Girl With a Pearl Earring – Tracy Chevalier PDF
About a boy – Nick Hornby PDF
No puedo encontrar por ningun lado el libro Therapy de David Lodge.
Libro about a boy de Nick “Horny”
Girl With a Pearl Earring – Tracy Chevalier PDF
About a boy – Nick Hornby PDF
No puedo encontrar por ningun lado el libro Therapy de David Lodge.
Libro about a boy de Nick “Horny”
In “The Shocking Accident”, Graham Greene writes about a character named Jerome and the change he goes through as he becomes a different person in the end of the story. We see him as a whole new changed person, way different from the Jerome we knew from the beginning of the book.
Jerome is quite young in the beginning, for he attends school where he is told the news of his father’s death. He had always thought his dad was some Secret Service Agent for Britain, and assumed that his father was killed in a gunfight when the headmaster told him about the death of his father. The headmaster tells him the incident of his father with the pig falling on him. Jerome wasn’t so sure what to feel then, and he asks what happens. Soon, Jerome realized that this incident was a comedy to other people, and people started calling him “Pig” as a fun joke.
As Jerome gets older, he realizes how hard it is to tell people of how his father died. He always feels a pain whenever his aunt tells strangers about the death of his father. Whenever Jerome tries to tell someone about his father’s death, he doesn’t get the response he wants from the person. He thinks of many ways to explain the death of his father without having the other person be baffled at him or thinking that his story was a joke. As time passes, Jerome finds a girl he loves dearly even though he went through all those hard times, and decides to marry her. However, Jerome was worried about the situation of telling his future wife Sally about the incident of his father. He was afraid that she would see it as humorous and laugh at the story just like every other person did.
Jerome never gets around telling Sally about the shocking incident with his father. She would ask him about it, but he would pretend that he couldn’t remember because he was so young. Finally, the two of them were about to get married and Jerome tries to avoid contact with his aunt, but that unfortunately doesn’t happen. When Sally asks about the death of Jerome’s father, Jerome’s aunt tells her about it and Sally didn’t laugh, but she became saddened at what happened. This made Jerome so happy and filled his body with joy. He goes about with Sally making love to her more then ever, and he suddenly has a bright positive attitude in him now.
We see that Jerome becomes more of a happy person in the end of the story, and he’s relieved at the end because Sally accepts the death of his father as a mourning event, instead of a humorous joke. Jerome wasn’t like this in the beginning of the story, for he was embarrassed of sharing the story of the death of his father because no ever took the story seriously. Now that Henry knows that Sally doesn’t see the shocking incident as a jape, he isn’t embarrassed about it anymore.
The change in Jerome shows that one character in the story like Sally can make a huge impact on any character. This change may have taken a while for Jerome, but his understanding of Sally and Sally’s great personality changes his life, basically. One little thing can change something big, like Sally changing Jerome’s world.
The action takes place in the afternoon and evening on the terrace of a Roman restaurant with a view of the Forum, the Colosseum, and other sights. Although no scenes take place elsewhere, the narration refers to activities in Tarquinia, a small town about fifty miles northwest of Rome, and to events that took place years before in New York City.
Alida Slade: Middle-aged widow of Delphin Slade, a corporation lawyer. While she is dining in Rome with her old friend, Grace Ansley, the narrator reveals that she really despises Grace, who once was intimate with Delphin before he married Alida.
Delphin Slade: Late husband of Alida.
Grace Ansley: Middle-aged widow of well-to-do Horace Ansley. When Alida Slade reveals her long-simmering enmity for Grace, the latter counters with a shocking revelation.
Horace Ansley: Late husband of Grace.
Barbara Ansley: Vivacious daughter of Grace Ansley. Alida Slade resents her because of her obvious superiority to her own daughter. The last sentence in the story reveals that Barbara is really the daughter of Delphin.
Jenny Slade: Daughter of Alida Slade. She is beautiful but lacks the charisma and charm of Barbara Ansley.
Headwaiter: Supervising waiter at the terrace restaurant overlooking the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, and other ancient ruins. After receiving a gratuity from Alida Slade, he invites Alida and Grace to remain at the restaurant to enjoy the view.
Son of Alida Slade: Child who “inherited his father’s gifts,” according to Alida, but died while still a boy.
Harriet: Deceased great-aunt of Grace. According to a story handed down, Harriet and her sister loved the same man. To get rid of her sister, Harriet supposedly tricked her into exposing herself to Roman fever. She later died of the disease.
“Roman Fever” is a short story centering on the relationship of two women. The story has a surprise ending. It first appeared in Liberty magazine in 1934.
Wharton wrote the story in omniscient third-person point of view, enabling her to reveal the thoughts of the two main characters.
Wharton’s plot is like a house of cards. Every card supports the structure; remove one and the house collapses.
The opening scene in which their daughters, Barbara and Jenny, run off to meet young men triggers Mrs. Slade’s memories of her and Mrs. Ansley’s romantic adventures in Rome twenty-five years before. Mrs. Slade recalls that Mrs. Ansley was more beautiful then than Barbara Ansley is now. However, she notes to herself that Barbara is more vivacious; she has “edge.” How could this be? After all, Mrs. Slade thinks, Barbara is the offspring of “nullities. . . museum specimens of old New York.” Her observation introduces the secret rancor she feels toward her companion and foreshadows ever so obliquely the ironic ending. Moreover, the reference to New York enables the author to shift the scene—in Mrs. Slade’s mind—to Manhattan, where they were neighbors in an upscale neighborhood. In turn, the thoughts of Manhattan call up memories of the women’s lives there and the deaths of their husbands, Delphin Slade and Horace Ansley. …….Mrs. Slade then recalls the effect of her husband’s death on her social life. And so the story goes, with one thought or one line of dialogue linking the plot to the next development—until Mrs. Slade reveals her knowledge of Mrs. Ansley’s nighttime visit to the Colosseum twenty-five years before to rendezvous with Mrs. Slade’s fiancé, a revelation that leads Mrs. Ansley to reveal her own secrets about that night.
Perhaps the one flaw in the plot is the contrived chance meeting of Alida Slade and Grace Ansley at the same restaurant of the same hotel in Rome.
