Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1861–1889
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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889
 
Miss Daisy Miller of Schenectady, U. S.
By Henry James (1843–1916)
 
[Daisy Miller: A Study. 1878.]

WINTERBOURNE, who had returned to Geneva the day after his excursion to Chillon, went to Rome toward the end of January. His aunt had been established there for several weeks, and he had received a couple of letters from her. “Those people you were so devoted to last summer at Vevay have turned up here, courier and all,” she wrote. “They seem to have made several acquaintances, but the courier continues to be the most intime. The young lady, however, is also very intimate with some third-rate Italians, with whom she rackets about in a way that makes much talk. Bring me that pretty novel of Cherbuliez’s—‘Paule Méré’—and don’t come later than the 23d.”
  1
  In the natural course of events, Winterbourne, on arriving in Rome, would presently have ascertained Mrs. Miller’s address at the American banker’s, and have gone to pay his compliments to Miss Daisy. “After what happened at Vevay, I think I may certainly call upon them,” he said to Mrs. Costello.  2
  “If, after what happens—at Vevay and everywhere—you desire to keep up the acquaintance, you are very welcome. Of course a man may know every one. Men are welcome to the privilege!”  3
  “Pray what is it that happens—here, for instance?” Winterbourne demanded.  4
  “The girl goes about alone with her foreigners. As to what happens further, you must apply elsewhere for information. She has picked up half a dozen of the regular Roman fortune-hunters, and she takes them about to people’s houses. When she comes to a party she brings with her a gentleman with a good deal of manner and a wonderful mustache.”  5
  “And where is the mother?”  6
  “I haven’t the least idea. They are very dreadful people.”  7
  Winterbourne meditated a moment. “They are very ignorant—very innocent only. Depend upon it they are not bad.”  8
  “They are hopelessly vulgar,” said Mrs. Costello. “Whether or no being hopelessly vulgar is being ‘bad’ is a question for the metaphysicians. They are bad enough to dislike, at any rate; and for this short life that is quite enough.”  9
  The news that Daisy Miller was surrounded by half a dozen wonderful mustaches checked Winterbourne’s impulse to go straightway to see her. He had, perhaps, not definitely flattered himself that he had made an ineffaceable impression upon her heart, but he was annoyed at hearing of a state of affairs so little in harmony with an image that had lately flitted in and out of his own meditations; the image of a very pretty girl looking out of an old Roman window and asking herself urgently when Mr. Winterbourne would arrive. If, however, he determined to wait a little before reminding Miss Miller of his claims to her consideration, he went very soon to call upon two or three other friends. One of these friends was an American lady who had spent several winters at Geneva, where she had placed her children at school. She was a very accomplished woman, and she lived in the Via Gregoriana. Winterbourne found her in a little crimson drawing-room on a third floor; the room was filled with southern sunshine. He had not been there ten minutes when the servant came in, announcing “Madame Mila!” This announcement was presently followed by the entrance of little Randolph Miller, who stopped in the middle of the room and stood staring at Winterbourne. An instant later his pretty sister crossed the threshold; and then, after a considerable interval, Mrs. Miller slowly advanced.  10
  “I know you!” said Randolph.  11
  “I’m sure you know a great many things,” exclaimed Winterbourne, taking him by the hand. “How is your education coming on?”  12
  Daisy was exchanging greetings very prettily with her hostess; but when she heard Winterbourne’s voice she quickly turned her head. “Well, I declare!” she said.  13
  “I told you I should come, you know,” Winterbourne rejoined, smiling.  14
  “Well, I didn’t believe it,” said Miss Daisy.  15
  “I am much obliged to you,” laughed the young man.  16
  “You might have come to see me!” said Daisy.  17
  “I arrived only yesterday.”  18
  “I don’t believe that!” the young girl declared.  19
