Daisy Miller, A Study
by Henry James
At the little town of Vevey, in Switzerland, there is a
particularly comfortable hotel. There are, indeed, many hotels,
for the entertainment of tourists is the business of the place,
which, as many travelers will remember, is seated upon the edge
of a remarkably blue lake--a lake that it behooves every tourist
to visit. The shore of the lake presents an unbroken array
of establishments of this order, of every category, from the
"grand hotel" of the newest fashion, with a chalk-white front,
a hundred balconies, and a dozen flags flying from its roof,
to the little Swiss pension of an elder day, with its name
inscribed in German-looking lettering upon a pink or yellow
wall and an awkward summerhouse in the angle of the garden.
One of the hotels at Vevey, however, is famous, even classical,
being distinguished from many of its upstart neighbors
by an air both of luxury and of maturity. In this region,
in the month of June, American travelers are extremely numerous;
it may be said, indeed, that Vevey assumes at this period
some of the characteristics of an American watering place.
There are sights and sounds which evoke a vision, an echo,
of Newport and Saratoga. There is a flitting hither and thither
of "stylish" young girls, a rustling of muslin flounces,
a rattle of dance music in the morning hours, a sound of
high-pitched voices at all times. You receive an impression
of these things at the excellent inn of the "Trois Couronnes"
and are transported in fancy to the Ocean House or to Congress Hall.
But at the "Trois Couronnes," it must be added, there are other
features that are much at variance with these suggestions:
neat German waiters, who look like secretaries of legation;
Russian princesses sitting in the garden; little Polish
boys walking about held by the hand, with their governors;
a view of the sunny crest of the Dent du Midi and the picturesque
towers of the Castle of Chillon.
I hardly know whether it was the analogies or the differences that were
uppermost in the mind of a young American, who, two or three years ago,
sat in the garden of the "Trois Couronnes," looking about him,
rather idly, at some of the graceful objects I have mentioned.
It was a beautiful summer morning, and in whatever fashion the young
American looked at things, they must have seemed to him charming.
He had come from Geneva the day before by the little steamer,
to see his aunt, who was staying at the hotel--Geneva having been
for a long time his place of residence. But his aunt had a headache--
his aunt had almost always a headache--and now she was shut up in
her room, smelling camphor, so that he was at liberty to wander about.
He was some seven-and-twenty years of age; when his friends spoke
of him, they usually said that he was at Geneva "studying."
When his enemies spoke of him, they said--but, after all, he had
no enemies; he was an extremely amiable fellow, and universally liked.
What I should say is, simply, that when certain persons spoke
of him they affirmed that the reason of his spending so much
time at Geneva was that he was extremely devoted to a lady
who lived there--a foreign lady--a person older than himself.
Very few Americans--indeed, I think none--had ever seen this lady,
about whom there were some singular stories. But Winterbourne
had an old attachment for the little metropolis of Calvinism;
he had been put to school there as a boy, and he had afterward
gone to college there--circumstances which had led to his forming
a great many youthful friendships. Many of these he had kept,
and they were a source of great satisfaction to him.
After knocking at his aunt's door and learning that she was indisposed,
he had taken a walk about the town, and then he had come in to
his breakfast. He had now finished his breakfast; but he was drinking
a small cup of coffee, which had been served to him on a little table
in the garden by one of the waiters who looked like an attache.
At last he finished his coffee and lit a cigarette. Presently a
small boy came walking along the path--an urchin of nine or ten.
The child, who was diminutive for his years, had an aged expression
of countenance, a pale complexion, and sharp little features.
He was dressed in knickerbockers, with red stockings, which displayed
his poor little spindle-shanks; he also wore a brilliant red cravat.
He carried in his hand a long alpenstock, the sharp point of which
he thrust into everything that he approached--the flowerbeds,
the garden benches, the trains of the ladies' dresses. In front
of Winterbourne he paused, looking at him with a pair of bright,
penetrating little eyes.
"Will you give me a lump of sugar?" he asked in a sharp, hard little voice--
a voice immature and yet, somehow, not young.
Winterbourne glanced at the small table near him, on which his coffee
service rested, and saw that several morsels of sugar remained.
"Yes, you may take one," he answered; "but I don't think sugar
is good for little boys."
This little boy stepped forward and carefully selected three of
the coveted fragments, two of which he buried in the pocket of
his knickerbockers, depositing the other as promptly in another place.
He poked his alpenstock, lance-fashion, into Winterbourne's bench
and tried to crack the lump of sugar with his teeth.
"Oh, blazes; it's har-r-d!" he exclaimed, pronouncing the adjective
in a peculiar manner.
Winterbourne had immediately perceived that he might
have the honor of claiming him as a fellow countryman.
"Take care you don't hurt your teeth," he said, paternally.
"I haven't got any teeth to hurt. They have all come out.
I have only got seven teeth. My mother counted them last night,
and one came out right afterward. She said she'd slap me
if any more came out. I can't help it. It's this old Europe.
It's the climate that makes them come out. In America they
didn't come out. It's these hotels."
Winterbourne was much amused. "If you eat three lumps of sugar,
your mother will certainly slap you," he said.
"She's got to give me some candy, then," rejoined his young interlocutor.
"I can't get any candy here--any American candy. American candy's
the best candy."
"And are American little boys the best little boys?" asked Winterbourne.
"I don't know. I'm an American boy," said the child.
"I see you are one of the best!" laughed Winterbourne.
"Are you an American man?" pursued this vivacious infant.
And then, on Winterbourne's affirmative reply--"American men
are the best," he declared.
His companion thanked him for the compliment, and the child,
who had now got astride of his alpenstock, stood looking
about him, while he attacked a second lump of sugar.
Winterbourne wondered if he himself had been like this in his infancy,
for he had been brought to Europe at about this age.
"Here comes my sister!" cried the child in a moment.
"She's an American girl."
Winterbourne looked along the path and saw a beautiful
young lady advancing. "American girls are the best girls,"
he said cheerfully to his young companion.
"My sister ain't the best!" the child declared.
"She's always blowing at me."
"I imagine that is your fault, not hers," said Winterbourne.
The young lady meanwhile had drawn near. She was dressed in white muslin,
with a hundred frills and flounces, and knots of pale-colored ribbon.
She was bareheaded, but she balanced in her hand a large parasol,
with a deep border of embroidery; and she was strikingly, admirably pretty.
"How pretty they are!" thought Winterbourne, straightening himself
in his seat, as if he were prepared to rise.
The young lady paused in front of his bench, near the parapet of the garden,
which overlooked the lake. The little boy had now converted his alpenstock
into a vaulting pole, by the aid of which he was springing about in the gravel
and kicking it up not a little.
"Randolph," said the young lady, "what ARE you doing?"
"I'm going up the Alps," replied Randolph. "This is the way!"
And he gave another little jump, scattering the pebbles
about Winterbourne's ears.
"That's the way they come down," said Winterbourne.
"He's an American man!" cried Randolph, in his little hard voice.
The young lady gave no heed to this announcement, but looked
straight at her brother. "Well, I guess you had better be quiet,"
she simply observed.
It seemed to Winterbourne that he had been in a manner presented. He got
up and stepped slowly toward the young girl, throwing away his cigarette.
"This little boy and I have made acquaintance," he said, with great civility.
In Geneva, as he had been perfectly aware, a young man was not at liberty
to speak to a young unmarried lady except under certain rarely occurring
conditions; but here at Vevey, what conditions could be better than these?--
a pretty American girl coming and standing in front of you in a garden.
This pretty American girl, however, on hearing Winterbourne's observation,
simply glanced at him; she then turned her head and looked over the parapet,
at the lake and the opposite mountains. He wondered whether he had gone
too far, but he decided that he must advance farther, rather than retreat.
While he was thinking of something else to say, the young lady turned
to the little boy again.
"I should like to know where you got that pole," she said.
"I bought it," responded Randolph.
"You don't mean to say you're going to take it to Italy?"
"Yes, I am going to take it to Italy," the child declared.
The young girl glanced over the front of her dress and smoothed out a knot
or two of ribbon. Then she rested her eyes upon the prospect again.
"Well, I guess you had better leave it somewhere," she said after a moment.
"Are you going to Italy?" Winterbourne inquired in a tone
of great respect.
The young lady glanced at him again. "Yes, sir," she replied.
And she said nothing more.
"Are you--a-- going over the Simplon?" Winterbourne pursued,
a little embarrassed.
"I don't know," she said. "I suppose it's some mountain.
Randolph, what mountain are we going over?"
"Going where?" the child demanded.
"To Italy," Winterbourne explained.
"I don't know," said Randolph. "I don't want to go to Italy.
I want to go to America."
"Oh, Italy is a beautiful place!" rejoined the young man.
"Can you get candy there?" Randolph loudly inquired.
"I hope not," said his sister. "I guess you have had enough candy,
and mother thinks so too."
"I haven't had any for ever so long--for a hundred weeks!"
cried the boy, still jumping about.
The young lady inspected her flounces and smoothed her ribbons again;
and Winterbourne presently risked an observation upon the beauty
of the view. He was ceasing to be embarrassed, for he had begun
to perceive that she was not in the least embarrassed herself.
There had not been the slightest alteration in her charming complexion;
she was evidently neither offended nor flattered.
If she looked another way when he spoke to her, and seemed not
particularly to hear him, this was simply her habit, her manner.
Yet, as he talked a little more and pointed out some of the objects
of interest in the view, with which she appeared quite unacquainted,
she gradually gave him more of the benefit of her glance; and then
he saw that this glance was perfectly direct and unshrinking.
It was not, however, what would have been called an immodest glance,
for the young girl's eyes were singularly honest and fresh.
They were wonderfully pretty eyes; and, indeed, Winterbourne had not
seen for a long time anything prettier than his fair countrywoman's
various features--her complexion, her nose, her ears, her teeth.
He had a great relish for feminine beauty; he was addicted to
observing and analyzing it; and as regards this young lady's face
he made several observations. It was not at all insipid, but it
was not exactly expressive; and though it was eminently delicate,
Winterbourne mentally accused it--very forgivingly--of a want of finish.
He thought it very possible that Master Randolph's sister was a coquette;
he was sure she had a spirit of her own; but in her bright,
sweet, superficial little visage there was no mockery, no irony.
Before long it became obvious that she was much disposed
toward conversation. She told him that they were going to Rome
for the winter--she and her mother and Randolph. She asked him
if he was a "real American"; she shouldn't have taken him for one;
he seemed more like a German--this was said after a little hesitation--
especially when he spoke. Winterbourne, laughing, answered that
he had met Germans who spoke like Americans, but that he had not,
so far as he remembered, met an American who spoke like a German.
Then he asked her if she should not be more comfortable in sitting
upon the bench which he had just quitted. She answered that she
liked standing up and walking about; but she presently sat down.
She told him she was from New York State--"if you know where that is."
Winterbourne learned more about her by catching hold of her small,
slippery brother and making him stand a few minutes by his side.
"Tell me your name, my boy," he said.
"Randolph C. Miller," said the boy sharply. "And I'll tell you her name";
and he leveled his alpenstock at his sister.
"You had better wait till you are asked!" said this young lady calmly.
"I should like very much to know your name," said Winterbourne.
"Her name is Daisy Miller!" cried the child. "But that isn't her real name;
that isn't her name on her cards."
"It's a pity you haven't got one of my cards!" said Miss Miller.
"Her real name is Annie P. Miller," the boy went on.
"Ask him HIS name," said his sister, indicating Winterbourne.
But on this point Randolph seemed perfectly indifferent;
he continued to supply information with regard to his own family.
"My father's name is Ezra B. Miller," he announced.
"My father ain't in Europe; my father's in a better
place than Europe;."
Winterbourne imagined for a moment that this was the manner
in which the child had been taught to intimate that Mr. Miller
had been removed to the sphere of celestial reward.
But Randolph immediately added, "My father's in Schenectady.
He's got a big business. My father's rich, you bet!"
"Well!" ejaculated Miss Miller, lowering her parasol and looking
at the embroidered border. Winterbourne presently released
the child, who departed, dragging his alpenstock along the path.
"He doesn't like Europe," said the young girl. "He wants
to go back."
"To Schenectady, you mean?"
"Yes; he wants to go right home. He hasn't got any boys here.
There is one boy here, but he always goes round with a teacher;
they won't let him play."
"And your brother hasn't any teacher?" Winterbourne inquired.
"Mother thought of getting him one, to travel round with us.
There was a lady told her of a very good teacher;
an American lady--perhaps you know her--Mrs. Sanders.
I think she came from Boston. She told her of this teacher,
and we thought of getting him to travel round with us.
But Randolph said he didn't want a teacher traveling round with us.
He said he wouldn't have lessons when he was in the cars.
And we ARE in the cars about half the time. There was an English
lady we met in the cars--I think her name was Miss Featherstone;
perhaps you know her. She wanted to know why I didn't give
Randolph lessons--give him 'instruction,' she called it.
I guess he could give me more instruction than I could give him.
He's very smart."
"Yes," said Winterbourne; "he seems very smart."
"Mother's going to get a teacher for him as soon as we get to Italy.
Can you get good teachers in Italy?"
"Very good, I should think," said Winterbourne.
"Or else she's going to find some school. He ought to learn
some more. He's only nine. He's going to college."