The climax occurs when Mrs. Slade reveals what she knows about Mrs. Ansley’s late-night excursion to the Colosseum twenty-five years before to rendezvous with Mrs. Slade’s fiancé, Delphin. Some readers may regard the shocking denouement (conclusion) of the story—revealing that Mrs. Ansley’s daughter is the child of Mrs. Slade’s late husband—as the climax.
Roman Fever: Grace’s desire for Delphin; the ill will that poisons Alida against Grace. (See also the entries under Roman Fever and Its Significance, below.)
Grace’s Knitting: The troubled, intertwining lives of Alida and Grace. Grace knits the pattern of their lives with crimson silk, symbolizing the passionate feelings of the two women. When Grace drops the knitting, the knitting symbolizes the wreckage of Grace and Alida’s relationship.
The Ancient Ruins: Perhaps the crumbling relationship between Alida and Grace.
Afternoon Light: The last hours of cordiality that Alida and Grace show for each other on the terrace of the restaurant.
Evening Darkness: The entry of Alida and Grace into each other’s dark secrets.
The term Roman fever was coined to describe malaria, outbreaks of which occurred frequently in Rome over the centuries. The city was a hotbed of the disease because of the swampy areas in it that became breeding grounds for mosquitoes carrying disease-causing parasites. The term malaria itself derives from the Italian words mala aria, meaning bad air. Malaria is an infectious disease caused by a single-celled parasite that enters the bloodstream primarily via the bite of the female anopheles mosquito. The parasite invades the liver and divides. Then the new, smaller parasitic cells enter the body’s red blood cells and produce so many additional parasitic cells that the red blood cells rupture and discharge whole armies of parasites into the bloodstream. The body reacts with chills, high fever, shaking, and sweating. When the sweating lowers the body’s temperature, the symptoms subside. However, renewed attacks by the multiplying parasites cause a reoccurrence of the symptoms, and the cycle repeats itself again and again. Severe anemia (in which there is a significant reduction in the number of the body’s red blood cells) eventually develops, leading to serious complications that can kill the patient. Eventually, drugs were developed that halt the multiplication of the parasitic cells.
In Wharton’s story, Roman fever symbolizes the passion that drives the plot. This passion manifests itself in the Colosseum tryst between Grace Ansley and Delphin Slade and in Alida Slade’s long-suppressed enmity for Grace and jealousy of Grace’s daughter.
Grace and Alida as Victims of Roman Fever
Grace developed Roman fever figuratively when she burned with love for Alida’s fiancé, Delphin. Alida developed the fever figuratively when Grace’s love for Delphin fired her with enmity for Grace and a desire to get even by writing the letter. Alida later suffered from complications of the fever when she became intensely jealous of Grace’s daughter. Roman fever simmers secretly within both women for the next twenty-five years.
Intense passion in the forms of love, fear, vengefulness, enmity, and jealousy poisons the relationship between Alida Slade and Grace Ansley. First, Grace falls in love with Alida’s fiancé, Delphin. Out of fear of losing Delphin and out of a desire for revenge, Alida executes a plot exposing Grace to an evening chill that sickens her and isolates her from Delphin. For the next twenty-five years, Alida seethes with enmity for Grace while pretending to be her friend. She also develops intense jealousy of Grace’s daughter, Barbara, because of her obvious superiority to her own daughter, Jenny. Meanwhile, Grace endures life with Horace while Delphin—who fathered her child—lives nearby as the husband of Alida.
It appears that Alida Slade’s happiness when Delphin was alive centered primarily on the social advantages she derived from being his wife, not on love. The following passage reveals her attitude in this regard:
It was a big drop from being the wife of Delphin Slade to being his widow. She had always regarded herself (with a certain conjugal pride) as his equal in social gifts, as contributing her full share to the making of the exceptional couple they were: but the difference after his death was irremediable. As the wife of the famous corporation lawyer, always with an international case or two on hand, every day brought its exciting and unexpected obligation: the impromptu entertaining of eminent colleagues from abroad, the hurried dashes on legal business to London, Paris or Rome, where the entertaining was so handsomely reciprocated; the amusement of hearing in her wakes: “What, that handsome woman with the good clothes and the eyes is Mrs. Slade—the Slade’s wife! Really! Generally the wives of celebrities are such frumps.”
Alida Slade forges a letter to lure Grace Ansley to the Colosseum. Then, for the next twenty-five years, she pretends to be Grace’s friend. Alida’s behavior calls to mind Shakespeare’s observation in The Merchant of Venice: “A goodly apple rotten at the heart: / O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!” (1. 3. 80-84). It also calls to mind words in his play Macbeth: “Away, and mock the time with fairest show: / False face must hide what the false heart doth know” (1. 7. 94-95).” The narrator does not disclose whether Grace had deceived Horace into believing that Barbara was his child, although Grace allows Alida to believe so until the latter provokes her.
The Ever-Present Past
The past haunts Alida; it is always there to roil her emotions and embitter her against Grace. When Alida can no longer contain her corrosive memories of long ago, she reveals them to Grace—perhaps in an attempt to exorcise her demons and transfer them to Grace. But Grace counters with revelations of her own, one of which promises to make the painful past an unwelcome companion of Alida for the rest of her life.
Irony is a powerful figure of speech in the story, especially its occurrence in the last sentence. Other examples of irony in the story build up to, and rely on, that sentence for effect. An example is this observation of Alida Slade regarding Barbara: “I was wondering, ever so respectfully, you understand… wondering how two such exemplary characters as you and Horace had managed to produce anything quite so dynamic [as Barbara].”
Wharton hints at the possibility that Barbara Ansley and Jenny Slade will repeat the actions of their mothers. She does so by creating the following parallels between Grace’s daughter and Alida and between Alida’s daughter and Grace:
1. Both girls are receiving the attentions of young men, as their mothers did twenty-five years before.
2. One of the girls, Barbara, is vivacious and very smart, as Alida was.
3. The other girl, Jenny, is very beautiful but otherwise ordinary, as Grace was.
4. Barbara is likely to become the fiancée of a promising bachelor, according to Alida. She muses that “Babs would almost certainly come back engaged to the extremely eligible Campolieri.” Twenty-five years before, Alida herself was engaged to a promising bachelor.
Add to these parallels this circumstance: As daughters of Delphin Slade, Barbara and Jenny are half-sisters. This fact is significant in relation to the story about Grace’s Great-Aunt Harriet. While competing for a man with her own sister, she deliberately tricked the girl into exposing herself to Roman fever.