  Winterbourne turned with a protesting smile to her mother; but this lady evaded his glance, and, seating herself, fixed her eyes upon her son. “We’ve got a bigger place than this,” said Randolph. “It’s all gold on the walls.”  20
  Mrs. Miller turned uneasily in her chair. “I told you if I were to bring you, you would say something!” she murmured.  21
  “I told you!” Randolph exclaimed. “I tell you, sir!” he added, jocosely, giving Winterbourne a thump on the knee. “It is bigger, too!”  22
  Daisy had entered upon a lively conversation with her hostess; Winterbourne judged it becoming to address a few words to her mother. “I hope you have been well since we parted at Vevay,” he said.  23
  Mrs. Miller now certainly looked at him—at his chin. “Not very well, sir,” she answered.  24
  “She’s got the dyspepsia,” said Randolph. “I’ve got it too. Father’s got it. I’ve got it most!”  25
  This announcement, instead of embarrassing Mrs. Miller, seemed to relieve her. “I suffer from the liver,” she said. “I think it’s this climate; it’s less bracing than Schenectady, especially in the winter season. I don’t know whether you know we reside at Schenectady. I was saying to Daisy that I certainly hadn’t found any one like Dr. Davis, and I didn’t believe I should. Oh, at Schenectady he stands first; they think everything of him. He has so much to do, and yet there was nothing he wouldn’t do for me. He said he never saw anything like my dyspepsia, but he was bound to cure it. I’m sure there was nothing he wouldn’t try. He was just going to try something new when we came off. Mr. Miller wanted Daisy to see Europe for herself. But I wrote to Mr. Miller that it seems as if I couldn’t get on without Dr. Davis. At Schenectady he stands at the very top; and there’s a great deal of sickness there, too. It affects my sleep.”  26
  Winterbourne had a good deal of pathological gossip with Dr. Davis’s patient, during which Daisy chatted unremittingly to her own companion. The young man asked Mrs. Miller how she was pleased with Rome. “Well, I must say I am disappointed,” she answered. “We had heard so much about it; I suppose we had heard too much. But we couldn’t help that. We had been led to expect something different.”  27
  “Ah, wait a little, and you will become very fond of it,” said Winterbourne.  28
  “I hate it worse and worse every day!” cried Randolph.  29
  “You are like the infant Hannibal,” said Winterbourne.  30
  “No, I ain’t!” Randolph declared, at a venture.  31
  “You are not much like an infant,” said his mother. “But we have seen places,” she resumed, “that I should put a long way before Rome.” And in reply to Winterbourne’s interrogation, “There’s Zürich,” she concluded, “I think Zürich is lovely; and we hadn’t heard half so much about it.”  32
  “The best place we’ve seen is the City of Richmond!” said Randolph.  33
  “He means the ship,” his mother explained. “We crossed in that ship. Randolph had a good time on the City of Richmond.”  34
  “It’s the best place I’ve seen,” the child repeated. “Only it was turned the wrong way.”  35
  “Well, we’ve got to turn the right way some time,” said Mrs. Miller, with a little laugh. Winterbourne expressed the hope that her daughter at least found some gratification in Rome, and she declared that Daisy was quite carried away. “It’s on account of the society—the society’s splendid. She goes round everywhere; she has made a great number of acquaintances. Of course she goes round more than I do. I must say they have been very sociable; they have taken her right in. And then she knows a great many gentlemen. Oh, she thinks there’s nothing like Rome. Of course, it’s a great deal pleasanter for a young lady if she knows plenty of gentlemen.”  36
  By this time Daisy had turned her attention again to Winterbourne. “I’ve been telling Mrs. Walker how mean you were!” the young girl announced.  37
  “And what is the evidence you have offered?” asked Winterbourne, rather annoyed at Miss Miller’s want of appreciation of the zeal of an admirer who on his way down to Rome had stopped neither at Bologna nor at Florence, simply because of a certain sentimental impatience. He remembered that a cynical compatriot had once told him that American women—the pretty ones, and this gave a largeness to the axiom—were at once the most exacting in the world and the least endowed with a sense of indebtedness.  38