And in this way Miss Miller continued to converse upon the affairs
of her family and upon other topics. She sat there with her
extremely pretty hands, ornamented with very brilliant rings,
folded in her lap, and with her pretty eyes now resting upon
those of Winterbourne, now wandering over the garden, the people
who passed by, and the beautiful view. She talked to Winterbourne
as if she had known him a long time. He found it very pleasant.
It was many years since he had heard a young girl talk so much.
It might have been said of this unknown young lady, who had come
and sat down beside him upon a bench, that she chattered.
She was very quiet; she sat in a charming, tranquil attitude;
but her lips and her eyes were constantly moving. She had a soft,
slender, agreeable voice, and her tone was decidedly sociable.
She gave Winterbourne a history of her movements and intentions
and those of her mother and brother, in Europe, and enumerated,
in particular, the various hotels at which they had stopped.
"That English lady in the cars," she said--"Miss Featherstone--
asked me if we didn't all live in hotels in America.
I told her I had never been in so many hotels in my life as since I
came to Europe. I have never seen so many--it's nothing but hotels."
But Miss Miller did not make this remark with a querulous accent;
she appeared to be in the best humor with everything.
She declared that the hotels were very good, when once you
got used to their ways, and that Europe was perfectly sweet.
She was not disappointed--not a bit. Perhaps it was because
she had heard so much about it before. She had ever so many
intimate friends that had been there ever so many times.
And then she had had ever so many dresses and things from Paris.
Whenever she put on a Paris dress she felt as if she
were in Europe.
"It was a kind of a wishing cap," said Winterbourne.
"Yes," said Miss Miller without examining this analogy;
"it always made me wish I was here. But I needn't have
done that for dresses. I am sure they send all the pretty
ones to America; you see the most frightful things here.
The only thing I don't like," she proceeded, "is the society.
There isn't any society; or, if there is, I don't know
where it keeps itself. Do you? I suppose there is some
society somewhere, but I haven't seen anything of it.
I'm very fond of society, and I have always had a great deal of it.
I don't mean only in Schenectady, but in New York.
I used to go to New York every winter. In New York I had lots
of society. Last winter I had seventeen dinners given me;
and three of them were by gentlemen," added Daisy Miller.
"I have more friends in New York than in Schenectady--
more gentleman friends; and more young lady friends too,"
she resumed in a moment. She paused again for an instant;
she was looking at Winterbourne with all her prettiness in her
lively eyes and in her light, slightly monotonous smile.
"I have always had," she said, "a great deal of gentlemen's society."
Poor Winterbourne was amused, perplexed, and decidedly charmed.
He had never yet heard a young girl express herself in just
this fashion; never, at least, save in cases where to say such
things seemed a kind of demonstrative evidence of a certain
laxity of deportment. And yet was he to accuse Miss Daisy Miller
of actual or potential inconduite, as they said at Geneva?
He felt that he had lived at Geneva so long that he had lost
a good deal; he had become dishabituated to the American tone.
Never, indeed, since he had grown old enough to appreciate things,
had he encountered a young American girl of so pronounced a type as this.
Certainly she was very charming, but how deucedly sociable!
Was she simply a pretty girl from New York State? Were they all
like that, the pretty girls who had a good deal of gentlemen's society?
Or was she also a designing, an audacious, an unscrupulous young person?
Winterbourne had lost his instinct in this matter, and his reason
could not help him. Miss Daisy Miller looked extremely innocent.
Some people had told him that, after all, American girls
were exceedingly innocent; and others had told him that,
after all, they were not. He was inclined to think Miss Daisy
Miller was a flirt--a pretty American flirt. He had never,
as yet, had any relations with young ladies of this category.
He had known, here in Europe, two or three women--persons older
than Miss Daisy Miller, and provided, for respectability's sake,
with husbands--who were great coquettes--dangerous, terrible women,
with whom one's relations were liable to take a serious turn.
But this young girl was not a coquette in that sense; she was
very unsophisticated; she was only a pretty American flirt.
Winterbourne was almost grateful for having found the formula
that applied to Miss Daisy Miller. He leaned back in his seat;
he remarked to himself that she had the most charming nose
he had ever seen; he wondered what were the regular conditions
and limitations of one's intercourse with a pretty American flirt.
It presently became apparent that he was on the way to learn.
"Have you been to that old castle?" asked the young girl, pointing with her
parasol to the far-gleaming walls of the Chateau de Chillon.
"Yes, formerly, more than once," said Winterbourne.
"You too, I suppose, have seen it?"
"No; we haven't been there. I want to go there dreadfully.
Of course I mean to go there. I wouldn't go away from here
without having seen that old castle."
"It's a very pretty excursion," said Winterbourne, "and very easy to make.
You can drive, you know, or you can go by the little steamer."
"You can go in the cars," said Miss Miller.
"Yes; you can go in the cars," Winterbourne assented.
"Our courier says they take you right up to the castle," the young
girl continued. "We were going last week, but my mother gave out.
She suffers dreadfully from dyspepsia. She said she couldn't go.
Randolph wouldn't go either; he says he doesn't think much of old castles.
But I guess we'll go this week, if we can get Randolph."
"Your brother is not interested in ancient monuments?"
Winterbourne inquired, smiling.
"He says he don't care much about old castles. He's only nine.
He wants to stay at the hotel. Mother's afraid to leave him alone,
and the courier won't stay with him; so we haven't been to many places.
But it will be too bad if we don't go up there." And Miss Miller
pointed again at the Chateau de Chillon.
"I should think it might be arranged," said Winterbourne.
"Couldn't you get some one to stay for the afternoon with Randolph?"
Miss Miller looked at him a moment, and then, very placidly,
"I wish YOU would stay with him!" she said.
Winterbourne hesitated a moment. "I should much rather go
to Chillon with you."
"With me?" asked the young girl with the same placidity.
She didn't rise, blushing, as a young girl at Geneva would have done;
and yet Winterbourne, conscious that he had been very bold,
thought it possible she was offended. "With your mother,"
he answered very respectfully.
But it seemed that both his audacity and his respect were lost
upon Miss Daisy Miller. "I guess my mother won't go, after all,"
she said. "She don't like to ride round in the afternoon.
But did you really mean what you said just now--that you would
like to go up there?"
"Most earnestly," Winterbourne declared.
"Then we may arrange it. If mother will stay with Randolph,
I guess Eugenio will."
"Eugenio?" the young man inquired.
"Eugenio's our courier. He doesn't like to stay with Randolph;
he's the most fastidious man I ever saw. But he's a splendid courier.
I guess he'll stay at home with Randolph if mother does, and then
we can go to the castle."
Winterbourne reflected for an instant as lucidly as possible--
"we" could only mean Miss Daisy Miller and himself.
This program seemed almost too agreeable for credence;
he felt as if he ought to kiss the young lady's hand.
Possibly he would have done so and quite spoiled the project,
but at this moment another person, presumably Eugenio, appeared.
A tall, handsome man, with superb whiskers, wearing a velvet
morning coat and a brilliant watch chain, approached Miss Miller,
looking sharply at her companion. "Oh, Eugenio!" said Miss
Miller with the friendliest accent.
Eugenio had looked at Winterbourne from head to foot;
he now bowed gravely to the young lady. "I have the honor
to inform mademoiselle that luncheon is upon the table."
Miss Miller slowly rose. "See here, Eugenio!" she said;
"I'm going to that old castle, anyway."
"To the Chateau de Chillon, mademoiselle?" the courier inquired.
"Mademoiselle has made arrangements?" he added in a tone which struck
Winterbourne as very impertinent.
Eugenio's tone apparently threw, even to Miss Miller's own apprehension,
a slightly ironical light upon the young girl's situation.
She turned to Winterbourne, blushing a little--a very little.
"You won't back out?" she said.
"I shall not be happy till we go!" he protested.
"And you are staying in this hotel?" she went on.
"And you are really an American?"
The courier stood looking at Winterbourne offensively. The young man,
at least, thought his manner of looking an offense to Miss Miller;
it conveyed an imputation that she "picked up" acquaintances. "I shall
have the honor of presenting to you a person who will tell you all about me,"
he said, smiling and referring to his aunt.
"Oh, well, we'll go some day," said Miss Miller.
And she gave him a smile and turned away. She put up
her parasol and walked back to the inn beside Eugenio.
Winterbourne stood looking after her; and as she moved away,
drawing her muslin furbelows over the gravel, said to himself
that she had the tournure of a princess.
He had, however, engaged to do more than proved feasible, in promising
to present his aunt, Mrs. Costello, to Miss Daisy Miller.
As soon as the former lady had got better of her headache,
he waited upon her in her apartment; and, after the proper
inquiries in regard to her health, he asked her if she had
observed in the hotel an American family--a mamma, a daughter,
and a little boy.
"And a courier?" said Mrs. Costello. "Oh yes, I have observed them.
Seen them--heard them--and kept out of their way." Mrs. Costello was
a widow with a fortune; a person of much distinction, who frequently
intimated that, if she were not so dreadfully liable to sick headaches,
she would probably have left a deeper impress upon her time. She had a long,
pale face, a high nose, and a great deal of very striking white hair,
which she wore in large puffs and rouleaux over the top of her head.
She had two sons married in New York and another who was now in Europe.
This young man was amusing himself at Hamburg, and, though he was
on his travels, was rarely perceived to visit any particular city
at the moment selected by his mother for her own appearance there.
Her nephew, who had come up to Vevey expressly to see her, was therefore
more attentive than those who, as she said, were nearer to her.
He had imbibed at Geneva the idea that one must always be attentive
to one's aunt. Mrs. Costello had not seen him for many years,
and she was greatly pleased with him, manifesting her approbation
by initiating him into many of the secrets of that social sway which,
as she gave him to understand, she exerted in the American capital.
She admitted that she was very exclusive; but, if he were acquainted with
New York, he would see that one had to be. And her picture of the minutely
hierarchical constitution of the society of that city, which she presented
to him in many different lights, was, to Winterbourne's imagination,
almost oppressively striking.
He immediately perceived, from her tone, that Miss Daisy Miller's
place in the social scale was low. "I am afraid you don't approve
of them," he said.
"They are very common," Mrs. Costello declared. "They are the sort
of Americans that one does one's duty by not--not accepting."
"Ah, you don't accept them?" said the young man.
"I can't, my dear Frederick. I would if I could, but I can't."
"The young girl is very pretty," said Winterbourne in a moment.
"Of course she's pretty. But she is very common."
"I see what you mean, of course," said Winterbourne after another pause.
"She has that charming look that they all have," his aunt resumed.
"I can't think where they pick it up; and she dresses
in perfection--no, you don't know how well she dresses.
I can't think where they get their taste."
"But, my dear aunt, she is not, after all, a Comanche savage."
"She is a young lady," said Mrs. Costello, "who has an intimacy
with her mamma's courier."
"An intimacy with the courier?" the young man demanded.
"Oh, the mother is just as bad! They treat the courier
like a familiar friend--like a gentleman. I shouldn't wonder
if he dines with them. Very likely they have never seen a man
with such good manners, such fine clothes, so like a gentleman.
He probably corresponds to the young lady's idea of a count.
He sits with them in the garden in the evening.
I think he smokes."
Winterbourne listened with interest to these disclosures;
they helped him to make up his mind about Miss Daisy.
Evidently she was rather wild. "Well," he said, "I am not
a courier, and yet she was very charming to me."
"You had better have said at first," said Mrs. Costello with dignity,
"that you had made her acquaintance."
"We simply met in the garden, and we talked a bit."
"Tout bonnement! And pray what did you say?"
"I said I should take the liberty of introducing her to my admirable aunt."
"I am much obliged to you."
"It was to guarantee my respectability," said Winterbourne.
"And pray who is to guarantee hers?"
"Ah, you are cruel!" said the young man. "She's a very nice young girl."
"You don't say that as if you believed it," Mrs. Costello observed.
"She is completely uncultivated," Winterbourne went on.
"But she is wonderfully pretty, and, in short, she is very nice.
To prove that I believe it, I am going to take her to the
Chateau de Chillon."
"You two are going off there together? I should say it
proved just the contrary. How long had you known her,
may I ask, when this interesting project was formed?
You haven't been twenty-four hours in the house."
"I have known her half an hour!" said Winterbourne, smiling.
"Dear me!" cried Mrs. Costello. "What a dreadful girl!"
Her nephew was silent for some moments. "You really think, then,"
he began earnestly, and with a desire for trustworthy information--"you
really think that--" But he paused again.
"Think what, sir?" said his aunt.
"That she is the sort of young lady who expects a man, sooner or later,
to carry her off?"
"I haven't the least idea what such young ladies expect a man to do.
But I really think that you had better not meddle with little American
girls that are uncultivated, as you call them. You have lived too long
out of the country. You will be sure to make some great mistake.
You are too innocent."
"My dear aunt, I am not so innocent," said Winterbourne,
smiling and curling his mustache.
"You are guilty too, then!"
Winterbourne continued to curl his mustache meditatively.
"You won't let the poor girl know you then?" he asked at last.
"Is it literally true that she is going to the Chateau de Chillon with you?"
"I think that she fully intends it."
"Then, my dear Frederick," said Mrs. Costello, "I must decline the honor
of her acquaintance. I am an old woman, but I am not too old, thank Heaven,
to be shocked!"
"But don't they all do these things--the young girls in America?"
Mrs. Costello stared a moment. "I should like to see my granddaughters
do them!" she declared grimly.