One may speculate that Wharton must have created all these similarities for a reason—namely, to suggest that circumstances are right for the past to repeat itself.
Aca estan las imagenes (si, imagenes) del proximo texto a leer
The Kimono by H. E. Bates
From the table at which they had been lunching two American ladies of ripe but well-cared-for middle age moved across the lofty terrace of the Roman restaurant and, leaning on its parapet, looked first at each other, and then down on the outspread glories of the Palatine and the Forum, with the same expression of vague but benevolent approval.
As they leaned there a girlish voice echoed up gaily from the stairs leading to the court below. “Well, come along, then,” it cried, not to them but to an invisible companion, “and let’s leave the young things to their knitting,” and a voice as fresh laughed back: “Oh, look here, Babs, not actually knitting—” “Well, I mean figuratively,” rejoined the first. “After all, we haven’t left our poor parents much else to do.. . .” At that point the turn of the stairs engulfed the dialogue.
The two ladies looked at each other again, this time with a tinge of smiling embarrassment, and the smaller and paler one shook her head and colored slightly.
“Barbara!” she murmured, sending an unheard rebuke after the mocking voice in the stairway.
The other lady, who was fuller, and higher in color, with a small determined nose supported by vigorous black eyebrows, gave a good-humored laugh. “That’s what our daughters think of us.”
Her companion replied by a deprecating gesture. “Not of us individually. We must remember that. It’s just the collective modern idea of Mothers. And you see—” Half guiltily she drew from her handsomely mounted black handbag a twist of crimson silk run through by two fine knitting needles. “One never knows,” she murmured. “The new system has certainly given us a good deal of time to kill; and sometimes I get tired just looking—even at this.” Her gesture was now addressed to the stupendous scene at their feet.
The dark lady laughed again, and they both relapsed upon the view, contemplating it in silence, with a sort of diffused serenity which might have been borrowed from the spring effulgence of the Roman skies. The luncheon hour was long past, and the two had their end of the vast terrace to themselves. At its opposite extremity a few groups, detained by a lingering look at the outspread city, were gathering up guidebooks and fumbling for tips. The last of them scattered, and the two ladies were alone on the air-washed height.
“Well, I don’t see why we shouldn’t just stay here,” said Mrs. Slade, the lady of the high color and energetic brows. Two derelict basket chairs stood near, and she pushed them into the angle of the parapet, and settled herself in one, her gaze upon the Palatine. “After all, it’s still the most beautiful view in the world.”
“It always will be, to me,” assented her friend Mrs. Ansley, with so slight a stress on the “me” that Mrs. Slade, though she noticed it, wondered if it were not merely accidental, like the random underlinings of old-fashioned letter writers.
“Grace Ansley was always old-fashioned,” she thought; and added aloud, with a retrospective smile: “It’s a view we’ve both been familiar with for a good many years. When we first met here we were younger than our girls are now. You remember!”
“Oh, yes, I remember,” murmured Mrs. Ansley, with the same undefinable stress—”There’s that head-waiter wondering,” she interpolated. She was evidently far less sure than her companion of herself and of her rights in the world.
“I’ll cure him of wondering,” said Mrs. Slade, stretching her hand toward a bag as discreetly opulent-looking as Mrs. Ansley’s. Signing to the headwaiter, she explained that she and her friend were old lovers of Rome, and would like to spend the end of the afternoon looking down on the view—that is, if it did not disturb the service! The headwaiter, bowing over her gratuity, assured her that the ladies were most welcome, and would be still more so if they would condescend to remain for dinner. A full moon night, they would remember….
Mrs. Slade’s black brows drew together, as though references to the moon were out of place and even unwelcome. But she smiled away her frown as the headwaiter retreated. “Well, why not! We might do worse. There’s no knowing, I suppose, when the girls will be back. Do you even know back from where? I don’t!”
Mrs. Ansley again colored slightly. “I think those young Italian aviators we met at the Embassy invited them to fly to Tarquinia for tea. I suppose they’ll want to wait and fly back by moonlight.”
“Moonlight—moonlight! What a part it still plays. Do you suppose they’re as sentimental as we were?”
“I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t in the least know what they are,” said Mrs. Ansley. “And perhaps we didn’t know much more about each other.”
“No, perhaps we didn’t.”
Her friend gave her a shy glance. “I never should have supposed you were sentimental, Alida.”
“Well, perhaps I wasn’t.” Mrs. Slade drew her lids together in retrospect; and for a few moments the two ladies, who had been intimate since childhood, reflected how little they knew each other. Each one, of course, had a label ready to attach to the other’s name; Mrs. Delphin Slade, for instance, would have told herself, or anyone who asked her, that Mrs. Horace Ansley, twenty-five years ago, had been exquisitely lovely—no, you wouldn’t believe it, would you! though, of course, still charming, distinguished…. Well, as a girl she had been exquisite; far more beautiful than her daughter, Barbara, though certainly Babs, according to the new standards at any rate, was more effective—had more edge, as they say. Funny where she got it, with those two nullities as parents. Yes; Horace Ansley was—well, just the duplicate of his wife. Museum specimens of old New York. Good-looking, irreproachable, exemplary. Mrs. Slade and Mrs. Ansley had lived opposite each other—actually as well as figuratively—for years. When the drawing-room curtains in No. 20 East Seventy-third Street were renewed, No. 23, across the way, was always aware of it. And of all the movings, buyings, travels, anniversaries, illnesses—the tame chronicle of an estimable pair. Little of it escaped Mrs. Slade. But she had grown bored with it by the time her husband made his big coup in Wall Street, and when they bought in upper Park Avenue had already begun to think: “I’d rather live opposite a speakeasy for a change; at least one might see it raided.” The idea of seeing Grace raided was so amusing that (before the move) she launched it at a woman’s lunch. It made a hit, and went the rounds—she sometimes wondered if it had crossed the street, and reached Mrs. Ansley. She hoped not, but didn’t much mind. Those were the days when respectability was at a discount, and it did the irreproachable no harm to laugh at them a little.
A few years later, and not many months apart, both ladies lost their husbands. There was an appropriate exchange of wreaths and condolences, and a brief renewal of intimacy in the half shadow of their mourning; and now, after another interval, they had run across each other in Rome, at the same hotel, each of them the modest appendage of a salient daughter. The similarity of their lot had again drawn them together, lending itself to mild jokes, and the mutual confession that, if in old days it must have been tiring to “keep up” with daughters, it was now, at times, a little dull not to.
