Page:The Aspern Papers.djvu/195

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183
LOUISA PALLANT

picture it would seem that a reigning prince was the least she would look at.

'Oh, she has reflected well; she has regarded the question in every light,' said Mrs. Pallant. 'If she has made up her mind it is because she sees what she can do.'

'Do you mean that she has talked it over with you?'

'Lord! for what do you take us? We don't talk over things to-day. We know each other's point of view and we only have to act. We can take reasons, which are awkward things, for granted.'

'But in this case she certainly doesn't know your point of view, poor thing.'

'No—that's because I haven't played fair. Of course she couldn't expect I would cheat. There ought to be honour among thieves. But it was open to her to do the same.'

'How do you mean, to do the same?'

'She might have fallen in love with a poor man; then I should have been done.'

'A rich one is better; he can do more, I replied, with conviction. So you would have reason to know if you had led the life that we have! Never to have had really enough—I mean to do just the few simple things we have wanted; never to have had the sinews of war, I suppose you would call them—the funds for a campaign; to have felt every day and every hour the hard, monotonous pinch and found the question of dollars and cents (and so horridly few of them) mixed up with every experience, with every impulse—that does make one mercenary, it does make money seem a good beyond all others, and it's quite natural