This seemed to throw some light upon the matter, for Winterbourne remembered
to have heard that his pretty cousins in New York were "tremendous flirts."
If, therefore, Miss Daisy Miller exceeded the liberal margin allowed to
these young ladies, it was probable that anything might be expected of her.
Winterbourne was impatient to see her again, and he was vexed with himself
that, by instinct, he should not appreciate her justly.
Though he was impatient to see her, he hardly knew what he should
say to her about his aunt's refusal to become acquainted with her;
but he discovered, promptly enough, that with Miss Daisy Miller there
was no great need of walking on tiptoe. He found her that evening in
the garden, wandering about in the warm starlight like an indolent sylph,
and swinging to and fro the largest fan he had ever beheld.
It was ten o'clock. He had dined with his aunt, had been sitting with
her since dinner, and had just taken leave of her till the morrow.
Miss Daisy Miller seemed very glad to see him; she declared it
was the longest evening she had ever passed.
"Have you been all alone?" he asked.
"I have been walking round with mother. But mother gets tired
walking round," she answered.
"Has she gone to bed?"
"No; she doesn't like to go to bed," said the young girl.
"She doesn't sleep--not three hours. She says she
doesn't know how she lives. She's dreadfully nervous.
I guess she sleeps more than she thinks. She's gone somewhere
after Randolph; she wants to try to get him to go to bed.
He doesn't like to go to bed."
"Let us hope she will persuade him," observed Winterbourne.
"She will talk to him all she can; but he doesn't like her to talk
to him," said Miss Daisy, opening her fan. "She's going to try
to get Eugenio to talk to him. But he isn't afraid of Eugenio.
Eugenio's a splendid courier, but he can't make much impression
on Randolph! I don't believe he'll go to bed before eleven."
It appeared that Randolph's vigil was in fact triumphantly prolonged,
for Winterbourne strolled about with the young girl for some
time without meeting her mother. "I have been looking round
for that lady you want to introduce me to," his companion resumed.
"She's your aunt." Then, on Winterbourne's admitting the fact
and expressing some curiosity as to how she had learned it,
she said she had heard all about Mrs. Costello from the chambermaid.
She was very quiet and very comme il faut; she wore white puffs;
she spoke to no one, and she never dined at the table d'hote.
Every two days she had a headache. "I think that's a lovely
description, headache and all!" said Miss Daisy, chattering along
in her thin, gay voice. "I want to know her ever so much.
I know just what YOUR aunt would be; I know I should like her.
She would be very exclusive. I like a lady to be exclusive;
I'm dying to be exclusive myself. Well, we ARE exclusive,
mother and I. We don't speak to everyone--or they don't speak to us.
I suppose it's about the same thing. Anyway, I shall be ever
so glad to know your aunt."
Winterbourne was embarrassed. "She would be most happy," he said;
"but I am afraid those headaches will interfere."
The young girl looked at him through the dusk.
"But I suppose she doesn't have a headache every day,"
she said sympathetically.
Winterbourne was silent a moment. "She tells me she does,"
he answered at last, not knowing what to say.
Miss Daisy Miller stopped and stood looking at him. Her prettiness
was still visible in the darkness; she was opening and closing her
enormous fan. "She doesn't want to know me!" she said suddenly.
"Why don't you say so? You needn't be afraid. I'm not afraid!"
And she gave a little laugh.
Winterbourne fancied there was a tremor in her voice; he was touched, shocked,
mortified by it. "My dear young lady," he protested, "she knows no one.
It's her wretched health."
The young girl walked on a few steps, laughing still.
"You needn't be afraid," she repeated. "Why should she want
to know me?" Then she paused again; she was close to the parapet
of the garden, and in front of her was the starlit lake.
There was a vague sheen upon its surface, and in the distance
were dimly seen mountain forms. Daisy Miller looked out upon
the mysterious prospect and then she gave another little laugh.
"Gracious! she IS exclusive!" she said. Winterbourne wondered
whether she was seriously wounded, and for a moment almost
wished that her sense of injury might be such as to make it
becoming in him to attempt to reassure and comfort her.
He had a pleasant sense that she would be very approachable
for consolatory purposes. He felt then, for the instant,
quite ready to sacrifice his aunt, conversationally; to admit
that she was a proud, rude woman, and to declare that they needn't
mind her. But before he had time to commit himself to this
perilous mixture of gallantry and impiety, the young lady,
resuming her walk, gave an exclamation in quite another tone.
"Well, here's Mother! I guess she hasn't got Randolph to go to bed."
The figure of a lady appeared at a distance, very indistinct
in the darkness, and advancing with a slow and wavering movement.
Suddenly it seemed to pause.
"Are you sure it is your mother? Can you distinguish her in this
thick dusk?" Winterbourne asked.
"Well!" cried Miss Daisy Miller with a laugh; "I guess I know my own mother.
And when she has got on my shawl, too! She is always wearing my things."
The lady in question, ceasing to advance, hovered vaguely about the spot
at which she had checked her steps.
"I am afraid your mother doesn't see you," said Winterbourne.
"Or perhaps," he added, thinking, with Miss Miller, the joke
permissible--"perhaps she feels guilty about your shawl."
"Oh, it's a fearful old thing!" the young girl replied serenely.
"I told her she could wear it. She won't come here because she sees you."
"Ah, then," said Winterbourne, "I had better leave you."
"Oh, no; come on!" urged Miss Daisy Miller.
"I'm afraid your mother doesn't approve of my walking with you."
Miss Miller gave him a serious glance. "It isn't for me;
it's for you--that is, it's for HER. Well, I don't know who
it's for! But mother doesn't like any of my gentlemen friends.
She's right down timid. She always makes a fuss if I introduce
a gentleman. But I DO introduce them--almost always.
If I didn't introduce my gentlemen friends to Mother,"
the young girl added in her little soft, flat monotone,
"I shouldn't think I was natural."
"To introduce me," said Winterbourne, "you must know my name."
And he proceeded to pronounce it.
"Oh, dear, I can't say all that!" said his companion with a laugh.
But by this time they had come up to Mrs. Miller, who, as they
drew near, walked to the parapet of the garden and leaned upon it,
looking intently at the lake and turning her back to them.
"Mother!" said the young girl in a tone of decision.
Upon this the elder lady turned round. "Mr. Winterbourne," said Miss
Daisy Miller, introducing the young man very frankly and prettily.
"Common," she was, as Mrs. Costello had pronounced her;
yet it was a wonder to Winterbourne that, with her commonness,
she had a singularly delicate grace.
Her mother was a small, spare, light person, with a
wandering eye, a very exiguous nose, and a large forehead,
decorated with a certain amount of thin, much frizzled hair.
Like her daughter, Mrs. Miller was dressed with extreme elegance;
she had enormous diamonds in her ears. So far as Winterbourne
could observe, she gave him no greeting--she certainly was not
looking at him. Daisy was near her, pulling her shawl straight.
"What are you doing, poking round here?" this young lady inquired,
but by no means with that harshness of accent which her choice
of words may imply.
"I don't know," said her mother, turning toward the lake again.
"I shouldn't think you'd want that shawl!" Daisy exclaimed.
"Well I do!" her mother answered with a little laugh.
"Did you get Randolph to go to bed?" asked the young girl.
"No; I couldn't induce him," said Mrs. Miller very gently.
"He wants to talk to the waiter. He likes to talk to that waiter."
I was telling Mr. Winterbourne," the young girl went on;
and to the young man's ear her tone might have indicated
that she had been uttering his name all her life.
"Oh, yes!" said Winterbourne; "I have the pleasure of knowing your son."
Randolph's mamma was silent; she turned her attention to the lake.
But at last she spoke. "Well, I don't see how he lives!"
"Anyhow, it isn't so bad as it was at Dover," said Daisy Miller.
"And what occurred at Dover?" Winterbourne asked.
"He wouldn't go to bed at all. I guess he sat up all night
in the public parlor. He wasn't in bed at twelve o'clock:
I know that."
"It was half-past twelve," declared Mrs. Miller with mild emphasis.
"Does he sleep much during the day?" Winterbourne demanded.
"I guess he doesn't sleep much," Daisy rejoined.
"I wish he would!" said her mother. "It seems as if he couldn't."
"I think he's real tiresome," Daisy pursued.
Then, for some moments, there was silence. "Well, Daisy Miller,"
said the elder lady, presently, "I shouldn't think you'd want
to talk against your own brother!"
"Well, he IS tiresome, Mother," said Daisy, quite without
the asperity of a retort.
"He's only nine," urged Mrs. Miller.
"Well, he wouldn't go to that castle," said the young girl.
"I'm going there with Mr. Winterbourne."
To this announcement, very placidly made, Daisy's mamma offered
no response. Winterbourne took for granted that she deeply
disapproved of the projected excursion; but he said to himself
that she was a simple, easily managed person, and that a few
deferential protestations would take the edge from her displeasure.
"Yes," he began; "your daughter has kindly allowed me the honor
of being her guide."
Mrs. Miller's wandering eyes attached themselves, with a sort of
appealing air, to Daisy, who, however, strolled a few steps farther,
gently humming to herself. "I presume you will go in the cars,"
said her mother.
"Yes, or in the boat," said Winterbourne.
"Well, of course, I don't know," Mrs. Miller rejoined.
"I have never been to that castle."
"It is a pity you shouldn't go," said Winterbourne,
beginning to feel reassured as to her opposition.
And yet he was quite prepared to find that, as a matter of course,
she meant to accompany her daughter.
"We've been thinking ever so much about going," she pursued;
"but it seems as if we couldn't. Of course Daisy--she wants
to go round. But there's a lady here--I don't know her name--
she says she shouldn't think we'd want to go to see castles
HERE; she should think we'd want to wait till we got
to Italy. It seems as if there would be so many there,"
continued Mrs. Miller with an air of increasing confidence.
"Of course we only want to see the principal ones.
We visited several in England," she presently added.
"Ah yes! in England there are beautiful castles," said Winterbourne.
"But Chillon here, is very well worth seeing."
"Well, if Daisy feels up to it--" said Mrs. Miller, in a tone
impregnated with a sense of the magnitude of the enterprise.
"It seems as if there was nothing she wouldn't undertake."
"Oh, I think she'll enjoy it!" Winterbourne declared.
And he desired more and more to make it a certainty that he was
to have the privilege of a tete-a-tete with the young lady,
who was still strolling along in front of them, softly vocalizing.
"You are not disposed, madam," he inquired, "to undertake it yourself?"
Daisy's mother looked at him an instant askance, and then walked
forward in silence. Then--"I guess she had better go alone,"
she said simply. Winterbourne observed to himself that this
was a very different type of maternity from that of the vigilant
matrons who massed themselves in the forefront of social
intercourse in the dark old city at the other end of the lake.
But his meditations were interrupted by hearing his name very
distinctly pronounced by Mrs. Miller's unprotected daughter.
"Mr. Winterbourne!" murmured Daisy.
"Mademoiselle!" said the young man.
"Don't you want to take me out in a boat?"
"At present?" he asked.
"Of course!" said Daisy.
"Well, Annie Miller!" exclaimed her mother.
"I beg you, madam, to let her go," said Winterbourne ardently;
for he had never yet enjoyed the sensation of guiding
through the summer starlight a skiff freighted with a fresh
and beautiful young girl.
"I shouldn't think she'd want to," said her mother.
"I should think she'd rather go indoors."
"I'm sure Mr. Winterbourne wants to take me," Daisy declared.
"He's so awfully devoted!"
"I will row you over to Chillon in the starlight."
"I don't believe it!" said Daisy.
"Well!" ejaculated the elder lady again.
"You haven't spoken to me for half an hour," her daughter went on.
"I have been having some very pleasant conversation with
your mother," said Winterbourne.
"Well, I want you to take me out in a boat!" Daisy repeated. They had
all stopped, and she had turned round and was looking at Winterbourne.
Her face wore a charming smile, her pretty eyes were gleaming,
she was swinging her great fan about. No; it's impossible to be prettier
than that, thought Winterbourne.
"There are half a dozen boats moored at that landing place," he said,
pointing to certain steps which descended from the garden to the lake.
"If you will do me the honor to accept my arm, we will go and select
one of them."
Daisy stood there smiling; she threw back her head and gave a little,
light laugh. "I like a gentleman to be formal!" she declared.
"I assure you it's a formal offer."
"I was bound I would make you say something," Daisy went on.
"You see, it's not very difficult," said Winterbourne.
"But I am afraid you are chaffing me."
"I think not, sir," remarked Mrs. Miller very gently.
"Do, then, let me give you a row," he said to the young girl.
"It's quite lovely, the way you say that!" cried Daisy.
"It will be still more lovely to do it."
"Yes, it would be lovely!" said Daisy. But she made no movement
to accompany him; she only stood there laughing.
"I should think you had better find out what time it is,"
interposed her mother.
"It is eleven o'clock, madam," said a voice, with a foreign accent,
out of the neighboring darkness; and Winterbourne, turning, perceived
the florid personage who was in attendance upon the two ladies.
He had apparently just approached.
"Oh, Eugenio," said Daisy, "I am going out in a boat!"
Eugenio bowed. "At eleven o'clock, mademoiselle?"
"I am going with Mr. Winterbourne--this very minute."
"Do tell her she can't," said Mrs. Miller to the courier.
"I think you had better not go out in a boat, mademoiselle," Eugenio declared.
