The Portrait of a Lady HTML version

Chapter 12
She put the letter into her pocket and offered her visitor a smile of welcome,
exhibiting no trace of discomposure and half surprised at her coolness.
"They told me you were out here," said Lord Warburton; "and as there was no
one in the drawing-room and it's really you that I wish to see, I came out with no
more ado."
Isabel had got up; she felt a wish, for the moment, that he should not sit down
beside her. "I was just going indoors."
"Please don't do that; it's much jollier here; I've ridden over from Lockleigh; it's a
lovely day." His smile was peculiarly friendly and pleasing, and his whole person
seemed to emit that radiance of good-feeling and good fare which had formed
the charm of the girl's first impression of him. It surrounded him like a zone of fine
June weather.
"We'll walk about a little then," said Isabel, who could not divest herself of the
sense of an intention on the part of her visitor and who wished both to elude the
intention and to satisfy her curiosity about it. It had flashed upon her vision once
before, and it had given her on that occasion, as we know, a certain alarm. This
alarm was composed of several elements, not all of which were disagreeable;
she had indeed spent some days in analysing them and had succeeded in
separating the pleasant part of the idea of Lord Warburton's "making up" to her
from the painful. It may appear to some readers that the young lady was both
precipitate and unduly fastidious; but the latter of these facts, if the charge be
true, may serve to exonerate her from the discredit of the former. She was not
eager to convince herself that a territorial magnate, as she had heard Lord
Warburton called, was smitten with her charms; the fact of a declaration from
such a source carrying with it really more questions than it would answer. She
had received a strong impression of his being a "personage," and she had
occupied herself in examining the image so conveyed. At the risk of adding to the
evidence of her self-sufficiency it must be said that there had been moments
when this possibility of admiration by a personage represented to her an
aggression almost to the degree of an affront, quite to the degree of an
inconvenience. She had never yet known a personage; there had been no
personages, in this sense, in her life; there were probably none such at all in her
native land. When she had thought of individual eminence she had thought of it
on the basis of character and wit--of what one might like in a gentleman's mind
and in his talk. She herself was a character --she couldn't help being aware of
that; and hitherto her visions of a completed consciousness had concerned
themselves largely with moral images--things as to which the question would be
whether they pleased her sublime soul. Lord Warburton loomed up before her,
largely and brightly, as a collection of attributes and powers which were not to be
measured by this simple rule, but which demanded a different sort of
appreciation--an appreciation that the girl, with her habit of judging quickly and
freely, felt she lacked patience to bestow. He appeared to demand of her
something that no one else, as it were, had presumed to do. What she felt was