Page:The Lesson of the Master, The Marriages, The Pupil, Brooksmith, The Solution, Sir Edmund Orme (New York & London, Macmillan & Co., 1892).djvu/237

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THE SOLUTION.

consequences at all. I remember the way Wilmerding, as we crossed, sat on the edge of the big flat boat, looking down at the yellow swirl of the Tiber. He didn't meet my eye, and he was serious; which struck me as a promise of further entertainment. From the Ripetta we strolled to the Piazza del Popolo, and then began to mount one of the winding ways that diversify the slope of the Pincian. Before we got to the top Wilmerding said to me: "What do you mean by the different way 'we people' see things? Whom do you mean by us people?"

"You innocent children of the west, most unsophisticated of Yankees. Your ideas, your standards, your measures, your manners are different."

"The ideas and the manners of gentlemen are the same all the world over."

"Yes—I fear I can't gainsay you there," I replied.

"I don't ask for the least allowance on the score of being a child of the west. I don't propose to be a barbarian anywhere."

"You're the best fellow in the world," I continued; "but it's nevertheless true—I have been impressed with it on various occasions—that your country-people have, in perfect good faith, a different attitude toward women. They think certain things possible that we Europeans, cynical and corrupt, look at with a suspicious eye."

"What things do you mean?"

"Oh, don't you know them? You have more freedom than we."

"Ah, never!" my companion cried, in a tone of conviction that still rings in my ears.

"What I mean is that you have less," I said, laughing. "Evidently women, chez vous, are not so easily compromised. You must live, over there, in a state of Arcadian, or rather of much more than Arcadian inno-