No doubt, Mrs. Slade reflected, she felt her unemployment more than poor Grace ever would. It was a big drop from being the wife of Delphin Slade to being his widow. She had always regarded herself (with a certain conjugal pride) as his equal in social gifts, as contributing her full share to the making of the exceptional couple they were: but the difference after his death was irremediable. As the wife of the famous corporation lawyer, always with an international case or two on hand, every day brought its exciting and unexpected obligation: the impromptu entertaining of eminent colleagues from abroad, the hurried dashes on legal business to London, Paris or Rome, where the entertaining was so handsomely reciprocated; the amusement of hearing in her wakes: “What, that handsome woman with the good clothes and the eyes is Mrs. Slade—the Slade’s wife! Really! Generally the wives of celebrities are such frumps.”
Yes; being the Slade’s widow was a dullish business after that. In living up to such a husband all her faculties had been engaged; now she had only her daughter to live up to, for the son who seemed to have inherited his father’s gifts had died suddenly in boyhood. She had fought through that agony because her husband was there, to be help ed and to help ; now, after the father’s death, the thought of the boy had become unbearable. There was nothing left but to mother her daughter; and dear Jenny was such a perfect daughter that she needed no excessive mothering. “Now with Babs Ansley I don’t know that I should be so quiet,” Mrs. Slade sometimes half-enviously reflected; but Jenny, who was younger than her brilliant friend, was that rare accident, an extremely pretty girl who somehow made youth and prettiness seem as safe as their absence. It was all perplexing—and to Mrs. Slade a little boring. She wished that Jenny would fall in love—with the wrong man, even; that she might have to be watched, out-maneuvered, rescued. And instead, it was Jenny who watched her mother, kept her out of drafts, made sure that she had taken her tonic…
Mrs. Ansley was much less articulate than her friend, and her mental portrait of Mrs. Slade was slighter, and drawn with fainter touches. “Alida Slade’s awfully brilliant; but not as brilliant as she thinks,” would have summed it up; though she would have added, for the enlightenment of strangers, that Mrs. Slade had been an extremely dashing girl; much more so than her daughrer, who was pretty, of course, and clever in a way, but had none of her mother’s—well, “vividness,” someone had once called it. Mrs. Ansley would take up current words like this, and cite them in quotation marks, as unheard-of audacities. No; Jenny was not like her mother. Sometimes Mrs. Ansley thought Alida Slade was disappointed; on the whole she had had a sad life. Full of failures and mistakes; Mrs. Ansley had always been rather sorry for her….
So these two ladies visualized each other, each through the wrong end of her little telescope.
For a long time they continued to sit side by side without speaking. It seemed as though, to both, there was a relief in laying down their somewhat futile activities in the presence of the vast Memento Mori which faced them. Mrs. Slade sat quite still, her eyes fixed on the golden slope of the Palace of the Caesars, and after a while Mrs. Ansley ceased to fidget with her bag, and she too sank into meditation. Like many intimate friends, the two ladies had never before had occasion to be silent together, and Mrs. Ansley was slightly embarrassed by what seemed, after so many years, a new stage in their intimacy, and one with which she did not yet know how to deal.
Suddenly the air was full of that deep clangor of bells which periodically covers Rome with a roof of silver. Mrs. Slade glanced at her wristwatch. “Five o’clock already,” she said, as though surprised.
Mrs. Ansley suggested interrogatively: “There’s bridge at the Embassy at five.” For a long time Mrs. Slade did not answer. She appeared to be lost in contemplation, and Mrs. Ansley thought the remark had escaped her. But after a while she said, as if speaking out of a dream: “Bridge, did you say! Not unless you want to…. But I don’t think I will, you know.”
“Oh, no,” Mrs. Ansley hastened to assure her. “I don’t care to at all. It’s so lovely here; and so full of old memories, as you say.” She settled herself in her chair, and almost furtively drew forth her knitting. Mrs. Slade took sideways note of this activity, but her own beautifully cared-for hands remained motionless on her knee.
“I was just thinking,” she said slowly, “what different things Rome stands for to each generation of travelers. To our grandmothers, Roman fever; to our mothers, sentimental dangers—how we used to be guarded!—to our daughters, no more dangers than the middle of Main Street. They don’t know it—but how much they’re missing!”
The long golden light was beginning to pale, and Mrs. Ansley lifted her knitting a little closer to her eyes. “Yes, how we were guarded”
“I always used to think,” Mrs. Slade continued, “that our mothers had a much more difficult job than our grandmothers. When Roman fever stalked the streets it must have been comparatively easy to gather in the girls at the danger hour; but when you and I were young, with such beauty calling us, and the spice of disobedience thrown in, and no worse risk than catching cold during the cool hour after sunset, the mothers used to be put to it to keep us in—didn’t they!”
She turned again toward Mrs. Ansley, but the latter had reached a delicate point in her knitting. “One, two, three—slip two; yes, they must have been,” she assented, without looking up.
Mrs. Slade’s eyes rested on her with a deepened attention. “She can knit—in the face of this! How like her…. ”
Mrs. Slade leaned back, brooding, her eyes ranging from the ruins which faced her to the long green hollow of the Forum, the fading glow of the church fronts beyond it, and the outlying immensity of the Colosseum. Suddenly she thought: “It’s all very well to say that our girls have done away with sentiment and moonlight. But if Babs Ansley isn’t out to catch that young aviator—the one who’s a Marchese—then I don’t know anything. And Jenny has no chance beside her. I know that too. I wonder if that’s why Grace Ansley likes the two girls to go everywhere together! My poor Jenny as a foil—!” Mrs. Slade gave a hardly audible laugh, and at the sound Mrs. Ansley dropped her knitting.
“I—oh, nothing. I was only thinking how your Babs carries everything before her. That Campolieri boy is one of the best matches in Rome. Don’t look so innocent, my dear—you know he is. And I was wondering, ever so respectfully, you understand… wondering how two such exemplary characters as you and Horace had managed to produce anything quite so dynamic.” Mrs. Slade laughed again, with a touch of asperity.
Mrs. Ansley’s hands lay inert across her needles. She looked straight out at the great accumulated wreckage of passion and splendor at her feet. But her small profile was almost expressionless. At length she said, “I think you overrate Babs, my dear.”
