Henry James.

The Europeans. A sketch online

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Felix inclined himself gravely. " You shall be
obeyed. But your position in Germany?" he


" Please to make no observations upon it."

" I was only going to say that I supposed it
was altered."

" You are mistaken."

" But I thought you had signed"

" I have not signed ! " said the Baroness.

Felix urged her no further, and it was arranged
that he should immediately assist her to embark.

Mr. Brand was indeed, it appeared, very im-
patient to consummate his sacrifice and deliver
the nuptial benediction which would set it off so
handsomely; but Eugenia's impatience to p with-
draw from a country in which she had not found
the fortune she had come to seek was even less
to be mistaken. It is true she had not made any
very various exertion ; but she appeared to feel
justified in generalizing in deciding that the
conditions of action on this provincial continent
were not favorable to really superior women.
The elder world was, after all, their natural field.
The unembarrassed directness with which she
proceeded to apply these intelligent conclusions
appeared to the little circle of spectators who have
figured in our narrative but the supreme exhibi-
tion of a character to which the experience of life
had imparted an inimitable pliancy. It had a
distinct effect upon Robert Acton, who, for the
two days preceding her departure, was a very


restless and irritated mortal. She passed her last
evening at her uncle's, where she had never been
more charming ; and in parting with Clifford
Wentworth's affianced bride she drew from her
own finger a curious old ring and presented it to
her with the prettiest speech and kiss. Gertrude,
who as an affianced bride was also indebted to
her gracious bounty, admired this little incident
extremely, and Robert Acton almost wondered
whether it did not give him the right, as Lizzie's
brother and guardian, to offer in return a hand-
some present to the Baroness. It would have
made him extremely happy to be able to offer a
handsome present to the Baroness ; but he ab-
stained from this expression of his sentiments,
and they were in consequence, at the very last, by
so much the less comfortable. It was almost at
the very last that he saw her late the night
before she went to Boston to embark.

" For myself, I wish you might have stayed,"
he said. " But not for your own sa,ke."

" I don't make so many differences," said the
Baroness. " I am simply sorry to be going."

" That 's a much deeper difference than mine,"
Acton declared; "for you mean you are simply
glad ! "

Felix parted with her on the deck of the ship.
" We shall often meet over there," he said.


" I don't know," she answered. " Europe seems
to me much larger than America."

Mr. Brand, of course, in the days that immedi-
ately followed, was not the only impatient spirit ;
but it may~be said that of all the young spirits
interested in the event none rose more eagerly to
the level of the occasion. Gertrude left her father's
house with Felix Young ; they were imperturba-
bly happy and they went far away. Clifford and
his young wife sought their felicity in a narrower
circle, and the latter's influence upon her husband
was such as to justify, strikingly, that theory of
the elevating effect of easy intercourse with clever
women which Felix had propounded to Mr. Went-
worth. Gertrude was for a good while a distant
figure, but she came back when Charlotte married
Mr. Brand. She was present at the wedding
feast, where Felix's gayety confessed to no change.
Then she disappeared, and the echo of a gayety
of her own, mingled with that of her husband,
often came back to the home of her earlier years.
Mr. Wentworth at last found himself listening for
it; and Robert Acton, after his mother's death,
married a particularly nice young girl.


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Online LibraryHenry JamesThe Europeans. A sketch → online text (page 15 of 15)