The Portrait of a Lady
Her fit of weeping, however, was soon smothered, and the signs of it had
vanished when, an hour later, she broke the news to her aunt. I use this
expression because she had been sure Mrs. Touchett would not be pleased;
Isabel had only waited to tell her till she had seen Mr. Goodwood. She had an
odd impression that it would not be honourable to make the fact public before
she should have heard what Mr. Goodwood would say about it. He had said
rather less than she expected, and she now had a somewhat angry sense of
having lost time. But she would lose no more; she waited till Mrs. Touchett came
into the drawing-room before the mid-day breakfast, and then she began. "Aunt
Lydia, I've something to tell you."
Mrs. Touchett gave a little jump and looked at her almost fiercely. "You needn't
tell me; I know what it is."
"I don't know how you know."
"The same way that I know when the window's open--by feeling a draught. You're
going to marry that man."
"What man do you mean?" Isabel enquired with great dignity.
"Madame Merle's friend--Mr. Osmond."
"I don't know why you call him Madame Merle's friend. Is that the principal thing
he's known by?"
"If he's not her friend he ought to be--after what she has done for him!" cried Mrs.
Touchett. "I shouldn't have expected it of her; I'm disappointed."
"If you mean that Madame Merle has had anything to do with my engagement
you're greatly mistaken," Isabel declared with a sort of ardent coldness.
"You mean that your attractions were sufficient, without the gentleman's having
had to be lashed up? You're quite right. They're immense, your attractions, and
he would never have presumed to think of you if she hadn't put him up to it. He
has a very good opinion of himself, but he was not a man to take trouble.
Madame Merle took the trouble for him."
"He has taken a great deal for himself!" cried Isabel with a voluntary laugh.
Mrs. Touchett gave a sharp nod. "I think he must, after all, to have made you like
him so much."
"I thought he even pleased YOU."
"He did, at one time; and that's why I'm angry with him."
"Be angry with me, not with him," said the girl.
"Oh, I'm always angry with you; that's no satisfaction! Was it for this that you
refused Lord Warburton?"
"Please don't go back to that. Why shouldn't I like Mr. Osmond, since others have
"Others, at their wildest moments, never wanted to marry him. There's nothing
OF him," Mrs. Touchett explained.
"Then he can't hurt me," said Isabel.
"Do you think you're going to be happy? No one's happy, in such doings, you
"I shall set the fashion then. What does one marry for?"