Winterbourne wished to Heaven this pretty girl were not so familiar
with her courier; but he said nothing.
"I suppose you don't think it's proper!" Daisy exclaimed.
"Eugenio doesn't think anything's proper."
"I am at your service," said Winterbourne.
"Does mademoiselle propose to go alone?" asked Eugenio of Mrs. Miller.
"Oh, no; with this gentleman!" answered Daisy's mamma.
The courier looked for a moment at Winterbourne--the latter
thought he was smiling--and then, solemnly, with a bow,
"As mademoiselle pleases!" he said.
"Oh, I hoped you would make a fuss!" said Daisy.
"I don't care to go now."
"I myself shall make a fuss if you don't go," said Winterbourne.
"That's all I want--a little fuss!" And the young girl began
to laugh again.
"Mr. Randolph has gone to bed!" the courier announced frigidly.
"Oh, Daisy; now we can go!" said Mrs. Miller.
Daisy turned away from Winterbourne, looking at him,
smiling and fanning herself. "Good night," she said;
"I hope you are disappointed, or disgusted, or something!"
He looked at her, taking the hand she offered him.
"I am puzzled," he answered.
"Well, I hope it won't keep you awake!" she said very smartly;
and, under the escort of the privileged Eugenio, the two ladies
passed toward the house.
Winterbourne stood looking after them; he was indeed puzzled.
He lingered beside the lake for a quarter of an hour, turning over
the mystery of the young girl's sudden familiarities and caprices.
But the only very definite conclusion he came to was that he should
enjoy deucedly "going off" with her somewhere.
Two days afterward he went off with her to the Castle of Chillon.
He waited for her in the large hall of the hotel, where the couriers,
the servants, the foreign tourists, were lounging about and staring.
It was not the place he should have chosen, but she had appointed it.
She came tripping downstairs, buttoning her long gloves,
squeezing her folded parasol against her pretty figure,
dressed in the perfection of a soberly elegant traveling costume.
Winterbourne was a man of imagination and, as our ancestors
used to say, sensibility; as he looked at her dress and,
on the great staircase, her little rapid, confiding step,
he felt as if there were something romantic going forward.
He could have believed he was going to elope with her.
He passed out with her among all the idle people that were
assembled there; they were all looking at her very hard;
she had begun to chatter as soon as she joined him.
Winterbourne's preference had been that they should be
conveyed to Chillon in a carriage; but she expressed a lively
wish to go in the little steamer; she declared that she had
a passion for steamboats. There was always such a lovely
breeze upon the water, and you saw such lots of people.
The sail was not long, but Winterbourne's companion found time
to say a great many things. To the young man himself their
little excursion was so much of an escapade--an adventure--
that, even allowing for her habitual sense of freedom,
he had some expectation of seeing her regard it in the same way.
But it must be confessed that, in this particular,
he was disappointed. Daisy Miller was extremely animated,
she was in charming spirits; but she was apparently not at
all excited; she was not fluttered; she avoided neither his eyes
nor those of anyone else; she blushed neither when she looked
at him nor when she felt that people were looking at her.
People continued to look at her a great deal, and Winterbourne took
much satisfaction in his pretty companion's distinguished air.
He had been a little afraid that she would talk loud, laugh overmuch,
and even, perhaps, desire to move about the boat a good deal.
But he quite forgot his fears; he sat smiling, with his
eyes upon her face, while, without moving from her place,
she delivered herself of a great number of original reflections.
It was the most charming garrulity he had ever heard.
he had assented to the idea that she was "common"; but was she so,
after all, or was he simply getting used to her commonness?
Her conversation was chiefly of what metaphysicians term the
objective cast, but every now and then it took a subjective turn.
"What on EARTH are you so grave about?" she suddenly demanded,
fixing her agreeable eyes upon Winterbourne's.
"Am I grave?" he asked. "I had an idea I was grinning from ear to ear."
"You look as if you were taking me to a funeral. If that's a grin,
your ears are very near together."
"Should you like me to dance a hornpipe on the deck?"
"Pray do, and I'll carry round your hat. It will pay the expenses
of our journey."
"I never was better pleased in my life," murmured Winterbourne.
She looked at him a moment and then burst into a little laugh.
"I like to make you say those things! You're a queer mixture!"
In the castle, after they had landed, the subjective element
decidedly prevailed. Daisy tripped about the vaulted chambers,
rustled her skirts in the corkscrew staircases, flirted back with
a pretty little cry and a shudder from the edge of the oubliettes,
and turned a singularly well-shaped ear to everything that
Winterbourne told her about the place. But he saw that she
cared very little for feudal antiquities and that the dusky
traditions of Chillon made but a slight impression upon her.
They had the good fortune to have been able to walk about without
other companionship than that of the custodian; and Winterbourne
arranged with this functionary that they should not be hurried--
that they should linger and pause wherever they chose. The custodian
interpreted the bargain generously--Winterbourne, on his side,
had been generous--and ended by leaving them quite to themselves.
Miss Miller's observations were not remarkable for logical consistency;
for anything she wanted to say she was sure to find a pretext.
She found a great many pretexts in the rugged embrasures of Chillon
for asking Winterbourne sudden questions about himself--his family,
his previous history, his tastes, his habits, his intentions--and for
supplying information upon corresponding points in her own personality.
Of her own tastes, habits, and intentions Miss Miller was prepared
to give the most definite, and indeed the most favorable account.
"Well, I hope you know enough!" she said to her companion,
after he had told her the history of the unhappy Bonivard.
"I never saw a man that knew so much!" The history of Bonivard
had evidently, as they say, gone into one ear and out of the other.
But Daisy went on to say that she wished Winterbourne would travel
with them and "go round" with them; they might know something,
in that case. "Don't you want to come and teach Randolph?" she asked.
Winterbourne said that nothing could possibly please him so much,
but that he unfortunately other occupations. "Other occupations?
I don't believe it!" said Miss Daisy. "What do you mean?
You are not in business." The young man admitted that he was not
in business; but he had engagements which, even within a day or two,
would force him to go back to Geneva. "Oh, bother!" she said;
"I don't believe it!" and she began to talk about something else.
But a few moments later, when he was pointing out to her the pretty
design of an antique fireplace, she broke out irrelevantly,
"You don't mean to say you are going back to Geneva?"
"It is a melancholy fact that I shall have to return to Geneva tomorrow."
"Well, Mr. Winterbourne," said Daisy, "I think you're horrid!"
"Oh, don't say such dreadful things!" said Winterbourne--"just
at the last!"
"The last!" cried the young girl; "I call it the first. I have half
a mind to leave you here and go straight back to the hotel alone."
And for the next ten minutes she did nothing but call him horrid.
Poor Winterbourne was fairly bewildered; no young lady had as yet done
him the honor to be so agitated by the announcement of his movements.
His companion, after this, ceased to pay any attention to the
curiosities of Chillon or the beauties of the lake; she opened fire
upon the mysterious charmer in Geneva whom she appeared to have
instantly taken it for granted that he was hurrying back to see.
How did Miss Daisy Miller know that there was a charmer in Geneva?
Winterbourne, who denied the existence of such a person,
was quite unable to discover, and he was divided between amazement
at the rapidity of her induction and amusement at the frankness
of her persiflage. She seemed to him, in all this,
an extraordinary mixture of innocence and crudity. "Does she never
allow you more than three days at a time?" asked Daisy ironically.
"Doesn't she give you a vacation in summer? There's no one so hard
worked but they can get leave to go off somewhere at this season.
I suppose, if you stay another day, she'll come after you in the boat.
Do wait over till Friday, and I will go down to the landing to see
her arrive!" Winterbourne began to think he had been wrong to feel
disappointed in the temper in which the young lady had embarked.
If he had missed the personal accent, the personal accent was
now making its appearance. It sounded very distinctly, at last,
in her telling him she would stop "teasing" him if he would promise
her solemnly to come down to Rome in the winter.
"That's not a difficult promise to make," said Winterbourne.
"My aunt has taken an apartment in Rome for the winter and has
already asked me to come and see her."
"I don't want you to come for your aunt," said Daisy; "I want you
to come for me." And this was the only allusion that the young
man was ever to hear her make to his invidious kinswoman.
He declared that, at any rate, he would certainly come.
After this Daisy stopped teasing. Winterbourne took a carriage,
and they drove back to Vevey in the dusk; the young girl
was very quiet.
In the evening Winterbourne mentioned to Mrs. Costello that he had spent
the afternoon at Chillon with Miss Daisy Miller.
"The Americans--of the courier?" asked this lady.
"Ah, happily," said Winterbourne, "the courier stayed at home."
"She went with you all alone?"
Mrs. Costello sniffed a little at her smelling bottle.
"And that," she exclaimed, "is the young person whom you wanted
me to know!"
Uploaded to inforM 1/11/95
DAISY MILLER: A STUDY
by Henry James
Winterbourne, who had returned to Geneva the day after his
excursion to Chillon, went to Rome toward the end of January.
His aunt had been established there for several weeks,
and he had received a couple of letters from her.
"Those people you were so devoted to last summer at Vevey
have turned up here, courier and all," she wrote.
"They seem to have made several acquaintances, but the courier
continues to be the most intime. The young lady, however,
is also very intimate with some third-rate Italians,
with whom she rackets about in a way that makes much talk.
Bring me that pretty novel of Cherbuliez's--Paule Mere--
and don't come later than the 23rd."
In the natural course of events, Winterbourne, on arriving in Rome,
would presently have ascertained Mrs. Miller's address at the American
banker's and have gone to pay his compliments to Miss Daisy.
"After what happened at Vevey, I think I may certainly call upon them,"
he said to Mrs. Costello.
"If, after what happens--at Vevey and everywhere--you desire to keep up
the acquaintance, you are very welcome. Of course a man may know everyone.
Men are welcome to the privilege!"
"Pray what is it that happens--here, for instance?" Winterbourne demanded.
"The girl goes about alone with her foreigners. As to what
happens further, you must apply elsewhere for information.
She has picked up half a dozen of the regular Roman
fortune hunters, and she takes them about to people's houses.
When she comes to a party she brings with her a gentleman
with a good deal of manner and a wonderful mustache."
"And where is the mother?"
"I haven't the least idea. They are very dreadful people."
Winterbourne meditated a moment. "They are very ignorant--
very innocent only. Depend upon it they are not bad."
"They are hopelessly vulgar," said Mrs. Costello. "Whether or no being
hopelessly vulgar is being 'bad' is a question for the metaphysicians.
They are bad enough to dislike, at any rate; and for this short life
that is quite enough."
The news that Daisy Miller was surrounded by half a dozen wonderful
mustaches checked Winterbourne's impulse to go straightway to see her.
He had, perhaps, not definitely flattered himself that he had made
an ineffaceable impression upon her heart, but he was annoyed at hearing
of a state of affairs so little in harmony with an image that had lately
flitted in and out of his own meditations; the image of a very pretty
girl looking out of an old Roman window and asking herself urgently
when Mr. Winterbourne would arrive. If, however, he determined to wait
a little before reminding Miss Miller of his claims to her consideration,
he went very soon to call upon two or three other friends.
One of these friends was an American lady who had spent several
winters at Geneva, where she had placed her children at school.
She was a very accomplished woman, and she lived in the Via Gregoriana.
Winterbourne found her in a little crimson drawing room on a third floor;
the room was filled with southern sunshine. He had not been there ten minutes
when the servant came in, announcing "Madame Mila!" This announcement
was presently followed by the entrance of little Randolph Miller,
who stopped in the middle of the room and stood staring at Winterbourne.
An instant later his pretty sister crossed the threshold; and then,
after a considerable interval, Mrs. Miller slowly advanced.
"I know you!" said Randolph.
"I'm sure you know a great many things," exclaimed Winterbourne,
taking him by the hand. "How is your education coming on?"
Daisy was exchanging greetings very prettily with her hostess,
but when she heard Winterbourne's voice she quickly turned her head.
"Well, I declare!" she said.
"I told you I should come, you know," Winterbourne rejoined, smiling.
"Well, I didn't believe it," said Miss Daisy.
"I am much obliged to you," laughed the young man.
"You might have come to see me!" said Daisy.
"I arrived only yesterday."
"I don't believe tte that!" the young girl declared.
Winterbourne turned with a protesting smile to her mother, but this
lady evaded his glance, and, seating herself, fixed her eyes upon
her son. "We've got a bigger place than this," said Randolph.
"It's all gold on the walls."
Mrs. Miller turned uneasily in her chair. "I told you if I were to bring you,
you would say something!" she murmured.
"I told YOU!" Randolph exclaimed. "I tell YOU, sir!"
he added jocosely, giving Winterbourne a thump on the knee.
"It IS bigger, too!"
Daisy had entered upon a lively conversation with her hostess;
Winterbourne judged it becoming to address a few words to her mother.
"I hope you have been well since we parted at Vevey," he said.
Mrs. Miller now certainly looked at him--at his chin.
"Not very well, sir," she answered.
"She's got the dyspepsia," said Randolph. "I've got it too.
Father's got it. I've got it most!"
This announcement, instead of embarrassing Mrs. Miller,
seemed to relieve her. "I suffer from the liver," she said.
"I think it's this climate; it's less bracing than Schenectady,
especially in the winter season. I don't know whether you know
we reside at Schenectady. I was saying to Daisy that I certainly
hadn't found any one like Dr. Davis, and I didn't believe I should.
