‘Beautiful’ – Golden Bowl / 33

Book TWO Part 4 Chapter 33

[Maggie] There could perhaps have been no stronger mark than this sense of well-nigh romantic opportunity—no livelier sign of the impression made on her, and always so long retained, so watchfully nursed, by any observation of Charlotte’s, however lightly thrown off. And then she had felt, somehow, more at her ease than for months and months before; she didn’t know why, but her time at the Museum, oddly, had done it; it was as if she hadn’t come into so many noble and beautiful associations, nor secured them also for her boy, secured them even for her father, only to see them turn to vanity and doubt, turn possibly to something still worse.

[Fanny, ‘her companion’= Maggie] She was reminded of the terms on which she was let off—her quantity of release having made its sufficient show in that recall of her relation to Charlotte’s old reappearance; and deep within the whole impression glowed—ah, so inspiringly when it came to that! her steady view, clear from the first, of the beauty of her companion’s motive.

[Maggie of Prince] “It’s quite as if he had an instinct—something that has warned him off or made him uneasy. He doesn’t quite know, naturally, what has happened, but guesses, with his beautiful cleverness, that something has, and isn’t in a hurry to be confronted with it. So, in his vague fear, he keeps off.”

“Not, at any rate, to care for me as you cared for Amerigo and for Charlotte. They were much more interesting—it was perfectly natural. How couldn’t you like Amerigo?” Maggie continued.
Mrs. Assingham gave it up. “How couldn’t I, how couldn’t I?” Then, with a fine freedom, she went all her way. “How CAN’T I, how can’t I?”
It fixed afresh Maggie’s wide eyes on her. “I see—I see. Well, it’s beautiful for you to be able to. And of course,” she added, “you wanted to help Charlotte.”
“Yes”—Fanny considered it—”I wanted to help Charlotte. But I wanted also, you see, to help you—by not digging up a past that I believed, with so much on top of it, solidly buried. I wanted, as I still want,” she richly declared, “to help every one.”

Fanny Assingham met it as she could. “You’ve been only too perfect. You’ve thought only too much.”
But the Princess had already caught at the words. “Yes—I’ve thought only too much!” Yet she appeared to continue, for the minute, full of that fault. She had it in fact, by this prompted thought, all before her. “Of him, dear man, of HIM—!”
Her friend, able to take in thus directly her vision of her father, watched her with a new suspense. THAT way might safety lie—it was like a wider chink of light. “He believed—with a beauty!—in Charlotte.”
“Yes, and it was I who had made him believe. I didn’t mean to, at the time, so much; for I had no idea then of what was coming. But I did it, I did it!” the Princess declared.
“With a beauty—ah, with a beauty, you too!” Mrs. Assingham insisted.

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