Mrs. Slade’s tone grew easier. “No; I don’t. I appreciate her. And perhaps envy you. Oh, my girl’s perfect; if I were a chronic invalid I’d—well, I think I’d rather be in Jenny’s hands. There must be times… but there! I always wanted a brilliant daughter… and never quite understood why I got an angel instead.”
Mrs. Ansley echoed her laugh in a faint murmur. “Babs is an angel too.”
“Of course—of course! But she’s got rainbow wings. Well, they’re wandering by the sea with their young men; and here we sit… and it all brings back the past a little too acutely.”
Mrs. Ansley had resumed her knitting. One might almost have imagined (if one had known her less well, Mrs. Slade reflected) that, for her also, too many memories rose from the lengthening shadows of those august ruins. But no; she was simply absorbed in her work. What was there for her to worry about! She knew that Babs would almost certainly come back engaged to the extremely eligible Campolieri. “And she’ll sell the New York house, and settle down near them in Rome, and never be in their way… she’s much too tactful. But she’ll have an excellent cook, and just the right people in for bridge and cocktails… and a perfectly peacefuI old age among her grandchildren.”
Mrs. Slade broke off this prophetic flight with a recoil of self-disgust. There was no one of whom she had less right to think unkindly than of Grace Ansley. Would she never cure herself of envying her! Perhaps she had begun too long ago.
She stood up and leaned against the parapet, filling her troubled eyes with the tranquilizing magic of the hour. But instead of tranquilizing her the sight seemed to increase her exasperation. Her gaze turned toward the Colosseum. Already its golden flank was drowned in purple shadow, and above it the sky curved crystal clear, without light or color. It was the moment when afternoon and evening hang balanced in midheaven.
Mrs. Slade turned back and laid her hand on her friend’s arm. The gesture was so abrupt that Mrs. Ansley looked up, startled.
“The sun’s set. You’re not afraid, my dear?”
“Of Roman fever or pneumonia! I remember how ill you were that winter. As a girl you had a very delicate throat, hadn’t you?”
“Oh, we’re all right up here. Down below, in the Forum, it does get deathly cold, all of a sudden… but not here.”
“Ah, of course you know because you had to be so careful.” Mrs. Slade turned back to the parapet. She thought: “I must make one more effort not to hate her.” Aloud she said: “Whenever I look at the Forum from up here, I remember that story about a great-aunt of yours, wasn’t she? A dreadfully wicked great-aunt?”
“Oh, yes; Great-aunt Harriet. The one who was supposed to have sent her young sister out to the Forum after sunset to gather a nightblooming flower for her album. All our great-aunts and grandmothers used to have albums of dried flowers.”
Mrs. Slade nodded. “But she really sent her because they were in love with the same man—”
“Well, that was the family tradition. They said Aunt Harriet confessed it years afterward. At any rate, the poor little sister caught the fever and died. Mother used to frighten us with the story when we were children.”
“And you frightened me with it, that winter when you and I were here as girls. The winter I was engaged to Delphin.”
Mrs. Ansley gave a faint laugh. “Oh, did I! Really frightened you? I don’t believe you’re easily frightened.”
“Not often; but I was then. I was easily frightened because I was too happy. I wonder if you know what that means?”
“I—yes… ” Mrs. Ansley faltered.
“Well, I suppose that was why the story of your wicked aunt made such an impression on me. And I thought: ‘There’s no more Roman fever, but the Forum is deathly cold after sunset—especially after a hot day. And the Colosseum’s even colder and damper.'”
“Yes. It wasn’t easy to get in, after the gates were locked for the night. Far from easy. Still, in those days it could be managed; it was managed, often. Lovers met there who couldn’t meet elsewhere. You knew that?”
“I—I daresay. I don’t remember.”
“You don’t remember? You don’t remember going to visit some ruins or other one evening, just after dark, and catching a bad chill! You were supposed to have gone to see the moonrise. People always said that expedition was what caused your illness.”
There was a moment’s silence; then Mrs. Ansley rejoined: “Did they? It was all so long ago.”
“Yes. And you got well again—so it didn’t matter. But I suppose it struck your friends—the reason given for your illness. I mean—because everybody knew you were so prudent on account of your throat, and your mother took such care of you…. You had been out late sightseeing, hadn’t you, that night”
“Perhaps I had. The most prudent girls aren’t always prudent. What made you think of it now?”
Mrs. Slade seemed to have no answer ready. But after a moment she broke out: “Because I simply can’t bear it any longer—”
Mrs. Ansley lifted her head quickly. Her eyes were wide and very pale. “Can’t bear what?”
“Why—your not knowing that I’ve always known why you went.”
“Why I went—?”
“Yes. You think I’m bluffing, don’t you? Well, you went to meet the man I was engaged to—and I can repeat every word of the letter that took you there.”
While Mrs. Slade spoke Mrs. Ansley had risen unsteadily to her feet. Her bag, her knitting and gloves, slid in a panic-stricken heap to the ground. She looked at Mrs. Slade as though she were looking at a ghost.
“No, no—don’t,” she faltered out.
“Why not? Listen, if you don’t believe me. ‘My one darling, things can’t go on like this. I must see you alone. Come to the Colosseum immediately after dark tomorrow. There will be somebody to let you in. No one whom you need fear will suspect’—but perhaps you’ve forgotten what the letter said?”
Mrs. Ansley met the challenge with an unexpected composure. Steadying herself against the chair she looked at her friend, and replied: “No; I know it by heart too.”
“And the signature? ‘Only your D.S.’ Was that it? I’m right, am I? That was the letter that took you out that evening after dark?”
Mrs. Ansley was still looking at her. It seemed to Mrs. Slade that a slow struggle was going on behind the voluntarily controlled mask of her small quiet face. “I shouldn’t have thought she had herself so well in hand,” Mrs. Slade reflected, almost resentfully. But at this moment Mrs. Ansley spoke. “I don’t know how you knew. I burned that letter at once.”
“Yes; you would, naturally—you’re so prudent!” The sneer was open now. “And if you burned the letter you’re wondering how on earth I know what was in it. That’s it, isn’t it?”
Mrs. Slade waited, but Mrs. Ansley did not speak.
“Well, my dear, I know what was in that letter because I wrote it!”
“You wrote it?”
