Not a member?     Existing members login below:
Checkout our recommended Summer Reading in our new Book Lists here

The Aspern Papers

Chapter VIII
As it turned out the precaution had not been needed, for three hours later, just as
I had finished my dinner, Miss Bordereau's niece appeared, unannounced, in the
open doorway of the room in which my simple repasts were served. I remember
well that I felt no surprise at seeing her; which is not a proof that I did not believe
in her timidity. It was immense, but in a case in which there was a particular
reason for boldness it never would have prevented her from running up to my
rooms. I saw that she was now quite full of a particular reason; it threw her
forward--made her seize me, as I rose to meet her, by the arm.
"My aunt is very ill; I think she is dying!"
"Never in the world," I answered bitterly. "Don't you be afraid!"
"Do go for a doctor--do, do! Olimpia is gone for the one we always have, but she
doesn't come back; I don't know what has happened to her. I told her that if he
was not at home she was to follow him where he had gone; but apparently she is
following him all over Venice. I don't know what to do--she looks so as if she
were sinking."
"May I see her, may I judge?" I asked. "Of course I shall be delighted to bring
someone; but hadn't we better send my man instead, so that I may stay with
Miss Tita assented to this and I dispatched my servant for the best doctor in the
neighborhood. I hurried downstairs with her, and on the way she told me that an
hour after I quitted them in the afternoon Miss Bordereau had had an attack of
"oppression," a terrible difficulty in breathing. This had subsided but had left her
so exhausted that she did not come up: she seemed all gone. I repeated that she
was not gone, that she would not go yet; whereupon Miss Tita gave me a
sharper sidelong glance than she had ever directed at me and said, "Really, what
do you mean? I suppose you don't accuse her of making believe!" I forget what
reply I made to this, but I grant that in my heart I thought the old woman capable
of any weird maneuver. Miss Tita wanted to know what I had done to her; her
aunt had told her that I had made her so angry. I declared I had done nothing-- I
had been exceedingly careful; to which my companion rejoined that Miss
Bordereau had assured her she had had a scene with me-- a scene that had
upset her. I answered with some resentment that it was a scene of her own
making--that I couldn't think what she was angry with me for unless for not seeing
my way to give a thousand pounds for the portrait of Jeffrey Aspern. "And did she
show you that? Oh, gracious--oh, deary me!" groaned Miss Tita, who appeared
to feel that the situation was passing out of her control and that the elements of
her fate were thickening around her. I said that I would give anything to possess