The Portrait of a Lady
The day after her visit to Lockleigh she received a note from her friend Miss
Stackpole--a note of which the envelope, exhibiting in conjunction the postmark
of Liverpool and the neat calligraphy of the quick-fingered Henrietta, caused her
some liveliness of emotion. "Here I am, my lovely friend," Miss Stackpole wrote;
"I managed to get off at last. I decided only the night before I left New York--the
Interviewer having come round to my figure. I put a few things into a bag, like a
veteran journalist, and came down to the steamer in a street-car. Where are you
and where can we meet? I suppose you're visiting at some castle or other and
have already acquired the correct accent. Perhaps even you have married a lord;
I almost hope you have, for I want some introductions to the first people and shall
count on you for a few. The Interviewer wants some light on the nobility. My first
impressions (of the people at large) are not rose-coloured; but I wish to talk them
over with you, and you know that, whatever I am, at least I'm not superficial. I've
also something very particular to tell you. Do appoint a meeting as quickly as you
can; come to London (I should like so much to visit the sights with you) or else let
me come to you, wherever you are. I will do so with pleasure; for you know
everything interests me and I wish to see as much as possible of the inner life."
Isabel judged best not to show this letter to her uncle; but she acquainted him
with its purport, and, as she expected, he begged her instantly to assure Miss
Stackpole, in his name, that he should be delighted to receive her at
Gardencourt. "Though she's a literary lady," he said, "I suppose that, being an
American, she won't show me up, as that other one did. She has seen others like
"She has seen no other so delightful!" Isabel answered; but she was not
altogether at ease about Henrietta's reproductive instincts, which belonged to
that side of her friend's character which she regarded with least complacency.
She wrote to Miss Stackpole, however, that she would be very welcome under
Mr. Touchett's roof; and this alert young woman lost no time in announcing her
prompt approach. She had gone up to London, and it was from that centre that
she took the train for the station nearest to Gardencourt, where Isabel and Ralph
were in waiting to receive her.
"Shall I love her or shall I hate her?" Ralph asked while they moved along the
"Whichever you do will matter very little to her," said Isabel. "She doesn't care a
straw what men think of her."
"As a man I'm bound to dislike her then. She must be a kind of monster. Is she
"No, she's decidedly pretty."
"A female interviewer--a reporter in petticoats? I'm very curious to see her,"
"It's very easy to laugh at her but it is not easy to be as brave as she."
"I should think not; crimes of violence and attacks on the person require more or
less pluck. Do you suppose she'll interview me?"