The two women stood for a minute staring at each other in the last golden light. Then Mrs. Ansley dropped back into her chair. “Oh,” she murmured, and covered her face with her hands.
Mrs. Slade waited nervously for another word or movement. None came, and at length she broke out: “I horrify you.”
Mrs. Ansley’s hands dropped to her knees. The face they uncovered was streaked with tears. “I wasn’t thinking of you. I was thinking—it was the only letter I ever had from him!”
“And I wrote it. Yes; I wrote it! But I was the girl he was engaged to. Did you happen to remember that?”
Mrs. Ansley’s head drooped again. “I’m not trying to excuse myself… I remembered… ”
“And still you went?”
“Still I went.”
Mrs. Slade stood looking down on the small bowed figure at her side. The flame of her wrath had already sunk, and she wondered why she had ever thought there would be any satisfaction in inflicting so purposeless a wound on her friend. But she had to justify herself.
“You do understand? I’d found out—and I hated you, hated you. I knew you were in love with Delphin—and I was afraid; afraid of you, of your quiet ways, your sweetness… your… well, I wanted you out of the way, that’s all. Just for a few weeks; just till I was sure of him. So in a blind fury I wrote that letter… I don’t know why I’m telling you now.”
“I suppose,” said Mrs. Ansley slowly, “it’s because you’ve always gone on hating me.”
“Perhaps. Or because I wanted to get the whole thing off my mind.” She paused. “I’m glad you destroyed the letter. Of course I never thought you’d die.”
Mrs. Ansley relapsed into silence, and Mrs. Slade, leaning above her, was conscious of a strange sense of isolation, of being cut off from the warm current of human communion. “You think me a monster!”
“I don’t know… It was the only letter I had, and you say he didn’t write it”
“Ah, how you care for him still!”
“I cared for that memory,” said Mrs. Ansley.
Mrs. Slade continued to look down on her. She seemed physically reduced by the blow—as if, when she got up, the wind might scatter her like a puff of dust. Mrs. Slade’s jealousy suddenly leaped up again at the sight. All these years the woman had been living on that letter. How she must have loved him, to treasure the mere memory of its ashes! The letter of the man her friend was engaged to. Wasn’t it she who was the monster?
“You tried your best to get him away from me, didn’t you? But you failed; and I kept him. That’s all.”
“Yes. That’s all.”
“I wish now I hadn’t told you. I’d no idea you’d feel about it as you do; I thought you’d be amused. It all happened so long ago, as you say; and you must do me the justice to remember that I had no reason to think you’d ever taken it seriously. How could I, when you were married to Horace Ansley two months afterward? As soon as you could get out of bed your mother rushed you off to Florence and married you. People were rather surprised—they wondered at its being done so quickly; but I thought I knew. I had an idea you did it out of pique—to be able to say you’d got ahead of Delphin and me. Kids have such silly reasons for doing the most serious things. And your marrying so soon convinced me that you’d never really cared.”
“Yes. I suppose it would,” Mrs. Ansley assented.
The clear heaven overhead was emptied of all its gold. Dusk spread over it, abruptly darkening the Seven Hills. Here and there lights began to twinkle through the foliage at their feet. Steps were coming and going on the deserted terrace—waiters looking out of the doorway at the head of the stairs, then reappearing with trays and napkins and flasks of wine. Tables were moved, chairs straightened. A feeble string of electric lights flickered out. A stout lady in a dustcoat suddenly appeared, asking in broken Italian if anyone had seen the elastic band which held together her tattered Baedeker. She poked with her stick under the table at which she had lunched, the waiters assisting.
The corner where Mrs. Slade and Mrs. Ansley sat was still shadowy and deserted. For a long time neither of them spoke. At length Mrs. Slade began again: “I suppose I did it as a sort of joke—”
“Well, girls are ferocious sometimes, you know. Girls in love especially. And I remember laughing to myself all that evening at the idea that you were waiting around there in the dark, dodging out of sight, listening for every sound, trying to get in—of course I was upset when I heard you were so ill afterward.”
Mrs. Ansley had not moved for a long time. But now she turned slowly toward her companion. “But I didn’t wait. He’d arranged everything. He was there. We were let in at once,” she said.
Mrs. Slade sprang up from her leaning position. “Delphin there! They let you in! Ah, now you’re lying!” she burst out with violence.
Mrs. Ansley’s voice grew clearer, and full of surprise. “But of course he was there. Naturally he came—”
“Came? How did he know he’d find you there? You must be raving!”
Mrs. Ansley hesitated, as though reflecting. “But I answered the letter. I told him I’d be there. So he came.”
Mrs. Slade flung her hands up to her face. “Oh, God—you answered! I never thought of your answering…. ”
“It’s odd you never thought of it, if you wrote the letter.”
“Yes. I was blind with rage.”
Mrs. Ansley rose, and drew her fur scarf about her. “It is cold here. We’d better go…. I’m sorry for you,” she said, as she clasped the fur about her throat.
The unexpected words sent a pang through Mrs. Slade. “Yes; we’d better go.” She gathered up her bag and cloak. “I don’t know why you should be sorry for me,” she muttered.
Mrs. Ansley stood looking away from her toward the dusky mass of the Colosseum. “Well—because I didn’t have to wait that night.”
Mrs. Slade gave an unquiet laugh. “Yes, I was beaten there. But I oughtn’t to begrudge it to you, I suppose. At the end of all these years. After all, I had everything; I had him for twenty-five years. And you had nothing but that one letter that he didn’t write.”
Mrs. Ansley was again silent. At length she took a step toward the door of the terrace, and turned back, facing her companion.
“I had Barbara,” she said, and began to move ahead of Mrs. Slade toward the stairway.
“For Sissy Miller.” Gilbert Clandon, taking up the pearl brooch that lay among a litter of rings and brooches on a little table in his wife’s drawing-room, read the inscription: “For Sissy Miller, with my love.”
It was like Angela to have remembered even Sissy Miller, her secretary. Yet how strange it was, Gilbert Clandon thought once more, that she had left everything in such order — a little gift of some sort for every one of her friends. It was as if she had foreseen her death. Yet she had been in perfect health when she left the house that morning, six weeks ago; when she stepped off the kerb in Piccadilly and the car had killed her.