Oh, at Schenectady he stands first; they think everything of him.
He has so much to do, and yet there was nothing he wouldn't do for me.
He said he never saw anything like my dyspepsia, but he was
bound to cure it. I'm sure there was nothing he wouldn't try.
He was just going to try something new when we came off.
Mr. Miller wanted Daisy to see Europe for herself. But I wrote to
Mr. Miller that it seems as if I couldn't get on without Dr. Davis.
At Schenectady he stands at the very top; and there's a great deal
of sickness there, too. It affects my sleep."
Winterbourne had a good deal of pathological gossip with Dr. Davis's patient,
during which Daisy chattered unremittingly to her own companion.
The young man asked Mrs. Miller how she was pleased with Rome.
"Well, I must say I am disappointed," she answered. "We had heard so much
about it; I suppose we had heard too much. But we couldn't help that.
We had been led to expect something different."
"Ah, wait a little, and you will become very fond of it," said Winterbourne.
"I hate it worse and worse every day!" cried Randolph.
"You are like the infant Hannibal," said Winterbourne.
"No, I ain't!" Randolph declared at a venture.
"You are not much like an infant," said his mother. "But we have
seen places," she resumed, "that I should put a long way before Rome."
And in reply to Winterbourne's interrogation, "There's Zurich,"
she concluded, "I think Zurich is lovely; and we hadn't heard half
so much about it."
"The best place we've seen is the City of Richmond!" said Randolph.
"He means the ship," his mother explained. "We crossed in that ship.
Randolph had a good time on the City of Richmond."
"It's the best place I've seen," the child repeated.
"Only it was turned the wrong way."
"Well, we've got to turn the right way some time,"
said Mrs. Miller with a little laugh. Winterbourne expressed
the hope that her daughter at least found some gratification
in Rome, and she declared that Daisy was quite carried away.
"It's on account of the society--the society's splendid.
She goes round everywhere; she has made a great number
of acquaintances. Of course she goes round more than I do.
I must say they have been very sociable; they have taken
her right in. And then she knows a great many gentlemen.
Oh, she thinks there's nothing like Rome. Of course,
it's a great deal pleasanter for a young lady if she knows
plenty of gentlemen."
By this time Daisy had turned her attention again to Winterbourne.
"I've been telling Mrs. Walker how mean you were!" the young girl announced.
"And what is the evidence you have offered?" asked Winterbourne,
rather annoyed at Miss Miller's want of appreciation of the zeal of
an admirer who on his way down to Rome had stopped neither at Bologna
nor at Florence, simply because of a certain sentimental impatience.
He remembered that a cynical compatriot had once told him that
American women--the pretty ones, and this gave a largeness to the axiom--
were at once the most exacting in the world and the least endowed
with a sense of indebtedness.
"Why, you were awfully mean at Vevey," said Daisy.
"You wouldn't do anything. You wouldn't stay there when
I asked you."
"My dearest young lady," cried Winterbourne, with eloquence,
"have I come all the way to Rome to encounter your reproaches?"
"Just hear him say that!" said Daisy to her hostess, giving a twist to a bow
on this lady's dress. "Did you ever hear anything so quaint?"
"So quaint, my dear?" murmured Mrs. Walker in the tone of a
partisan of Winterbourne.
"Well, I don't know," said Daisy, fingering Mrs. Walker's ribbons.
"Mrs. Walker, I want to tell you something."
"Mother-r," interposed Randolph, with his rough ends to his words,
"I tell you you've got to go. Eugenio'll raise--something!"
"I'm not afraid of Eugenio," said Daisy with a toss of her head.
"Look here, Mrs. Walker," she went on, "you know I'm coming
to your party."
"I am delighted to hear it."
"I've got a lovely dress!"
"I am very sure of that."
"But I want to ask a favor--permission to bring a friend."
"I shall be happy to see any of your friends," said Mrs. Walker,
turning with a smile to Mrs. Miller.
"Oh, they are not my friends," answered Daisy's mamma,
smiling shyly in her own fashion. "I never spoke to them."
"It's an intimate friend of mine--Mr. Giovanelli," said Daisy without a tremor
in her clear little voice or a shadow on her brilliant little face.
Mrs. Walker was silent a moment; she gave a rapid glance at Winterbourne.
"I shall be glad to see Mr. Giovanelli," she then said.
"He's an Italian," Daisy pursued with the prettiest serenity.
"He's a great friend of mine; he's the handsomest man in the world--
except Mr. Winterbourne! He knows plenty of Italians, but he wants
to know some Americans. He thinks ever so much of Americans.
He's tremendously clever. He's perfectly lovely!"
It was settled that this brilliant personage should be brought to
Mrs. Walker's party, and then Mrs. Miller prepared to take her leave.
"I guess we'll go back to the hotel," she said.
"You may go back to the hotel, Mother, but I'm going to take
a walk," said Daisy.
"She's going to walk with Mr. Giovanelli," Randolph proclaimed.
"I am going to the Pincio," said Daisy, smiling.
"Alone, my dear--at this hour?" Mrs. Walker asked.
The afternoon was drawing to a close--it was the hour for
the throng of carriages and of contemplative pedestrians.
"I don't think it's safe, my dear," said Mrs. Walker.
"Neither do I," subjoined Mrs. Miller. "You'll get the fever,
as sure as you live. Remember what Dr. Davis told you!"
"Give her some medicine before she goes," said Randolph.
The company had risen to its feet; Daisy, still showing her pretty teeth,
bent over and kissed her hostess. "Mrs. Walker, you are too perfect,"
she said. "I'm not going alone; I am going to meet a friend."
"Your friend won't keep you from getting the fever,"
Mrs. Miller observed.
"Is it Mr. Giovanelli?" asked the hostess.
Winterbourne was watching the young girl; at this question his
attention quickened. She stood there, smiling and smoothing
her bonnet ribbons; she glanced at Winterbourne. Then, while she
glanced and smiled, she answered, without a shade of hesitation,
"Mr. Giovanelli--the beautiful Giovanelli."
"My dear young friend," said Mrs. Walker, taking her hand pleadingly,
"don't walk off to the Pincio at this hour to meet a beautiful Italian."
"Well, he speaks English," said Mrs. Miller.
"Gracious me!" Daisy exclaimed, "I don't to do anything improper.
There's an easy way to settle it." She continued to glance at Winterbourne.
"The Pincio is only a hundred yards distant; and if Mr. Winterbourne
were as polite as he pretends, he would offer to walk with me!"
Winterbourne's politeness hastened to affirm itself,
and the young girl gave him gracious leave to accompany her.
They passed downstairs before her mother, and at the door Winterbourne
perceived Mrs. Miller's carriage drawn up, with the ornamental
courier whose acquaintance he had made at Vevey seated within.
"Goodbye, Eugenio!" cried Daisy; "I'm going to take a walk."
The distance from the Via Gregoriana to the beautiful
garden at the other end of the Pincian Hill is, in fact,
rapidly traversed. As the day was splendid, however, and the
concourse of vehicles, walkers, and loungers numerous,
the young Americans found their progress much delayed.
This fact was highly agreeable to Winterbourne, in spite of his
consciousness of his singular situation. The slow-moving, idly
gazing Roman crowd bestowed much attention upon the extremely
pretty young foreign lady who was passing through it upon his arm;
and he wondered what on earth had been in Daisy's mind when she
proposed to expose herself, unattended, to its appreciation.
His own mission, to her sense, apparently, was to consign
her to the hands of Mr. Giovanelli; but Winterbourne, at once
annoyed and gratified, resolved that he would do no such thing.
"Why haven't you been to see me?" asked Daisy. "You can't
get out of that."
"I have had the honor of telling you that I have only just stepped
out of the train."
"You must have stayed in the train a good while after it stopped!"
cried the young girl with her little laugh. "I suppose you were asleep.
You have had time to go to see Mrs. Walker."
"I knew Mrs. Walker--" Winterbourne began to explain.
"I know where you knew her. You knew her at Geneva.
She told me so. Well, you knew me at Vevey. That's just as good.
So you ought to have come." She asked him no other question
than this; she began to prattle about her own affairs.
"We've got splendid rooms at the hotel; Eugenio says they're
the best rooms in Rome. We are going to stay all winter,
if we don't die of the fever; and I guess we'll stay then.
It's a great deal nicer than I thought; I thought it would
be fearfully quiet; I was sure it would be awfully poky.
I was sure we should be going round all the time with one of those
dreadful old men that explain about the pictures and things.
But we only had about a week of that, and now I'm enjoying myself.
I know ever so many people, and they are all so charming.
The society's extremely select. There are all kinds--English,
and Germans, and Italians. I think I like the English best.
I like their style of conversation. But there are some
lovely Americans. I never saw anything so hospitable.
There's something or other every day. There's not much dancing;
but I must say I never thought dancing was everything.
I was always fond of conversation. I guess I shall
have plenty at Mrs. Walker's, her rooms are so small."
When they had passed the gate of the Pincian Gardens,
Miss Miller began to wonder where Mr. Giovanelli might be.
"We had better go straight to that place in front," she said,
"where you look at the view."
"I certainly shall not help you to find him," Winterbourne declared.
"Then I shall find him without you," cried Miss Daisy.
"You certainly won't leave me!" cried Winterbourne.
She burst into her little laugh. "Are you afraid you'll get lost--
or run over? But there's Giovanelli, leaning against that tree.
He's staring at the women in the carriages: did you ever see
anything so cool?"
Winterbourne perceived at some distance a little man standing with
folded arms nursing his cane. He had a handsome face, an artfully
poised hat, a glass in one eye, and a nosegay in his buttonhole.
Winterbourne looked at him a moment and then said, "Do you mean
to speak to that man?"
"Do I mean to speak to him? Why, you don't suppose I mean
to communicate by signs?"
"Pray understand, then," said Winterbourne, "that I intend
to remain with you."
Daisy stopped and looked at him, without a sign of troubled
consciousness in her face, with nothing but the presence of her
charming eyes and her happy dimples. "Well, she's a cool one!"
thought the young man.
"I don't like the way you say that," said Daisy.
"It's too imperious."
"I beg your pardon if I say it wrong. The main point is to give
you an idea of my meaning."
The young girl looked at him more gravely, but with eyes that were
prettier than ever. "I have never allowed a gentleman to dictate to me,
or to interfere with anything I do."
"I think you have made a mistake," said Winterbourne.
"You should sometimes listen to a gentleman--the right one."
Daisy began to laugh again. "I do nothing but listen to gentlemen!"
she exclaimed. "Tell me if Mr. Giovanelli is the right one?"
The gentleman with the nosegay in his bosom had now perceived our two friends,
and was approaching the young girl with obsequious rapidity. He bowed to
Winterbourne as well as to the latter's companion; he had a brilliant smile,
an intelligent eye; Winterbourne thought him not a bad-looking fellow.
But he nevertheless said to Daisy, "No, he's not the right one."
Daisy evidently had a natural talent for performing introductions;
she mentioned the name of each of her companions to the other.
She strolled alone with one of them on each side of her; Mr. Giovanelli,
who spoke English very cleverly--Winterbourne afterward learned
that he had practiced the idiom upon a great many American heiresses--
addressed her a great deal of very polite nonsense; he was extremely
urbane, and the young American, who said nothing, reflected upon
that profundity of Italian cleverness which enables people to appear
more gracious in proportion as they are more acutely disappointed.
Giovanelli, of course, had counted upon something more intimate;
he had not bargained for a party of three. But he kept his
temper in a manner which suggested far-stretching intentions.
Winterbourne flattered himself that he had taken his measure.
"He is not a gentleman," said the young American;
"he is only a clever imitation of one. He is a music master,
or a penny-a-liner, or a third-rate artist. D__n his good looks!"
Mr. Giovanelli had certainly a very pretty face; but Winterbourne felt
a superior indignation at his own lovely fellow countrywoman's not
knowing the difference between a spurious gentleman and a real one.
Giovanelli chattered and jested and made himself wonderfully agreeable.
It was true that, if he was an imitation, the imitation was brilliant.
"Nevertheless," Winterbourne said to himself, "a nice girl ought to know!"
And then he came back to the question whether this was, in fact,
a nice girl. Would a nice girl, even allowing for her being a little
American flirt, make a rendezvous with a presumably low-lived foreigner?
The rendezvous in this case, indeed, had been in broad daylight and in
the most crowded corner of Rome, but was it not impossible to regard
the choice of these circumstances as a proof of extreme cynicism?
Singular though it may seem, Winterbourne was vexed that the young girl,
in joining her amoroso, should not appear more impatient
of his own company, and he was vexed because of his inclination.
It was impossible to regard her as a perfectly well-conducted
young lady; she was wanting in a certain indispensable delicacy.
It would therefore simplify matters greatly to be able to treat
her as the object of one of those sentiments which are called by
romancers "lawless passions." That she should seem to wish to get rid
of him would help him to think more lightly of her, and to be able
to think more lightly of her would make her much less perplexing.
But Daisy, on this occasion, continued to present herself as an
inscrutable combination of audacity and innocence.
She had been walking some quarter of an hour, attended by her
two cavaliers, and responding in a tone of very childish gaiety,
as it seemed to Winterbourne, to the pretty speeches
of Mr. Giovanelli, when a carriage that had detached
itself from the revolving train drew up beside the path.