  “Why, you were awfully mean at Vevay,” said Daisy. “You wouldn’t do anything. You wouldn’t stay there when I asked you.”  39
  “My dearest young lady,” cried Winterbourne, with eloquence, “have I come all the way to Rome to encounter your reproaches?”  40
  “Just hear him say that!” said Daisy to her hostess, giving a twist to a bow on this lady’s dress. “Did you ever hear anything so quaint?”  41
  “So quaint, my dear?” murmured Mrs. Walker, in the tone of a partisan of Winterbourne.  42
  “Well, I don’t know,” said Daisy, fingering Mrs. Walker’s ribbons. “Mrs. Walker, I want to tell you something.”  43
  “Mother-r,” interposed Randolph, with his rough ends to his words, “I tell you you’ve got to go. Eugenio ’ll raise—something!”  44
  “I’m not afraid of Eugenio,” said Daisy, with a toss of her head. “Look here, Mrs. Walker,” she went on, “you know I’m coming to your party.”  45
  “I am delighted to hear it.”  46
  “I’ve got a lovely dress!”  47
  “I am very sure of that.”  48
  “But I want to ask a favor—permission to bring a friend.”  49
  “I shall be happy to see any of your friends,” said Mrs. Walker, turning with a smile to Mrs. Miller.  50
  “Oh, they are not my friends,” answered Daisy’s mamma, smiling shyly, in her own fashion. “I never spoke to them.”  51
  “It’s an intimate friend of mine—Mr. Giovanelli,” said Daisy, without a tremor in her clear little voice or a shadow on her brilliant little face.  52
  Mrs. Walker was silent a moment; she gave a rapid glance at Winterbourne. “I shall be glad to see Mr. Giovanelli,” she then said.  53
  “He’s an Italian,” Daisy pursued, with the prettiest serenity. “He’s a great friend of mine; he’s the handsomest man in the world—except Mr. Winterbourne! He knows plenty of Italians, but he wants to know some Americans. He thinks ever so much of Americans. He’s tremendously clever. He’s perfectly lovely!”  54
  It was settled that this brilliant personage should be brought to Mrs. Walker’s party, and then Mrs. Miller prepared to take her leave. “I guess we’ll go back to the hotel,” she said.  55
  “You may go back to the hotel, mother, but I’m going to take a walk,” said Daisy.  56
  “She’s going to walk with Mr. Giovanelli,” Randolph proclaimed.  57
  “I am going to the Pincio,” said Daisy, smiling.  58
  “Alone, my dear—at this hour?” Mrs. Walker asked. The afternoon was drawing to a close—it was the hour for the throng of carriages and of contemplative pedestrians. “I don’t think it’s safe, my dear,” said Mrs. Walker.  59
  “Neither do I,” subjoined Mrs. Miller. “You’ll get the fever, as sure as you live. Remember what Dr. Davis told you!”  60
  “Give her some medicine before she goes,” said Randolph.  61
  The company had risen to its feet; Daisy, still showing her pretty teeth, bent over and kissed her hostess. “Mrs. Walker, you are too perfect,” she said. “I’m not going alone; I am going to meet a friend.”  62
  “Your friend won’t keep you from getting the fever,” Mrs. Miller observed.  63
  “Is it Mr. Giovanelli?” asked the hostess.  64
  Winterbourne was watching the young girl; at this question his attention quickened. She stood there smiling and smoothing her bonnet ribbons; she glanced at Winterbourne. Then, while she glanced and smiled, she answered, without a shade of hesitation: “Mr. Giovanelli—the beautiful Giovanelli.”  65
  “My dear young friend,” said Mrs. Walker, taking her hand, pleadingly, “don’t walk off to the Pincio at this hour to meet a beautiful Italian.”  66
  “Well, he speaks English,” said Mrs. Miller.  67
  “Gracious me!” Daisy exclaimed, “I don’t want to do anything improper. There’s an easy way to settle it.” She continued to glance at Winterbourne. “The Pincio is only a hundred yards distant: and if Mr. Winterbourne were as polite as he pretends, he would offer to walk with me!”  68
  Winterbourne’s politeness hastened to affirm itself, and the young girl gave him gracious leave to accompany her. They passed down-stairs before her mother, and at the door Winterbourne perceived Mrs. Miller’s carriage drawn up, with the ornamental courier whose acquaintance he had made at Vevay seated within. “Good-bye, Eugenio!” cried Daisy; “I’m going to take a walk.”  69
 
 
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