The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Portrait of a Lady, by Henry James
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Title: The Portrait of a Lady
Volume 2 (of 2)
Author: Henry James
Release Date: December 1, 2008 [EBook #2834]
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Produced by Eve Sobol, and David Widger
THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
VOLUME II (of II)
By Henry James
On the morrow, in the evening, Lord Warburton went again to see his friends at their hotel, and at this establishment he learned that they had gone to the opera. He drove to the opera with the idea of paying them a visit in their box after the easy Italian fashion; and when he had obtained his admittance—it was one of the secondary theatres—looked about the large, bare, ill-lighted house. An act had just terminated and he was at liberty to pursue his quest. After scanning two or three tiers of boxes he perceived in one of the largest of these receptacles a lady whom he easily recognised. Miss Archer was seated facing the stage and partly screened by the curtain of the box; and beside her, leaning back in his chair, was Mr. Gilbert Osmond. They appeared to have the place to themselves, and Warburton supposed their companions had taken advantage of the recess to enjoy the relative coolness of the lobby. He stood a while with his eyes on the interesting pair; he asked himself if he should go up and interrupt the harmony. At last he judged that Isabel had seen him, and this accident determined him. There should be no marked holding off. He took his way to the upper regions and on the staircase met Ralph Touchett slowly descending, his hat at the inclination of ennui and his hands where they usually were.
'I saw you below a moment since and was going down to you. I feel lonely and want company,' was Ralph's greeting.
'You've some that's very good which you've yet deserted.'
'Do you mean my cousin? Oh, she has a visitor and doesn't want me. Then Miss Stackpole and Bantling have gone out to a cafe to eat an ice—Miss Stackpole delights in an ice. I didn't think they wanted me either. The opera's very bad; the women look like laundresses and sing like peacocks. I feel very low.'
'You had better go home,' Lord Warburton said without affectation.
'And leave my young lady in this sad place? Ah no, I must watch over her.'