He was waiting for Sissy Miller. He had asked her to come; he owed her, he felt, after all the years she had been with them, this token of consideration. Yes, he went on, as he sat there waiting, it was strange that Angela had left everything in such order. Every friend had been left some little token of her affection. Every ring, every necklace, every little Chinese box — she had a passion for little boxes — had a name on it. And each had some memory for him. This he had given her; this — the enamel dolphin with the ruby eyes — she had pounced upon one day in a back street in Venice. He could remember her little cry of delight. To him, of course, she had left nothing in particular, unless it were her diary. Fifteen little volumes, bound in green leather, stood behind him on her writing table. Ever since they were married, she had kept a diary. Some of their very few — he could not call them quarrels, say tiffs — had been about that diary. When he came in and found her writing, she always shut it or put her hand over it. “No, no, no,” he could hear her say, “After I’m dead — perhaps.” So she had left it him, as her legacy. It was the only thing they had not shared when she was alive. But he had always taken it for granted that she would outlive him. If only she had stopped one moment, and had thought what she was doing, she would be alive now. But she had stepped straight off the kerb, the driver of the car had said at the inquest. She had given him no chance to pull up…. Here the sound of voices in the hall interrupted him.
“Miss Miller, Sir,” said the maid.
She came in. He had never seen her alone in his life, nor, of course, in tears. She was terribly distressed, and no wonder. Angela had been much more to her than an employer. She had been a friend. To himself, he thought, as he pushed a chair for her and asked her to sit down, she was scarcely distinguishable from any other woman of her kind. There were thousands of Sissy Millers — drab little women in black carrying attache cases. But Angela, with her genius for sympathy, had discovered all sorts of qualities in Sissy Miller. She was the soul of discretion; so silent; so trustworthy, one could tell her anything, and so on.
Miss Miller could not speak at first. She sat there dabbing her eyes with her pocket handkerchief. Then she made an effort.
“Pardon me, Mr. Clandon,” she said.
He murmured. Of course he understood. It was only natural. He could guess what his wife had meant to her.
“I’ve been so happy here,” she said, looking round. Her eyes rested on the writing table behind him. It was here they had worked — she and Angela. For Angela had her share of the duties that fall to the lot of a prominent politician’s wife. She had been the greatest help to him in his career. He had often seen her and Sissy sitting at that table — Sissy at the typewriter, taking down letters from her dictation. No doubt Miss Miller was thinking of that, too. Now all he had to do was to give her the brooch his wife had left her. A rather incongruous gift it seemed. It might have been better to have left her a sum of money, or even the typewriter. But there it was —“For Sissy Miller, with my love.” And, taking the brooch, he gave it her with the little speech that he had prepared. He knew, he said, that she would value it. His wife had often worn it…. And she replied, as she took it almost as if she too had prepared a speech, that it would always be a treasured possession…. She had, he supposed, other clothes upon which a pearl brooch would not look quite so incongruous. She was wearing the little black coat and skirt that seemed the uniform of her profession. Then he remembered — she was in mourning, of course. She, too, had had her tragedy — a brother, to who m she was devoted, had died only a week or two before Angela. In some accident was it? He could not remember — only Angela telling him. Angela, with her genius for sympathy, had been terribly upset. Meanwhile Sissy Miller had risen. She was putting on her gloves. Evidently she felt that she ought not to intrude. But he could not let her go without saying something about her future. What were her plans? Was there any way in which he could help her?
She was gazing at the table, where she had sat at her typewriter, where the diary lay. And, lost in her memories of Angela, she did not at once answer his sug gestion that he should help her. She seemed for a moment not to understand. So he repeated:
“What are your plans, Miss Miller?”
“My plans? Oh, that’s all right, Mr. Clandon,” she exclaimed. “Please don’t bother yourself about me.”
He took her to mean that she was in no need of financial assistance. It would be better, he realized, to make any suggestion of that kind in a letter. All he could do now was to say as he pressed her hand, “Remember, Miss Miller, if there’s any way in which I can help you, it will be a pleasure….” Then he opened the door. For a moment, on the threshold, as if a sudden thought had struck her, she stopped.
“Mr. Clandon,” she said, looking straight at him for the first time, and for the first time he was struck by the expression, sympathetic yet searching, in her eyes. “If at any time,” she continued, “there’s anything I can do to help you, remember, I shall feel it, for your wife’s sake, a pleasure…”
With that she was gone. Her words and the look that went with them were unexpected. It was almost as if she believed, or hoped, that he would need her. A curious, perhaps a fantastic idea occurred to him as he returned to his chair. Could it be, that during all those years when he had scarcely noticed her, she, as the novelists say, had entertained a passion for him? He caught his own reflection in the glass as he passed. He was over fifty; but he could not help admitting that he was still, as the looking-glass showed him, a very distinguished-looking man.
“Poor Sissy Miller!” he said, half laughing. How he would have liked to share that joke with his wife! He turned instinctively to her diary. “Gilbert,” he read, opening it at random, “looked so wonderful….” It was as if she had answered his question. Of course, she seemed to say, you’re very attractive to women. Of course Sissy Miller felt that too. He read on. “How proud I am to be his wife!” And he had always been very proud to be her husband. How often, when they dined out somewhere, he had looked at her across the table and said to himself, She is the loveliest woman here! He read on. That first year he had been standing for Parliament. They had toured his constituency. “When Gilbert sat down the applause was terrific. The whole audience rose and sang: ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow.’ I was quite overcome.” He remembered that, too. She had been sitting on the platform beside him. He could still see the glance she cast at him, and how she had tears in her eyes. And then? He turned the pages. They had gone to Venice. He recalled that happy holiday after the election. “We had ices at Florians.” He smiled — she was still such a child; she loved ices. “Gilbert gave me a most interesting account of the history of Venice. He told me that the Doges…” she had written it all out in her schoolgirl hand. One of the delights of travelling with Angela had been that she was so eager to learn. She was so terribly ignorant, she used to say, as if that were not one of her charms. And then — he opened the next volume — they had come back to London. “I was so anxious to make a good impression. I wore my wedding dress.” He could see her now sitting next old Sir Edward; and making a conquest of that formidable old man, his chief. He read on rapidly, filling in scene after scene from her scrappy fragments. “Dined at the House of Commons…. To an evening party at the Lovegroves. Did I realize my responsibility, Lady L. asked me, as Gilbert’s wife?” Then, as the years passed — he took another volume from the writing table — he had become more and more absorbed in his work. And she, of course, was more often alone…. It had been a great grief to her, apparently, that they had had no children. “How I wish,” one entry read, “that Gilbert had a son!” Oddly enough he had never much regretted that himself. Life had been so full, so rich as it was. That year he had been given a minor post in the government. A minor post only, but her comment was: “I am quite certain now that he will be Prime Minister!” Well, if things had gone differently, it might have been so. He paused here to speculate upon what might have been. Politics was a gamble, he reflected; but the game wasn’t over yet. Not at fifty. He cast his eyes rapidly over more pages, full of the little trifles, the insignificant, happy, daily trifles that had made up her life.
