPTER VILeft alone he had a moment's meditation where he stood; it found issue in an articulate "Poor dear thing!"--an exclamation marked at once with patience and impatience, with resignation and ridicule. After which, waiting for his daughter, Lord Theign slowly and absently roamed, finding matches at last and lighting his cigarette--all with an air of concern that had settled on him more heavily from the moment of his finding himself alone. His luxury of gloom--if gloom it was--dropped, however, on his taking heed of Lady Grace, who, arriving on the scene through the other room, had had just
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BOOK SECOND. CHAPTER IV."Then Theign's not yet here!" Lord John had to resign himself as he greeted his American ally. "But he told me I should find you.""He has kept me waiting," that gentleman returned--"but what's the matter with him anyway?""The matter with him"--Lord John treated such ignorance as irritating--"must of course be this beastly thing in the 'Journal.'"Mr. Bender proclaimed, on the other hand, his incapacity to seize such connections. "What's the matter with the beastly thing?""Why, aren't you aware that the stiffest bit of it is a regular dig at you?""If you call _that a regular dig you can't
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