At the same moment Winterbourne perceived that his friend
Mrs. Walker--the lady whose house he had lately left--
was seated in the vehicle and was beckoning to him.
Leaving Miss Miller's side, he hastened to obey her summons.
Mrs. Walker was flushed; she wore an excited air.
"It is really too dreadful," she said. "That girl must not do
this sort of thing. She must not walk here with you two men.
Fifty people have noticed her."
Winterbourne raised his eyebrows. "I think it's a pity to make
too much fuss about it."
"It's a pity to let the girl ruin herself!"
"She is very innocent," said Winterbourne.
"She's very crazy!" cried Mrs. Walker. "Did you ever see
anything so imbecile as her mother? After you had all left
me just now, I could not sit still for thinking of it.
It seemed too pitiful, not even to attempt to save her.
I ordered the carriage and put on my bonnet, and came here
as quickly as possible. Thank Heaven I have found you!"
"What do you propose to do with us?" asked Winterbourne, smiling.
"To ask her to get in, to drive her about here for half an hour,
so that the world may see she is not running absolutely wild,
and then to take her safely home."
"I don't think it's a very happy thought," said Winterbourne;
"but you can try."
Mrs. Walker tried. The young man went in pursuit of Miss Miller,
who had simply nodded and smiled at his interlocutor in the carriage
and had gone her way with her companion. Daisy, on learning
that Mrs. Walker wished to speak to her, retraced her steps
with a perfect good grace and with Mr. Giovanelli at her side.
She declared that she was delighted to have a chance to present this
gentleman to Mrs. Walker. She immediately achieved the introduction,
and declared that she had never in her life seen anything so lovely
as Mrs. Walker's carriage rug.
"I am glad you admire it," said this lady, smiling sweetly.
"Will you get in and let me put it over you?"
"Oh, no, thank you," said Daisy. "I shall admire it much more as I see you
driving round with it."
"Do get in and drive with me!" said Mrs. Walker.
"That would be charming, but it's so enchanting just as I am!"
and Daisy gave a brilliant glance at the gentlemen on either
side of her.
"It may be enchanting, dear child, but it is not the custom here,"
urged Mrs. Walker, leaning forward in her victoria, with her
hands devoutly clasped.
"Well, it ought to be, then!" said Daisy. "If I didn't walk
I should expire."
"You should walk with your mother, dear," cried the lady
from Geneva, losing patience.
"With my mother dear!" exclaimed the young girl. Winterbourne saw that she
scented interference. "My mother never walked ten steps in her life.
And then, you know," she added with a laugh, "I am more than five years old."
"You are old enough to be more reasonable. You are old enough,
dear Miss Miller, to be talked about."
Daisy looked at Mrs. Walker, smiling intensely. "Talked about?
What do you mean?"
"Come into my carriage, and I will tell you."
Daisy turned her quickened glance again from one of the gentlemen beside her
to the other. Mr. Giovanelli was bowing to and fro, rubbing down his gloves
and laughing very agreeably; Winterbourne thought it a most unpleasant scene.
"I don't think I want to know what you mean," said Daisy presently.
"I don't think I should like it."
Winterbourne wished that Mrs. Walker would tuck in her carriage rug and drive
away, but this lady did not enjoy being defied, as she afterward told him.
"Should you prefer being thought a very reckless girl?" she demanded.
"Gracious!" exclaimed Daisy. She looked again at Mr. Giovanelli,
then she turned to Winterbourne. There was a little pink flush in
her cheek; she was tremendously pretty. "Does Mr. Winterbourne think,"
she asked slowly, smiling, throwing back her head, and glancing
at him from head to foot, "that, to save my reputation, I ought
to get into the carriage?"
Winterbourne colored; for an instant he hesitated greatly.
It seemed so strange to hear her speak that way of her "reputation."
But he himself, in fact, must speak in accordance with gallantry.
The finest gallantry, here, was simply to tell her the truth;
and the truth, for Winterbourne, as the few indications I
have been able to give have made him known to the reader,
was that Daisy Miller should take Mrs. Walker's advice.
He looked at her exquisite prettiness, and then he said,
very gently, "I think you should get into the carriage."
Daisy gave a violent laugh. "I never heard anything so stiff!
If this is improper, Mrs. Walker," she pursued, "then I am all improper,
and you must give me up. Goodbye; I hope you'll have a lovely ride!"
and, with Mr. Giovanelli, who made a triumphantly obsequious salute,
she turned away.
Mrs. Walker sat looking after her, and there were tears in
Mrs. Walker's eyes. "Get in here, sir," she said to Winterbourne,
indicating the place beside her. The young man answered that he felt
bound to accompany Miss Miller, whereupon Mrs. Walker declared that
if he refused her this favor she would never speak to him again.
She was evidently in earnest. Winterbourne overtook Daisy and
her companion, and, offering the young girl his hand, told her
that Mrs. Walker had made an imperious claim upon his society.
He expected that in answer she would say something rather free,
something to commit herself still further to that "recklessness"
from which Mrs. Walker had so charitably endeavored to dissuade her.
But she only shook his hand, hardly looking at him, while Mr. Giovanelli
bade him farewell with a too emphatic flourish of the hat.
Winterbourne was not in the best possible humor as he took his seat in
Mrs. Walker's victoria. "That was not clever of you," he said candidly,
while the vehicle mingled again with the throng of carriages.
"In such a case," his companion answered, "I don't wish to be clever;
I wish to be EARNEST!"
"Well, your earnestness has only offended her and put her off."
"It has happened very well," said Mrs. Walker. "If she is so perfectly
determined to compromise herself, the sooner one knows it the better;
one can act accordingly."
"I suspect she meant no harm," Winterbourne rejoined.
"So I thought a month ago. But she has been going too far."
"What has she been doing?"
"Everything that is not done here. Flirting with any man she could pick up;
sitting in corners with mysterious Italians; dancing all the evening
with the same partners; receiving visits at eleven o'clock at night.
Her mother goes away when visitors come."
"But her brother," said Winterbourne, laughing, "sits up till midnight."
"He must be edified by what he sees. I'm told that at their hotel
everyone is talking about her, and that a smile goes round among
all the servants when a gentleman comes and asks for Miss Miller."
"The servants be hanged!" said Winterbourne angrily.
"The poor girl's only fault," he presently added, "is that she
is very uncultivated."
"She is naturally indelicate," Mrs. Walker declared.
"Take that example this morning. How long had you known her at Vevey?"
"A couple of days."
"Fancy, then, her making it a personal matter that you should have
left the place!"
Winterbourne was silent for some moments; then he said, "I suspect,
Mrs. Walker, that you and I have lived too long at Geneva!"
And he added a request that she should inform him with what particular
design she had made him enter her carriage.
"I wished to beg you to cease your relations with Miss Miller--
not to flirt with her--to give her no further opportunity
to expose herself--to let her alone, in short."
"I'm afraid I can't do that," said Winterbourne.
"I like her extremely."
"All the more reason that you shouldn't help her to make a scandal."
"There shall be nothing scandalous in my attentions to her."
"There certainly will be in the way she takes them.
But I have said what I had on my conscience," Mrs. Walker pursued.
"If you wish to rejoin the young lady I will put you down.
Here, by the way, you have a chance."
The carriage was traversing that part of the Pincian
Garden that overhangs the wall of Rome and overlooks
the beautiful Villa Borghese. It is bordered by a
large parapet, near which there are several seats.
One of the seats at a distance was occupied by a gentleman
and a lady, toward whom Mrs. Walker gave a toss of her head.
At the same moment these persons rose and walked toward
the parapet. Winterbourne had asked the coachman to stop;
he now descended from the carriage. His companion looked
at him a moment in silence; then, while he raised his hat,
she drove majestically away. Winterbourne stood there;
he had turned his eyes toward Daisy and her cavalier.
They evidently saw no one; they were too deeply occupied
with each other. When they reached the low garden wall,
they stood a moment looking off at the great flat-topped
pine clusters of the Villa Borghese; then Giovanelli
seated himself, familiarly, upon the broad ledge of the wall.
The western sun in the opposite sky sent out a brilliant
shaft through a couple of cloud bars, whereupon Daisy's
companion took her parasol out of her hands and opened it.
She came a little nearer, and he held the parasol over her;
then, still holding it, he let it rest upon her shoulder,
so that both of their heads were hidden from Winterbourne.
This young man lingered a moment, then he began to walk.
But he walked--not toward the couple with the parasol;
toward the residence of his aunt, Mrs. Costello.
He flattered himself on the following day that there was no smiling
among the servants when he, at least, asked for Mrs. Miller at
her hotel. This lady and her daughter, however, were not at home;
and on the next day after, repeating his visit, Winterbourne again
had the misfortune not to find them. Mrs. Walker's party took place
on the evening of the third day, and, in spite of the frigidity of his
last interview with the hostess, Winterbourne was among the guests.
Mrs. Walker was one of those American ladies who, while residing abroad,
make a point, in their own phrase, of studying European society,
and she had on this occasion collected several specimens of her
diversely born fellow mortals to serve, as it were, as textbooks.
When Winterbourne arrived, Daisy Miller was not there, but in a few
moments he saw her mother come in alone, very shyly and ruefully.
Mrs. Miller's hair above her exposed-looking temples was more frizzled
than ever. As she approached Mrs. Walker, Winterbourne also drew near.
"You see, I've come all alone," said poor Mrs. Miller.
"I'm so frightened; I don't know what to do. It's the first time
I've ever been to a party alone, especially in this country.
I wanted to bring Randolph or Eugenio, or someone, but Daisy just
pushed me off by myself. I ain't used to going round alone."
"And does not your daughter intend to favor us with her society?"
demanded Mrs. Walker impressively.
"Well, Daisy's all dressed," said Mrs. Miller with that accent of
the dispassionate, if not of the philosophic, historian with which she
always recorded the current incidents of her daughter's career.
"She got dressed on purpose before dinner. But she's got a friend
of hers there; that gentleman--the Italian--that she wanted to bring.
They've got going at the piano; it seems as if they couldn't leave off.
Mr. Giovanelli sings splendidly. But I guess they'll come before very long,"
concluded Mrs. Miller hopefully.
"I'm sorry she should come in that way," said Mrs. Walker.
"Well, I told her that there was no use in her getting dressed before
dinner if she was going to wait three hours," responded Daisy's mamma.
"I didn't see the use of her putting on such a dress as that to sit
round with Mr. Giovanelli."
"This is most horrible!" said Mrs. Walker, turning away and
addressing herself to Winterbourne. "Elle s'affiche. It's
her revenge for my having ventured to remonstrate with her.
When she comes, I shall not speak to her."
Daisy came after eleven o'clock; but she was not,
on such an occasion, a young lady to wait to be spoken to.
She rustled forward in radiant loveliness, smiling and chattering,
carrying a large bouquet, and attended by Mr. Giovanelli.
Everyone stopped talking and turned and looked at her.
She came straight to Mrs. Walker. "I'm afraid you thought
I never was coming, so I sent mother off to tell you.
I wanted to make Mr. Giovanelli practice some things before he came;
you know he sings beautifully, and I want you to ask him to sing.
This is Mr. Giovanelli; you know I introduced him to you;
he's got the most lovely voice, and he knows the most charming
set of songs. I made him go over them this evening on purpose;
we had the greatest time at the hotel." Of all this Daisy delivered
herself with the sweetest, brightest audibleness, looking now
at her hostess and now round the room, while she gave a series
of little pats, round her shoulders, to the edges of her dress.
"Is there anyone I know?" she asked.
"I think every one knows you!" said Mrs. Walker pregnantly, and she
gave a very cursory greeting to Mr. Giovanelli. This gentleman bore
himself gallantly. He smiled and bowed and showed his white teeth;
he curled his mustaches and rolled his eyes and performed all
the proper functions of a handsome Italian at an evening party.
He sang very prettily half a dozen songs, though Mrs. Walker afterward
declared that she had been quite unable to find out who asked him.
It was apparently not Daisy who had given him his orders.
Daisy sat at a distance from the piano, and though she had publicly,
as it were, professed a high admiration for his singing, talked,
not inaudibly, while it was going on.
"It's a pity these rooms are so small; we can't dance," she said
to Winterbourne, as if she had seen him five minutes before.
"I am not sorry we can't dance," Winterbourne answered;
"I don't dance."
"Of course you don't dance; you're too stiff," said Miss Daisy.
"I hope you enjoyed your drive with Mrs. Walker!"
"No. I didn't enjoy it; I preferred walking with you."
"We paired off: that was much better," said Daisy.
"But did you ever hear anything so cool as Mrs. Walker's
wanting me to get into her carriage and drop poor
Mr. Giovanelli, and under the pretext that it was proper?
People have different ideas! It would have been most unkind;
he had been talking about that walk for ten days."
"He should not have talked about it at all," said Winterbourne;
"he would never have proposed to a young lady of this country
to walk about the streets with him."
"About the streets?" cried Daisy with her pretty stare.
"Where, then, would he have proposed to her to walk?
The Pincio is not the streets, either; and I, thank goodness,
am not a young lady of this country. The young ladies of this
country have a dreadfully poky time of it, so far as I can learn;
I don't see why I should change my habits for THEM."
"I am afraid your habits are those of a flirt," said Winterbourne gravely.
"Of course they are," she cried, giving him her little smiling stare again.
"I'm a fearful, frightful flirt! Did you ever hear of a nice girl that
was not? But I suppose you will tell me now that I am not a nice girl."