He took up another volume and opened it at random. “What a coward I am! I let the chance slip again. But it seemed selfish to bother him with my own affairs, when he has so much to think about. And we so seldom have an evening alone.” What was the meaning of that? Oh, here was the explanation — it referred to her work in the East End. “I plucked up courage and talked to Gilbert at last. He was so kind, so good. He made no objection.” He remembered that conversation. She had told him that she felt so idle, so useless. She wished to have some work of her own. She wanted to do something — she had blushed so prettily, he remembered, as she said it, sitting in that very chair — to help others. He had bantered her a little. Hadn’t she enough to do looking after him, after her home? Still, if it amused her, of course he had no objection. What was it? Some district? Some committee? Only she must promise not to make herself ill. So it seemed that every Wednesday she went to Whitechapel. He remembered how he hated the clothes she wore on those occasions. But she had taken it very seriously, it seemed. The diary was full of references like this: “Saw Mrs. Jones… She has ten children…. Husband lost his arm in an accident…. Did my best to find a job for Lily.” He skipped on. His own name occurred less frequently. His interest slackened. Some of the entries conveyed nothing to him. For example: “Had a heated argument about socialism with B. M.” Who was B. M.? He could not fill in the initials; some woman, he supposed, that she had met on one of her committees. “B. M. made a violent attack upon the upper classes…. I walked back after the meeting with B. M. and tried to convince him. But he is so narrow-minded.” So B. M. was a man — no doubt one of those “intellectuals,” as they call themselves, who are so violent, as Angela said, and so narrowminded. She had invited him to come and see her apparently. “B. M. came to dinner. He shook hands with Minnie!” That note of exclamation gave another twist to his mental picture. B. M., it seemed, wasn’t used to parlourmaids; he had shaken hands with Minnie. Presumably he was one of those tame working men who air their views in ladies’ drawing-rooms. Gilbert knew the type, and had no liking for this particular specimen, whoever B. M. might be. Here he was again. “Went with B. M. to the Tower of London…. He said revolution is bound to come… He said we live in a Fool’s Paradise.” That was just the kind of thing B. M. would say — Gilbert could hear him. He could also see him quite distinctly — a stubby little man, with a rough beard, red tie, dressed as they always did in tweeds, who had never done an honest day’s work in his life. Surely Angela had the sense to see through him? He read on. “B. M. said some very disagreeable things about —” The name was carefully scratched out. “I told him I would not listen to any more abuse of —” Again the name was obliterated. Could it have been his own name? Was that why Angela covered the page so quickly when he came in? The thought added to his growing dislike of B. M. He had had the impertinence to discuss him in this very room. Why had Angela never told him? It was very unlike her to conceal anything; she had been the soul of candour. He turned the pages, picking out every reference to B. M. “B. M. told me the story of his childhood. His mother went out charring… When I think of it, I can hardly bear to go on living in such luxury…. Three guineas for one hat!” If only she had discussed the matter with him, instead of puzzling her poor little head about questions that were much too difficult for her to understand! He had lent her books. KARL MARX, THE COMING REVOLUTION. The initials B.M., B. M., B. M., recurred repeatedly. But why never the full name? There was an informality, an intimacy in the use of initials that was very unlike Angela. Had she called him B. M. to his face? He read on. “B. M. came unexpectedly after dinner. Luckily, I was alone.” That was only a year ago. “Luckily”— why luckily? —“I was alone.” Where had he been that night? He checked the date in his engagement book. It had been the night of the Mansion House dinner. And B. M. and Angela had spent the evening alone! He tried to recall that evening. Was she waiting up for him when he came back? Had the room looked just as usual? Were there glasses on the table? Were the chairs drawn close together? He could remember nothing — nothing whatever, nothing except his own speech at the Mansion House dinner. It became more and more inexplicable to him — the whole situation; his wife receiving an unknown man alone. Perhaps the next volume would explain. Hastily he reached for the last of the diaries — the one she had left unfinished when she died. There, on the very first page, was that cursed fellow again. “Dined alone with B. M…. He became very agitated. He said it was time we understood each other…. I tried to make him listen. But he would not. He threatened that if I did not…” the rest of the page was scored over. She had written “Egypt. Egypt. Egypt,” over the whole page. He could not make out a single word; but there could be only one interpretation: the scoundrel had asked her to become his mistress. Alone in his room! The blood rushed to Gilbert Clandon’s face. He turned the pages rapidly. What had been her answer? Initials had ceased. It was simply “he” now. “He came again. I told him I could not come to any decision…. I implored him to leave me.” He had forced himself upon her in this very house. But why hadn’t she told him? How could she have hesitated for an instant? Then: “I wrote him a letter.” Then pages were left blank. Then there was this: “No answer to my letter.” Then more blank pages; and then this: “He has done what he threatened.” After that — what came after that? He turned page after page. All were blank. But there, on the very day before her death, was this entry: “Have I the courage to do it too?” That was the end.
Gilbert Clandon let the book slide to the floor. He could see her in front of him. She was standing on the kerb in Piccadilly. Her eyes stared; her fists were clenched. Here came the car….
He could not bear it. He must know the truth. He strode to the telephone.
“Miss Miller!” There was silence. Then he heard someone moving in the room.
“Sissy Miller speaking”— her voice at last answered him.
“Who,” he thundered, “is B. M.?”
He could hear the cheap clock ticking on her mantelpiece; then a long drawn sigh. Then at last she said:
“He was my brother.”
He WAS her brother; her brother who had killed himself. “Is there,” he heard Sissy Miller asking, “anything that I can explain?”
“Nothing!” he cried. “Nothing!”
He had received his legacy. She had told him the truth. She had stepped off the kerb to rejoin her lover. She had stepped off the kerb to escape from him.