"You're a very nice girl; but I wish you would flirt with me,
and me only," said Winterbourne.
"Ah! thank you--thank you very much; you are the last man I should
think of flirting with. As I have had the pleasure of informing you,
you are too stiff."
"You say that too often," said Winterbourne.
Daisy gave a delighted laugh. "If I could have the sweet hope of making
you angry, I should say it again."
"Don't do that; when I am angry I'm stiffer than ever.
But if you won't flirt with me, do cease, at least, to flirt
with your friend at the piano; they don't understand that sort
of thing here."
"I thought they understood nothing else!" exclaimed Daisy.
"Not in young unmarried women."
"It seems to me much more proper in young unmarried women than in old
married ones," Daisy declared.
"Well," said Winterbourne, "when you deal with natives you must go
by the custom of the place. Flirting is a purely American custom;
it doesn't exist here. So when you show yourself in public with
Mr. Giovanelli, and without your mother--"
"Gracious! poor Mother!" interposed Daisy.
"Though you may be flirting, Mr. Giovanelli is not;
he means something else."
"He isn't preaching, at any rate," said Daisy with vivacity.
"And if you want very much to know, we are neither of us flirting;
we are too good friends for that: we are very intimate friends."
"Ah!" rejoined Winterbourne, "if you are in love with each other,
it is another affair."
She had allowed him up to this point to talk so frankly that
he had no expectation of shocking her by this ejaculation;
but she immediately got up, blushing visibly, and leaving
him to exclaim mentally that little American flirts were
the queerest creatures in the world. "Mr. Giovanelli,
at least," she said, giving her interlocutor a single glance,
"never says such very disagreeable things to me."
Winterbourne was bewildered; he stood, staring. Mr. Giovanelli
had finished singing. He left the piano and came over to Daisy.
"Won't you come into the other room and have some tea?" he asked,
bending before her with his ornamental smile.
Daisy turned to Winterbourne, beginning to smile again. He was still
more perplexed, for this inconsequent smile made nothing clear,
though it seemed to prove, indeed, that she had a sweetness and
softness that reverted instinctively to the pardon of offenses.
"It has never occurred to Mr. Winterbourne to offer me any tea,"
she said with her little tormenting manner.
"I have offered you advice," Winterbourne rejoined.
"I prefer weak tea!" cried Daisy, and she went off with the
brilliant Giovanelli. She sat with him in the adjoining room,
in the embrasure of the window, for the rest of the evening.
There was an interesting performance at the piano, but neither
of these young people gave heed to it. When Daisy came to take
leave of Mrs. Walker, this lady conscientiously repaired
the weakness of which she had been guilty at the moment of
the young girl's arrival. She turned her back straight upon
Miss Miller and left her to depart with what grace she might.
Winterbourne was standing near the door; he saw it all.
Daisy turned very pale and looked at her mother, but Mrs. Miller
was humbly unconscious of any violation of the usual social forms.
She appeared, indeed, to have felt an incongruous impulse
to draw attention to her own striking observance of them.
"Good night, Mrs. Walker," she said; "we've had a beautiful evening.
You see, if I let Daisy come to parties without me,
I don't want her to go away without me." Daisy turned away,
looking with a pale, grave face at the circle near the door;
Winterbourne saw that, for the first moment, she was
too much shocked and puzzled even for indignation.
He on his side was greatly touched.
"That was very cruel," he said to Mrs. Walker.
"She never enters my drawing room again!" replied his hostess.
Since Winterbourne was not to meet her in Mrs. Walker's drawing room,
he went as often as possible to Mrs. Miller's hotel. The ladies
were rarely at home, but when he found them, the devoted Giovanelli
was always present. Very often the brilliant little Roman was in the
drawing room with Daisy alone, Mrs. Miller being apparently constantly
of the opinion that discretion is the better part of surveillance.
Winterbourne noted, at first with surprise, that Daisy on these
occasions was never embarrassed or annoyed by his own entrance;
but he very presently began to feel that she had no more surprises for him;
the unexpected in her behavior was the only thing to expect. She showed
no displeasure at her tete-a-tete with Giovanelli being interrupted;
she could chatter as freshly and freely with two gentlemen as with one;
there was always, in her conversation, the same odd mixture of audacity
and puerility. Winterbourne remarked to himself that if she was
seriously interested in Giovanelli, it was very singular that she should
not take more trouble to preserve the sanctity of their interviews;
and he liked her the more for her innocent-looking indifference
and her apparently inexhaustible good humor. He could hardly have
said why, but she seemed to him a girl who would never be jealous.
At the risk of exciting a somewhat derisive smile on the reader's part,
I may affirm that with regard to the women who had hitherto interested him,
it very often seemed to Winterbourne among the possibilities that, given
certain contingencies, he should be afraid--literally afraid--of these ladies;
he had a pleasant sense that he should never be afraid of Daisy Miller.
It must be added that this sentiment was not altogether flattering to Daisy;
it was part of his conviction, or rather of his apprehension, that she
would prove a very light young person.
But she was evidently very much interested in Giovanelli.
She looked at him whenever he spoke; she was perpetually telling him
to do this and to do that; she was constantly "chaffing" and abusing him.
She appeared completely to have forgotten that Winterbourne had said anything
to displease her at Mrs. Walker's little party. One Sunday afternoon,
having gone to St. Peter's with his aunt, Winterbourne perceived Daisy
strolling about the great church in company with the inevitable Giovanelli.
Presently he pointed out the young girl and her cavalier to Mrs. Costello.
This lady looked at them a moment through her eyeglass, and then she said:
"That's what makes you so pensive in these days, eh?"
"I had not the least idea I was pensive," said the young man.
"You are very much preoccupied; you are thinking of something."
"And what is it," he asked, "that you accuse me of thinking of?"
"Of that young lady's--Miss Baker's, Miss Chandler's--what's her name?--
Miss Miller's intrigue with that little barber's block."
"Do you call it an intrigue," Winterbourne asked--"an affair that goes
on with such peculiar publicity?"
"That's their folly," said Mrs. Costello; "it's not their merit."
"No," rejoined Winterbourne, with something of that pensiveness
to which his aunt had alluded. "I don't believe that there
is anything to be called an intrigue."
"I have heard a dozen people speak of it; they say she is quite carried
away by him."
"They are certainly very intimate," said Winterbourne.
Mrs. Costello inspected the young couple again with her optical instrument.
"He is very handsome. One easily sees how it is. She thinks
him the most elegant man in the world, the finest gentleman.
She has never seen anything like him; he is better, even, than the courier.
It was the courier probably who introduced him; and if he succeeds in marrying
the young lady, the courier will come in for a magnificent commission."
"I don't believe she thinks of marrying him," said Winterbourne,
"and I don't believe he hopes to marry her."
"You may be very sure she thinks of nothing. She goes on from
day to day, from hour to hour, as they did in the Golden Age.
I can imagine nothing more vulgar. And at the same time,"
added Mrs. Costello, "depend upon it that she may tell you
any moment that she is 'engaged.'"
"I think that is more than Giovanelli expects," said Winterbourne.
"Who is Giovanelli?"
"The little Italian. I have asked questions about him and
learned something. He is apparently a perfectly respectable
little man. I believe he is, in a small way, a cavaliere
avvocato. But he doesn't move in what are called the first circles.
I think it is really not absolutely impossible that the courier
introduced him. He is evidently immensely charmed with Miss Miller.
If she thinks him the finest gentleman in the world, he, on his side,
has never found himself in personal contact with such splendor,
such opulence, such expensiveness as this young lady's. And
then she must seem to him wonderfully pretty and interesting.
I rather doubt that he dreams of marrying her.
That must appear to him too impossible a piece of luck.
He has nothing but his handsome face to offer, and there is
a substantial Mr. Miller in that mysterious land of dollars.
Giovanelli knows that he hasn't a title to offer.
If he were only a count or a marchese! He must wonder
at his luck, at the way they have taken him up."
"He accounts for it by his handsome face and thinks Miss
Miller a young lady qui se passe ses fantaisies!"
said Mrs. Costello.
"It is very true," Winterbourne pursued, "that Daisy and her mamma
have not yet risen to that stage of--what shall I call it?--of culture
at which the idea of catching a count or a marchese begins.
I believe that they are intellectually incapable of that conception."
"Ah! but the avvocato can't believe it," said Mrs. Costello.
Of the observation excited by Daisy's "intrigue," Winterbourne
gathered that day at St. Peter's sufficient evidence. A dozen
of the American colonists in Rome came to talk with Mrs. Costello,
who sat on a little portable stool at the base of one of the
great pilasters. The vesper service was going forward in splendid
chants and organ tones in the adjacent choir, and meanwhile,
between Mrs. Costello and her friends, there was a great deal
said about poor little Miss Miller's going really "too far."
Winterbourne was not pleased with what he heard, but when,
coming out upon the great steps of the church, he saw Daisy,
who had emerged before him, get into an open cab with her
accomplice and roll away through the cynical streets of Rome,
he could not deny to himself that she was going very far indeed.
He felt very sorry for her--not exactly that he believed that
she had completely lost her head, but because it was painful
to hear so much that was pretty, and undefended, and natural
assigned to a vulgar place among the categories of disorder.
He made an attempt after this to give a hint to Mrs. Miller.
He met one day in the Corso a friend, a tourist like himself,
who had just come out of the Doria Palace, where he had been
walking through the beautiful gallery. His friend talked
for a moment about the superb portrait of Innocent X by
Velasquez which hangs in one of the cabinets of the palace,
and then said, "And in the same cabinet, by the way, I had
the pleasure of contemplating a picture of a different kind--
that pretty American girl whom you pointed out to me last week."
In answer to Winterbourne's inquiries, his friend narrated
that the pretty American girl--prettier than ever--was seated
with a companion in the secluded nook in which the great papal
portrait was enshrined.
"Who was her companion?" asked Winterbourne.
"A little Italian with a bouquet in his buttonhole.
The girl is delightfully pretty, but I thought I understood from you
the other day that she was a young lady du meilleur monde."
"So she is!" answered Winterbourne; and having assured himself that his
informant had seen Daisy and her companion but five minutes before,
he jumped into a cab and went to call on Mrs. Miller. She was at home;
but she apologized to him for receiving him in Daisy's absence.
"She's gone out somewhere with Mr. Giovanelli," said Mrs. Miller.
"She's always going round with Mr. Giovanelli."
"I have noticed that they are very intimate," Winterbourne observed.
"Oh, it seems as if they couldn't live without each other!" said Mrs. Miller.
"Well, he's a real gentleman, anyhow. I keep telling Daisy she's engaged!"
"And what does Daisy say?"
"Oh, she says she isn't engaged. But she might as well be!"
this impartial parent resumed; "she goes on as if she was.
But I've made Mr. Giovanelli promise to tell me, if SHE doesn't.
I should want to write to Mr. Miller about it--shouldn't you?"
Winterbourne replied that he certainly should; and the state of mind
of Daisy's mamma struck him as so unprecedented in the annals of parental
vigilance that he gave up as utterly irrelevant the attempt to place
her upon her guard.
After this Daisy was never at home, and Winterbourne ceased to meet her
at the houses of their common acquaintances, because, as he perceived,
these shrewd people had quite made up their minds that she was going too far.
They ceased to invite her; and they intimated that they desired to
express to observant Europeans the great truth that, though Miss Daisy
Miller was a young American lady, her behavior was not representative--
was regarded by her compatriots as abnormal. Winterbourne wondered
how she felt about all the cold shoulders that were turned toward her,
and sometimes it annoyed him to suspect that she did not feel at all.
He said to himself that she was too light and childish, too uncultivated
and unreasoning, too provincial, to have reflected upon her ostracism,
or even to have perceived it. Then at other moments he believed that she
carried about in her elegant and irresponsible little organism a defiant,
passionate, perfectly observant consciousness of the impression she produced.
He asked himself whether Daisy's defiance came from the consciousness
of innocence, or from her being, essentially, a young person of the
reckless class. It must be admitted that holding one's self to a belief
in Daisy's "innocence" came to seem to Winterbourne more and more a matter
of fine-spun gallantry. As I have already had occasion to relate, he was
angry at finding himself reduced to chopping logic about this young lady;
he was vexed at his want of instinctive certitude as to how far her
eccentricities were generic, national, and how far they were personal.
From either view of them he had somehow missed her, and now it was too late.
She was "carried away" by Mr. Giovanelli.
A few days after his brief interview with her mother, he encountered
her in that beautiful abode of flowering desolation known as the
Palace of the Caesars. The early Roman spring had filled the air
with bloom and perfume, and the rugged surface of the Palatine
was muffled with tender verdure. Daisy was strolling along
the top of one of those great mounds of ruin that are embanked
with mossy marble and paved with monumental inscriptions.
It seemed to him that Rome had never been so lovely as just then.
He stood, looking off at the enchanting harmony of line and color
that remotely encircles the city, inhaling the softly humid odors,
and feeling the freshness of the year and the antiquity
of the place reaffirm themselves in mysterious interfusion.
It seemed to him also that Daisy had never looked so pretty,
but this had been an observation of his whenever he met her.
Giovanelli was at her side, and Giovanelli, too, wore an aspect
of even unwonted brilliancy.
"Well," said Daisy, "I should think you would be lonesome!"
"Lonesome?" asked Winterbourne.
"You are always going round by yourself. Can't you get anyone
to walk with you?"
"I am not so fortunate," said Winterbourne, "as your companion."
Giovanelli, from the first, had treated Winterbourne with
distinguished politeness. He listened with a deferential air
to his remarks; he laughed punctiliously at his pleasantries;
he seemed disposed to testify to his belief that Winterbourne
was a superior young man. He carried himself in no degree
like a jealous wooer; he had obviously a great deal of tact;
he had no objection to your expecting a little humility of him.
It even seemed to Winterbourne at times that Giovanelli would
find a certain mental relief in being able to have a private
understanding with him--to say to him, as an intelligent man,
that, bless you, HE knew how extraordinary was this
young lady, and didn't flatter himself with delusive--
or at least TOO delusive--hopes of matrimony and dollars.
On this occasion he strolled away from his companion to pluck
a sprig of almond blossom, which he carefully arranged
in his buttonhole.
"I know why you say that," said Daisy, watching Giovanelli.
"Because you think I go round too much with HIM."
And she nodded at her attendant.
"Every one thinks so--if you care to know," said Winterbourne.
"Of course I care to know!" Daisy exclaimed seriously.
"But I don't believe it. They are only pretending to be shocked.
They don't really care a straw what I do. Besides, I don't
go round so much."
"I think you will find they do care. They will show it disagreeably."
Daisy looked at him a moment. "How disagreeably?"
"Haven't you noticed anything?" Winterbourne asked.
"I have noticed you. But I noticed you were as stiff as an umbrella
the first time I saw you."
"You will find I am not so stiff as several others,"
said Winterbourne, smiling.
"How shall I find it?"
"By going to see the others."
"What will they do to me?"
"They will give you the cold shoulder. Do you know what that means?"
Daisy was looking at him intently; she began to color.
"Do you mean as Mrs. Walker did the other night?"
"Exactly!" said Winterbourne.
She looked away at Giovanelli, who was decorating himself
with his almond blossom. Then looking back at Winterbourne,
"I shouldn't think you would let people be so unkind!" she said.
"How can I help it?" he asked.
"I should think you would say something."
"I do say something"; and he paused a moment. "I say that your mother
tells me that she believes you are engaged."
"Well, she does," said Daisy very simply.
Winterbourne began to laugh. "And does Randolph believe it?" he asked.
"I guess Randolph doesn't believe anything," said Daisy.
Randolph's skepticism excited Winterbourne to further hilarity,
and he observed that Giovanelli was coming back to them.
Daisy, observing it too, addressed herself again to her countryman.
"Since you have mentioned it," she said, "I AM engaged."
* * * Winterbourne looked at her; he had stopped laughing.
"You don't believe!" she added.
He was silent a moment; and then, "Yes, I believe it," he said.
"Oh, no, you don't!" she answered. "Well, then--I am not!"
The young girl and her cicerone were on their way to the gate
of the enclosure, so that Winterbourne, who had but lately entered,
presently took leave of them. A week afterward he went to dine
at a beautiful villa on the Caelian Hill, and, on arriving,
dismissed his hired vehicle. The evening was charming, and he
promised himself the satisfaction of walking home beneath the Arch
of Constantine and past the vaguely lighted monuments of the Forum.
There was a waning moon in the sky, and her radiance was not brilliant,
but she was veiled in a thin cloud curtain which seemed to diffuse
and equalize it. When, on his return from the villa (it was eleven
o'clock), Winterbourne approached the dusky circle of the Colosseum,
it recurred to him, as a lover of the picturesque, that the interior,
in the pale moonshine, would be well worth a glance. He turned aside
and walked to one of the empty arches, near which, as he observed,
an open carriage--one of the little Roman streetcabs--was stationed.
Then he passed in, among the cavernous shadows of the great structure,
and emerged upon the clear and silent arena. The place had never
seemed to him more impressive. One-half of the gigantic circus
was in deep shade, the other was sleeping in the luminous dusk.
As he stood there he began to murmur Byron's famous lines,
out of "Manfred," but before he had finished his quotation
he remembered that if nocturnal meditations in the Colosseum are
recommended by the poets, they are deprecated by the doctors.
The historic atmosphere was there, certainly; but the historic atmosphere,
scientifically considered, was no better than a villainous miasma.
Winterbourne walked to the middle of the arena, to take a more
general glance, intending thereafter to make a hasty retreat.
The great cross in the center was covered with shadow;
it was only as he drew near it that he made it out distinctly.
Then he saw that two persons were stationed upon the low steps which
formed its base. One of these was a woman, seated; her companion
was standing in front of her.
Presently the sound of the woman's voice came to him distinctly
in the warm night air. "Well, he looks at us as one of the old
lions or tigers may have looked at the Christian martyrs!"
These were the words he heard, in the familiar accent of
Miss Daisy Miller.
"Let us hope he is not very hungry," responded the ingenious Giovanelli.
"He will have to take me first; you will serve for dessert!"
Winterbourne stopped, with a sort of horror, and, it must be added,
with a sort of relief. It was as if a sudden illumination had been
flashed upon the ambiguity of Daisy's behavior, and the riddle had
become easy to read. She was a young lady whom a gentleman need
no longer be at pains to respect. He stood there, looking at her--
looking at her companion and not reflecting that though he saw
them vaguely, he himself must have been more brightly visible.
He felt angry with himself that he had bothered so much about
the right way of regarding Miss Daisy Miller. Then, as he was going
to advance again, he checked himself, not from the fear that he was doing
her injustice, but from a sense of the danger of appearing unbecomingly
exhilarated by this sudden revulsion from cautious criticism.
He turned away toward the entrance of the place, but, as he did so,
he heard Daisy speak again.
"Why, it was Mr. Winterbourne! He saw me, and he cuts me!"
What a clever little reprobate she was, and how smartly she played
at injured innocence! But he wouldn't cut her. Winterbourne came
forward again and went toward the great cross. Daisy had got up;
Giovanelli lifted his hat. Winterbourne had now begun to think
simply of the craziness, from a sanitary point of view, of a delicate
young girl lounging away the evening in this nest of malaria.
What if she WERE a clever little reprobate? that was no reason
for her dying of the perniciosa. "How long have you been here?"
he asked almost brutally.
Daisy, lovely in the flattering moonlight, looked at him a moment.
Then--"All the evening," she answered, gently. * * * "I never saw
anything so pretty."
"I am afraid," said Winterbourne, "that you will not think
Roman fever very pretty. This is the way people catch it.
I wonder," he added, turning to Giovanelli, "that you,
a native Roman, should countenance such a terrible indiscretion."
"Ah," said the handsome native, "for myself I am not afraid."
"Neither am I--for you! I am speaking for this young lady."
Giovanelli lifted his well-shaped eyebrows and showed his brilliant teeth.
But he took Winterbourne's rebuke with docility. "I told the signorina it
was a grave indiscretion, but when was the signorina ever prudent?"
"I never was sick, and I don't mean to be!" the signorina declared.
"I don't look like much, but I'm healthy! I was bound to see the Colosseum
by moonlight; I shouldn't have wanted to go home without that;
and we have had the most beautiful time, haven't we, Mr. Giovanelli?
If there has been any danger, Eugenio can give me some pills.
He has got some splendid pills."
"I should advise you," said Winterbourne, "to drive home as fast
as possible and take one!"
"What you say is very wise," Giovanelli rejoined.
"I will go and make sure the carriage is at hand."
And he went forward rapidly.
Daisy followed with Winterbourne. He kept looking at her;
she seemed not in the least embarrassed. Winterbourne said nothing;
Daisy chattered about the beauty of the place. "Well, I
HAVE seen the Colosseum by moonlight!" she exclaimed.
"That's one good thing." Then, noticing Winterbourne's silence,
she asked him why he didn't speak. He made no answer;
he only began to laugh. They passed under one of the
dark archways; Giovanelli was in front with the carriage.
Here Daisy stopped a moment, looking at the young American.
"DID you believe I was engaged, the other day?" she asked.
"It doesn't matter what I believed the other day,"
said Winterbourne, still laughing.
"Well, what do you believe now?"
"I believe that it makes very little difference whether you
are engaged or not!"
He felt the young girl's pretty eyes fixed upon him through
the thick gloom of the archway; she was apparently going to answer.
But Giovanelli hurried her forward. "Quick! quick!" he said;
"if we get in by midnight we are quite safe."
Daisy took her seat in the carriage, and the fortunate Italian
placed himself beside her. "Don't forget Eugenio's pills!"
said Winterbourne as he lifted his hat.
"I don't care," said Daisy in a little strange tone, "whether I have Roman
fever or not!" Upon this the cab driver cracked his whip, and they rolled
away over the desultory patches of the antique pavement.
Winterbourne, to do him justice, as it were, mentioned to no one
that he had encountered Miss Miller, at midnight, in the Colosseum
with a gentleman; but nevertheless, a couple of days later, the fact
of her having been there under these circumstances was known to every
member of the little American circle, and commented accordingly.
Winterbourne reflected that they had of course known it
at the hotel, and that, after Daisy's return, there had been
an exchange of remarks between the porter and the cab driver.
But the young man was conscious, at the same moment, that it had
ceased to be a matter of serious regret to him that the little
American flirt should be "talked about" by low-minded menials.
These people, a day or two later, had serious information to give:
the little American flirt was alarmingly ill. Winterbourne, when the
rumor came to him, immediately went to the hotel for more news.
He found that two or three charitable friends had preceded him,
and that they were being entertained in Mrs. Miller's salon by Randolph.
"It's going round at night," said Randolph--"that's
what made her sick. She's always going round at night.
I shouldn't think she'd want to, it's so plaguy dark.
You can't see anything here at night, except when there's a moon.
In America there's always a moon!" Mrs. Miller was invisible;
she was now, at least, giving her aughter the advantage of
her society. It was evident that Daisy was dangerously ill.
Winterbourne went often to ask for news of her, and once he saw Mrs. Miller,
who, though deeply alarmed, was, rather to his surprise, perfectly composed,
and, as it appeared, a most efficient and judicious nurse. She talked
a good deal about Dr. Davis, but Winterbourne paid her the compliment
of saying to himself that she was not, after all, such a monstrous goose.
"Daisy spoke of you the other day," she said to him. "Half the time
she doesn't know what she's saying, but that time I think she did.
She gave me a message she told me to tell you. She told me to tell you
that she never was engaged to that handsome Italian. I am sure I am
very glad; Mr. Giovanelli hasn't been near us since she was taken ill.
I thought he was so much of a gentleman; but I don't call that very polite!
A lady told me that he was afraid I was angry with him for taking Daisy
round at night. Well, so I am, but I suppose he knows I'm a lady.
I would scorn to scold him. Anyway, she says she's not engaged.
I don't know why she wanted you to know, but she said to me three times,
'Mind you tell Mr. Winterbourne.' And then she told me to ask
if you remembered the time you went to that castle in Switzerland.
But I said I wouldn't give any such messages as that. Only, if she
is not engaged, I'm sure I'm glad to know it."
But, as Winterbourne had said, it mattered very little.
A week after this, the poor girl died; it had been a terrible
case of the fever. Daisy's grave was in the little
Protestant cemetery, in an angle of the wall of imperial Rome,
beneath the cypresses and the thick spring flowers.
Winterbourne stood there beside it, with a number of other mourners,
a number larger than the scandal excited by the young lady's
career would have led you to expect. Near him stood Giovanelli,
who came nearer still before Winterbourne turned away.
Giovanelli was very pale: on this occasion he had no flower
in his buttonhole; he seemed to wish to say something.
At last he said, "She was the most beautiful young lady I
ever saw, and the most amiable"; and then he added in a moment,
"and she was the most innocent."
Winterbourne looked at him and presently repeated his words,
"And the most innocent?"
"The most innocent!"
Winterbourne felt sore and angry. "Why the devil," he asked,
"did you take her to that fatal place?"
Mr. Giovanelli's urbanity was apparently imperturbable.
He looked on the ground a moment, and then he said, "For myself
I had no fear; and she wanted to go."
"That was no reason!" Winterbourne declared.
The subtle Roman again dropped his eyes. "If she had lived,
I should have got nothing. She would never have married me,
I am sure."
"She would never have married you?"
"For a moment I hoped so. But no. I am sure."
Winterbourne listened to him: he stood staring at the raw protuberance
among the April daisies. When he turned away again, Mr. Giovanelli,
with his light, slow step, had retired.
Winterbourne almost immediately left Rome; but the following
summer he again met his aunt, Mrs. Costello at Vevey.
Mrs. Costello was fond of Vevey. In the interval Winterbourne
had often thought of Daisy Miller and her mystifying manners.
One day he spoke of her to his aunt--said it was on his conscience
that he had done her injustice.
"I am sure I don't know," said Mrs. Costello. "How did your
injustice affect her?"
"She sent me a message before her death which I didn't
understand at the time; but I have understood it since.
She would have appreciated one's esteem."
"Is that a modest way," asked Mrs. Costello, "of saying that she would
have reciprocated one's affection?"
Winterbourne offered no answer to this question; but he presently said,
"You were right in that remark that you made last summer. I was booked
to make a mistake. I have lived too long in foreign parts."
Nevertheless, he went back to live at Geneva, whence there continue
to come the most contradictory accounts of his motives of sojourn:
a report that he is "studying" hard--an intimation that he is much
interested in a very clever foreign lady.